I can remember my grandpa, who was always pap-pap to me, telling me when I was a teenager that life was short. Being so young, I couldn’t really identify with his words very much. He was a really great grandparent who played with his grandchildren before doing that was the “in” thing to do. When myself and my cousins were little, he made up our own version of hide and seek, in which he was the Big Bad Wolf. We always played around dusk and he was the one who would hide and our job was to try to avoid the big bad wolf. I lost count of how many times he jumped out from behind something growling and grabbing at us. That was the only time in my life that being scared shitless was actually fun.
My loud, hot-tempered, warm-hearted Italian grandfather was full of wisdom. There were some people who used to say that he was rude and crude, but he was one of those people who made the world feel safe to me when I was growing up. If he loved you, you knew it. If he didn’t, you knew that too. The older I get, the more I appreciate about him. He spoke his mind. You never had to wonder what he thought of something important, because you could ask him for his advice or opinion and he was always honest..without being mean. I could talk to him about anything.
One of the many wise things that he said to me which has come back to me with clarity was the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post about life being short. He told me that time seems to move faster when we get older, and that it was important to live your life…to do things that made you happy. Now here I am, at 43 years old and I am really starting to see how true his words were. In the past few years, a lot has happened which has brought home to me how fleeting time is.
It’s hard for me to believe that he has been gone for over 20 years, my mom for over 13 years, and now my dad is at the last stage of his life. My other grandparents are all long gone too, as well as other family and friends. I’ve seen a lot of illness in the past few years. While it hasn’t been easy, these experiences have been very eye-opening. Now, I totally get what pap-pap said.
Time flies by, no matter what we are doing with our lives. None of us know how long we have on this earth. This is what makes it so important to follow his advice and really live life, doing things that make us happy. He also said that I really shouldn’t give a damn what other people thought of what I did or who I was. Many years ago, someone accused me of being like him like it was a bad thing. They used the words, “you have the same attitude as your crazy dago grandfather”. The person who said this to me was lucky that they were someone who I would never dream of slapping, no matter how badly I wanted to. I feel the same now that I did then…proud to be like him.
He took good care of his family, but he still had fun. He built awesome homemade kites, took us fishing, went swimming with us, caught lightening bugs, drank his wine, played his harmonica…all kinds of stuff. Looking back at him at this very moment, I have such a deep appreciation for the gusto with which he lived. Not only that but I want to be more like him. I want to laugh, have a good time, love with all of my heart, speak my mind, and not give a damn what anyone thinks. Thanks for the advice pap-pap.