Michael’s Birthday Lunch!

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It was Sunday the day before Michael’s birthday.  We were all planning to meet at Michael’s most favorite restaurant, La Milpa in Milpitas.  Lunch was planned for 1:00 pm and I was looking forward to enjoying some time with my family.  We were all up early on Sunday except for Chris who went to a party on Saturday night all decked out in his new outfit.  He sure did look handsome.  I made my world-famous Papa John’s pancakes and even after everyone had their fill I still had a lot left over.  So into a storage bag the extras went. I will give them to Michael as an extra gift so he can have them on his birthday Monday morning.

Soon Chris was awake and both he and Monica started to pack for their return home.  I do enjoy having Chris and Monica at the house.  Chris can be very helpful to his mom and she always saves a few things just for Chris to get done.  This was a wonderful weekend with Chris. A lot of time was spent discussing things that needed to be talked about and plans that needed to be made about his future.  Chris turned eighteen last year and I am amazed at how he has matured.

Well with everyone ready we packed our stuff and ourselves into the car.  We were on our way to my Grandson, Michael’s eighteenth birthday lunch.  I guess I was just way too excited.  We arrived thirty minutes early to the restaurant, so we took a lot of time exiting the car and strolled into La Milpa’s.  The owner greeted us as soon as a small break occurred between customers.  We were then taken directly to our table.  Once we were seated we begin to eat the chips and salsa present on the table.  We were waiting for the birthday boy (cross that boy comment and insert man) to arrive.  Before completing our order for drinks I see my Grandson entering La Milpa’s front door.

I wave to Michael and he heads straight to the table.  Hugs and kisses to Marti, Monica and I with a smile and handshake for Chris.  Seconds later the last three people arrive for the party.  Now sitting at the lunch table are: Michael (the birthday –Man), Chris my son, Monica my Granddaughter, Marti my wife, Susan my daughter, Bruce my soon to be son-in-law, Barbara my daughters Godmother and long time friend of the family and of course me.  Missing is my daughter Deborah and her two daughters Abby and Braylin.  Deborah and her family were unable to come to the lunch due to illness and that made lunch just a little sad.

With everyone seated at the table our family started to enjoy the party.  The eight of us began talking and discussing just what we thought was best for lunch.  Michael really enjoys good Mexican food and his favorite is the giant Burrito.  He ordered his lunch and the rest of us ordered our lunch.  The food at La Milpa’s is always excellent and I understand why it is always packed.  The service is excellent and the guests at the restaurant are treated with both thanks and understanding.  Barbara needed to leave after lunch to return home and Marti and I needed to take Chris to the BART station.  So it was agreed that after lunch Susan, Bruce, Monica and the birthday man, Michael would drive to their home and await Marti and my return from the BART station to enjoy cake and open presents.

We dropped Chris off at the BART station and then drove quickly over to Susan’s house.  There at the house everyone was waiting for Marti and I too arrive so the presents could be opened.  First we all sat down and a special made cake (that looked just like a giant camera) with eighteen candles arrived.  We all sang Happy Birthday (someone sure does not know how to sing; in fact I think that person cannot carry a tune even in a box).  Then Michael cut the cake and shared a slice of cake with everyone. Next he opened all of his birthday cards and read them aloud to all of us.  Presents were next and you could see the happiness on Michael’s face as he opened each present.  He thanked everyone individually after opening each gift.  At the end Michael thanked all of us for attending and celebrating his birthday with him.  It was late afternoon and Marti and I returned home to Aptos, California.


I Love My Grandma Jessie

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Attending mass with my Grandma Jessie was something that was done every day. Well before 6:00 am we would be kneeling down so we could start saying prayers even before the mass started. I did not know who or what grandma was praying for, but it did not matter to me, she was always happy in her church praying to God. I was a young boy so for me just looking at the statues, windows, candles and of course the little thing that was used to hold men’s hats always caught my attention. I am sorry to say that I did more looking than praying inside the beauty of the church. Each stain glass window was different from the stain glass on either side of the window.  Some had the image of a saint others may have a holly event depicted on the glass. The more I went to mass the more gospels I heard and the more I could read the image in the stain glass. Great statues of Jesus Christ, very holly people, and angels were found on every wall inside the church. Centered and directly in front of everyone was the altar with a giant cross and the body of Jesus Christ at the top and lots of burning candles. With the entry of the priest we would all stand and mass would begin.

At this time in my life the mass was said in the old Roman language of Latin. As I watched the priest perform the rituals of the mass, I could follow what was going on without understanding Latin. I found a lifelong lasting appreciation for attending mass at this very early time in the day.  Six AM Mass was never a long mass. In fact Mass at this time in the morning was always completed in less than thirty minutes. The priest would never say a long homely and with fewer people attending communion the mass was over so quickly that it was hard for this young boy to become bored.  With mass ending we would depart the church and return home to Grandma’s house. Our return home was completed in about the same amount of time as our travels to Church. First we would walk quickly by the houses in the block, run over the roads that blocked our return, and be back in Grandma’s house in no time.  Entering the house from the rear door I would sit down at the kitchen table to wait for my coffee (with lots and lots of milk) and my Italian cookies (if I was lucky) otherwise it was just a normal breakfast of eggs and toast.

During this extended time at my Grandma’s home I did many new and exciting tasks. For the first time in my young life all I heard was the Italian language.  I just like my older sister Marianne became acquainted with many new Italian words. They were words that I could repeat to my family without my mom grabbing the bar of Lava soap and shoving it into my mouth.  Yes, now I could tell my brother and sisters to: shut the door, shut their mouths, sit down, be good, play outside, pray, eat, be quite, do not climb the tree, and get down you will hurt yourself. I heard those phases so often from my wonderful Grandma Jessie that for some reason they just stuck in my head.  Learning the Italian language, specially these phases, from my Grandma Jessie helped me whenever I went over to my Godmother Babe’s house. Grandma Mayo Babe’s mother could only speak Italian and when she wanted or needed to say something to me I would recognize the Italian words and know what to do. So as you can see learning another language is always beneficial.

In addition to learning some Italian I was able to help my Grandma when she went to visit her friends.  Grandma did not own or drive a car so we would walk wherever and whenever we needed to go.  Her friends lived all around her neighborhood and when we visited these friends they would always give me something to eat.  I think my Grandmother knew everybody in the neighborhood because I am sure we visited every house in the neighborhood.  Everyone we visited spoke Italian and every lady we meet would give me a hug and a kiss after greeting me with the word “abenaeika” (beautiful (prince) in Italian). I was my Grandma Jessie’s Italian prince so she would take me from one Italian home to another so they could greet and kiss me. I was truly loved by my Grandma and by the friend’s in grandma’s neighborhood.