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.