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  • What is it that people say? "Celebrate life." Or when someone has passed, "… celebration of a life."

    My dad is 97 years old. People are always surprised when I tell them that. It might be part wow factor, part wanting to also live that long, part my-parents-didn't-live-that-long, or maybe none of the above.

    But it's quality - not quantity. And he's certainly had the quality part.

    I think that life is to be experienced. I haven't had the opportunities my dad has . . maybe I need to get out and live more. Chance the rugged life.

    Imagine being born in the USA, and having to leave it at seven years old to return to Italy because mother's illness would be alleviated in a different climate. Imagine seeing street lighting installed and illuminated for the first time in the village. Imagine working as a lumberjack with his father in the forests of Italy, Switzerland, and France; seeing skeletal remains, downed aircraft in trees, and digging bullets out of cut lumber before they went to the sawmill - all due to World War I.

    Imagine at 18 years of age being in charge of a railroad depot, and several workers double your age. And taking a ship - on its maiden voyage - from LeHavre to New York; running into a storm so severe that for three days, no headway was made. "It was the worst storm", stated the Captain, "that I have seen in thirty years at sea."

    And then to arrive back just in time to experience the Great Depression . . . . and some of the good times. See Warren Spahn, Lefty Grove, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams play in person. To visit Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, and sit in the bleachers at Fenway Park for 50 cents.

    Imagine being in the US Army, with just four days' service remaining, and the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor - all leaves, all discharges canceled. And then finding yourself in the Pacific Theater for a year. And finally to return and live a more "normal" life with a wife and three children, and work for the same company for thirty-five years. To top it off, to be married for 67 years.

    But imagine, of all things, to have lived through the changes of the 20th century, and into the 21st. To be amazed at automobiles, radio, television, computers, the Internet, cell phones, and the myriad trappings of those who have no idea of what people used or lived like even 30 years ago.

    And it isn't over. Still driving, still mowing the lawn, and digging out the crabgrass on his knees. A commissioner of the War Memorial building, active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans. Dinner with the Italian Progressive Society once a month, and keeping daily track of the lottery numbers - always after the elusive million.

    It's been quite a ride . . . . keep the celebration going, Dad . . . . . . .

    My Dad passed away today, January 22, 2015. I am grateful that I was able to be there with him when his time came. I will mourn for him, but I also take tremendous pride in being able to call him my Dad. And I will celebrate him always!
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