Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lessons Learned & Taught - Everything You Need to Know

Within the struggle you discover the appreciation.  
Within the darkness you learn to want the light.  
Within the broken pieces of what was, you realize what wasn't.  

Each experience here has a purpose.  Each person has a gift.  Sometimes the people in our lives and the presents they share aren't exactly peachy.  Sometimes, yes, they stink!  Yet they are still there as part of our experience, to serve our greater goods.  Why?  Because they're teaching us lessons.  They're teaching us to appreciate and recognize our blessings.  If it wasn't for the bad apples in the bushel of life we'd never truly appreciate the good ones.

Each of us go through trials and tribulations; some of us more so than others.  We all understand at some point what grief is.  We all know what it is to feel loss and to know love. We all desire to be acknowledged, to be heard and to be respected.  The core of who we are wants nothing more than serenity.  When we feel off, when we feel out of balance, it can take its toll.  It can manifest itself by way of illness, emotional distress or misery just to name a few.  

Think about it.  Is whatever it is that you're holding onto worth that toll?  Is the being stuck in the past, in the what wasn't or what was but for a little while worth it?  Why rob yourself from all that you can create now by continuing to allow it to have a hold on you?  

What we experience isn't our identity.  It's just knowledge.  It's what we do with that knowledge that becomes our identity.

See the secret there?  It's in the choice.  The choice to hold onto those thoughts that don't serve your greater good.  The choice to know better, want better and deserve better.  The choice to let go.  The choice to be present in the here and now.  The choice to shine.

My life, your life, their life; we all have a place here to shine.  Never underestimate your roll in the big picture of someone else's life.  Never take for granted all of the players acting out their roll in yours.  After all, the way I see it, we picked them and they picked us so we have no choice but to look upon them and say to ourselves "thank you." Remember that.  I love you.

Copyright ©2013 Nita Clewis All rights reserved.  For personal use only.  Commercial use without permission of the author is not allowed.  Sharing with friends and family is warmly welcomed.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lessons of Love & The Life of a Centenarian - A Tribute to Grandpa Sevino


To come together, to celebrate and pay tribute to a life well lived for 100 years is a monumental occasion that very few get to enjoy.  Today we get to relish in that experience.  My grandfather Sevino is, without a doubt, one of the greatest men I've ever had the pleasure to get to know.  A first generation American whose parents Francesca and Louis came here from Italy, he survived a young New York City childhood before the family moved to Connecticut.  That's where his love of all things Yankees started after all, in the big apple.  They say you can take a boy out of NYC but you'll never take NYC out of the boy.  For the last 90 plus years he's proved that each season of baseball.

(Pictured with his Father's Day gift, a Yankees 162 book authored by a colleague of mine.)

As I prepared for today, I spent a lot of time thinking about my 38 years sharing this space with my grandfather. Smiles and tears of joy always flood me as I create, revise and perfect this blog.  As with many others in my family, I've been anticipating this milestone and preparing to enjoy it with all of you for some time now. Everyone who knows me in real life or who gets to know me through reading what's published understands that I truly appreciate the family we have.  The pinnacle of that family is the man we celebrate this weekend, Sevino Joseph Mozzochi.

As we counted down the years and months to turning 100, we've laughed many a times at his anticipation of his Presidential letter.  He's been looking forward to its arrival about as much as he looks forward to the Yankees making it to the World Series.  A member of what would be termed the most important generation in American history, he is still here with us and sharp as ever.  We even joke that his memory is sharper than my mom and aunt's combined!  He can remember things about culture, history, music and knowledge that we've all since forgotten.  He also still has a taste for the finer things in life such as good glass of wine or a tasty meal.  Just a couple of years ago he was fretting over new white dishes for family dinners.  His taste is impeccable and his attention to details amazing.  It's no wonder the love of his life was a mirror of these things.

Years ago here at Knowing, I wrote a blog about his wife, my grandmother Irene, chronicling the lessons I'd learned from her.  Without a doubt, grandpa is her everything.  I say is because while she's not here with us in body today, I do feel her here among us all, proud of the beautiful site before us.  She's also been by my side each time I sat to compose this masterpiece (hey now, that's her word for it, not mine, haha).  After all, she was the one who taught us all how to decorate and celebrate each other!

Mo as we call him, is many things to many people.  A career serviceman to his country, a father to my mom and aunt, a husband to Grandma Irene, a Mason, a musician, once a welder, and always a dog lover.  He's played many roles.  Who is Mo in the eyes of his first granddaughter though?  What can I tell you about this wonderful and touching man?

My earliest memories of him are giggles on the sofa of my childhood home and "dates" to Roy Rogers off Route 1 at Ft. Belvoir.  I always looked forward to our special time together there.  I think I was about five or so years old.  I tell you this, there is nothing more precious in a child's eyes than you giving them your time.  He always did that and with busy working and schooling parents, it filled in the gap of that part of my childhood.

Speaking of Ft. Belvoir, early memories also included trips to the PX and soft serve ice cream with him and grandma Irene as they enjoyed his retirement from the Army.  He served over 30 years and survived three wars, traveling the world.  Over one third of his service life was spent overseas.  Despite the distance, they made it work.  Yes, they are proof that you can do hard things.  They're also proof that if you work for it, respect and hold dear that which you love, anything is possible.

Grandma Irene, the apple of his eye.  The woman who once told me she intentionally tripped him to get him to ask her out. This when they worked together, when she was a clerical civilian.  It was very smart of him to acknowledge her that day and set in motion a series of events that would brings us all together today.

I can't even begin to encapsulate the joy I hold in my heart for their union.  Everything I ever learned early on about healthy relationships, I learned from them. My grandmother Irene doted on him and he doted on her. Their time together was real, meaningful and memorable.  The way my grandfather looked at my grandmother was what I'd learn to measure the bar as when it comes to true love as I grew up.  Both of them had a respect of each other that was admirable. Neither of them were perfect yet they found a way to manage their disagreements and always lead with love.

That love is what always made time at my grandparents so enjoyable growing up.  If I can create the same with my family in this life, I will have considered myself successful.  Each day there visiting them was predictable and abundant with love.

Now when I say predictable, I do mean predictable. Grandpa Mo does love to keep his schedule you know.  Mornings were WTOP news radio, breakfast at the table and if the weather permitted, an earlier walk.  Grandpa Mo walked two miles most mornings back then.  Grandma walked as well, typically going a mile herself.  This was always the tone to set their days to in retirement.  Both volunteered and had friends and both enjoyed family life at home.  While grandma ran the household cooking, cleaning and clothing, he in turn took care of the automobiles, yard and any fix-its that needed attention.  They were a well oiled machine those two, and you never heard a complaint from either of them towards their rolls.  They understood each other's' wants and needs and met them with affection and care.

Speaking of yard work, another favorite memory of mine is the zoysia grass that grandpa Mo toiled over when they lived in Springfield, VA.  I love, love, love the way it feels on the heels of your feet.  It's so spongy and soft.  I used to park my car as a teenager, get out onto the sidewalk to take my shoes off and walk the strip between the sidewalk and the street just to be in the moment.  It was a simple pleasure that meant I was "home."  My grandfather took great pride in his yard.  The grass, the shrubs, the beautiful rose bushes and an apple tree.  That was his domain, his sanctuary of love year round.  To this day, when I start decorating outside for Christmas, I think of him and grandma.  I also think of him when I see squirrels for he had quite the battle with a few of them in that yard in Springfield.

I have fond memories of picking apples with my mom, grandma, aunt Frances and friend Dustine in their backyard.  We even took pictures.  Grandma Irene documented everything and today I'm so grateful for that.  That's part of why I'm doing this today, to share with you a living snapshot of this man we love and cherish.

It's no wonder grandpa had such a devotion to family.  His parents were the same way with his siblings.  Growing up in large family of nine brothers and sisters had its challenges and its blessings. His love of discovery, of travel and of culture was a perfect fit for the military life he was drafted into and then reenlisted for.  With grandma Irene by his side and his daughters adding laughter to the homefront, decades were spent creating amazing memories.  Japan, Hawaii, Arkansas and Virginia, these are but a few places they have roamed.  That life of travel and experience created a standard of living wherein Frances and my mom Betty would carry that torch forward.  I experienced it with my mom's dedication to an annual beach vacation and my aunt to this day globe trots with her husband Brian, having retired herself from the travel industry.

Yes, growing up in this family has its privileges.  Everything though came from hard work and dedication.  All that we are was built upon them, my grandparents.  My greatest passion in life came directly from my grandfather and to this day, he probably doesn't even know it.  I wonder if he'll be able to guess what it is.

Music grandpa Mo, music.  Just as you loved your records in the townhouse basement, I love and cherish my music collection.  Your roots in playing, enjoying and sharing it allowed my mom to also follow that passion as she introduced me to music growing up. Yes, between the both of you I had the bug early. Remember my singing in the church choir and later in elementary school? That was thanks to you and grandma Irene.  I know you always wished I'd stuck with it but life had other plans.  Trust me, if I could hold a tune that wasn't painful, I'd sing you a song today.

What I can do today however is write this blog, paying tribute to all that you are and all that you instilled in me with your angel by your side.

Your 100 years here has been a blessing beyond measure and the decades I've shared with you I've learned so much.  I've learned that the greatest roll a man can play next to a devoted husband is that of a father and that the days you spend with your children and grandchildren are your most treasured times.

I've learned that family is everything.  It's why you exist.  It's those who raised you and those you've raised. It's friends who come into your life for the journey, the family that becomes family without being blood.  It's the pets you care for as your own child.  Yes, you learn that family is everything and anything.

I've learned that you must love your work, that you must be passionate about making a difference.

I've learned that you take care of your body and your mind and that you broaden your horizons by reading. That when you can, you eat well, drink well, and keep moving no matter your obstacles.

Lastly, I've learned that it's not what you have obtained, but what you give away to others through volunteering and being a part of something bigger than yourself that makes a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Thank you for these lessons grandpa Mo, and thank you for being our rock and foundation of life.  We salute you!

Copyright ©2013 Nita Clewis All rights reserved.  For personal use only.  Commercial use without permission of the author is not allowed.  Sharing with friends and family is warmly welcomed.