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:
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|