My mother's cousin died this week. His obit reveals his age, the name of his wife, his children, his grandchildren. It doesn't tell you that this was a man who truly led by example.
He was born in Italy, but his parents chose to move to America so their four children could prosper. His father was my grandmother's brother.
He went to school here and made certain that each of his sisters and brother would go on to school. He served our country in Vietnam, and quietly came home.
He married a beautiful, strong woman whose family came to America from the same town in Italy. They worked together to open a beauty salon, and he later developed and sold real estate. They raised 3 daughters and were blessed with 5 grandchildren. Their first house was small, but soon moved into a fabulous house on a small lake. Somehow, he managed to convince the girls to move their families to be near him. I think of him as the captain who sailed his little crew safely to an island.
It's hard to imagine anyone's kids actually wanting to live near their parents. Yet his love was so genuine, that living any other way would be ridiculous. He took care of everyone. They would be safe.
Over the past few years he stayed afloat even though the real estate market shut down. He never spent money like a fool. He didn't need new suits. If he worried, he kept it to himself or shared that with his wife. He was always such a positive force. Never judged. He accepted you. When he greeted you, he always took the time to look at you and genuinely care how you were doing and what you were up to.
His funeral will be held tomorrow. 68 years old. Heart attack. The doctors gave him a clean bill of health just last week. All tests, including the EKG, looked great. He had returned from a trip to Mexico with his wife, the love of his life. His anchor. He was cooking dinner at the outdoor grill, where he was found. After dinner he had planned to visit his youngest daughter who was excited to show him videos of their little baby who is due in a few months. Not a bad way to go. Always taking care of the ones you love.
I'm grateful that I can visit him one last time. Grateful that I can mourn with his family. Treat others as you want to be treated. So sorry that I didn't tell him that's what his example taught me.