The most memories I have of my Grandpa John occur around a long drive with my father, a stop at a grocery store, and ending with our visit with my Grandpa John. My dad and I lived in San Jose California and my Grandpa was living just outside Sacramento. This meant that we would drive about 120 miles to visit. The drive took us a little over two hours to complete discounting the stop at the grocery store.

I would travel with my dad anytime I could. Sometimes I could not make the trip due to homework or the need to study for finals. However if I was able to made the trip without impact to my college classes I would be in the car with my dad. I did not count the number of trips I made sitting in the car with my dad but I remember there were a lot. In addition to visiting my Grandpa John, we would stop and say hello to my Aunt Grace, my dad’s sister. We would also stop and visit with my Grandma Mary, and my Uncle Jimmy, my dad’s mother and brother.

At the time of these visits my Grandpa John was in need of more care than Grandma Mary and Uncle Jimmy could provide. My Grandfather was living out his remaining years in a rest home. I loved to visit my Grandpa because it seemed to make him happy if only for the time my dad and I spent with him. Let me tell you a little story about one of our trips.

My dad was planning a trip to visit Grandpa on Saturday and I said that I wanted to go with him. I drove over to his house early Saturday morning and after greeting both he and my mom we said goodbye to mom and were off to visit my Grandpa John. Sometime I will tell you about the things we talked about on our two-hour drive but not this time. We had some of the best talks on the drive to visit my dad’s dad.

Driving for almost two hours ended inside a parking lot. It was here that we would park the car and enter the grocery store close to the rest home where my Grandfather lived. We would scour the store looking for special treats to present to my Grandpa John. My father explained to me that we did this to make his father happy. Dad went on to explain that sweet items like cookies and fruit could be tasted by my Grandpa but other things like pasta or a meatloaf did not taste well to him. So we were always on the lookout for new and exciting cookies. Fruit was always something that was more dictated by the season and my dad’s knowledge of the fruits Grandpa liked. Of course we needed to find fruit that was ripe and ready to eat today. With our goodies bagged and the items purchased we took the goodies to the car and continued our drive to the rest home.

Arriving at the rest home we would park the car, get the bag of goodies, and enter the rest home. We would head directly to my Grandfather’s room and most times Grandpa John would be there sitting in a chair and looking out of the window. My father would call out to Grandpa John in Italian saying good morning, Papa. Grandpa would turn to face us and as soon as his mind recognized us a big smile would brighten up his face. Out of the chair and into the outstretched arms of my father. When finished with their greeting I would say hello in English or Italian and give my hug and kiss hello.

We would then leave the room and walk down the hall to the dining area inside the rest home. The dining area functioned as an eating, entertaining, reading, and social area for the residents and guests that arrived to visit. We would find a table away from other activity and the three of us would sit down for our visit. My dad would open the bag of goodies and place some of the cookies on a plate; he would then cut up some of the fruit and place the bite size pieces onto the plate.

Enjoying the cookies and bites of fruit my dad and Grandpa would speak in Italian. My dad did most of the talking with my Grandpa listening and occasionally glancing at me. I watched how much my Grandpa enjoyed eating the cookies and fruit slices. If grapes were in season my Grandpa would eat more grapes than cookies that day. He also liked crisp Apples and cheese. I was fascinated by the interaction between my dad and his father. I think this was one of the best lessons I learned about life. Checking for signs of fatigue or loss of attention my dad would know the visit was over. We would then walk Grandpa back to his room, hug and kiss goodbye, and leave the bag of goodies with Grandpa John we would depart the rest home.