Dignity | The Pit Post by John Pitonzo


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Dad had more than any man we ever met or ever will meet. We, my sister and brothers. The photo is from Summer, 2017. He was closing in on 90. We were doing one of the things we liked to do on my trips over what he liked to call “the big drink,” a phrase he more than likely picked up during his time in the U.S. Navy. He was proud of being a Navy man. Marina told me she started dropping tears at his bedside one day close to his imminent departure, and he looked at her and sternly said, “Enough of that! Wipe off those tears! I’m a sailor.” Dad was “no nonsense,” another phrase he liked, when talking about people he admired — his favorite Yankee closer, Mariano Rivera; Cinda, his favorite nurse in the house where he spent his last few years; his grandson Vinny, when talking about how he attacked his steak and eggs breakfast on Saturday mornings at the local diner: “John, he’s so hungry, he shakes until the waitress brings his plate.” The only nonsense he enjoyed were the silly songs he sang to his grandchildren. True. Dad was true. More true than anyone we ever knew or will ever know. He was true, first to mom, and he stayed true to mom, right up to her dying day and after too. He kept her prayers on his table and said them every night. True as the year is long, as his life was long. He taught us, his children and grandchildren, upon encountering a phony, the meaning of that word, with a shake of his head, his signature grimace, and that slight gesture with his hand as if he was swatting away a fly. Dad’s expressions and gestures come in handy all the time. Laughter. He laughed hard and often. At my visceral anger when the Giants were losing; at mosts thing Mike said; example: Mike told him once or twice, “Dad, when you’re all done, I won’t let you suffer. I’ll take you out in the yard and put you out of your misery. Or put a pillow over your head.” And Dad would laugh like hell. “Your brother’s a beaut,” he would tell me on the phone, and then laugh. He once glanced at me in church and broke into muffled laughter during the moment of silence, raising mom’s ire. Toughness. Old school tough. Born in ’27, the world was a different place. Life will throw a lot at you, he told us, but take it on. Quietly take it on. And that’s what he did. In his final weeks, a constant dose of morphine and a large fentanyl patch at the base of his neck didn’t extinguish the pain much, but he never complained; he would just wink and smile and nod when anyone asked him how he was doing. Mom was the same. A prisoner in her own body for too many years, she never lamented her condition. Dad told us so. Character. He had plenty of that too. And class, enough to sell. And humility. More than anyone we’ve ever known or ever will know. We, his children and grandchildren, can only aspire to that. There is evidence that Dad has passed some of that on. And everyone in my family knows who I’m talking about. “Son, you have no idea how fast time goes by,” he told me once. Yesterday was already a year. He was right. No slowing it down. The Yankees won last night and so I wore his favorite hat and jacket this morning. And today at lunch, back on the other side of “the big drink,” I’ll do what we liked to do, and have that glass and remember his laughter.


More by John here.  http://www.johnpitonzo.com/if-she-was-not-an-immaculate-dove-in-those-days-she-was-still-inviolate/


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