Saturday, October 6, 2012

With All My Love

My grandfather died this week. He was a great man. A big man. Physically he was big, but his personality dwarfed his body. When he was in a room, it literally vibrated with his presence. He boomed.

My PaPa loved reading our old blog, Littlest Hayes. It was a family blog -- a place I told funny stories about the kids and railed about how hard this motherhood gig could be. Pretty often he'd send me an email right after he read a post. He would share his reaction and maybe a story from his own childhood.

PaPa called me a "modern-day Erma Bombeck," which thrilled me. He was like that. When he complimented someone, he made it a compliment worth remembering.

Before I made the decision to move away from Littlest Hayes earlier this year, I emailed him. He was about to have a procedure to treat the liver cancer he'd been battling for a while. Here's what I wrote:

Hey PaPa!
I'm hoping you can help with a New Year's project. I'd like to write a post or two (or three) for the blog on the Martini heritage and history. I know you agree it's important for the kids to know about their Italian roots. I've gotten a list of questions together I was hoping you could answer. I thought it'd be easier this way so you can take your time and type them out as you feel like it.

I listed a dozen or so questions about his parents and their immigration to the U.S. He answered back a short time later. Some of the details I'd known, and some information was new. He didn't write a lot. He didn't feel well.

Soon I will type the answers, and maybe I'll share them here. At the risk of sounding like a speaker at a recent political convention, my great-grandparents immigrated to this country with nothing. My grandfather was a successful entrepreneur, and I was the first in my family to graduate from college. It's a real American Dream Story.

Right now, though, the only part I can see in that response email are the last lines he typed:

Some day we'll go into the details further. This would make a great book, and so typical of millions of foreign immigrants. As you know, I am VERY proud of my Heritage and the unbelievable sacrifices and hardships endured by my past family!

With all my Love,

with Lee, October 2007

with Daniel, July 2009

with Eliza, December 2011


  1. I'm so sorry, Michelle. This was a beautiful tribute to your PaPa. Grandparents are so incredibly special, and it is so hard to say goodbye to them. I cried when I read his note of "Some day we'll go into the details further." It reminded me of emails my grandmother and I would write to each other about conversations and visits that would never happen. Thankful for many years full of ones that did. My thoughts are with you.

    Annie-Laurie Pettit Yeiser


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