Love Thursday: Grandfathers

My grandfather was reportedly always a gruff, crotchety man; I think that’s because he was saving that soft spot in his heart for my arrival. He had other grandchildren, but anyone in my family will tell you that there was just something different about him when I was around.

I don’t know what I did to deserve such a special love from my Pap Pap, but since he passed away 10 years ago this summer, I’ve thought about him every single day, doing my best to keep his voice alive in my head, to remember his smell, to envision that scowl.

And I always, always wake up with a smile and a tear after he has visited me in my dreams.

I snapped this photo the other day as I was waiting for the bus after having enjoyed my gelato:

There are few things in the world that give me warm fuzzies like seeing a little girl with her grandfather.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Do you have special memories with your grandfather?

35 Beans of Wisdom to “Love Thursday: Grandfathers”
  1. That is the cutest photo.

    My paternal father, Joshua, was awesome. I didn’t see him much as he lived overseas but we would spend a month in the Caribbean at his house.

    I remember when he came to visit us in the States. I didn’t want him to leave. He was very kind, a great story teller, funny, and made the best homemade bread (how geeky were we…we called the bread “grandpa bread”.)

    One of my favorite memories is walking around his garden and helping him pick limes, mangoes, coconuts, mint and then swinging by the chicken coop for some fresh eggs. Then we go to the outdoor oven to see what was up with the bread.

    I loved that backyard and now my parents have many of the same trees (but no chicken coop).

    My dad and his dad were very close and I see a lot of my grandfather’s personality in my dad and my brother. I have two little nephews and I wonder if we’ll see a little of Joshua in them.

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..Trailer for the movie TRAITOR

    Oh these are such lovely memories…and I *love* the Grandpa bread! And I also love the name Joshua πŸ™‚ I hope you do get to see some of him in your nephews…what a treat for everyone that would be!

  2. Gil

    Beautiful tribute to your Grandfather! It is funny how certain things bring you back many (for me at least) years to something that happened to you in your own childhood. Your posts reminds me of the long walks with my Paternal Grandfather, including many trips to th Bronx Zoo that was within two or three blocks from his apartment, and him pointing out what he was going to buy us the the “Quarter” he had in his pocket when he arrived in America from Naples. My Maternal Grandfather owned a little Italian market, near LaGuardia Airport, and i spent many days working (hanging out) at “The Store” and riding around in his old Ford delivery van. I remember the great driving lessons that he gave me when I was 10-14 years old. Things like always rolling through red lights during ice and snow and making left and right turns on red. Of course you first had to look for other cars and then look for Cops! Enough of my life. Have a great day. I will as I’m off to the Dentist in about 12 hours. Jealous?

    Not jealous at all. Go figure!

    Love these grandfather memories, Gil! Thanks so much for sharing them πŸ™‚

  3. 08.14.2008

    Very nice photo. I like it that you judge to the finest point when to use color and when not to.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Anniversary: ooops!

    Thanks Judith; this one in color really took away from the subjects, plus I always like people in black and white πŸ™‚

  4. 08.14.2008

    Nice thoughts, i lost my nan on valentines day 2 years ago and that day has never been the same since, and i also everday remember her voice in my head…. lovely memories

    Pellet stove help’s last blog post..Mt. Vernon AE Insert By Quadra-Fire

    I’m sorry for your loss; I still hear my grandmother’s voice too πŸ™‚

  5. 08.14.2008

    Such a cute picture πŸ™‚

    I can’t remember my grandfathers at all..I never knew my fathers parents really, as they lived in Malta and we lived in the UK
    and other places as my father was in the RAF. I also lost my dad when I was 10….I miss him so much, still, last night for some reason
    he was in my mind alot.

    anne’s last blog post..Raf Benson Families Day

    I always wonder why, sometimes, our loved ones who have passed are on our minds more at some times than others; I’m not complaining, don’t get me wrong, but I like to think of it like they know that we need them and their support around even before we do.

  6. audra


    My nonno passed almost a year ago, and I still think about him every day. I even dream about him, but in my dreams he’s never sick like he was at the end. I know grandparents aren’t supposed to play favorites, but I knew I was his favorite nipotina! Some of the littlest things remind me of him– I can still remember the funny sayings he used to blurt out, entirely appropriate whatever the situation may be. I also remember that he was always, ALWAYS the best dressed man in the room (and the one with the best tan!), how he would give big tips to the same Chinese delivery man, and I remember how I would marvel at his ability to keep white sneakers blindingly white even if he wore them a lot! My nonno was an extremely kind man; I had in my 18 years never heard him raise his voice a single time. I also remember my nonna yelling “Toto’!” across the apartment to get his attention.

    I also like to think that wherever he is, he’s proud of his nipotina and he’s smiling ear to ear because I want to return to his country…

    Oh I *know* your Nonno is proud of you; I don’t think he’d take the time to visit you in your dreams if he wasn’t πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing these memories!

  7. 08.14.2008

    What a fantastic photo. It so suits black and white.

    The post makes me look forward to being a grandfather but not too soon I hope.

    running42k’s last blog post..NFL weekend

    Hah, yes, all in due time….

  8. 08.14.2008

    My grandfathers had both passed away before I was born, but the from the stories, I would have loved them.

    I had a wonderful relationship with my maternal grandmother, though. She was the kind of Grandma everyone should have – a magnet for all the little children in the neighborhood, a great baker, someone who totally “got” children, etc., etc. You’ve inspired me to post about her.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..What’s Cooking Wednesday: Scallops Wrapped in Proscuitto with Balsamic Peaches in Mango Sauce

    Yeah! Can’t wait to read it Jen πŸ™‚

  9. 08.14.2008

    What a wonderful picture!

    Like Anne and Jen, three of my grandparents died when I was relatively young so I don’t have many memories of them – my Dada passed away on my 19th birthday, and he died thinking I was a complete weirdo (I used to be a punk/goth girl) so that’s what I remember most.

    I’ve come across so many people who complain about their grandparents – I remind them how lucky they are to have them because some of us didn’t really have that opportunity.

    You are *so* right to remind people how lucky they are to have experienced the love of grandparents! Don’t get me wrong–mine could drive me absolutely crazy sometimes too, but that’s what families are all about, right? πŸ˜‰

  10. 08.14.2008

    Michelle — I, too, miss my grandpa so much. In a way, he might have been a bit like your grandfather — he was a bit rough around the edges, but he was also illiterate, moved INTO Oklahoma when everybody else was leaving (Dust Bowl days), broke horses and tended oil leases for a living. I think he probably was not a very easy father to grow up with or husband to have had — I’m always amazed at how my dad growing up in that situation figured out he was smart and got himself to university and even a master’s.

    But he was made to be a grandpa, and was a wonderful wonderful one. He had blazing blue eyes, one stumpy finger from an oil-rig incident, and would lay on his couch thumping the cheap paneling and singing us songs. He had such a charm about him and was just so much fun. It will be eight years this Christmas time since he passed away, and I still can’t believe it’s been so long. I always felt special as the ‘only granddaughter,’ so that was fun.

    I too get all gushy when I see grandpas and granddaughters together, no more so than when I see my father with my brother’s daughter. My poor parents had to wait so long to become grandparents — my dad was 68 when Aidan was born — but they adore each other so, and I just know how special of a bond they have. It makes me so happy to see her and him together.

    Thanks for the chance to reflect on two special grandpas in my life a bit here today. If only that grandpa and little girl knew all the memories and thoughts they had stirred up here today on your blog!

    Kim B.’s last blog post..Piedmont Wedding – Travel Plans

    Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful memories, Kim; I am *so* loving reading about all the great grandfathers!

  11. 08.14.2008

    beautiful post and photo! such love in your words and image. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Sperlygirl πŸ™‚

  12. 08.14.2008

    Oh, Michelle, you have touched a soft spot in my heart today. I only knew one Grandfather, on my Mom’s side. He was Pop -Pop to me.

    He was funny and kind-he did everything for my Grandmother. Her name was Rose, but he called her Rosie.

    My best memories are fishing in the summer at the cottage on a lake in upstate NY when my parents would leave us there for a week.

    I also watched Yankee games with him as a little girl. I knew all the players names.

    He played the organ and he used to sing, *I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts*!

    He passed when I was just 12. Too soon, way too soon.

    I miss him often. I hope he knows it.

    Can’t see the keys on the keyboard anymore, eyes too teary πŸ™

    My MΓ©lange’s last blog post..On Pastis

    Was crying as I wrote the post Robin, so it’s only appropriate πŸ˜‰ Thank you for sharing these memories!

  13. That’s beautiful, Michelle. Isn’t it great to feel like you’re a bright spot in someone’s life… without really knowing why?

    My Abruzzese grandfather died way back when my dad was ten, but my mother’s father lived until I was in my late teens. He was pretty remote – not cold, exactly, just kind of like a painting on the wall: in the background, not very interactive. I’ll always associate the smell of pipe smoke and pipe tobacco with him – and fortunately I like the smell.

    When he was dying of cancer, he had to give up his beloved pipe. A memory that stands out of him is of probably our last dinner out together. At the time, I was a smoker, and he asked me for one of my cigarettes (you could still smoke in restaurants in Phoenixville, Penna. in the 80s). My step-grandmother looked daggers at me, but what the hell? I think we all knew at that point it was a matter of time. So me and Grandpop shared a Marlboro.

    Politically incorrect, maybe, but it’s a memory I’ll always cherish.

    paul of crazy like whoa’s last blog post..Where I’m from

    Memories are memories, and I love that first line. Hadn’t looked at that way, but yes, it’s damn nice πŸ™‚

  14. Tina

    Aw, you make me miss my grandpa. He was very smart and very funny, he always made up songs for us… worked with wood and made beautiful clocks… and thanks to him I get to have Italian citizenship. πŸ™‚

    Tina’s last blog post..What I did

    What a fabulous nonno!

  15. 08.14.2008

    That’s lovely.

    Thanks Nino πŸ™‚

  16. 08.14.2008

    i love my grandfather, he along with my grandmother raised me until i was 10. it’s because of him that i have a soft spot for sour apple jolly ranchers, napoleon pastries, and swiss cheese. he is still alive and kicking but not strong enough to travel anymore. now the younger generation makes treks out to see him in CA.

    he loves to play the lottery. i will call him this weekend to see if i can give him some lucky numbers to play. πŸ™‚

    Lan’s last blog post..what’s for breakfast?

    Ooh best of luck to your grandfather with the lottery!

  17. 08.14.2008

    It brings tears to my eyes, but I cannot remember my nonno, he came to visit from Sicily when I was 2 or 3. I went to Sicily when I was 5 but I remember only that he was always in campagna. UP early and in bed early.
    I do remember my nonna and I making the bread at home in her kitchen then walking with it to the oven to be baked. When I remember it, I close my eyes and can actually smell fresh baked bread. It was early early morning too. When we picked up the bread near lunchtime, she would give me the one I made and let me eat it but told me not to tell anyone when we got home. I remember sneaking the dried tomatoes from the balcony with my sister too.
    I’m sad because most of all I miss my papa so much, my daughter’s nonno, I have a tape of him telling stories. I’ll have to listen to those but yes I can still remember the sound of his voice and when he was grumpy…he used to bang his fist on the table and say “OFAA!!!!” And then we’d all bang our fists on the table and repeat “OFAA!” and he would crack a tiny grin.


    Lucy’s last blog post..10 Minutes From Home

    Aw such great memories Lucy! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ Now go listen to that tape!

  18. 08.14.2008

    I don’t have super vivid memories of either of my grandfathers. I do remember sitting on my maternal GF’s lap. He was wearing a nice light plaid shirt, and people always tell me my fraternal GF always feed me crackers…saltines πŸ™‚

    Lovely shot!

    Tanya’s last blog post..Happy Birthday…to ME!

    Hee hee…funny the things that stick out in our minds, isn’t it?

  19. 08.14.2008

    My paternal grandfather died before my parents married. My maternal grandfather died when I was three. I do remember bits and pieces. We used to sit on his lap a lot when we visited. He was always smiling. His smile is my strongest memory.

    On the other hand, my father was the first man in my life. We lost him in May 2003. I can’t believe it’s been five years. I live quite a distance from my parents…so sometimes, I catch myself thinking ‘I should give my dad a call’, and then I remember…and it is heart wrenching all over again. He was my strength, my savior, many, many times. Like your grandfather…I miss him every day. So very, very much!

    Thotlady’s last blog post..Thursday’s Gadget

    Beautiful thoughts, Thotlady. Thank you so much for sharing them!

  20. 08.14.2008

    That is an amazing picture, I love it!!!

    bridget’s last blog post..Happy Love Thursday!!

    Thanks Bridget!

  21. 08.14.2008

    I didn’t know either of my grandfathers. But they both looked like handsome, gentle men from their photos and stories I have heard. Our own father was a good grandpa. My sister posted about her grandson for Love Thursday today. He never got to meet his Zadie either.

    Kath’s last blog thursday, yay shutter sisters

    Sometimes the stories are all we have, and we must be grateful for those too. I’m sad that my grandfather didn’t get to know my niece…if he loved me, well….

  22. I love that photo! I am the oldest grandchild on my dad’s side and have many fond memories that the rest of the grandchildren don;t have of my grandfather. He called me his “Rena” (queen in Catalan). We’d dance around the living room while I stood on his toes. Sometimes we’d dance to his beautiful singing voice, other times he’d put on his flamenco tapes and we’d twirl and stomp away. He passed away a month ago but I have those memories to keep him alive for my own children.

    Happy Love Thursday!

    Chocolate on my Cranium’s last blog post..Can you see the heart?

    So sorry to hear of your grandfather’s passing πŸ™ What lovely memories you have, though!

  23. 08.14.2008

    Michelle my LT post is grandfather too!
    My grandfather memories are the strength of his old hands…he has been gone awhile but that memory is vivid!

    ELK’s last blog post..and ode to Love Thursday

    Great minds…and great memories πŸ™‚

  24. 08.14.2008

    I love that picture! I sure do have some wonderful memories of my grandfather. He used to smoke a pipe while sitting in a huge club chair. I’d sit on his lap and he’d tell me stories of his travels.

    Happy Thursday!!

    Jane’s last blog post..Thursday and time for a few more moments….

    Thanks Jane, and thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  25. 08.14.2008

    You’re a lucky girl πŸ™‚

    I didn’t know either of my grandfathers well…both my grandmothers were divorced (weird, huh?). I never met my father’s father…I did meet my mother’s father, but he wasn’t very involved with us at all. I think I met him maybe three times…they lived in PA and we lived in MA. Funny thing: My parents stayed married til my Mom’s death in 2005 and I was divorced twice. Guess it skips a generation.

    Janet’s last blog post..tattoos and an almost full moon

    Well Janet, my maternal grandparents were divorced, my paternal grandparents certainly could’ve been had they believed in it, and my parents are divorced…hmm…I wonder why I’m not running down the aisle….

  26. 08.14.2008

    This was a nice post to read today, about remembering people, because my father would have been 67 today (he passed away in 2006) and I have been thinking a lot about him lately.

    But as for memories with a grandfather – oh, I can’t even begin to tell you how many I have.

    My special bond was with my mother’s father – Poppy. Not only was I the first grandchild in the family, but I was the first girl. Boy, I had it made! When I was two years old, my grandfather bought a Cadillac for me (well, it was for him, but he said it was for me!) that he eventually offered to me when I was of driving age, which I declined to take at the time because of gas prices (one of the more stupid moves of my life, I should have kept it!). He would take me for drives in that car. He called it “The Big C” – we’d take the Caddy all over and I would be standing on the front seat, behind his right shoulder as he drove.

    We went to the diner, to the mall, to the grocery store, wherever. I loved being with him in that car. I think that’s where I got my wanderlust from, as he was a “traveler” in his mind, since he never actually went anywhere far from home.

    I remember his silver hair, which as a child, I would comb as I stood behind him in the chair in the kitchen. I would whip his hair into swirls on the top of his head, comb it forward over his eyes, part it to the side, slick it all back – whatever I wanted to do, he let me. I would sit in the basement and watch him work on his train board. I would sit on the stoop of his house in the Bronx and talk to him while he tinkered on his car.

    I was the only grandchild who always slept over their house. I’d watch my Poppy cut chicken into cubes to make his own version of “Southern Fried” chicken even though he’d never been to the South. He smelled like cigarettes and Aramis. He was a welder in his youth, and would still take out his welding helmet every now and again to work on something in the basement. He always told me not to stare at the light, but I would steal glimpses of it because I wanted to see what he was doing. His neck muscles were extremely strong since back in the day those helmets were heavy and they’d have to flick them up to see what they had just welded.

    He taught me how to play guitar and I could listen and watch him for hours as his calloused fingers slid over the frets, making beautiful music. He would always give me one of his favorite guitar picks when he played. I can see him sitting at the kitchen table in “his” chair – the wall next to him covered with scraps of papers that he wrote quotes on. He had a small pad by his seat that he would jot down ideas on. And he always had a big magnifying glass at the ready, in case he had to scour something small.

    Wow…sorry I’ve written so much, but this really made me think. In fact, now I’m going to do my very own post on this subject. My grandfather died 20 years ago this October, when I was 21 years old, but like you the memories stay alive and fresh. Thank you for the post and the great picture.

    Salena’s last blog post..Sun Setting Over Lake Pontchartrain

    Loooooove it! So looking forward to reading more at your place πŸ™‚

  27. Scicchi

    Great post Michelle and all great stories to go with it!

    I was close to my Mother’s father, as I grew up a block from him and have so many good memories of him and my Gram, they were almost like typical “TV show” grandparents.

    My Dad’s Dad passed away 2 months after I was born. From stories I have heard, he was no body to fool around with and wasn’t the most humerous man in the room at any given time, but when it came to kids and having family around him, he shined. My Pap’s brother said to me a few times that my Pap would have loved me, that he liked the kind of person that I am. It gives me a good feeling inside.

    I’m very fortunate that both of my boys are close with all three of their Paps now(my Dad and my wife’s Dad and Step-Dad) and will have great personal memories of them years from now to look back upon.

    I’m loving all these grandfather stories too…I’m so happy I brought it up πŸ˜‰

    Your boys are very lucky to have great parents and great grandparents, and hey, at least one fabulous great-grandparent that I know of πŸ™‚

  28. 08.15.2008

    I adored both of my grandfathers. I am uniquely blessed in that I am in my late 30s and still have one living grandfather. Not only did I love being with him as a child, I love watching him with my daughter. And, as for a memory, he always took me to the Dairy Queen and bought me ice cream. It’s his fault I’m addicted.

    Chel’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – 14 Years

    Aw, grandfathers get blamed for everything πŸ˜‰ At least they did in my house….

  29. 08.15.2008

    I was just thinking that if I could get the kids to bed, my husband and I could watch the Olympics and eat the last tiny bit of vanilla ice cream right out of the tub with chocolate syrup squirted right in the tub. And that’s when I realized that my late grandfather – my other grandfather – also gave me ice cream as a child. No Dairy Queen for him, though. We ate a specific brand with my grandmother’s homemade hot fudge. Bud (I never heard anyone – adult or child – call him anything else) also liked a bit of marshmallow creme (a truly nasty concoction) and some smooth peanut butter on his. An odd duck, but a fun guy.

    Chel’s last blog post..Bit of honey…

    That’s too funny…you really couldn’t escape the ice cream addiction!

  30. 08.15.2008

    beautiful! words and image. i too was very close to my paternal grandfather. my father was away a lot (he worked for an international shipping company) when i was growing up and so my grandpa became my father figure. he was a teacher and he taught me how to love books and write essays. he always believed that i ought to be a writer, even when all i ever wanted was to be a doctor. when he died, my heart broke into a million pieces, especially since i was already away at that time and wasn’t able to spend as much time with him as i wanted to. and yes, i still think about him all the time.

    odessa’s last blog post..five things

    Oh this is just lovely Odessa; thank you so much for sharing! How wonderful that you always had such support in your writing πŸ™‚

  31. My paternal grandfather died when I was one, and my maternal grandfather died when I was 16. I wish I could have had more time….I do miss the smell of his pipe. He was so quiet. I wish I could hear him talk. I wish my dad was still alive to be a grandpa to my children. So lucky of you to have those memories.

    Gayle @ The White House’s last blog post..Love Thursday: Dogs

    Lucky indeed; so many of your grandfathers smoked pipes! My mother’s dad did, but I never smelled it because he quit by the time I knew him–she remembers it though πŸ™‚

  32. 08.15.2008

    What a beautiful post and an endearing picture! My grandfather passed away a little over a month ago, and I hope that I can also keep his memory alive in my mind and through stories about him. He was a wonderful man.

    I hope that you are doing well! I haven’t stopped by in a while!

    Lulu’s last blog post..Thursday Thirteen: Angels in the Outfield

    Doing great Lulu, thanks! Always nice to see you πŸ™‚

  33. 08.16.2008

    I love that picture. I was always closer to my Mom’s parents because they were involved in our day to day life. Especially after my Dad passed away. He tried to be crusty and cranky, but he was just a big softie.

    Shan’s last blog post..friday flashback – the purse edition with bonus meme

    Hee hee…yup, that sounds like my grandfather too. A big ole softie at heart πŸ™‚

  34. paula

    my grandfather (the only grandparent i knew) passed away shortly after i turned 4 years old…not too many memories. but one sticks out so clearly, he used to peel off the skin of an apple in one long swirly piece. when i make an apple pie, i always try to peel the apples like my grandfather did. sometimes i can actually do it without breaking it, sometimes without bringing tears to my eyes.

    That’s so sweet. And it’s exactly how P peels his apples πŸ™‚

  35. Marcia

    My grandfather, Jasper, was also my Father, as he & my Grandmother raised myself & my two siblings. He was from Eastern Tennessee, and took a train all the way to Canada for the fun of it, met my Grandmother (of French Canadian/Scottish heritage), married her, homesteaded in Alberta, Canada and moved them all back to Indiana. They raised 12 children of their own before taking us in. His life was an adventure and he had many stories to tell. He’s been gone about 35 years now, but I still miss him. Everyday he’d ask “Did I tell you I loved you today?” and give me a big hug. He had a big heart and never knew a stranger. And I was his favorite grandchild also πŸ™‚

    Aw, how cute! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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