Let me retract what I said in my previous column that going to pay respects cost nothing. It cost me a quarter of a tank full of gas at $4.17 a gallon for regular to make the visit. My grandchildren, for whom I wrote this column, and for whom I include all these family names for history, range in age from 1 to 8. Their generation is of huge flat screen TVs, computers, GPS navigation systems, handheld computer games, cell phones, Blackberries, iPods, hybrid cars, DVDS and, most likely, gasoline that will probably cost more than $5 a gallon by the time you’ve read this column. So here you find this grandfather’s gift to his grandchildren, a gift of their heritage, before everyone forgets the names of their relatives who preceded them.
And in keeping with the Father’s Day celebration, which naturally includes grandpas, here is a wonderful gift given to one grandfather, 86-year-old Dante Landi, from his granddaughter, Diana Denza.
“There is a man who has walked with me through life-
My trustworthy guardian, My true friend, My superb storyteller, My shoulder to cry on, My talented craftsman, My professional gardener, My skilled salad-maker, My dutiful chauffeur. And if you say there cannot be such a man who embodies these virtues, talents and passion, I will know that you have yet to meet my Grandpa.
When I think of him (and that is quite often)
I see a garden worthy of the heavens above.
Fragrant roses surround a statue of the Virgin Mary
As flowers of every color gather at her blessed feet
To sing exalted praises and bask in the golden sunlight.
The man who created this grand tribute,
This salient offering to the woman born without sin-
Dresses simply, Speaks plainly, Wants not and needs little,
Puts others before himself, loves unconditionally, and cares too much,
Saying he means the world to me is an understatement-
I can only hope that the universe, instead, is enough to contain my love
As he walks into his garden, a smile across his wrinkled face,
(Which is a sign of wisdom)
Angels come to witness the splendor and grace
Of the man in his garden, as the heavenly beings look into his eyes-
Eyes filled with beauty, truth, joy, faith, hope and love…
But also with grief, pain, loss and suffering,
They bless the worthy gardener, the faithful servant of heaven,
For he knows the meaning of life, God’s grand purpose:
Love, sacrifice and serve…Material possession means nothing,
I cannot help but feel as if I lucked out, an unworthy recipient of a gardener so pure, brave and true.
The Gardener, my grandpa-I love you.”
Wow, I defy anyone who read this beautiful poem to finish with a dry eye.
This wonderful tribute was written by a Fordham University recipient of a $100,000 scholarship, whom Grandpa Dante Landi is so proud of. I met Dante when I was on the District 21’s Community School Board. He worked under Deputy Superintendent Aileen Golden about 20 years ago and believe it or not is still working at I.S. 303 for Principal Gary Ingrassia. He hasn’t aged a day and looks healthier and spryer than this 72-year-old columnist. Did I forget to say much healthier and certainly much, much spryer than me?
Grandparents live for their grandchildren and it is so rare when a grandchild can so eloquently present the love she has for them. I’m waiting to see how she’s going to top this inspiring poem with a poem for her grandma, Dante’s wife. And hopefully this summer, Dante will invite me to see his garden so full of love.
Screech at you next week!