As I approach my “diamond jubilee” a proud, thankful and happy American, I find myself dealing with many memories that pop up out of the blue. It may be something in my Italian DNA but a great deal of these past episodes have to do with a particular family member and our interactions over these many years. April 9, 2022, was no different and the subject was my daughter and first-born child, Rosanne.
We spent a few hours together, that morning, and my memory banks were pretty much on overdrive. As she entered our home, I received her loving greeting, “Dad, quick, there’s a worm in the foyer.” My wife, LuAnn, soon chimed in and it was left to me to remove this monster before he attacked and ate all of us. After several days of heavy rain, this poor creature apparently realized that he couldn’t breathe very well in waterlogged soil. So, he somehow wiggled his way out of the ground and into our home to enjoy a breath of fresh air, so to speak. I picked him up and deposited him onto our lawn. I hoped his Red Robin early warning system was working well. Then memory number one hit me: I asked Rosie if she remembered going fishing with me at a local creek. I reminded her that at the age of 4 she had no fear of these dread-ed beasts and actually dug them up and played with them as I baited my hook in an effort to catch a sunny or a bluegill. She didn’t remember and gave me a very strange look. But, I remembered and I gave her a confident wink.
Next, we were off to deliver some goods to the Blackwood, N.J., pantry, “The Unforgotten Haven” that Rosie’s service ministry is starting to support. With the Sirius radio tuned to the ’70s channel, we were greeted with Sister Sledge and their hit, “We Are Family.” These sisters were from Philadelphia and the album of the same name, as this hit single, reached number 3 on the Billboard 200. It’s a song that makes you want to sing along and we happily obliged. And then, memory two popped up. This song was released in 1979, when Rosie was only a few months old. I remembered how I used to hold her and dance around singing this song with my own lyrics…We are family, Mommy, little Rosie and Me. Of course, she wouldn’t remember that but that didn’t stop me from singing those lyrics in the car today. She gave me a look but it wasn’t like the earlier one. She had heard this story before and perhaps the old man wasn’t as nuts as perhaps earlier believed!
I am a big Billy Joel fan and have been so even before he became well known. When Rosie was 3 years old, she would sit in her car seat, kick her feet to the rhythm and sing Billy’s 1982 hit, “Allentown,” even if it wasn’t playing on the radio. She just loved the song and to this day loves his work. I frequently have reminded her that her appreciation of this artist is due to the fact that I had her young brain saturated with frequent renditions of ”Piano Man,” “Innocent Man,” “Just the Way You Are” and “Moving Out”… just to name a few. Some young parents today may think that indoctrinating a small child, while confined in a car seat, may be a bit over the top. She and I don’t think so since that appreciation of Billy’s music is still a major joy for her. Today’s memory number 3 was a sweet one.
Of course, in recent years, Rosie and I have had many more memories to share, among them our yearly baseball trips that we hope can resume after this crazy COVID situation is finally behind us. But today, the old memories took over and I really can’t explain why. Perhaps that little worm made a wrong turn at the rose bush or that Sirius ’70s radio station just happened to play that song at the right time. Or maybe, just maybe, this kind of stuff is supposed to happen when you’re rounding third and heading for home!