English writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter said “I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations”. In the case of our family, there are no truer words.
Our grandfather could crush two walnuts in one hand, either left or right. He was big and strong. His hugs were so fierce he'd squeeze the breath right out of you. He could find a bag of black jelly beans for Grammy in the middle of August. He could go in the cellar find four mismatched wheels and a lobster trap from his stock of dump pickings and come back with what we called a gig, a little car complete with a steering wheel – but no brakes - that we rode down the dip in the road and pulled back up by the scrap of clothesline rope tied to the back.
Grammy told me that he was born outside in the garden as his mother planted green beans and that his mom used to say he was a mama’s boy crybaby. I recently asked him about his mother. He said he thought she had passed away. When I told him that yes, she had, he looked wistful but he smiled. He said she was always nervous. Even at the beach she’d be knitting sweaters for the winter. He said she was always pushing the needle. His father used to take large pieces of granite and concrete slabs Grampy and his brothers made in their back yard to the city by horse and wagon. He said his father had a big orange dog named Portaval to protect him and his cargo at night in case he had to sleep on the road. He said Pop would say “porthavala sniff the grounda” and the dog would lead the horse through the woods while he could catch a little bit of sleep.
Michael Deliso was as tough as nails. He didn’t think anything of filing down the sharp edge of a broken tooth or pulling a sore one by himself. Who needed a dentist when you had your own file, pliers and bottle of iodine right at home.
He was wise. He gave excellent and practical advice. Like if you have too much business and you are getting overwhelmed, raise your prices and get rid of the customers who are difficult or cheap; Always save a little bit of money and put it back into your business. It takes a little bit of $ to make $. If you are discouraged about how much money you didn’t earn, consider how you would feel had you lost that amount instead; and You can tell a lot about a man’s character on the day AFTER payday.
His mind was brilliant and mechanical. He could tell you exactly how a socket wrench worked, how it was designed, how it was manufactured and the materials it was made out of. Recently, he gave a lesson on a socket wrench set to a table of fellow residents at Sandalwood. He explained it all. His final bit of advice was to make sure you don’t let anyone borrow a socket. You’ll never get it back and a socket set with a missing socket is useless.
He was humble and kind; old fashioned, hard working and thrifty. He loved yellow, orange and red flowers the brighter the better. When his dog Ruggy got hit by a car and died grampy got a call from a neighbor down the street with the bad news. As a thank you for their kindness he brought the family soda and flowers he picked from his garden. He didn’t like being called Mr. Deliso, he always said ‘call me Mike’. He brought me a dented can of fruit cocktail when I had a medical procedure and painted the trim on my house when he was 93. He carried his lunch back and forth to work at the dump every day in the same ripped up brown paper Friendly’s bag.
An ambulance was a meatwagon, a self appointed important person was a ‘wheel’, the television was the idiot box and the Italians built New York City and do you know how? One brick at 'the toime'. the Irish protected the City and the jewish lent money and sold jewelry.
Grampy’s brother Charlie had the following advice. When someone dies it is the worst for seven days after they go. Give it 7 days. You will feel awful. As the 8th day comes along you’ve made it through the first seven days. After that get up and business as usual. It will be hard but just keep going. Only two things are forever. Time and tide.
What perfectly simple Deliso logic.
Each of us descendants who have been influenced by his strongly marked personality have our own memories of Grampy. A moment in time with him that belongs only to you. Treasure it and remember him always. How lucky we were to have been collectively the most important thing in one man’s incredible, inspirational, long and truly unbelievable ONE HUNDRED YEAR life.
I can hear him say “Honey, that’s what its all about”.
Well Done Good and Faithful Servant