At a time like this, words elude me. At a time like this, when I would most like to be vulnerable and honest, I cannot. At a time like this, I wish that wishing it away were enough.
Alas, wishing it away will not change the past and it will not change the present. I will do my best to sit here and coax the words from my pen in honor of a man who loved the written word. I will do my best to eulogize a man whose eulogy I was not prepared to give.
Today we must say farewell to my grandfather, Mr. Joseph Michael DeStefano. Brilliant and determined, he contributed to one of America’s greatest feats by helping to put man on the moon. He worked multiple jobs while attending night school to become an engineer with the hopes of growing and supporting a family. He was a devout Catholic, a dedicated husband, a loving brother, father, uncle, and grandfather, and a genuinely good man. He was always smiling, whether he was allowed to have that last cookie or not. He was adorable and we all knew it.
I wish that I had been closer to my grandparents as a child. Our lack of proximity may have kept me at bay but it was a painful bashfulness that kept me from speaking, even to my family members. I was cute and quiet, that was the role I chose to play. Regretfully, it was not until my grandmother’s passing that I found my voice. I saw a different side to my grandfather then. He was different without her, a quiet sadness followed him everywhere but he would light up when he saw his children and grandchildren. “Princess!” he’d shout through a smile while taking my face in both hands before giving me a kiss on the cheek. I felt the need to entertain in the absence of my grandmother. My job was to make him smile whether that be with my unabashed sarcasm or simply my presence. I learned a lot about him in his later years and I only wish that I had been paying attention so much sooner.
I am blessed to have received one final gift from my grandfather before he left us to be with his wife. The family had gathered for a lunch recently and the subject of accomplishment arose. Grandpa chose to look to me as his example of success, a memory which I am sure will propel me forward for years to come. I struggle daily with self-doubt as I pursue an ever-elusive career in the arts but in his eyes, the pursuit itself was to be lauded. He spoke of my endeavors with pride, something I would never do for myself. I am fortunate that now, whenever I inevitably face those moments in which I am ready to quit, I will have a voice to remind me that the pursuit is worthy. I will forever be compelled to continue creating because I can’t bear the thought of disappointing that happy and hopeful grandfather of mine.
Growing up, I was taught never to say goodbye. Goodbye implies finality and luckily for us, nothing in this world is truly finite. This is merely a parting to which we must say, “Until we meet again.”
“Ci vediamo.” “Nni videmu.”