My Dad...

My Dad...
Herbie "Pompeii" Pilato

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Parents were so right - on so many levels.

When I wrote The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom in 1995, I dedicated it to my Dad who, at the time, was dying of lung cancer.

He attained no formal education, and ultimately acquired nothing of what this world causes "secure," but he was one of the wisest and "richest" people I ever knew.

He used to say things like, "Anything tastes good when you're hungry," and "It's all nice when it's new," which are two of his quotes that I included in my Kung Fu Book of Wisdom dedication to him.

But both he and Mom always knew the deal.

They both loved and understood Star Trek, and they both loved and laughed at Seinfeld.

You have to be intelligent to appreciate science fiction and humor.

I remember when I realized just how intelligent my father was.  We were watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (which he really did not prefer to the original Trek series; another sign of his intelligence!), and the scene involved Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFaden), both of whom were behaving erratically.  At that point, my father turned to me and said, "Is it something in the atmosphere, Herbie J?  Is that why they're acting that way?"

I glanced back to him in awe and astonishments and said, "Yeah...Dad.  That's right.  It's something in the atmosphere."

My father was intelligent after all, and I was the ignorant one for never fully appreciating his or my Mom's wisdom when they're alive.  Certainly, in caregiving for them in their later years, I loved and appreciated them as much as I could.  I just wished I would have done more of that while they were both healthy and raising me and my sister.

But I know they're watching over me now.

And meanwhile, to this day, I quote both of them, or utilize their insight, even in simple every day ways.

Things like, my father saying that Tide is the best laundry detergent.  I've tried them all - and he was right - it IS!

Or how my Mom used to tell me that Chiquita Bananas are the best brand of bananas  and she was right: they ARE!

But more than anything, whatever good that lives inside me today, was placed there by Heaven - through my parents.

So, truth is, my PARENTS were the BEST - and remain so - IN my guardian angels, helping me in ways there were unable to do so while on Earth.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Anniversary (from Erie Street to Greenleaf)

It was November of 1977.

We had just moved from our red-brick, home on Erie Street in the inner-city of Rochester, New York. 

Eastman Kodak had long purchased the house, but the city's Landmark Society would not allow it to be torn down.

Other homes in the neighborhood were gone, replaced by Kodak parking lots.  We were the only house left on the block; even Aunt Elva and Uncle Carl, who lived directly next door in our double house, had moved to Irondequoit, New York - a suburb of Rochester.

It was time for us to move on, too.

So we found Greenleaf Meadows, a beautiful rental community in Greece, New York, another suburb of the city.  It was close to the historic Charlotte Beach, which claimed Abbott's Frozen Custard and Schaller's Hamburgers as its own - places to which we had once traveled from Erie Street on only special day trips.

Now, we were living up the street from them.

When we first moved to Greenleaf, my sister and I ran up and down the stairs singing, "Moving On Up!" - the theme song from the TV show, "The Jeffersons."

It was a silly moment, but passionate and sincere.

We were sad to leave Erie Street, but happy to be at Greenleaf.

Not only were we now close to the beach, Abbott's and Schaller's, but we had a beautiful pool, tennis courts, a clubhouse and a brand new three-level townhome.

To help give things an even fresher start, my parents, Frances and Herbie "Pompeii," purchased new living room furniture.

But we still had an old dining room set.

It was my senior year (at Aquinas High School), and I had started my first job (as a box boy for  Bell's Supermarket).  So, I had saved some money.

My sister pulled me aside one day and told me about how Mom and Dad would soon be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary (on November 29, 1977), and that we should do something special for them to commemorate the occasion.

"I have $400.00," she said.  "If you throw in $100.00, we can give them $500.00.  They've never treated themselves, Herbie J.  This is a big deal for them...moving here to Greenleaf.  And we can really make it a nice anniversary for them this year."

I didn't think twice about my sister's request.

I gave her the $100.00; she put it in a card - and after having a little cake, we gave it to our parents.

I'll never forget how it all played out because, even though we were happy to have moved to Greenleaf, it was a tough time for celebrations that year.  We would always spend the holidays on Erie Street with our big extended family.  But in 1977 things were different.

Not only had we and our relatives next door left Erie Street, but various aunts, uncles and cousins moved to Arizona and California; everyone in our family just kind of went their separate ways for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That never happened before; and it was a lonely time - for everyone - in many ways.

So, when my parents opened the card and saw the $500.00 - spread out in brand-new crisp $100.00 bills - my Mom cried.  Then my father cried, then my sister, and then I joined in on the flood-gate.

Not sobbing...but gentle, sweet quiet tears of appreciation.

Within a couple days, we had a new dining room set...the modern kind with the real nice leather swivel chairs on rollers, and a big extension leaf that could be placed in the middle of the table - all of which my parents had purchased with the $500.00.

There wasn't a nicer set in town.

And the following Christmas, everyone who used to celebrate Christmas with us on Erie Street - were now reunited with us - at Greenleaf.