A month or so ago, I had a very vivid dream. I don’t usually remember my dreams. If I do, then I remember them for a long time. This one had me thinking of my grandfather on my mother’s side, or as I called him, Papa. For those of you that don’t know the story, I was born on his birthday. It is also my mom’s birthday. Big day for the family. Three generations born on one day. I told my wife that when we have a child, there is a lot of pressure for us to have a baby on my birthday.
As a child, we spent a lot of time together and he taught me many things. I remember when my grandparents were moving to New Jersey from the Bronx, I would go with them to look at potential houses. He had this big 4- door 1979 Ford Granada, and when people would cut him off, he would curse at them in Italian. That’s where I learned most of my Italian. It was easy for me to understand most of The Godfather because they cursed just like my grandfather.
He also loved to grow tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, etc. In my backyard, he and my father would plant the garden and they would let me be out there to help them work on the plants. One summer, my grandfather transported his fig tree from the Bronx to my backyard. He would eat the figs and tomatoes right off the plants. He taught me that every fall, before the first frost, to cover the fig tree up with burlap so the fig tree could make it through winter.
When I had a soccer game, he was usually on the sidelines cheering me on. It didn’t matter if I scored three goals or none, he was always proud of the way I played the game, and would tell me what a great job I did out there. He was always proud of what I did in school or anything else.
What he was teaching me was unconditional love, to love someone no matter what. He wasn’t the wealthiest man, didn’t drive the fanciest car, and didn’t smoke the finest cigars. But when he passed away, it was like the world stopped. People from all over came to his funeral, we had it for three days (3-5 and 7-9). He was a well respected man, because he was a man of his word and was full of honor. People fully respect that in a person.
What I’m trying to get to is, on this Valentine’s Day weekend, remember to always love your Valentine unconditionally. I know there are some people who don’t love the holiday because of so many reasons, but guess what, deep down everyone wants a Valentine, and everyone wants to love and be loved. It’s a natural thing. I love my wife unconditionally, and I get the same thing back from her. That’s what makes the little moments special. It’s why you can share silly moments with each other and not feel embarrassed. It’s why you can have an argument over how one person drives and move past it. It’s why you choose to be with someone the rest of your life. Because you know that unconditionally, she is there for you, no matter what.
My grandfather helped in my loving someone unconditionally, and he also taught me how to do a sailor dive, with a cigar in his mouth.