Remembering the Greatest Man I’ve Ever Known…

There are special people put into your life, as I believe, when you truly need them. May 5th would have been my grandfather’s, Joseph Vincent Yacovone, 101th birthday. Living in New Mexico, I feel the entire city celebrates his birth because it is also Cinco De Mayo. I love that I can rejoice with everyone and remember my grandfather at the same time. He is the man who showed me what unconditional love looks like. The man who cared so deeply for others that over 500 people attended his funeral. So many people came up to our family to tell us of all his wonderful deeds he’d done for them.

Of his grandchildren, I was the youngest girl. The others would ditch me while playing around my grandparents’ home during family gatherings. With a pout firmly on my face, I’d walk into the kitchen where Grandpa Joe would be hunched over a large pot, creating the best tasting gravy (tomato sauce with so many different meats in it). His family came from Italy to Springfield, Massachusetts and he learned how to cook from his mother and sisters. He’d pull out the step ladder and tell me to sit and I’d watch him, learning all his secrets for his famous sauce.

Grandpa Joe was a round man and his pockets were full of coins that jingled in his pockets as he walked. He’d pass out those coins to his grandchildren and we’d all run down to the corner store to buy candy. He loved to fish and he loved baseball. Most of all, he loved flying from Massachusetts to Albuquerque to see his daughter’s family where his son-in-law was stationed with the Airforce. He’d take us to midnight breakfast, climbing mountains, and fishing the streams in the nearby Jemez Mountains.

It is from his love, that I have learned to love. My parents weren’t happily married and they struggled constantly with their relationship. It seemed like they were always angry. Not great role models for love. If it weren’t for my grandfather, I wouldn’t have witnessed a love so pure and unconditional like he showed everyone. He made me feel like he was so excited to see me and that I was worthy of love. I decided when I was young, I would be like him. That my children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren would know that I love them without borders. I know I’ve used the word ‘love’ a lot in this post, but it is the main word that enters mind each time I think of my grandfather. 

It is amazing how one person showing kindness to another can change that person. I think about that with all my relationships or every passing encounter with strangers. We never know how our actions can affect someone. Either by showing kindness or being mean to someone, the person walks away with that image of you. I choose to live my life much like Grandpa Joe lived his; with an open ear, an open mind, and an open heart.

Show a stranger random kindness today. It only takes a smile, a thank you, or a moment of patience to brighten someone’s day. Love to all!

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