Friday, May 11, 2012

a good and faithful servant

  photo by my talented cousin jeff portaro

he always told me i would be the next poet laureate, but for the life of me, i can't come up with the right words to tell you about my Nanno, sam.

he was 91 when he passed away thursday morning, warm in his bed holding the hands of his daughters (one being my sweet mama), his family all around him. i was lucky enough to know him for 25 of those years. to sit beside him at the kitchen table three times a week and yell out jeopardy answers and wheel of fortune letters. to meet him and mama for lunch at chick-fil-a, wendy's and a slew of other little fast food haunts he loved. he had a smile that, when he flashed it, took away any little worries or stresses i had hanging over me, and warmed me. actually, it was more of a grin than a smile, a genuine happiness.

he wore a cardigan with elbow patches before they were cool, and for years he proudly sported a tan baseball cap that read "NANNO" in big letters, one i had custom made for him at those little kiosks in the mall. he loved big band music, especially artie shaw's begin the beguine. "put that one on repeat!" he'd tell mama. he also loved italian loaf bread, root beer, and jell-o.

he was eternally grateful; "thank you" was his favorite phrase. he loved to fire up his old desktop computer and use his outdated software to make custom greeting cards for every birthday and holiday, the same message always in each: "i wish you at least a hundred more filled with health and happiness."

i could go on. i could tell you about how he talked to my grandma's side of the bed in the evenings, when he thought no one could hear, or about how he loved crosswords and novels all of his life and was the sharpest man i knew. how he served in the navy and lived in sicily as a child.

on wednesday, he asked if my sister and i had to go back to college soon. we told him we still had a few months, and that we would spend them with him. "oh, that's going to be so great!" he exclaimed, "'i'll try to get my strength back up."

now, a tremendous void is left, filled only with the beautiful glimpse of Heaven he gave us these last few days. he saw boys in white suits and called out my sweet grandma's name. he reached out his hand and said "i'm reaching beyond. i'm reaching through it." i have never felt anything more sacred in my life. there were angels all over the place in that tiny bedroom, inside the house he raised his children in, and the bed he shared with his sweet wife.

he looked at all of us and said, "i've got my treasure here with me." he was ours, and losing him is nothing short of a deep, sad blow. but he left such a sweet legacy. one of humility, grace, kindness and purity. one i will forever measure myself against.

he was truly one of a kind, an irreplaceable original. a few days before he passed away, my cousin held his hand and told him, "they just don't make men like you anymore, Nanno."

"nope," he grinned,

"they threw the pattern away."


Audrey said...

Beautifully written. I feel like I knew him now-- and mourn with you! What a legacy.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Have just started my day off with a few tears after reading this. Tears of sorrow for your loss, I'm very sorry, and tears of joy for the beautiful words of love.
How lucky you are to have had him for so long.

Thisisme. said...

Beautiful, heartwarming words in tribute to your much loved Nanno. He will be terribly missed but lovely to think that he is now with your grandma in wonderful to depart this world still in his own warm bed and with his family surrounding him. That's all any of us could ever hope for. Sending hugs your way my friend, and know that you did Nanno proud with your post today. Strangely enough , the 10th May is the anniversary of my dad's passing.

Pamela said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Thinking of Nanno and your family. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words about him...I know he was a treasure to you.

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

So sorru for your loss-

larisaa said...

This is so emotionally beautiful. I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like such a wonderful man. That picture of him is incredible.

Tiffany said...

Oh, Courtney. I am so sorry for your loss. I will be praying for you and your family. What a beautiful tribute that you have written to him.


Daydream Living said...

Dear Courtney,
You always described your Nanno as a wonderful man, here at your blog, but this tribute about him is really special. I'm sorry for your and your family's loss and hope you will find the strength together to heal. He had a good life, from what you so beautifully shared with us, thank you for doing this.

I know what you mean with leaving a void.
I grew up with my grandma in our house, she was more my mama, and since she passed there isn't a day that goes by, where I don't mention her name or do something the way she has thought me. Our grandparents are not here, but we carry them in our hearts.

I wish you all the best,
big virtual hugs,
Maureen xx

Blondie's Journal said...

I am so sorry, Courtney. Your Nanno was a truly special man in your life and the lives of so many others. I am sure he is at peace. Your tribute is truly touching.


Valerie said...

this is absolutely and beautifully moving. how special to have a man like this in your life. i think you came up with exactly the right words.

Ana Magdalena said...

reading this brought tears to my eyes. I am so terribly sorry for your loss, Heaven gained another sweet angel. i agree with your Nanno, "they threw away the pattern"... what a wonderful grandfather you had!

Amber said...

I am truly sorry for your loss. He sounds like such a great man but his legacy will live on in his children and you.

Jillian said...

Eventhough, I didn't ever know your Nanno I feel as though I did just reading this post. What a remarkable man. Truly our loss and heaven's gain.

ginanorma said...

I'm so sorry deeply for your loss and i'm speechless at your tribute of writing here, may God be with you all and peace to him now.

Kira said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a blessing though to be with him near the end, to hear from him what he was seeing, and to know for sure he was Heaven bound. He sounds like a wonderful man.

ash said...

this is incredible. i know he's proud of you. praying for you hard, sweet friend. ♥

Vanisha @ Vanishas Life In...Australia said...

I'm sorry for your loss, you and your family are in my thoughts. I have my father-in-law with us and we've been talking about death, and he's sharing his feelings about his wifes passing. He's never spoken about it before. My heart aches. Your post captured me from the beginning, but I finally broke down at "how he talked to my grandma's side of the bed in the evenings..." I look over at my husband and think I hope we're like that. Wishing you all the strength you need <3

charla beth said...

God, this is so beautifully written, courtney. you made me cry.

your nanno sounds like an incredible man. this little excerpt made me feel like i knew him. i am so sorry you had to lose him, that you'll have to miss him for the remainder of your time on this earth. i don't think that missing will ever go away.

but thank God for grace. for hope in eternity. i have no doubt that nanno will be watching over you the rest of your life--smiling and cheering you on and missing you in the hard moments. but i also have no doubt that he will be one of the first to greet you when you make your way into the rest of eternity.

i'm thinking of you, dear friend, and sending a little squeeze your way.

chambanachik said...

In tears. What a wonderful man. Hugs to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Now I have to go look at something superficial so I can stop crying...

the southern hostess said...

Thinking of you and your family. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.

Anna Kristianne said...

Dearest Courtney,

Oh how it grieves my heart to know that your sweetest grandpa has passed away and to imagine how you and your family members must feel.

But I am so grateful that this life is only a part of our journey. And I am so touched by what kind of a man your grandpa was! Though I didn't know him, I am blessed by him in reading what you have shared about him.

You and your family members continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Much love,


Bibi said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Courtney. Your Nanno sounds like a wonderful man, a man every granddaughter should have in her life. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.


wildchild said...

what a sweet way of remembering him. i think that if he could read this, he'd be thankful for such an honor.

i'm sorry for that hurt from your loss, but i can only imagine the joy you must have felt seeing him go be with Jesus. we always have that to be thankful for.

Cara-Mia said...

Courtney, I'm sorry I'm so late in replying to this. I'm so sorry for your loss. This post is a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. I'm honestly tearing up, it's so beautiful.

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