My father's sayings
When my father was in his 100th year he became more dependent on someone being around in case he needed some help. I was the one who helped him shower and shave. This was the same guy I talked out of his driver’s license when he was about 98. It was very hard for him to give it up, I guess we are all alike, not wanting to admit that we have slowed down. He had a couple of minor fender-benders, and my mom was really afraid. I simply told him that should he hurt someone else he would never forgive himself. To my surprise, he accepted my warning and gave it up. His eyes were failing, but his mind was still very sharp.

When we would go downstairs to shower, I would walk in front of him. My words were “Piano, piano” which means “easy, easy.” He came back with his comeback, “Piano, piano, il malato portare la sana. “ Translated, this means, “Easy easy, the sick will carry the well”. Meaning, if you go slow enough and you are weak, you can carry a strong person.

Another of his sayings always fascinated me. I think I heard it first from an uncle and then my mother. it was “Senza dorso, come il santo” That one had me for a while, until I asked. The phrase was directed at a personwho had a very flat posterior. Translated it means without a back like the saints. I was still confused and asked my father the significance. He told me that in the old country his uncle was sitting out one moonlit evening and he saw a group of people coming his way that he didn’t recognize. As he strained to see who they were they passed him and as they did he could see that their backs were hollow, ergo, senza dorso come il santo. Actually, it was “senza culo come i santi."

Dad always had a garden and a tool room. I think they were all he really needed in life. In his latter years, he also needed help with these. Although you could find him there most of the time, his ability became limited. He still had his sayings in Italian, I wish I had paid more attention.

I guess it was when he was 98 or 99 that I knew he was not doing really well. I would find him in the garden and while we were talking, I would take notice of his plants. I saw how unkempt they were, there was grass growing in between. I think this bothered me more than anything, these areas were so well-kept before. He was always quite the ham and loved to show off his garden. He would usually bring in all he harvested to my mom who could cook, can or preserve anything that was good to eat. I learned how to preserve foods from her and got very good at it. He kept bringing in more stuff, and she was not in the best of health and she would complain that it was too much. Before you knew it, she had cleaned, prepared, and canned or froze all of it for another day. She taught me never to waste anything.

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