The strong, silent type. Masculine, with a no bullshit attitude at all times, the kind that’s missing in these days. In arenas where men are constantly encouraged to get in touch with their feminine side, there used to be those that would have no part of that conversation.
A guy like John Wayne comes to mind, but I’d rather stick with the men in my family for purposes here.
My grandfather, Sebastian, (picture above) was one of those men. I think of him often, especially now near his birth month of October, and wonder what he would think of the myriad of ways that current events and attitudes unfold now.
I’m going to say he wouldn’t be pleased. He’d do what he used to, derisively uttering “God Bless America” in his sarcastic tone. And then I’d have to laugh.
Like most others of his generation, my grandfather felt he was entitled to nothing more than the opportunity to work multiple jobs to support his family. Factory worker by day, he became a bartender/restaurant worker by night. His customers did a lot of drinking, but he never did.
He simply had too much to do.
The Generation of “Non Complainers”
Sebastian did what he needed, without complaint. If he ever did complain, I never heard it. He was a grinder, working on tasks straight through until they were finished, no matter how long it took.
In partnership with my grandmother, Sebastian was a success as a business owner. When you run a restaurant, it’s like your mistress, and you spend most of your waking hours there. My grandfather had an incredible work ethic, one that he tried to pass down to all of us.
As an immigrant from southern Italy, my “Pops” sure as hell had his obstacles, and also more than his share of sadness. He had a brother, a soldier, killed in World War II, and his son, my uncle, died tragically as a teenager.
To have survived events like that are incredible feats. I’m amazed by the man even now, years after his death. I rarely saw him display sadness, remorse, or regret. He was one tough cookie. Tougher than the rest.
I owe my grandparents quite a bit. They’ve taught me to focus on what’s important, keep it simple, and have a sense of gratitude for it all. I miss having them here. It seems the longer they have been gone, the more complicated things are. They had a way to set that straight. The path was clearer with them acting as mentors.
Forward, Always Forward
One aspect of following my grandfather around was his constant movement. Always going forward, working, making progress. He could be relentless. I recall mouthing off to my grandmother once when I was a kid. His belt came off his pants at lightning speed, and he chased me outside the house, right on my heels. I couldn’t believe such an older man could be so quick.
My grandfather reminds me of Rocky Marciano. For you youngsters out there, Marciano was a heavyweight boxing champ in the 1950s who retired undefeated. I had relatives that talked about him when I was a kid, and I became fascinated by him later. He was also a success symbol for Depression era Italian Americans, many who were immigrants. Marciano inspired hope to those who were downtrodden, and convinced America’s “streets of gold” were a fallacy.
Marciano never lost a fight because he never stopped moving forward. Even when he was hurt, rarely taking a backward step. Never stopped punching. Kept coming at you. Never relented.
Sebastiano DeGiorgio, throughout his life, was a lot like him. Short and compact, but quick. Relentless and persevering. And tough. Tougher than the rest.
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