My grandfather, Pop, has been on my mind today. We began the day by attending a mass for him, something we have done a few times a year since he passed away over 12 years ago. Today’s occasion- his 98th birthday and also his brother’s 101 birthday. His brother just passed away in March, so today’s mass was also said in his honor. Santo and John Conforti.
I was lucky to grow up close to all of my grandparents. My Pop always had a special place in my heart. My mom stayed home with us my whole life, but if she had errands to run or things to do during the day, Pop was our babysitter. He taught me to play cards and how to do long division. I liked to make him laugh. I can still hear the sound of his voice as he leaned his head back in laughter and said my name in with his Italian accent.
Hearing stories from my mom about when she was a little girl, I never got the sense that their home was one where affection was shared openly. Yet, my Pop was insanely proud of me, just because I existed. It wasn’t something he was showy about, just more of a feeling I always had being around him. Recently, I’ve reflected on that feeling and of all the things I miss, that is what I long for most.
Pop was always the first person I shared my report card with, a dollar for every A. When I went away to college, I called him every week and he was my first visit when I came home.
On February 18, 2005, a Friday, I called my Pop to tell him I would be home for Winter break on Tuesday and that I couldn’t wait to see him. “Why Tuesday?” I remember him asking. “Just come home for the weekend.” I brushed him off, excited to spend some time with my friends since I was in the middle of student teaching and would miss the college’s Spring Break.
That was my last conversation with my Grandfather. I learned of his passing as I drove home from Vermont on February 21. His old tired heart had finally given up.
If only I had just gone home, our ending would have been different.