Lessons From Grandparents

There’s conventional wisdom that we draw from the influence of our parents (or lack thereof) but there’s less about our grandparents or even great-grandparents, beyond.

Maternal Ties

My mom’s parents are still alive. They’re both 100% Italian and have 7 brothers and sisters, each. They’re Nunnie and Popo.

I recently emailed my Popo (he types in ALL CAPS in all his emails LIKE THIS). I updated him about what I was up to: my recent trip for work, travel, life and friends.

In reply he wrote simply, “YOU ARE A GROWN UP NOW. YOU ARE A FINE YOUNG LADY.” Although he does have a loud, vivacious voice he wasn’t yelling, but he always speaks the truth. And his point touched me, deeply.

My Popo worked for 40 years, tirelessly on the B&O Railroad in West Virginia, they lost two children, then raised three children (my mother being the eldest). He’s the kind of respectable man that the Mayor, Chief of Police and District Attorney look up to and talk to regularly. He’s opinionated. He still bends down, to tie my Nunnie’s shoe laces and holds her hand when walking. They’ve been married for over 60 years. He has his own garden – him and my Nunnie can their vegetables, make spaghetti sauce from scratch and roasted peppers then selflessly give away to their children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends.

He respects me and is proud of me. I only hope to be half the people my Nunnie and Popo are.

Paternal Love

I never met my dad’s parents. They had both passed away before he was 26 – he hadn’t even met my mom yet.

I secretly lament that I never met my dad’s parents. I’m so like my dad. I hear stories about my Grandpa (100% Irish) and my Grandma (100% Sicilian) but cling to the little information I have.

I see my beautiful Grandma (Michelina Provenzano aka Mickey) smiling at me in her pictures; stylish, with red lipstick, and black curly hair peering out of her hats. Recently, when I wrote the post, Daddys And Their Daughters, my dad’s cousins, Tony and Fran, wrote me a touching email in response:

“We saw your grandmother a few days before she died and your dad was there tending to her.  He was so full of love and sorrow and conflicting feelings about going back to ‘Nam.  We wanted to stay longer but Tony’s grandfather had just died and were on our way to MA for his funeral.  She died a few days later. Mickey was a rare person.  She had love for everyone, she was creative, she had her own business and was independent long before it became the norm for women.  She was Tony’s favorite aunt.  You have her independence and drive.   She is smiling down with pride.”

I read that five times. Tears trickled down my cheek, my heart beating loudly. I thought to myself, maybe just these few sentences are enough and knowing that I can and will proudly carry on their legacy.

How do your grandparents affect you? Do you have stories as they influence your life?
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