For Whom the Bell Tolls

Dear Son,

I’m happy to hear you learned a lot of things during your trip to L.A. and I agree that in life we learn as we go through it. And believe me, it doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always something new to learn. Your experiences also show that we can learn something from anyone if we’re willing to pay attention. And travel provides the chance to meet people from all levels of society whom we may not have met otherwise. But never forget that history repeats itself, but the key is that we learn from it. And I am hopeful that regarding politics, we have turned a corner. I can tell you that it is true that your social circle gets smaller as you age but you also learn quality and quantity are two vastly different values in life. Your mom has been big on the latter, and that’s the reason we cook enough to feed an army on holidays. But one of the reasons I married her is because she’s always had a good heart and has come to my rescue more than once. And though she’s older, I would not attempt to take the phone out of her hands, the risk of collateral damage is too high. She’s now started to text me from the bathroom whenever she forgets something. I’m still wondering if she takes the phone with her as a precaution or because she plans to stay there for a while. I can see you shaking your head while reading this, but I assure you that you’ll have your own stories when you find that special someone. 

Every man should have moments of solitude but always remember, for men it is crucial to have other men to talk to. Society is not set up to support men emotionally and we are expected to handle whatever comes our way and move on. But I warn you that there will be times you need another guy to talk to besides your father. We all have fears, concerns, and questions about our lives. And connections to other humans is what helps us through the journey before our time is up. Your grandmother was an infinite source of wisdom and there are times when I can still hear her speaking to me when I recall words that have stayed with me. Also, she was one hell of chef and taught your old man how to survive in the kitchen. And she raised several children by herself and kept going even as her own health was in trouble. You remind me of her at times with the way you command English. She was a stickler for grammar and pronunciation and when you spoke to her, you had to look her in the eyes or there was hell to pay. No way would she have accepted texting. And watching her handle your uncles who stood over 6 feet tall was like the story of David and Goliath. 

I thought about your other question and yes, there were times I felt conflicted as your father. Years ago, I had wanted to leave New York but your mom wanted to stay for good reasons. I knew that she had valid points, but I was concerned about the quality of life for you, your brother, and your sister.  At that time NYC was dangerous and not for the faint at heart. And although all of you turned out great, I knew we couldn’t protect all of you all the time. So, on the one hand I wanted out of the city but on the other I had to make sure our family stayed together and if that meant remaining in New York, then that was a sacrifice I had to make. But had I been able to do it, all of you would have grown up in another state. But let me also add that as a father, there will be numerous moments when you feel inner conflict. The reason is because you always must weigh options and bear in mind that as a man you must take care of yourself first. I say that because as your great-grandfather once told me, if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. Let me ask you this, do you regret growing up in NYC? 

The other night, Jax woke me up early morning hours and I couldn’t figure out what he wanted at first but then I felt the chill in the house. I turned up the heat a bit and within ten minutes the cat was out like a light. However, I couldn’t fall asleep again and sat in the living room watching CNN until your mother came staggering in the living room half-sleep. She heard me get up and couldn’t fall asleep again either. Yet Jax was snoring loud enough for the neighbors to hear.  

Son, I have some sad news. Your godmother Liz passed away a couple of days ago. You hadn’t seen her in many years, but she never forgot you. She had her health struggles in recent years, but now she is no longer in pain, and I hope at peace. We don’t know when it will be our time to go but remember to live each day. She will be sorely missed and the void she leaves cannot be filled. So, make sure to show the people you care about that you love them deeply. We never know when we’ll see each other for the last time. For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. 

Stay safe and take care of yourself kid, 

Love, Pop. 

P.S.  Thank you for the gifts, they haven’t arrived yet, but I’ve got my eyes peeled. 



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