Tuesday, January 25 was a sad day for myself and the Sciarrino family.
On this day, my grandfather, Tom, passed away. As a family, we knew it was coming. However, we just didn’t know when. He had been bed-ridden for the last two weeks of his life, far different than how he lived prior to his death
But, while his passing was sad and depressing, I really don’t want to dwell on that. Instead, I choose to remember the good and positive memories I have of my grandfather, memories which range from my childhood to only a few weeks ago.
I do have to admit, however, that I could have done more, that I could have stopped by to see my grandpa more than I did. As his only grandchild living in Westfield, I had plenty of opportunities to stop by and just talk. I really wish I did more of that. But, there are memories of Christmas, birthdays and watching sport events, amongst others, which will stay in my mind forever.
Christmas in the Sciarrino family was always an interesting time. As a family tradition, my grandfather would give every grandchild a nutcracker. My sister and I have probably close to 20 of them, which my Mom uses as decorations around the holidays. As we got older, the older cousins would be given $50 in a small ornament. While the money was nice and greatly appreciated – especially with college loans, rent and other bills coming due – the money really didn’t compare with the nutcrackers. It is a nice family tradition which I hope to someday continue with my own family.
I loved to talk with my grandfather about education. As a former teacher, principal and school superintendent, he was one of my go-to guys when it came to this field. While I was making my way through graduate school at Gannon University to earn my Masters degree in education, I would occasionally think about how my grandfather would have been as an educator, how he would address certain problems and issues and how he would view education now (which, I’m assuming, would be different from when he taught in a one-room school house and had to ride the school bus along with his students to school). My grandpa would always ask me if I had found a teaching job yet, to which I would usually reply, “Not yet, grandpa, but I’m looking.” He would then always tell me, rather sternly at that, that I needed to look for a teaching job somewhere away from colleges which pump out many potential teachers, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, like he did after graduating from Syracuse University.
While the advice was always helpful, I often just liked to pick his brain on education-related topics. Even as he grew older, he was still sharp as ever when it came to his passion to educate.
Another great memory I have of my grandfather is how he would attend many of my plays, musicals, concerts, games and other events while I was in school. With so many other grandchildren, it meant a lot that he would take the time to make sure I knew he cared about me and would want to see me succeed. It probably also helped that my sister and a couple of cousins all attended Westfield Academy and Central School and were right around the same age. This meant he could watch four of us act, sing or play in a sporting event.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact my grandfather also worked for The Westfield Republican and The Mayville Sentinel-News, writing his Retired Golf and Bowling columns. He did that for many years, and, I have been told, his column was a much-read one. When I first started as editor here, I used to joke with my grandfather about how I was his boss now. If he was late with a column, I would always – jokingly, of course – give him a hard time about it, tell him I might have to fire him and then tell him not to let it happen again. I think my writing ability – or some may say lack-there-of – comes from my grandpa, and I can remember how proud he was when he found out I was to become an editor. I really think he saw a little bit of himself in me in that regard.
As my Uncle Chris said in his eulogy during my grandfather’s funeral, even though we have quite a large family, my grandfather knew exactly how to make each one of us feel special in our own way. Whether it was through birthday cards, a $25 check each month to every grandchild who was in college, or being able to remember specific things about each grandchild and family member, I always felt so loved by my grandfather.
And, even though he is no longer physically here, I know my grandfather is always watching me. That is very comforting and reassuring. I also know he will be with me as I continue my journey through life, helping and guiding me whenever I don’t believe in myself or don’t think I can do something.
Hopefully, he’ll also be able to pull a few strings and get the Bills a Superbowl championship and the Sabres the Stanley Cup.
And I guess I may root for the Yankees (what is wrong with me?) in honor of my grandfather, except when they’re playing the Cardinals.
I love you and miss you, grandpa. Thank you for helping to make the first 26 years of my life so amazing.
On an unrelated note, I also must pass along my sympathy to the family of Mary Roache after hearing of her passing. Mary was a weekly contributor to the newspapers, writing “The Findley Lake Town Crier,” which consisted of musings about her community, nation and world, birthday greetings and weekly Bible verses. Mary had written her column for a number of years, and her writings will be greatly missed by readers and the residents of Findley Lake.
Always a family man, my grandfather, pictured far right during my cousin Rob’s wedding, was always the most happy when his entire family was present. But, at the same time, he knew how to make each one of us feel special individually.