Tuesday, January 02, 2007 | 13 comment(s)
Meg and I made plans to go visit him in the hospital the next day before we left town. But the next morning we got the call that he had died in the middle of the night. He was 82 years old.
He was born in Philadelphia to Italian immigrants. He was given the name "Julamine,"
ConfusionI have no idea whether this is the correct spelling of his name. My dad says that he has his birth certificate and his baptismal certificate somewhere but that his name is spelled differently on the two documents (and I actually think his last name is spelled differently on both documents, too).
I've searched Italian baby names (interestingly enough, there is no letter "J" in the Italian alphabet), and just plain ol' Dr. Google for what the "correct" spelling might be. I've tried
- and a bunch of others too
I think it's a pretty cool name, regardless of its spelling.
To me, he was simply Grandpop.
He was a printer by trade, but his true avocation in life was as a collector of sports memorabilia. Baseball cards, football cards, hockey cards, pennants, posters, autographs, you name it, he collected it. And I shouldn’t really limit it to sports, either, I guess. Ever since I moved to Washington, DC ten years ago, he would regularly ask whether I ever met any Congressmen or Senators, and if I ever did, I should be sure to get their autographs for him. "'Cause, you know, they could be President one day, and that autograph would be valuable."
I can remember sitting around his kitchen table as little kid, and he would entertain Karen and I with card tricks, little puzzles that he’d pick up for us, and other famous "tricks" like "Wanna see me take my thumb off?" (he didn't really take his thumb off, it was just an illusion) or Karen’s favorite: "Wanna see me take my teeth out?" (no illusion, here though). He loved to play around with us and I remember him as a kind grandfather who would make the loudest kissing sounds you could ever imagine when greeting us or saying goodbye.
When my six-year-old nephew heard the news, he said:
"Grandpop died?" and he started to cry.
"But he was good at playing cards."
Two months ago, his wife of 59 years, Marie, died after a long battle with Alzheimer's. My Grandpop was a smoker most of his life and he had recently been struggling with a host of his own health problems -- including by-pass surgery and a heart valve replacement less than a year ago. Despite all that he was going through, he remained a constant companion to my Grandmom. After his surgery, he had decent recovery, though he continued to have some breathing difficulties. Even so, we never expected that he would take such a turn for the worse and pass away so quickly. I suppose it may be better this way.
Together, their names inseparable have rolled off our lips for decades.
They are both gone now, but their influence on us will not fade for a very long, long time.
Beans & Marie.
Grandmom & Grandpop.
We loved them, and they will both be missed very much.