This year my Mother turns 82.
I made the drive to South Florida, through Tampa in a rainstorm, typical for this time of year, then on South past sunny Bradenton and Sarasota, both childhood haunts, and finally to Fort Myers.
It’s funny how, your life flashes before you, with several hours to think about growing up, with school friends and family around you, then college, then marriage, now, full circle back to Florida with the blessing of family once more. Things have changed, and at the same time they haven’t.
My siblings are all here, somewhere; scattered throughout the State. We all gather, on occasions such as these, to honor Mom, but really both of my parents. My Mom, always insists at some point that we take the party out to the Memorial Gardens to visit Dad. It’s during these times that the brevity of life hits me like a ton of bricks. Not in a sad way, but with the reality that we only have a set number of years to effect the world around us.
Both my parents have lived very public lives. People oooo and ahhh over their achievements. But all their public accomplishments pale in comparison to the things they taught us in our private lives.
One of my favorite memories of my father happened while standing in line at Publix. The little old lady in front of us, tried to pay her bill, searching through her wallet for money she obviously didn’t have. Her worn clothes and thread-bear purse gave away her secret. In front of her on the conveyor belt, milk, juice a pound of hamburger, some frozen veggies and a box of cereal. Without batting an eye, Dad stuck his hand in his pocket, took out a twenty dollar bill, and tossed it on the floor.
“Is that yours?” Dad interrupted the embarrassing scene. The lady in front of us never even noticed what he had done. She saw her “Miracle” on the floor beneath her grocery cart. Ecstatic, she picked it up, thanked Dad for noticing, and paid for her groceries.
My father never said a word. He was like that. Every day, he seemed to find a way to be the difference in someones life; to help in every way, if he was asked and sometimes without being asked, behind the scenes.
This kind of life lesson teaches both compassion and humility. Dad never sought thanks. He just gave with his heart. He was far from perfect, if you crossed him, you didn’t forget it. But his passion for life is what we Galvano kids remember the most. Dad lived well. I’m proud to say, my siblings are just like him.
Mom turned 82. She carries on the memories and traditions of our family. One day, she will rest next to the love of her life. She often says how she can’t wait to see him again. In the meantime she effects the world around her with her passion for God and family. How grateful I am for these lessons.
With the grace of God, this generation of Galvano’s will teach my parents passion and compassion to the generation to follow. I can’t think of a better way to honor them.
Ti voglio tanto bene, Mamma e Papa! (I love you very much, Mom and Dad)
Carpe’ Diem! Seize the Day. Live each day as if it’s your last.
Grace and Peace.