The end of last year brought hope. Amanda and I welcomed a three-day old baby boy into our home. Since this time he has become a part of us. In two days this bright, smiling child turns 1 year old. We will have a party with family. There will be cake, smiles, laughter, and maybe a few presents.
It has been strange raising a baby during a time when the world is filled with such uncertainty. This year has had many ups and downs. However, despite all of this, life has gone on and everyone has remained relatively healthy. There is much for which to be thankful.
Amanda and I have great friends and a loving family. We have a baby who brings us so much happiness on a daily basis. It has been our great pleasure to become his parents. We feel fortunate to have been blessed with the responsibility of raising him and providing for his needs.
God has protected us through times of trial. This year has truly been a struggle at times. The isolation brought on by the pandemic has often been too much to handle. However, life is still good. I will be happy to see 2020 come to a close. I’ll carry the things I have learned this year into the next. One might think that the future looks bleak, and in a lot of ways it does. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am curious to see what the future holds. As we approach 2021, let us all treat each other with more love and understanding. Everyone has a burden they are carrying. Let’s make time to listen to others.
I recently had a friend reach out to me to share some things that were going on in his life. He expressed to me that he needed others to “do life with.” This is something we all need. The English poet, John Donne, writing in the 17th century, wrote that “no man is an island.” Hopefully, 2021 is a year we can reconnect with each other. Good riddance 2020!
I seem to be living life one drip at a time these days. Four weeks in to being on IV antibiotics and progress is being made, despite the drip, drip, of time. The wound on my foot has healed, for the most part. However, there are still two weeks of antibiotics to go.
I am dreaming of the day when the PICC line will be pulled from my arm. If all goes as planned this should happen the week of September 21. After that I hope things will get back to normal.
In the time I have been down, Baby Boy has begun to crawl. This has presented some challenges, as I cannot always catch him before he gets his hands in to things where they don’t belong. For instance, he has sampled some cat food, explored the bathroom floor, and played with television remotes. I am hoping he hasn’t purchaed anything from Amazon while I wasn’t looking.
The next two weeks will drip, drip, drip on by and my left foot and my left arm will once again be fully operational. I can then be on full-time baby patrol every evening. I’m sure the cats will appreciate that. I know Amanda will, as she has been working overtime keeping our household running. Without her I’d be lost. She has been wife, mother, nurse, housekeeper, chauffeur, and friend all while holding down a full-time job.
When I started writing this blog back in January of 2019, I wasn’t sure where it would lead. At first my goal was to focus on issues related to my disability. However, my life really isn’t defined by having spina bifida. Therefore, this blog has expanded to be a place where I can share my thoughts on current events, give insights on what living life with a disability is like, and just share humorus observations of the world around me. I hope you have enjoyed following me on this journey.
This particular post will be the 100th post that I have written. I thought in keeping with that, I’d create a list of 100 lessons that I have learned, observations that I’ve made, or opinions that I have formed. Every day there are new lessons to be learned and new experiences to be had. These are just a few of the things I have picked up along the way. Let me know if I have missed anything. Here is my list in no particular order.
100. Never take a hansom cab ride in New York City.
99. Never be afraid to try something new (except for that hansom cab ride in New York City).
98. Holding a grudge against anyone is pointless.
97. God will indeed give you more than you can handle at times.
96. Don’t ever give up. Things will get better. It might just take time.
95. Life is unfair.
94. Anxiety can make you feel like you need to do everything all at once. You actually don’t need to do this. Just slow down and take things one step at a time.
93. The smell of the air just before it rains is one of the best scents.
92. The smell of a baby’s head just after they have had a bath is THE best scent there is.
91. The love that a dog has for its master is one of the purest forms of love there is.
90. Losing someone that you love is one of the most painful things you can ever experience.
89. Working hard to achieve a goal is one of the greatest feelings that you will have.
88. Sitting outside in the winter in a place where there is very little, if any, light pollution and looking up at the stars on a clear night is something everyone should try at least once.
87. Going on a road trip with someone you love is a lot of fun.
86. Dorothy was right, “there is no place like home.“
85. Take time to pray every day.
84. Dirt tastes like dirt (yes, I have tried dirt before).
83. Beets taste like dirt.
82. Walnuts taste like dirt.
81. The taste of soap is not pleasant. (Yes, I have had my mouth washed out with soap. It was at church no less).
80. Cilantro tastes like soap.
79. Eating a bag of peanuts on a warm, summer day at baseball game is one if the most relaxing experiences there is.
78. Take time to listen to the stories that your grandparents tell. I am fortunate that I did. I will treasure these memories for as long as I live.
77. Learn about the things that have happened in the past. You can learn a lot from history.
76. You can never read enough books.
75. Learning to adapt to change is difficult, but it is well worth the effort.
74. Being a homeowner is both a blessing and a curse.
73. It pays to do things correctly the first time.
72. I’d rather have more time to do the things that I want to do in life than to make more money. Time is far more valuable than money.
71. There are still very kind people in the world. Many of them live in the U.K.
70. Listen to your parents. They know more than you do.
69. Do at least one thing you enjoy doing every day.
68. Never pray for patience. God just might answer your prayers in ways you don’t expect.
67. When working with others it is often best to let them speak first. You just might gain some new perspective.
66. Donuts are little bites of heaven.
65. Mashed potatoes are the best food ever!
64. Chick-fil-A is overrated.
63. Fountain Coke at McDonald’s is the best.
62. Hot McDonald’s french fries are the best.
61. The Blues Brothers is one of the best films ever made.
60. Somedays you just have to listen to the Beatles.
59. You will never get everyone to like you.
58. Pancakes made at home are better than you can get in any restaurant.
57. NASCAR is not a sport.
56. Everyone should make a trip to the ocean at least once.
55. Everyone should travel overseas. You will gain a new perspective on life.
54. There is nothing like a good night’s sleep.
53. Spending time in the mountains is one of the most peaceful things you can do.
52. Disney World is overrated.
51. Bacon tastes best when crispy.
50. Cats can indeed be needy (I live with two who are very needy).
49. Sunny days are the best kind of days.
48. Never have your eyes dilated on a sunny day.
47. You can’t properly eat Oreo cookies without a glass of milk.
46. Getting an unexpected package in the mail is better than gifts on Christmas Day.
45. No one has ever sang the National Anthem better than Whitney Houston.
44. No one’s instrumental version of the National Anthem has been better than Jimi Hendrix’s rendition from the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
43. September is the best month when it comes to weather, at least here in Illinois.
42. Rollercoasters are not fun!
41. There is no ceremony quite as somber as the “changing of the guard” at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
40. Ken Burns knows how to make a documentary film better than anyone else. If baseball doesn’t start soon I might have to dive into his 23-hour epic on the sport.
39. Don’t ever try smoking.
38. Tell the people you love how you feel while you still can.
37. Sometimes you just need to eat a big, greasy, cheeseburger.
36. It is never too cold to eat ice cream.
35. Read to your kids when they are young.
34. Walter Payton is the best football player I ever saw play the game.
33. Hot dogs should never be eaten with ketchup.
32. Thanksgiving is the best holiday.
31. Christmas becomes less fun the older you get. However, I suspect this changes once you start having your own children.
30. One of the best sounds you can hear is a baby’s laugh.
29. Many of the best things in life are free.
28. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
27. A soft answer often turns away wrath.
26. Sometimes it best just to remain silent.
25. Autumn is the best season.
24. Always apologize when you are wrong.
23. Michael Jordan was the best basketball player I have ever seen play the game.
22. Don’t argue about politics on social media.
21. Forgive others when they wrong you.
20. Don’t pour gasoline on a fire.
19. Voting for the lesser of the two evils still brings you evil.
18. Finish your work first then you can enjoy your play all the more.
17. You often get what you give.
16. Cynicism isn’t always a bad thing.
15. Always finish what you start.
14. Let your yes be yes and let your no be no.
13. Family is important.
12. Steak is best when cooked medium. Anything else and you cook the flavor out of it.
11. Help others when and where you can.
10. As long as you are alive there is always hope.
09. Nothing quenches your thirst better than water.
08. Admit your mistakes and learn from them.
07. Always tell the truth.
06. Don’t expect others to respect you if you don’t show respect yourself.
05. Every thing should be done in moderation.
04. Always say “please” and “thank you.”
03. You get what you pay for.
02. Fear can be a good motivator.
01. The love of a good woman is a very special thing.
Ever since I was a little boy I have loved Richard Scarry books. Thankfully, I have been able to revisit a few of my favorite Richard Scarry books since Baby Boy has become a part of our family. In addition, I have found a few with which I am not familiar. For instance there is one called the “The Bunny Book.” If you have never read this one, it is about a baby bunny whose family all have different hopes and dreams for their baby bunny once he grows up and becomes an adult.
As I have read this several times now, I have begun to question some of the aspirations Baby Bunny’s family has for him. For instance, Daddy Bunny wants him to be a circus clown? Really, who wishes this for their child? The Grandaddy Bunny wants Baby Bunny to be a lion tamer? Again, I am not sure this is great line of work for anyone. Finally, Aunt Bunny wants Baby Bunny to be a lifeguard. Low-paying, seasonal work is kind of an odd choice, at least in my opinion.
It seems the only sensible people in this story are Baby Bunny’s siblings and cousins. For example, Little Bunny Cousin wants Baby Bunny to be an entrepreneur who owns his own candy store. Likewise, Little Girl Cousin wants Baby Bunny to be a doctor. Moreover, Little Sister Bunny wants Baby Bunny to be a pilot.
This Bunny Family needs to sit down and have a frank discussion about Baby Bunny’s future. However, Baby Bunny does have his priorities in the right place, as he wants to be a Daddy Bunny.
Let’s get this bunny a good guidance counselor and/or mentor who can steer him into a profitable profession. Because, if he is going to raise a big family, he is going to need to bring home the carrots.
Richard Scarry, I love your books. However, I’d like a follow up to the “The Bunny Book.” Does Baby Bunny become a lifeguard on the beaches of Malibu, or does he become a heart surgeon with a thriving practice in Scarsdale? Please tell me he is not working in Vegas as a lion tamer. That would just be disappointing. Let’s just hope whatever he is doing now is fulfilling. Richard, I will be waiting to see what happens.
What movie is this in which I am starring? Where are the cameras? When is the director going to yell, “cut!”? These are questions I ask myself on an almost daily basis now. It feels like life has become the script of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. I am just waiting for the plot twist. I hope I don’t wake up some day and find out we are all being held hostage as part of some psychological experiment conducted by the CIA. Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?
When you work from home it seems as if every day is the same. It definitely feels very similar to the film “Groundhog Day.” The one where Bill Murray wakes up each day only to relive the same day over and over again. That has become my life. It is often difficult to distinguish one day from the next. Did I clean out the litter box on Monday, or was it Wednesday?
I think the cats are beginning to wonder if I am going to be a permanent fixture at home. They often come into my “office” and look at me as if to say, “you’re still here?” Then they return to chasing each other around the house, or climb up in a sunny windowsill and fall asleep.
The one benefit of staying in is that I don’t have to pick out my clothes each day. The only choice is what Cubs t-shirt to wear. I have one for just about every day of the week. However, if anyone in the Cubs organization is reading this, I could always use a few more.
Despite my desire for more Cubs paraphernalia, life is pretty good. However, I am ready for the director of this bizarre film in which I am starring to yell “cut!” I’d like to be able to watch some baseball. I’d also enjoy going into a restaurant to have a meal, or go into a store where no one is wearing a mask.
Until the end credits roll, Amanda, Baby Boy, and I will be all right. We have a nice routine. Baby Boy comes home from daycare, he has a bottle, a diaper change, and some cuddles. Amanda and I will then have dinner. We’ll watch TV and then it is usually time to read and sing to Baby Boy. Reading and singing at night is something we all enjoy. It is the one part of this movie that I could watch over and over again. It is his smile that makes it all worthwhile.
I find scrolling through Facebook amusing at times. Despite the current state of affairs in the world today, there are posts that I read that truly make me laugh out loud. For example, I came across the the picture below and found it humorous. However, it also got me thinking just how different things would be if we were living without the technology that we have today.
In 2002, I had been out of college for just two years. I was volunteering as a reading tutor through the AmeriCorps Program, which is a domestic version of the Peace Corps. Instead of serving overseas, participants volunteer within their own communities, such as working in schools.
While serving in the AmeriCorps Program, I was living at my mother’s house. Much like the picture above, I had a Nokia cell phone and was limited to dial-up Internet. I can remember dialing in late at night and chatting with friends online. There was that audible dialing of the number to connect to your local Internet service provider, then if you were lucky enough to establish a connection you’d here a long, high-pitched squeal that seemed to drone on forever.
Usually, you could go fix yourself a sandwich, grab a Coke, and by the time you got back the squaling would be gone and you’d be connected to the Internet through your 56K modem. Then it was on to Yahoo to search any number of random topics. In those days, I was most likely looking up information on Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, or any other of my guitar heroes. Because, as you see, I had taught myself some basic HTML programming and I had created my own website that was hosted by a service called Geocities.
Geocities was a web-community that had various “neighborhoods” where you could create a website with a particular theme. My “neighborhood” was in the music section of “town,” as my website was called “Strat Cats.” It was all about my favorite guitar players who were known for playing a Fender Stratocaster. Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, and Buddy Guy were just a few of the featured musicians on my site. Each guitarist had their own section, complete with biographies, discographies, and current news.
I can remember staying up for hours researching the lives of these men. I needed to stay current on all of the latest news about each of them so that I could keep the visitors to my website informed. It was enjoyable learning about these people, who were legendary figures to me. Yes, I was a nerd and proud of it! I had a website, which did get noticed by some on various message boards. However, I was living at my mom’s house and when it got too late she’d yell at me to go to bed.
Fast forward now to 2020. Many of us are working from home using high-speed Internet that puts a world of information at our fingertips in a split second. This could not have been done in 2002. Likewise, I am typing this story that you are now reading using just my iPhone, while laying in bed.
I can do most things online from just my smartphone, whether it be paying bills, ordering takeout from a favorite restaurant, or just perusing Facebook when I am bored. Honestly, I cannot imagine life without this access to information.
I am thankful for the technology of 2020. It has kept me employed. However, it is often a hindrance to one’s peace of mind. It can be difficult to shut out the negativity that is so pervasive across much of social media, news sites, and other types of digital content.
I am still a nerd. I love to look up facts about things that interest me. It is also fun to be able to connect with others through Facebook, Zoom, and through various online games, such as Wordfeud. I have met some wonderful people online over the years. Some that I consider dear friends today.
Without the power to digitally connect with others, the world would be much different today. Amanda and I are able to stay connected with our church through Zoom. Likewise, there is FaceTime to see family and friends in far away places. It will be odd to spend Easter at home this year, while participating in a church service online. However, until we can all meet again face to face, this is the best we can do.
I don’t long for the days of dial-up Internet. However, our current situation has made me realize how much I take for granted. Just today I was at the grocery store. I was one of the few without a face mask. There were signs all over the floor reminding customers to “stay at least six feet apart” from one another. Many of the shelves were empty of items that are typically never out of stock.
Perhaps it would be simpler to go back to the days where I was still living at home. I might even go to bed if my mom yelled at me to do so. Now, I have a baby that just yells at me to get up and feed him. But doggone it I can stream any movie I want to watch day or night. I can even watch TV in the bathroom. That is a lifelong dream that has been realized thanks to the iPad.
I am signing off now, I need to go check if “Strat Cats” still exists somewhere out there in cyberspace. If it does it is going to need some updates.
On Friday I turned 43 years old. Amanda made me one of my favorite kind of cakes using a recipe handed down through my family. We then had a nice dinner and spent a quiet evening at home with Baby Boy. It was a good day to celebrate the blessings that life has brought. However, it was also a day to remember a lost loved one.
March 13, 1989 was the day I turned 12 years old. It should have been a carefree day to celebrate getting older. Sadly, that was not the case. For you see, my dad had recently been diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare cancer of the bone marrow. On my 12th birthday my dad started treatments that were meant to try and stop the progression of the disese.
I still remember him waking me up that morning and wishing me a happy birthday, hugging me, and letting me know that he was sorry all of this was happening on my birthday. It certainly was not what either of us wanted, but that is often how life is. At times there is heartbreak.
My dad would not live to see me turn 13. The disease, with which he had been diagnosed, rapidly progressed into acute myeloid leukemia. This is what ultimately took his life on September 2, 1989. This was all too much for a 12 year old to process, which is probably why I still do not react to change very well in my life.
When I was born I know my dad was concerned with how I was going to make it in life. At that time people with disabilities were often marginalized, which still happens today. However, I think those who are disabled have begun to make progress. Many disabled people are employed, are married, and have families. I’d like to be able to speak with my dad today and let him know I have made it. His worry about me was for nothing.
My dad was 43 when he passed away. Now that I have reached that age myself, I see things from such a different perspective. I still feel like a kid in many respects. There is so much more living to do. My dad missed out on so many events in the lives of his wife and children. I still feel cheated that he was not there for graduations, weddings, and other important milestones. Despite this, life is too short to be bitter.
I don’t believe, nor have I ever believed that my dad is watching over us from some spiritual realm. However, I do believe when he died his soul went to Heaven. This is a place where there is no sorrow.
Therefore, he is not looking down on us and seeing the things with which we are struggling here on Earth. He is celebrating in a place where there is no pain. It brings comfort to me knowing he was able to leave his physical existence that was filled with agony. He had a short life here on earth, but his life in eternity is so much sweeter.
I hopefully have a lot of life left to live here on Earth, but I look forward someday to joining my father in that place where there is no sorrow. I just hope there is cake too!
“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard
I always wanted to marry an orphan. Little did I know, so did my wife. We both had the same motive for wanting to marry an orphan. Neither one of us wanted to be obligated to spend holidays with another family. Amanda and I have been married for nearly seven years and I think there are times when we both still wish we had married an orphan.
My wife grew up in St. Louis, which is approximately 250
miles from where we now live. Therefore,
when we travel down to St. Louis, we are in the car for at least 4 hours each
way. Throughout most of the trip the
only thing you see are corn fields, and the occasional truck stop.
Going to family functions in St. Louis is quite different than the ones to which I am accustomed. Each of Amanda’s parents are one of eight children. Therefore, there are dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I love my in-laws very much. They are both very giving people. In the dictionary next to “hospitality” are pictures of Amanda’s parents, Dan and Judith. At each major holiday they invite everyone over. There are usually 40-50 people at every gathering.
I believe the first holiday that I spent with Amanda’s family was Easter. I was shell-shocked to be with so many people under one roof. This is because while I was growing up my family gatherings were much smaller. However, I have grown used to these large gatherings. I enjoy playing games, eating, and just spending time with everyone. However, for an introvert like me, these events do sap my energy.
Amanda’s first introduction to my family was at my 34th
birthday party. I think for her, it was
hard to adjust to being with such a small group, where more attention was
focused on her. She was no longer able
to blend into the woodwork.
This Easter we will be spending time in St. Louis. I just wish one of us had our pilot’s license
so that we could fly down. It would
enable us to visit more often. Amanda
gave up a lot when she moved to the barren wasteland that is Northwest
Illinois. I know that she misses seeing
her family. However, I am glad that we
met, because she is the perfect woman for me.
She is a kind and loving woman.
I am glad that we both were willing to expand our horizons. We both come from great families. It has been fun getting to know Amanda’s clan. Amanda’s dad is a great storyteller, and her mom makes some of the best cookies I have ever tasted. I am thankful that I did not marry an orphan because I would have missed out on the love Amanda has shown me. I too would have missed out on becoming part of a great family.
Today is National Siblings Day in the United States. This unofficial holiday is also celebrated in other parts of the world. I am thankful for my two older brothers, Cory and Shannon.
Over the years they have put up with a lot having me as their brother. For instance, there were many times they were sent to stay with relatives as my parents and I made our way to yet another hospital visit.
I am not really sure they minded this all that much. They were certainly spoiled by my grandparents, or my aunts and uncles whenever they were exiled to stay with family.
However, I really wonder how it was for them when they were younger. I would assume it was difficult having to be uprooted from their normal routine. I know that it would have been for me.
Growing up I was always closest to my oldest brother Shannon. My other brother Cory used to pick on me quite a bit, which, as I look back on things, was quite normal.
Now that we are all grown and have our own families, I respect the men my brothers have become. They both have married great women and have fathered some very good kids.
I wish I could see my brother Shannon and his family more often, but they live in New Jersey. It would be fun to spend more time with his family. He does still watch out for me, even though we are hundreds of miles apart.
My brother Cory still looks out for me as well, helping my wife Amanda and I do things around the house. He is always willing to lend a helping hand.
I love both of my brothers very much. I even forgive them for all of those times we were in the car and they’d pick on me. I would then get in trouble for being a whiner. I should have learned that sitting in the middle of the backseat made me a good target. I maybe could have asked to ride in the trunk instead! Anyway, if you haven’t done so already, reach out to your siblings and tell them how much you appreciate them.
Recently I took one of those DNA tests. The kind where you spit into a vial, seal it
all up in a bag, and ship it to a lab in Utah.
I did this because I was curious to find out my ancestral roots. For the most part, the results were not a
surprise. I knew I had roots in the
United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.
However, I was surprised to see that I also had traces of French, Swedish,
and Russian blood.
It was fascinating to see the results broken down into percentages. My ethnicity breaks down as follows:
English, Welsh, & Northwestern European – 36%
Germanic European – 29%
Italian – 12%
Eastern European & Russian – 8%
French – 8%
Irish & Scottish – 3%
Swedish – 2%
Baltic European – 2%
Seeing all of these percentages laid out like this made me
yearn to know the stories of my ancestors.
What were there lives like? What kinds
of personalities did they have? Where
did they stand politically? These are all
questions that I will never will be able to answer. However, I would love to do a little more
research into who some of these people were.
I know that much of my mother’s family were Germans who came
to the U.S. and settled in rural parts of Pennsylvania. I am sure many of them were farmers who tried
to make a better life for their children.
Fortunately, many of them came before Europe was torn apart by war. I would like to go back and hear their
stories. It would be fascinating to learn
why they decided to leave behind loved ones to come to a new country. This to me would have been terrifying.
My maternal grandparents Lauren and Betty Geil were both great people. I did not know my grandfather very well, as I was quite young when he died. But I do have memories of him. My grandmother Betty, was perhaps the coolest grandmother there ever was. I can remember her doing the “Moonwalk” after Michael Jackson made it famous. She was also one of the most giving people that I have ever known.
On my father’s side things are a little more ethnically diverse. I have been able to research the Bradshaw
family back to the 1600’s. It appears many
of them came from Lancashire, a county in the northwest of England. The Bradshaw line that I am from first
settled in Virginia, where it appears they were quite successful farmers, as
census records show many of them had quite a bit of land, and a few even owned slaves. The Bradshaw family began to spread out through
the Carolinas, Tennessee, and then into Illinois.
A few summers ago my wife Amanda and I visited a cemetery just outside of White Hall, Illinois where several of my distant relatives are buried, including my great, great grandfather. I wish they could have all spoken from beyond the grave to tell me what their lives were like. There is a place near White Hall called Bradshaw Mound. I’d like to find out the history of this place. It makes me wish that I’d have asked my grandfather these questions before he passed away several years ago. He was born in White Hall and maybe he could have filled me in on the history of the town where many of my distant relatives lived.
My fraternal grandmother was born and raised on the
outskirts of Shaw, Mississippi. She grew
up on a farm where her and her siblings picked cotton, that is until my great-grandmother
passed away. After this event, my
grandmother took over as caretaker of the family. She did the cooking, cleaning, and other
chores that her mother once did. This
means that my grandmother was also unable to finish school. However, she was a woman who knew how to take
care of her family.
Growing up I loved hearing the names of her brothers and sisters,
many of whom had been born in Italy before my great-grandparents Vincenzo and
Palmina Bastari came to America. My
grandmother’s brothers names were Rigo, Tilio, Aldo, Amilio, Cerro, and Sam. My grandmother’s name was Mary, and her
sisters were Edith, Emma, Jenny, and Clara.
I never had the opportunity to meet my great uncles, but I am sure they
all had great stories to tell about growing up in Mississippi. I can also imagine their lives, especially as
they were growing up, were very difficult.
However, they all went on to have their own families and lived full
I did have the privilege of meeting all but one of my great aunts and they were all feisty women. They also were all quite beautiful. Each one of them maintained part of their Italian accents as well. My grandmother’s accent was unique. It was part Mississippi and part Italian. Her family was from the town of Assisi, which is in central Italy. Hopefully, I’ll make it there someday. I am sure there are still some long-lost cousins who live there.
My dad’s parents, Oris and Mary were married in 1940 in
Hernando, Mississippi. They lived for a
time in Memphis, Tennessee before moving north to Rock Falls, Illinois. I think it was hard for them to move away from
Memphis, but my grandfather came north to help his father and mother.
My grandfather was one of the most selfless men that I have ever met. He always put family ahead of himself. He gave up a career with the Walgreen’s Company so that he could take better care of his children once his first wife died. He then remarried, moved to Illinois and did various jobs to support his family. He was a Coke delivery man, and then towards the end of his working life, he was a custodian at the high school just down the street from where I live now.
I miss him every day. When my own father passed away I was just a boy. My grandpa always made sure we were all right. We all knew we could talk to him, as he was very patient and kind. He was also full of wisdom. He taught me the importance of staying connected to your family. Family always has been, and always will be important to me. Take time to learn your family’s history. Some things may be ugly, but I am sure you’ll also find some incredible things as well. I appreciate the things that I have learned about mine.