Imagine being born in the year 1913… when Ford’s Model T cars were rolling around, fresh off of the assembly line, and women suffragists were demonstrating for the right to vote. I’ve tried to imagine all he has seen throughout these years, but it’s almost incomprehensible to have been witness to all he has. Not only has my grandfather lived all of this, he has done so with grace, hard work and a wonderful sense of humor. Less than 2 months away from his 100th birthday, he was still joking, still dancing, still playing the piano, and still flirting with all the pretty young ladies.
Edward was a child born into a wealthy family, not because they had always been, but because his father left Italy to make his fortune by living the American Dream. As a child, Edward went from being taught that it was polite to leave a little food in your plate at the dinner table to wishing that he still had that food as he walked away from the table hungry when the market crashed in the1920s.
His family was considered one of the lucky ones, as they didn’t immediately lose everything in the market. They owned blocks of Real Estate. Yet, when the time came, his family’s kind heart saw the despair and tragedy of tenants who could no longer pay their rent. They decided not to put these people out on the street, and in doing so caused their own financial disaster. My grandfather had to leave school and begin working… and work he did, hard and long to support his family.
In his lifetime, he saw a changing world and moved with the times, evolving not only his way of life, but his way of thinking, which is not always easy for those of our elders. He was even considered a man who was born ahead of his time, with his liberal thinking and family values. When his wife died, leaving their two small children behind, he went against the rules of society. He fought to keep and raise his two children alone, which was totally unheard of in this day. True, my Mom’s hair wasn’t always perfectly arranged, nor her clothing, but he did the best he could while working full-time to support his family. To him what was most important was that they were together.
He lived through World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Charles Lindbergh’s first trans-Atlantic flight, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Empire State Building opening in New York City in 1931, The Great Depression of 1933, Prohibition in 1920 and the end of Prohibition in 1933, Segregation, Integration, Brown versus Board of Education in 1954, Civil Rights Acts of 1960s, Neil Armstrong setting foot upon the moon… This list can go on forever, but Edward never stopped learning and moving with the times.
At the age of 99 Edward went into his first swimming pool, and was even introduced to the internet. Although he never made it over to Paris, France, his very first internet video chat took place with his great-grandchildren, as well as with me and my sweet French man. His feet never made it here, but his face appeared on our computer screen here in Paris a few weeks ago. He kept saying, “I can’t believe it! This is incredible!”
One of the very last things Edward did before he passed away was to walk into an election center and proudly cast his vote for Barack Obama. He, as well all around were so excited to see someone of his age not only be able to walk in, but cast his vote so very proudly. When they put the, I Voted Sticker on his jacket, he proudly walked out and showed everyone. His smile couldn’t have been bigger.
Edward died suddenly, after a fall, while he was planning a big party to celebrate his 100th birthday. Even though his spirit has gone, his life is indeed something to celebrate.
To my Grandfather… I am so very proud of how you evolved with the times and how you laughed and lived life to the fullest, while keeping your hard-working values. I am so very grateful to have had a grandfather like you, for you were indeed a treasure who will live on forever in our thoughts, hearts and minds and spirits. You will live on in your three children, one step child, nine grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren… some of who have your magical musical ear & piano ability.
A candle burns for you in Sacré-Coeur Basilica, in Paris France today… You did indeed make it over here grandpa. We love you.
Photo/Editing Credits: Bellanda ®