My great-grandfather, Grandpa Sal, was a phenomenal man. He was a songwriter, a talented musician, funny, kind, and so loving. I loved him dearly.
He used to send me silly letters that he had typed. I still have a few. They were so funny. He would purposely leave the typos, and poke fun at himself for them. I treasure them. I would actually like to frame them, I think, and add them to my family wall.
Grandpa Sal bought me my first clarinet, when he found out I was going into band. I still have it. It is not the highest quality, but it worked for several years. I will not get rid of it, ever. My brother used it when he was in band (can you believe he was a band geek?? Me?-Yes. Him?-Nah.)
My father has Grandpa Sal's piano. I still remember it in his last home in Florida. He sat down and played me several songs. I sat on a chair, and stared at a spot on the back of his neck. Back straight, arms furiously moving, and a beautiful smile on his face. I would be so humbled to have it in my home someday, for one of my children to learn to play on it, and know that their great-great Grandfather put his fingers on the same ivory keys.
He played in an orchestra. He had a swing/salsa-type band. He wrote lyrics and music. My father has some of his sheet music. I would like to frame that as well, someday.
When I was a baby, he wrote a song for me. The lyrics, the score, everything. My Nana (his daughter) sang it. I still have the cassette tape. How cool is that?
I don't know much more about him, but I wish I did. But what I know, I cherish.
I remember he came to visit us once. It was around Christmas, and we decided to go to this well-known neighborhood in the area to look at Christmas lights. My father got lost. We never found the place, so my Grandpa Sal started 'Oooooooo'ing and 'Ahhhhh'ing at every red and green light he saw, mostly the stoplights. He was cracking us up. At one point, we were at a red light, and my mom had rolled the window down, and my Grandpa Sal yelled loudly, 'No Christmas lights! It STINKS!' A car next to us thought that he was yelling at them, and proceeded to follow us to a gas station, where they threatened to kick my father's ass when he tried to explain. My mother ended up taking her high heel off and clocking one of them in the head. My Grandpa Sal sat in the backseat of the car with me, laughing at my mother. That gas station is gone now, but anytime I drive by that spot, I think of him.
He made a doll for me. It's a little figurine. It has crazy hair, and I love it.
It is these things that mean more than anything to me. These things that cannot be replaced, cannot be re-done, these things that travel from family member to family member, made with love, given with joy. If I had to give up all the foo-foo 'stuff' that fills my life, I would be fine, as long as I could keep my treasured family things. Pictures, cookbooks, letters, little knick-knacks.
(Sidenote: We still occasionally yell 'It STINKS!' just for the memory. )