Wednesday, June 10, 2009
P and K,
My grandfather has cancer, and the physical toll it is taking on his body is so disheartening. Your great grandfather Gaspare Mangialardi is a tremendous man, and I hope and pray that your memories of him never fade. He came from Italy as a teenager, and earned enough money in America to bring over his father, mother, and siblings. He worked hard to learn the language of this country, without forsaking his roots. Grandpa Gaspare ended his career in a very prominent management position working for the city of Chicago. I admire how he came to this country with nothing, and he made a lucrative career for himself, and comfortable existence for his children and grandchildren. His office was IN Solider's Field. As a young girl, I went to work with him and sat in his office, and then I went to watch the Chicago Bears play. When it got too cold on the field, I went back and sat in Grandpa's office and ate, and watched the rest of the game on TV. I'm such a trooper.
You can thank Grandpa for my obsessions with the Cubs. I'd watch the games on TV as a young girl, but one day he told me and Sharon and our two boy cousins that he had a surprise for us. We all got on a bus, and he wouldn't tell us where we were going. We ended up at Wrigley Field, and we watched my first ever baseball game. The 17 inning game was incredible. We sang "Take me Out to the Ball Game" two times, and my hero then ,Mark Grace, hit a home run. That day is so characteristic of Grandpa. He could care less about baseball, but he wanted to see his four grandchildren enjoying something they loved.
Now when I bring you over to play, Grandpa can't interact with you as much as before, but last time he sat on the deck and watched you boys play kick ball with Nico and Gigi. His greatest joy is to watch his descendants enjoy this country and the fruits of all his labor. Grandpa's choices to come to America and chase his dreams have benefited three generations so far, and the effect will continue. I admire Grandpa's resilience, work ethic, and the priority he places on family.
There are no "second" cousins to Grandpa, or "great-aunts, or "in-laws", every one is a valuable member of the family. Everyone. If you've eaten at his table, you're family.
Grandpa ends every conversation with me with these words "You make me proud.", to which I respond, "I know. I'm pretty great." He laughs,then I kiss his bald head. It's our routine.
We're going to see Grandpa on Saturday to celebrate his birthday, and I want you to be around him as much as possible so he can influence your life in a positive way like he has mine.