Snapshots in My Mind

I don’t know about you, but I have so many moments in my head that stand out to me just like snapshots in my mind. They are those moments in time that I can think of that “flash” like a picture briefly capturing a moment I hope that I never forget. Today, I am going to tell you about one of the earlier profound ones in my childhood. It is about love and vulnerability.

Growing up, we spent a lot of time with my grandparents (mom’s parents). We even lived there for a time or 2 off and on. They were such precious people…oh my goodness, they were so amazing and I have so many positive memories of spending my time there as a child and how special they made it for my brother and I.

My grandpa was a WW2 Vet who now owned a hardware store in Buffalo, NY. He was one of the most hilarious and sarcastic people I know. He was a total prankster too. He had his little quirks of things he use to say and do that I still remember to this day. He used to eat limburger and onion sandwiches and drink warm beer that he kept behind the fridge. After he took a sip, he would say, “Ah cha chunia!” The whole house would smell from that stanky cheese! There was a time when his starter broke (like where you used to put the key in to start it) on his car and he devised a pull string contraption to start it every day. Before we could read, he used to tell us that the signs on the front door of a store said, “NO KIDS ALLOWED” so that he could shop undisturbed and we had to patiently wait outside (back in the day when you could do those things!). One time, he even asked my brother and I if we wanted to go to the zoo…and then proceeded to drive TO the zoo and go around in the circle driveway in front of the Buffalo Zoo about 20 times…but we never went IN TO the zoo. Wasn’t as funny when it was happening, but my brother and I did end up seeing the humor in what he did later and it became one of “our stories” about him as we grew up. This man was one of my heroes in life, that is for sure.

My grandmother…oh I can still to this day remember her laugh. It was so beautiful. She was an award winning baker and a most excellent cook. I still use her recipe for meatballs to this day. They are the best meatballs I have ever had. Period. If you are nice to me, I will make you some one day! LOL

She passed away of pancreatic cancer when I was 6…and that was MY first experience with death and seeing the sadness of others around me. I look back and I know now that I was much to young to comprehend it all, but the snippet I am about to tell you, is something that changed my perspective on things that I remember to this day.

My grandparents had 2 lazy boy chairs in their house that were separated by a table in between that faced the TV. Those were “their” chairs. After my grandmother’s funeral, my grandfather very quietly sat in “his” chair and I was sitting in hers. Again, I was 6, so at that time I had not fully comprehended all that was going on. I just knew that he was sitting there…trying not to cry and he was just silent. Sadness and grief had overcome him. He had just lost the love of his life.

For some reason, no one else was around us and it was just he and I in this room.

He looked at me…and he reached his hand out across the table for mine. He needed to be loved. I grabbed his hand and then he started sobbing. I cried too. I put my tiny hand in his and I just held on tight… and realized at that very moment the power of very deep and profound love…and how important it was to “just be there” for someone in need. He was scared. He was so full of sadness. He was heartbroken. Dammit even now after all of these years, writing this makes me cry. Snapshot. Big lesson for a kid.

Touching someone or hugging them, holy shit that is powerful stuff that we can do for other people. Rubbing them on the back with your hand…letting them know that everything is going to be ok. The touch of your hand in theirs. A tight hug. Powerful.

I learned that day that just being there can be more powerful than words.

From that day on, our relationship was also very different. We shared a bond…a strong one. My grandpa was one of the best men that I have ever known.

I miss you, Grandpa. So much.

My brother Tony, Gramps and Me!

Funny pic of my mom and grandpa 🙂

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