Good Morning… Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God…
This past Sunday, my grandfather turned 95-years-old. I called him and told him how I wish we could all spend the day together celebrating, but that we would see each other soon to mark this incredible milestone.
When I think of our elders during this time, I think about all they have lived through, all they have seen and how sad it must be for them to be distanced from the things and people they love. My grandfather was born during the Great Depression. He witnessed recessions, booms, busts, growth, and prosperity. He’s been alive for 17 Presidents (and counting). He’s also witnessed loss, felt disappointment, sadness, and hurt. He didn’t just witness a World War, he fought in one, serving in the Navy on the USS Missouri during WWII. For those who are unfamiliar with the history of the USS Missouri, or the “Mighty Mo” as it’s nicknamed, it was the battleship that hosted the surrender of the Empire of Japan in 1945, thereby ending WWII. My grandfather was on the boat that day, all of 19-years-old, and is forever part of history. He has 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Though he has lived a great life, my grandfather is not big on legacy. Well maybe he is, but he never speaks in those terms. Some advice he has given me includes: “Don’t get married”, though he shared a wonderful marriage with my grandmother before she died in 2005. He loves telling a good story, (even if he’s already told it), yet always ends by shrugging and saying, “what’s it all about?”. And if you ask him how he is, he’ll usually respond sarcastically with “I’ll let you know.”
I bear some commonalities with him, besides our familial resemblance. His name is John DeLeo, my dad and I are both Joe DeLeo, so we share the same initials. My grandfather got a license plate right after he came home from WWII with his initials on them: JD-767. When my dad went to college, he gave him the car that had this plate on it, and my dad drove with that plate for 40 years. When I bought my first car in college, my dad gifted me that plate. It is one of my most prized possessions, not because it bears my initials, but because it represents the love of a father to a son, and that son’s love to his son.
We have so much to learn from our elders. No, they do not know about TikTok, but they know about other things and other technologies. No, they may not listen to Cardi B, but they appreciate music and good times. No, they may not move fast, but they appreciate the ability to move, to walk, to give someone a big hug, and to cook you your favorite meal. I bet you that during COVID lockdown, your grandparents handled the solitude the best! I know mine did, and again not because they had nowhere to go or nothing to do, but because they have seen struggles and strife and know that it is all going to be okay. I also value the fact that my grandparents are still safe, when many others were not.
We value and praise youth in society and what’s “new” but really, it is much more interesting to hear what our elders have to say. They were young once, and they had dreams and ambitions, in fact… they still might have dreams and ambitions! They remind us to never stop growing and learning. I am so fortunate to have 3 grandparents still alive. In fact, I’ll be taking my other two grandparents to CVS tonight so they can receive their second dose of the COVID vaccine. I hope you all have someone older in your lives that you can turn to for advice and for comfort. Listen to what they have to say, and cherish every moment that you get to spend with them.
Let us pray…
Dear God, thank you for our elders and for the gifts that they continue to give us. Please bless our grandparents for the life they gave to us, and for the ways they have helped us and made us stronger. Let us remember that they are some of our first teachers, and they continue to inspire us everyday.
Saint John Baptist De La Salle… Pray for us…
Live Jesus in our Hearts… Forever!
March 16, 2021 Mr. Joseph DeLeo, Dance Instructor