My grandfather’s birthday is May 5, which is appropriate because his initials are a pair of Roman fives: “V. V.” He would’ve turned 108. I rushed over to the cemetery after work today, thinking that it would close at six. It had closed at five. Whoops.
Since I missed him at the cemetery today and won’t be able to visit tomorrow, I shall relate my earliest memories of him:
My first impression of Grampa was that he was very very old, and had flab under his neck like a turkey. Also, it was easy to remember his age because he was born in 1900.
He and Gramma never called each other by their proper names, Vincent and Angela. He was always “Jim” (which turned out to be the immigrants’ mis-Anglicization of “Vincenzo”) and she was always “Frog” (supposedly because her ancestors fled France centuries ago).
My first specific memory of him occurred in the very early eighties. My grandparents were visiting my house in Virginia. I walked out of my room, and Dad and Grampa were in the hallway, intently discussing something that couldn’t have been that important because they weren’t discussing it with me. I noticed that both of them were wearing a-shirts. I went back in my room, put on my red a-shirt with a white anchor on it, and rejoined Dad and Grampa in the hallway. I stood there, arms folded for that sense of gravitas, and acted seriously interested in whatever they were talking about. They didn’t ask my opinion on whatever the matter was–which was a big risk on their part–but they must’ve handled it well enough because the house didn’t explode and nobody died. They probably knew what they were doing for now.
He almost made it to 94. I wish he’d lived longer.