Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I'm glad Melissa broached the topic of our Grandmother Connie. Drew, Ella, and Tyler had never gotten the chance to meet her, but they will undoubtedly hear about her. Born in a house in Hoboken in Oct 1914, the first of 10 children, she was the matriarch of the family, and if you think about a family tree….what a large one it was (filled with plenty of Michael's and Marietta's as that was their parents names) She did not have much of a formal education, but a life of experience had made her wise beyond her years. I was lucky enough to live in the same house with her my whole life. I have vivid memories of my time with Gram as well as thoughts/ideas/concepts from her that I will strive to pass on to the children.

One of those is pride…she was always so proud of herself, the things she accomplished, her family, and her community. Another is the ability to be happy. She always told me that you alone can always be happy no matter what the circumstance. She lived through a Depression and a World War where all of her brothers and husband were fighting and she always said that she could find something to be happy about. I've never seen anyone with the ability to glean so much pleasure from the sound of music, the taste of food, a breathe of fresh air, or the feel of sunlight on her face. She always told me to focus on what I have, not what I don't have. Lastly, one of the things she told me most often……. "Michael, when you say your prayers at night, always thank the Lord that you were born in America" Gram loved this country, with all its faults, she always felt lucky to live here.

Drew/Ella/Ty, be prepared for me to talk about Gram and her stories. She was awesome. A legend. I'm not sure if it was in honor of Gram or my own pride in the USA…but when Drew and Ella were born, I wanted to have Aunt Melissa paint a saying on the wall….but my wife quickly vetoed it. So I think I shall put it here for you to read when you are older.

Twins by luck,
Dargan by birth,
American by the grace of God……



Monkey Business said...

I love that you wrote about Gram and I hope to hear the stories often.

You did fail to mention that along with that saying you also wanted a giant eagle with the American flag in its mouth painted in the nursery. I had no choice but to use my veto power :)

Anonymous said...

Fair point Lau....only the flag was to be in the eagles talons, not his mouth


Anonymous said...

Dear Ella, Drew and Tyler...
As a little girl I have the fondest memories of a place you already know quite well, a place that Connie built for our family, a place that was filled with laughter and love-29 Valley Court... and those memories are alive in my mind- so vivid and clear like technicolor movies playing on repeat.

I grew up thinking and knowing that I could do anything I wanted, play any sport, achieve any goal, climb any tree because my brothers were right there behind me... encouraging me, sticking up for me and most-likely lifting me into any trees I "climbed" :) Your Dad and your uncles did all of this because our grandmother and parents instilled so much pride in our family. The pride I speak of was often guised in actions and not words...

Another gift that Gram gave us was the gift of acceptance. 29 Valley has encountered many "guests" all of which were always made to feel welcome and totally accepted with love and support - and that is how I knew your Mom would one day be your Mom from the first moment I met her •••••
I was about 12, I waited at the foot of the driveway for what seemed like hours, and finally a little hatchback car came chugging down Valley court at 5mph. It was my brother Michael, his friend Luke and a girl named Lauren. As Lauren opened the door of the car, I immediately attacked her with a huge hug- and this girl I never met or saw before in my life hugged me back. It was the kind of hug that I see her give you, Ella, Drew and Tyler. It was the kind of hug that Nancy and Steve gave me the first time I met them... the kind of hug your uncle Johnny and your great-grandpa Sid gave me the first time I met them... The kind of hug that symbolizes a person has grown up in a cohesive family, a family that accepts people and loves them unconditionally.

You three are so lucky to have parents that both came from families where nurture always conquered nature. Families, where love was taught and given freely and without consequence.

Gram taught the entire family so much. For me, my favorite lesson was the one she taught over and over everyday of our life together and even in the days since she has been gone- it was HOW to LOVE... and whenever I don't know what to do or I feel like I can no longer go on... I think of those technicolor scenes in my mind. The ones where Gram is roasting peppers on the coils of her stove, singing to her birds, listening to Opera on a record player, setting the dinner table... the scenes I will always have in my mind to remind me of the lessons I was taught through her gracious actions, gentle way and understanding ear.

You too will have memories like these because your two grandmothers and two grandfathers have so many of the same gentle ways about them. Your mother has so many of the same lessons in her mind of gram and how great she was. Also because your Dad, my brother- is the kindest person I have ever met... and I can tell you from experience, He will never let you down, he will always build you up as he did me. He is the kind of person that will find you at the toughest point in your life and motivate you to succeed and continue on. He will teach you so much... This I promise you my niece and nephews- He will be so much of the strength you will develop over the many years of your lives. He will be to you what he is to me- a hero and a person who is always in your corner.
-Aunt Melissa

Nonnie said...

Sitting here . . . watching "nothing" on tv, I decided to visit the blog and go back to check on things I might have missed. I'm glad I did. I missed Auntie Melissa's special message to you all. How amazing and wonderful to hear love from someone's heart and to see it on paper for the world to embrace and hold in their hearts. How special to have "family" that will always be there to share with you "love" that only grows through generations. Keep the stories in your hearts forever. Auntie Melissa will always be there for you with family stories and memories of full of love. Lucky you. Lucky us.