Sunday, September 2, 2007
Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of my maternal Grandfather, Vincent Michael (Whom I am named after). It's amazing how quickly time passes. In the year since his death, his home has since passed to my brother and sister in law who were married last October. My Grandparents former home which void of warmth and happiness after my Grandmother's death in May of 2005 has since been given new life and meaning.
I miss him quite a bit, and think of him often. In fact, the other day I was at Tops to do some grocery shopping. I was driving his old van (which is now my mother's) because my car was in the shop. I decided to buy a scratch off lottery ticket, and instead of scratching off the ticket with my car key as I normally do, I decided to use the key to Gramps' van instead. He used to like to play the lotto, and would always ask if I bought a ticket when the jackpot climbed into the really high amounts. Surprisingly, this time, I won $40!! For someone who rarely wins at the lotto, I was thrilled to have some money, and have done so while pondering the memory of my Gramps.
Below I have posted the eulogy I gave at Grandpa's funeral, though with last names omitted for privacy reasons. While a year has passed, the memory of this great man will forever remain in my heart, and in the hearts of all who knew him.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. And Let perpetual light shine upon him. May he, and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
My Grandfather, Vincent D., will always be remembered in my mind as a shining example of what real men are made of. He could fix anything that needed fixing, he had great physical strength, but he lived his life as one of the most truly humble and modest of men... sacrificing everything he had to see his family happy. He proved a man is not a man because of what he can build, or how strong he might be, but how much he can LOVE.
He graduated from Duryea High School in 1946, and was a star football player on his school’s team. After graduating from high school, he served two years in the United States Marine Corps, and in 1947 was stationed in China to help aid in its reconstruction after World War II.
He became engaged to Helen T., and since he refused to seek employment in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, he came to Buffalo New York to answer an add that was posted in the local Scranton News Paper announcing positions at the Chevrolet plant. He moved to Buffalo in the early part of 1953, and after securing a job with Chevrolet, he returned to Pennsylvania where he and Helen were married on August 1st of that same year.
He was blessed with three children, and later five grandchildren. He was an exceptional husband, father, grandfather, and provider. He worked hard, sacrificed, and did without so his family might have. Grandma and Grandpa wanted to see their family happy while they were alive, and that was their joy in life. We have all benefited by Grandpa’s love and generosity, and none of his children or grand children would have half of what we do, or be where we are today if it wasn’t for his and grandma’s sacrifices. I could see on his face that he was happiest in giving, and doing for his family.
His marriage to my Grandmother will always remain to me a shining example of what marriage is all about. They had their share of fights and disagreements, but they had a love and connection that is so seldomly seen in modern times. So often I would sit and talk with Grandma, and she would regularly say that she had the best husband in the world. They were each other’s best friend, confidant, and life long companions. They scrimped and saved to raise their family, and secure a stable financial future. It was an equal partnership where they both did the best they could to keep the home running. There was no such concept of “men’s work” or “woman’s work”. Grandpa had no problem doing house cleaning, and later helping with the cooking. Their vows of “for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health” meant something to them, and when things got tough, they got closer. They became for the other a source of refuge and strength.
While he had a tendency to be a quiet and reserved man at times, with his immediate family he could be goofy, funny and outgoing. He loved to tell nonsense stories like “Once upon a time there were three robins sitting on a fence, and they all flew away”. End of story. He would always be whistling or singing as he puttered around the house. Grandma used to call him her Bing Crosby. He especially loved to sing Christmas carols, and would sing them all year. It could be the hottest day of summer, and he would be singing of white christmases, and sleigh rides. His exception was during the actual Christmas season itself when he could be heard on occasion singing “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail”.
He had a simple, yet powerful faith in God and His Church. He was no theologian, but no one was going to ever argue with him against what he believed in. His was the faith of a child. I remember fondly going to Mass regularly with my Grandfather when I was young, and even standing in the confessional line together. During his last days, I was touched by his strength of faith, and knowing there was something much greater than the physical limits of this world. He would often say to me as he looked up with tears in his eyes, “Pray for me Mikey, pray for me!”
I could give example upon example of his generosity, his kindness, his sense of humor, and the gentle giant of a man that he was, but he wouldn’t have wanted it that way. What he did for others, and how he lived his life wasn’t for the purpose of self glorification, but out of love. This eulogy is but a time line of events, and a list of simple facts and personality traits. The real tribute to the man who was Vincent D. resides in the hearts of those whom his life touched. When we think back on all the wonderful times we shared with him, and all the love we felt from him, and all he taught us, that feeling of love in our hearts and minds will be the most fitting testimony to the man he was.