This has been a tough year. My grandfather passed on Easter morning. Below, is the eulogy that I wrote and delivered
Pap, Nanu, Dad, Great Pappy, Uncle Tony, Tony
I knew him as Pap, I am one of his 20 grandkids and I remember so many fun times with Pap. He was a friendly and fun man, he made friends everywhere he went and everyone knew him. I was lucky that when I was young I spent a lot of time with him and my grandmother. Then, as I was older, my kids spent time with him at Norberts. I am truly blessed for these opportunities.
Those memories will be with me always and I would like to take some time now to share my feelings and memories of Tony Balistrieri, my grandfather.
(( I reached in and pulled out several packets of sugar. My grandfather always took them and saved them))
Well…. these are not notes….. I guess, I picked this up from Pap. I think I picked up a lot of his traits and I am happy to say that.
He shared with everyone and was willing to give anyone anything. When I was a child, he was always reaching in his pocket and handing me and my cousins money. He also gave to other people; just to be nice and helpful. He was that type of man. It seemed that he was always helping someone out or giving someone something
We lived across the alley from my grandparents and I was there all the time or playing in the alleyway with my friends. Everyone stayed close and family was very sacred
Even when my my parents moved to the South Hills, we still would be at Sunday Dinner every week with my aunts, uncles and all of my cousins. Of course there was a lot of extended family and friends stopping in often. The house was always full of people and it was a fun time.
Pap made his own wine, he had these huge barrels under his porch with wine in them. I don’t ever remember being able to try it, but I know my dad, aunts & uncles drank it with him often. Sharing a glass (well, more than one….) with family and friends and eating while having a fun time. That is how I remember Pap. Sharing food and wine around a table with many many laughes. My cousins and I would play in the yard but always stay clear from where the wine barrels where stored, there was always a nest of bees there from the grapes.
I remember one time I got my foot stuck in a trap and he ran out to get me freed or another time when I got a fishing hook through my finger. He rushed to take care of it. He was a great man. I feel he was proud of all of his family.
Family, that he had lot of.
Then there are his brothers, sisters, in-laws, and close friends; who I still know as Aunt & Uncle…. and the number just keeps growing.
Pap had a…..a …. colorful life I would say. He told me about a time during WWII he left for a little to see a girl and then returned, he said it was okay and normal. He defended our country, part of the greatest generations of all time.
I didn’t know it was normal to have a back seat in a car for so many years, we kids always wanted to ride in his car because the back seat was removed. His friends included police, FBI agents and so so many people. His best friend, Bob, was the cheif of Allgheny County Police. Then, there was his friend “Dough Dough” who sounded & looked like Luka Grossi. I heard one story about Baby Face Nelson visiting him, my gram didn’t realize who it was until after
Our family is very proud of our Italian heritage and that is because of Pap. He lived and breath our heritage. He welcomed people in his home and just made them feel at home and of course offered them some wine….
He was a produce man, with his brothers. They had a shop on Liberty Ave with fresh produce and they also had a truck they would drive to sell produce. People would come in and Pap was known for letting them fill a bag and his reply was “just give me a buck”. His kids would run through the store with friends an grab fruit as they ran to the local swimming pool and he would yell at them not to take anything. Oh, and the back rooms. Seems like there where back rooms in many different places…
They lived in a different time than we do know.
But, he was also intrigued by some of the technology. I would see him and my daughters on their iPad and he just looked and swiped away. He was just amazed at some of the new things we could do. He seemed to enjoy video calls on the phones
Pap was blessed with 7 children, each one of them cared about him very much. They brough a special joy to him in different ways. I am lucky to be able to call them Aunt & Uncle.
A family that I am so happy to have. I offer my deepest sympathies to each of you
In closing, I would like to remind you of something that Pap told my cousin Stacy. He said not to let anyone or anything ever bother you. If something or someone does, then simply say “la de da de da de da, booptity boop”
Let’s get the hell outta here….