The American Dream

My father’s family migrated from Italy in the 1950’s and settled in a town in Massachusetts. My earliest memories of a child were spending all Sunday at my grandmother’s house.  The air at Nona’s home was filled with aromas of freshly made tomato sauce, handmade pasta, and wine that had been made in the cellar. After we had all gone to church, we would sit down for a few hours to chow down on the meal for which my Nona had been slaving away in the kitchen all day. My Papa, or grandfather, would sit out on the porch in his white undershirt and slacks and just watch the cars go by or chat with the paisanos. When my brother or myself would sit on his lap, he would whip out his keys on a chain for us to play with. It was a simple life, but it’s what we valued most: family.

Fast forward to today, and my parents are staying with us temporarily to help take care of Chase and spend quality time with him.  I park the car after a long and arduous day at work and walk into the kitchen. I look outside through the window over the kitchen sink and see my father sitting on the deck with Chase on his lap. My dad is speaking to Chase in a low, soft voice, about ordinary things: the way the wind is blowing the leaves above them and sound of the bird whistling nearby.  He whistles to mimic the bird and interpret what the bird might be saying. I’m amazed at how Chase isn’t wiggling, but staring attentively at my dad. He’s soaking in his every word as if he’s reciting MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It makes me appreciate this unplugged moment, there is no TV on in the background, no smartphone to distract him from his Papa. Just the beauty of the backyard, and a man with his only grandson.  The other great part: they’re wearing matching white undershirts. Chase is learning to lounge like a true paisano.