21 May 2011

Addio, mi mancherai Nonno

Losing a loved one is never easy, there's no circumstance that lessens the blow. One minute you have them in your life and the next you don't.

On Thursday night, we lost the patriarch of the Franco family, Paolo Franco.

To many he was the man who sponsored their immigration and helped them adjust to life in Canada, getting them jobs and putting them up in his home; to some he was the one who bailed them out of jail which led to him helping to change the laws so that you can make home-made wine; to others he was the conduit to the old country hosting parties and sending the proceeds back to his home town of Sepino, a farming community in Italy; to a few he was father; to me and my children he was Nonno.

We had four generations sitting at the dinner table on Sundays for a very long time. These family gatherings are more than just going out for dinner, they are not sporadic occasions, for the Franco family – they are the norm. It's what we do, it's a part of our family. Everyone has busy lives and things to do, but even when it's hard to find time to do simple chores, there's always time for a big family dinner. Spending time with one another sharing ideas, celebrating events, cooking, laughing, telling stories and just being there to offer help whenever needed is what makes us a family.

Paolo touched the lives of everyone around him, it's not uncommon for me to hear, "How's your grandfather?" in many of the Italian owned businesses that I visit. He was adored by more than just his family.

He doted over his nine grandchildren and his five great grandchildren and took great pride in watching us all grow up. Family was everything to him.

Two years ago my Nonna left us and I remember thinking at that time, how fortunate we were to have grandparents around for that long. As my Nonno & Nonna grew older, so grew the number of those that loved and cared for them.

The funeral service is in a couple of days, and I find myself trying to pack a lifetime of memories into a succinct and fitting tribute. No words seem good enough and every fond memory is trumped by the next. I will miss my Nonno.