E.L.A. memoir

May 13, 2008
By Courtney Petronio, Rochester, NY

As I’m sitting at home watching a movie with my cousin, my parents, aunt, uncle and grandma, come through the door sobbing with sadness. That night. The night of November 3rd. 2004 was the worst night in all of our lives. We all stand together in the middle of the living room looking at one another trying to figure out what is going on. Finally we get the news. “Grandpa has passed.” My father tells us. As soon as he said that it got real quiet in the room. Since I was only 10 at the time it really didn’t hit me as hard as it did everyone else. Yes, I was close to him but I didn’t really understand the meaning of death or dying. As the night went on, it was quiet and the only thing going on was the mourning of him.
Michael Samentello was only 74 when he had died of severe lung cancer. He had many operations to try and get rid of it but it didn’t work. He was a Korean War veteran. He saved many people and risked his life, and made it back in all one piece. He had never had a heart attack, or anything else that many older people have at old age. He was just a walking, talking, old man who didn’t fear dying, nothing got in his way of living his life. He had 7 grandchildren, Dan Jr. Andy, me, Matthew, Carly, David Jr. and Christopher.
We all called him lama. No clue how the name was thought up but it stuck, and we liked it along with him. Lama was the nicest living person anybody in this world would every meet. A math wiz, a loving father and grandpa. I was the closest with him out of all of the grandchildren. Every time my family and I would go over to see him he would look at me and get a twinkle in his eyes and have the biggest smile ever! He was the person I could talk with about anything…well about school problems, homework, or problems at home with my brothers. He would sit across from me and talk for hours.

Just a few months ago we were getting prepared to take a week long vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Packing the things into each of the cars, making sure we used the bathroom so we wouldn’t have to stop as much on the trip down and also making sure we had everything we needed. Ready to go and we hit a problem. My brother gets stuck in the bathroom and the door won’t open. All of us outside wondering what’s taking so long sitting inside the cars talking to one another until finally we get to go. It took us only 18 hours to get there but it was definitely worth it. When we got there and saw the house we were staying at it was amazing. As soon as my grandpa got out of the car and saw the house his face lit up. Knowing this was probably the last vacation he was going to be on before he passed he wanted to live it up and have fun. We got in and picked rooms. The next day we went over to a place called “Ripley’s believe it or not aquarium.”
We stood outside, in the line waiting to get in. In Front of us was a huge waterfall that my grandpa loved to stare at. I don’t know why but he just loved to look at moving things… (Just like I do) we took many pictures in front of that big waterfall just to make him feel better. Once inside we looked above our heads and saw many living sea creatures, such as sharks, fish and others. My grandpa’s face just lit up when he saw the inside of that place. It was like looking at a baby having its first Christmas.

After our fun week was up in Myrtle Beach we headed home. Once we got home and a few days had passed with nothing going on we got a scary call. My mom answered it. “Michele. This is mom. Your father is in the hospital. He had a heart attack.” My grandma was sobbing while on the phone with her. Minutes after my mom got off the phone with her her and my uncle (her brother) headed off to the E.R. where he was and comforted my grandma. Many hours later as all of us sit together hoping everything is okay, the phone rings. “Doctors say he only has a few months left.” They found out that he had severe lung cancer, and it was spreading very fast. Days later the doctors pronounced him dead. At his funeral the grandchildren were told to bring up the gifts or things he liked a lot. When I went to go bring up something I couldn’t even walk straight because I was crying so hard. My best friend was gone and now I had no one there to have my long conversations with anymore. Later that day, his body was cremated. Just what he wanted. My grandma had the ashes spread around a special tree at mount hope cemetery. Every year on his birthday my whole family on my mom’s side goes to church early in the morning, then has a small brunch at the place he loved the most. To this day I still miss him and cry about him once in a while. Someday I will be with him again. And when that day comes I’ll be ready and hopefully he will be waiting.

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

AmyFay said...
on Sep. 23 2011 at 6:57 pm
I am touched by this, having lost both my grandmothers before I turned 13 and a grandfather before I was even born. It's very beautiful... It's so beautiful I chose to write about it for a school project. Thank you for sharing.

Swoon Reads

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!