The Good Bed

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G-pa. That’s what we called him. I came up with the name, but if you asked any one of my cousins they would say they came up with it. My Grandpa had all the makings of a successful person. He was hard working, passionate, and sometimes maybe a little stubborn. I am hard working and passionate because of my G-pa, and that is something not even death can take away from me.

I’d like to think that I had a special relationship with my Grandpa. He had a soft side for me. Now, I don’t know if that’s because I was a suck up or because I’m just loveable like that. Probably both. But no matter what, I knew we had a special bond only we could have. We had many things in common like ice cream, and walks to the park, and opera, and the show, ”Everybody Loves Raymond,” And he often took my side in arguments like when me and my brother used to fight over who got to sleep in the “Good Bed” at his house. I always got the Good Bed. Every time. That made sleeping over my grandparents’ house even better, I knew I would get the special treatment. Although I couldn’t say the same for my brother, who had to sleep on a lump of a mattress. But my whole family knew my G-pa loved all of us, especially me. My G-pa was a family guy and a man to look up to and to be respected. But an old school Italian to say the very least.

Tall, muscular, and a chiseled face would be a pretty accurate description of my G-pa. If you looked into his eyes you could see how hard he had worked to be where he was that day. He never took anything for granted. He was tough, and only his family, like me, were the lucky ones who got to see who he really was, a passionate, ambitious, and, at times, a humorous man. He was a hard worker, persistent and stubborn, and possibly intimidating to anyone that didn’t know him. But there was a soft side to him too, caring, protective, and again, humorous and passionate. He was all about family and I always felt safe around him, mostly because I knew he would protect me no matter what. Immaculate is the best way I could have described his soul, for reasons more than one. Let’s just say I have a limited amount of writing space here so I don’t wanna use it all up just yet. I will tell you that he was born and raised in Bari, Italy, where his family had a farm and the whole “Italian Deal,” He was old school and classic, two traits I specifically admired about him. He really was a friendly guy…if he liked you. But he had a knack for figuring out in a split second whether someone was an overall good person or not. He could carry on a good conversation with a complete stranger if he deemed them worthy. That might sound a little conceded, but he could do that. He was allowed, in my book at least. Because he’d earned his respect and that was just only one of his many accomplishments.

I admired my G-pa for many reasons. He was an accomplished man. He came to America all the way from Italy and worked and fought his way to give me the life that I have today. He was the provider for his family of six, and most definitely gave his kids a better life than he had. He loved his grandchildren to death, which makes me eternally proud to be one of the only nine people in the whole world who can genuinely say, “I’m Filippo Simone’s grandkid,” Growing up he was a constant influence in my life. So you know how people say to count your blessings? That’s one of the blessings that I count. I remember when he would drive me and my brother to and from religion in the summer, and all throughout the 20 minute car ride, I would sing church hymns until my lungs felt like lead and couldn’t take in any more air. Now to listen to me “belt it” and still be able to drive without crashing is an accomplishment all in itself. But he was also there at soccer games and piano recitals and graduations and all the places a grandfather should go to support his grandchild. But I loved my G-pa beyond words and that set him apart from anyone else that was at the events. And let me just say now, that for me to confess my utter love for someone, should be an accomplishment bolded on their resume.
My G-pa and I shared so many memories and experiences together that the number of “Kodak Moments” are most probably infinite. I can still remember those moist summer afternoons that I spent running errands with him. Back then I took them for granted, but now I relish them like a fugitive does the night. While running the errands he would always keep me in mind. He took me to the video game store and let me pick out any game I wanted. I remember one time I was in the car with him and he had to make a turn. Which way he turned depended on me, because on the left was Taco Bell and on the right was Burger King. It was my choice and the light had already turned green. He asked again which one I wanted to go to, but I still couldn’t decide. I was under pressure, you know? So he kept saying it louder and louder as cars honked behind us. But he wouldn’t make the decision for me. We sat there until I made up my mind. At the time, I just saw it as him getting aggravated at my indecisiveness, but now I realize that he couldn’t make the turn because my decision was that important to him. You’re probably thinking, “But it was just Taco Bell and Burger King,” I know. But that’s what made my G-pa my G-pa.









During those summers I could always find my G-pa working in the “glorious” Vegetable Garden, which was a place of homage for the vegetables that inhabited it. No ball or grubby hand was allowed to enter the Garden. But he would let me help him water the plants…if I was careful. Oh, and the Fig Trees! Oh, how he loved those Fig Trees! He made sure he took care of all the landscaping needs of his property. And after he worked in the garden and I read a good amount for the day, we played card games as the sunlight came to a close and a warm summer breeze started to pick up. Those vegetables came in handy when Tomato Day rolled around. Tomato Day is the annual day, usually in mid August, where my whole family comes together to make tomato sauce for the rest of the year. My G-pa was always the captain of this particular event every year. He always worked the hardest. He was the one who woke up at five in the morning to go get the 12 bushels of tomatoes, not the night before, but that very morning because that’s when he could buy the tomatoes at their freshest. And he was the one who worked all the “shifts”. I always studied how diligently he worked and unlike almost all of the rest of my cousins, I enjoyed working on tomato day because if I did a good job, it meant I would get praise from G-pa. I loved being his sidekick, and strived, no, still strive to be like him. Spending those summer days with him at his house are some of my favorite memories of all time.
Sleepovers were the best at his house because of a few reasons. First of all, he would always tell me I could sleepover whenever I wanted, so I felt always felt as if I belonged there. And also it was because of all my favorite channels he so carefully fought for with the cable company that would play on the TV. But it was also, the Good Bed that made sleeping over so worth it. That bed was always mine. Sleepovers with my cousins were extra fun because we would try and stay up all night and try so hard to suppress our laughter while we pretended to sleep when G-pa came and checked on us. Then when he heard us laughing he threatened to take out…..DUNDUNDUN…..THE BELT! The belt was a legendary object in my family, which served for more than one purpose, especially for G-pa. I never got The Belt, of course, but I think my brother might have. The Belt was the lessons of discipline and respect all stitched neatly in between a strip of leather and a buckle. I could write a whole book about all the lessons my G-pa taught me and I how much I loved him, but I just don’t think I’m ready to be a published author yet.

My G-pa was one of the most important people in my life. He taught me many lessons that I will carry with me until the day I die. I cherish the little things now, like the way he used to say my name and the moment of bliss between the roll of the “r” in my name, and the smile on his face that usually followed. Words escape me when I try to say how much I miss him, but I guess that’s what tears are for, right? My G-pa was the man of all men and I realize now, that I am hardworking and passionate all because of him. After being blessed by his presence for so long, I now know that if every creature on this Earth was like him, the world would be nothing short of perfect.
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Filippo Simone
March 8, 1930 – April 5, 2009





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