Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Tapestry

See that babe in arms? That's my Uncle Johnny. He passed away yesterday, leaving a legacy of kindness, gentleness, and love of family. He was the last of my grandfather's siblings to pass away, the youngest son in a big, loving, Italian family.

Of course, none of them were perfect, but every single memory I have of these great-uncles and great-aunts is just that: GREAT.

Outbursts of laughter around overloaded tables.

Good-natured teasing and bickering.

Stories of stark but happy childhood.

Bear hugs & kisses until you were gasping for breath.

And yes, food. LOTS and LOTS of food at every single gathering.


Not a bad way to grow up. Not at all.

By now, you all know I'm hopelessly sentimental when it comes to matters of family and legacy. Uncle Johnny's passing has provoked a myriad of memories all rife with emotion today. Anchoring all of those feelings is an overwhelming gratitude, I'm so incredibly grateful for the great big tapestry that both sets of my grandparents' generation wove for me and my generation.

This tapestry has been many things
for many people in our family.

A work of art, giving testament to the family's status and standing in society. A witness, if you will, of that which they have achieved together.

A rich backdrop, giving color, depth, and texture to our collective coming story as new immigrants to this country. Bringing their history to their present.

A thick and stable rug to stand upon, when building a life together. A plush but firm "take your stance" kind of setting point.

A soft landing place, a net of sorts that was wide and secure into which they could fall when hard times rocked them off their feet.

A warm wrap into which they could burrow when life felt cold and brutal.

Today, we mostly think of intricate tapestries as works of art to be hung on a wall. But a true family-woven tapestry wasn't always meant to be just gazed at and admired. Admittedly, we aren't as familiar with the many uses that a hand-woven, artfully crafted tapestry can have in today's world. We don't need one piece to do all those things anymore. We have Wayf@ir for rugs and T@rget for sweaters, right? But if you look back in history, family tapestries had many functions beyond their artisan beauty.

It strikes me that my family tapestry has both beauty and function that is sadly becoming more and more rare in this culture in which we live. I'm proud to declare that I will stay anchored to both families who wove this tapestry before me. I will continue to teach my children well in the art of weaving their rows to grow it strong and beautiful for generations to come.


Uncle Johnny, say hi to Grandpa Sam for me. Enjoy your reunion and your time to worship Jesus to the strains of heavenly Italian opera with him. You are missed here. All of you.

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