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I used to tell people that my grandfather was in the mafia.  I admit that I didn’t even know what the hell the mafia really was when I ran around saying that.  Looking back, it might not have been a wise choice.  I mean, he coulda been whacked for it and it would have been all my fault!

In truth, my grandfather was a little Italian man named Frank who celebrated his birthday on July 4th.

Except that it wasn’t the actual date of his birth.

He just decided to celebrate on that day! We still have no idea when grandpa’s real birthday was!

As you can see, though, he did it up big each year, celebrating for the entire week before the actual day.  And his daughters (of which there were four) made him all kinds of nifty birthday regalia to wear.  I’m pretty sure the hat he’s wearing in this picture was made by my Aunt Connie – she’s very crafty (and quite cool!).

We didn’t get along for much of my early life because he was very traditional and I was … not so much.  He didn’t like that I didn’t want to live with my mother until I got married (and good thing because I was almost 40 when I got married!), didn’t like how I treated my mother (he had a point there – I was often not very kind to her) and a bunch of other things I won’t go into.

Thing is, he was a man who saw the good in just about everyone (even me, later on!).  People *loved* him and he always had a crowd around to listen to him laugh and talk.  He was friendly, happy and most of all, very genuine.  A man who took care of his family, was so proud of us all and lived a good life.

(Well, there was that one time towards the end there where we think he tried to trip Grandma with his cane but we can’t be sure of it.  

And, of course, the time he was in the hospital for some sort of prostate issue (again, nearish the end) when my 13 year old girl cousin and I went to see him, announced loudly “Well, my balls feel a lot better!” as he lifted up his hospital gown so we could see that, in fact, his balls WERE better!  (All I could say to my cousin later was this: “When you’re married, if your husband’s balls look anything like that, take him to a doctor because there’s a problem!” hehe))

When it comes down to it, isn’t that something we’d all like said about us when we pass away? No, not that we freaked out a young girl (heh)  but that we lived a good life, took care of our loved ones the best we could and made others happy?

Happy Birthday, Grandpa.  Thanks for coming to visit me now and again from the other side.  I always think of you and wish you Happy Birthday every July 4th just like we always did.

Signed,

Your unconventional but loving granddaughter Lisa