It was the evening of my 26th birthday and I was in my apartment – a Balvenie 14 Year Old in one hand and the weight of my future in the other. A lot had changed over the past year and it got me thinking about the person I am, the person I want to be, and how I had gotten to this 26th year. My mind wandered down years of memories scooping up the moments that built my character and highlighting the people who have influenced me. From the very start of these memories, my Grandfather held a vivid presence.
To those who know him well, this should come as no shock. He is one of those people who is contagious to be around and to me he has always been the epitome of a role model. A New York born Northern Italian, he is filled with a quick wit and an easy charm. He is an expert in numerous things including art and languages, and a true entrepreneur.
Exactly two months ago he suffered a sever stroke. It all happened at the speed of light and suddenly I found myself at the foot of his hospital bed frozen and at a loss for words. This was my Grandpa – the guy who walked 6 miles a day and avoided the microwave for fear of radiation. I didn’t get it. I couldn’t comprehend how in the matter of seconds he became glued to a hospital bed.
As the days turned into weeks my Grandfather started getting stronger, his speech clearer and his memory sharper. It became clear to me that his strong will and perseverance were still pushing through. Ever since I can remember, my Grandfather had been teaching me things and at this moment I can see that he still is. So as I gear up for what the next 26 years are going to be I’d like to remember the things my Grandfather taught me.
1. Perseverance – I’ll never forget my 7-year-old self sitting around a white clothed table on an exciting outing to the local Chinese restaurant. My Grandfather began to show me how to use chopsticks. Placing them in my hand he helped me pick up single grains of rice until I could do it on my own. I remember being so excited when I could finally do it – a little practice and anything is possible! To this day I find it fascinating when someone does not know how to use chopsticks!
2. Humor – You can count on my Grandfather for a good joke and a quick sense of humor. He has always had people laughing, from his impersonations to his gag gifts and beyond. No matter what prank you conjure up, he is always one step ahead. Laughter is so important in people and the fact that he could ignite it tells me he had a pretty good grasp on life and what it should be about.
3. Creativity – Growing up I have countless memories of art projects with my Grandfather. While most little girls were handed a box of Crayola Crayons and a Cinderella coloring book, I was handed a jar of charcoal and a pad of Strathmore profession paper. Instead of playing with Play Dough or paints from the toy store, he would give me lumps of Sculpty and tubes of oils. I was fascinated and that fascination turned in to begging my parents to take me to Pearl Paint to buy my own supplies.
4. Adventure – My Grandfather always inspired a sense of adventure in me. He is a great story-teller and from a young age I was captured by his stories of the places he travelled. It is obvious he looked for challenges in travel as he was always conjuring up some adventurous trip! The Lomaglio family did not sit on the beaches of the Jersey shore – instead they slept in tents on the banks of tropical islands, hiked the mountains of Colorado and had rocks thrown at their car in Morocco. I can imagine family vacations were never boring!
5. Passion – Most importantly, my Grandfather has a tremendous passion that extends through everything he does. Passion for traveling, learning languages, playing music, building a business, making people laugh and most importantly passion for his family. Flipping through memories he has always been there – sitting in the audience of dance recitals, handing out presents at Christmas, clipping news paper articles for me to read and so much more. And for this I am so grateful because I believe passion is one of the greatest gifts a person can have.
I have to say, we are a lucky bunch to have Al Lomaglio in our lives. Let’s raise a dram to that!