Real Life Inspiration

Dad C's birthday party was a huge success. The Ciotta clan is blessed with many entertainers, some only at heart, but just as insanely talented. There were a few monologues in honor of dad, one given by my husband, and they were packed with sentiment and humor. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I also cried a lot. I think I've mentioned that my father-in-law is one of the last living survivors of Iwo Jima. He received a purple heart. Yesterday I saw the actual certificate. I also saw a copy of his immigration card from when he first came to this country with his Pop. They sailed from Italy to America, landing at Ellis Island when he was just a very young boy. In his photo, he looks petrified, though he's keeping a stiff upper lip. Or at least I thought he looked petrified. A cousin teased that he looked like he was in training for the mafia. *g* He wasn't. I swear. Where was I? Oh, yes. The reason I cried a lot. Well...

Just after he walked into the room, packed with family and co-workers (did I mention the man still works full time? At 80?!) a Marine color guard marched in to pay tribute. Dad stood at attention throughout their routine. I cried throughout. All the times someone said something sentimental about him, I cried. Every time I saw him getting choked up, I cried. My husband even commented to someone at the end of the party that I pretty much cried from beginning to end. I can't help it! I'm sensitive that way.

But I also had a lot of fun. Steve comes from a huge extended fun-loving, affectionate Italian family. I truly have never known a family quite like them. Every now and then I'd just look around the room, breath in, and smile, thinking, "Feel the love. Feel the love."

I was also reminded that no matter how old we get, we are always capable of making a postive difference. At 80 years old, Angelo Ciotta still works full time with a construction company. He commits his of free time to raising funds and building memorials for Marine veterans. He's currently working hard with his team and a crew of builders (who also donate their time and skills) to creating a memorial for the 9-11 victims. It's quite an amazing project. Dad C and his friends also organize special dinners and parties for Marine veterans and Marines just returning home from war.

It's a wonder that he has any time left in the day. But he always has time for family and friends. Always. The celebration of Dad C's life couldn't have come at a better time for me. I am blessed to know him and I am truly inspired.

Comments

Brooks said…
This is truly a remarkable family. I'm glad you're enjoying being part of it. Love them while they're here.

Remind me to tell you sometime about how my uncle honored my father's passing.

Still loving them after they've gone.
Gabriele C. said…
And the Italians won the FIFA soccer WC to add the icing on the cake. :)

There are a lot Italians in Germany, so it was pretty much azzurro territory last night.
Beth Ciotta said…
Brooks, I would LOVE to hear your story. If I don't remember to remind you, remind me. *snicker*

Gabriele, I forgot about the World Cup! Yes. Actually, we found out during the party and the DJ made an announcement. Needless to say, the room went WILD! :)
Brooks said…
OK, you reminded me!

Barbara and I were living in the house
that I had resumed payments on after my parents passings (yes, I inherited a mortgage). My father had been gone for several years. An uncle married to one of my mother's sisters had flown with dad during WWII. He and my Aunt were down for a visit. He said, "I want to do something in way of a memorial to your Dad. Meet me on the porch in a half hour."

We were there, and so was he in full Scottish regalia ...kilt, bagpipes, all! He started a slow march from one side of the veranda and back, all the while playing the most beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. I never would have guessed that he could play like a pro ...and the military style march. My tears came that day. When the last refrain faded away, we heard, from across the bayou, people clapping and cheering. Very moving. I asked him to do it again.

John Louis Harris, Jr., M.D., K.M. passed away on my birthday, June 13, 2003. Thank you uncle.
Beth Ciotta said…
Brooks, I read your post three times. Every time it took my breath away. Thank you.

Bless you, Brooks's uncle and father.
Anonymous said…
Beth,
You and I are very fortunate to have married into incredible families. Sometimes I think we completely picked the opposite of what we know. Understand? Please tell all the Ciotta's hello for me. I love ya, Barb
Beth Ciotta said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beth Ciotta said…
Barb,

Understand completely and will do.

Love, me
Scott Oden said…
What is it about that generation? My Dad is 80, too (81 in January), and a veteran of WWII -- he was a small boat operator in the Pacific; part of his job was to drive the landing craft the Marines used to make amphibious assaults (he'll only talk about the war if he's watching a John Wayne WWII movie). Even at 80, he *still* works me into the ground. Though he's been retired for many years, he farms, does yardwork, and fills his days with the most productive 'puttering' I've ever seen. Me, I write a measley couple of pages and I'm give out :)

Great post, Beth, and best wishes to Mr. Ciotta!
Mary Stella said…
I'm choked up reading the post. Thanks for letting us share in the celebration for Pop Ciotta. Congratulations to him for reaching age 80, for all the wonderful things he does and to all of the family for having him in your lives.
Tori Lennox said…
He sounds like an amazing man, Beth! I'd have been sniffly all day, too!
Cyn said…
Thanks for sharing, B and Brooks. Very beautiful. I'm so, so glad I got to meet Dad C. I'm glad for you to be part of that family.

Hugs, C
Beth Ciotta said…
Scott, your dad sounds like an amazing man. Given he's a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine) and given his job in WWII, I wonder if he and Dad C ever crossed paths? Wouldn't that be something? Like your dad, my father-in-law doesn't talk about the war either. Re working hard even at 80, my husband describes his dad as tireless Sounds like your dad is cut from the same cloth. LOL My regards and hats off to Mr. Oden!
Beth Ciotta said…
Waving to Mary, Tori, and Cyndi! Glad you enjoyed the story gals. It really was a special day. Then again Dad C's a special man! :0)
Lost Author said…
Hello Beth... Glad to hear you are lucky enough to enjoy a big family. Your Dad sounds amazing but that shouldn't be a surprise knowing the kind of person you are. I am leaning on family now and find they are the very foundations of who I am and what I do and I couldn't be more grateful. Thanks for the nice reminder we should all take time to be with family.

LGB
Anna Lucia said…
He is a truly inspirational person, Beth - glad you could feel the love.
Beth Ciotta said…
I'm always in hyperdrive, LG and Anna, so yes, this past weekend was a keen reminder of how important family is and how I need to stop and smell the cappucinno more often. :)