My Grandpa’s Funeral

For those who don’t know, I sometimes write in a stream of conscious way. For this post, I’ll be doing so…

Il funerale di mio nonno

after the news, tears came. then came the plans. flights were booked. messages were sent. i just wanted to get there. flying was a nightmare but worth it. sleep would be had whenever possible. met parents at the buffalo airport at 6 am est after leaving LA the day before at 9 am pst. hugs with them, especially my mother. my beautiful mother.

la mia bella nonna. my beautiful grandmother. more tears came before a little sleep. then the wake. four hours of visitors. family seen, some I’ve seen recently and others I hadn’t. it was beautiful. and touching. and emotional. and a testament to my grandfather.

being surrounded by his family was his favorite thing in the world. and that was exactly how we celebrated him.

my aunts and uncles and cousins planned a wonderful memorial to him. it was absolutely lovely. hearing about his last moments made me understand what true love looked like. till the moment my grandfather passed, he thought about his wife. and the fact he was surrounded by family in those last (surprisingly) lucid hours makes me feel good. i know he wouldn’t want it any other way.

he was 97. lived an extraordinary and beautiful life (from fighting for the Italians and stationed in Africa to becoming a prisoner of war in the US during WWII to immigrating his family to America in the 1950s) and he gave me my mother. for that I will be forever thankful.

seven months ago I took my husband to meet him. i’m so grateful I had those moments with him. when he wasn’t giving me advice on having children (he did not like that we chose not too, haha!) he was telling his grandson-in-law stories about Sicily and our family’s early years in America. and he was still making my grandmother blush with stories about stealing kisses when she was in her teens.

the funeral and reception gave family and friends a time to honor him one last time before laying his body to rest.

and that’s when I looked around, saw all of my family’s faces in the same room and was filled with a warmth that I believe was love.

family.

love.

it’s what it’s truly all about, no?

thank you Nonno. I love you. and may you rest in peace and meet your love again wherever you are…

 

La vita non è giusta (Life is not fair)

My father told me a story many years ago about his father and I channel it every time I feel dejected.

Only my father can tell this story appropriately, but I will try to do it justice in honor of my grandfather, may he rest in peace.

One afternoon, my eighteen-year old father found himself spilling out all the ways the world had wronged him to his own father, a Sicilian hard-working immigrant. He told his tales of woe as my grandfather smoked his cigarette and listened. After my father was done expressing his suffering, my grandfather looked at him, inhaled a long drag from his cigarette and said to his son,

“La vita non è giusta.”

Life is not fair.

Those seemingly simple words have stayed with me from the moment my father told me this story.

Life is not fair.

My latest film has been rejected from fourteen film festivals so far. I’m 0-14. It’s out to dozens of others but no filmmaker likes to read the oh-so-generic “rejection” letters. They start to get me down. I start to question things – Do I think this film should be screened? Did I do the best job I could? Is it as honest as possible? Should people see it? Does it have something to say that is worth hearing? ………

But then, amid that noise, I hear my grandfather’s voice…

La vita non è giusta.

He’s right. It isn’t.

But so be it. What am I gonna do – cry about it or try to fight for what I want?

Today, as I was thinking about how hard it is to get screening time at festivals, I saw a little slice of nature that reminded me growth was possible despite the odds.

And so, to my friend in the picture above, my father and my grandfather, I thank you. You keep me going…