As most of you are aware, my grandfather has been battling cancer and other health issues for the past 6 years. In the early hours of June 25th, just a few months shy of 83, and just two days after his Doctors gave him a 3 month life expectancy, my dear Papa Jerry’s soul left his body.
Growing up, Papa Jerry was very much like another dad to me. Our backyard & my grandparents’ backyard connected, so I was able to go there every single day. Afternoons where he wasn’t out & about working (even though he’d technically “retired” when he was 40) Papa Jerry would have Frank Sinatra playing (or the Bee Gees) & be punching numbers on his giant calculator, or on the phone with business calls while Grandma Rose made dinner, & afterwards he’d pour a glass of wine, walk down to the gazebo to watch the sun set, & return a wave & a hello to the occasional boat passing by down the canal.
I remember the countless days fishing, & Sunday boat trips to Boblo Island & Canada, going up & down the Detroit River & around Lake Erie. He used to tell us stories of when he was a kid, how he’d look at the big houses on the river & say he’d live in one of those one day. Being a 1st generation kid to an immigrant family from Poland & Malta, all 8 of them living in the attic of a small house in Detroit with no heat, having to drop out of school in the 6th grade to work to help provide for his family, it would seem the cards definitely weren’t stacked in his favour, but, he took the cards he was dealt & did what he wanted with them, making them his motivation.
He was rough around the edges & always did things his own way. His favorite song was "My Way" for a reason. He had a work ethic to him like no other. Working for the railroad, working for the wise guys around the neighborhood, he established who he was & put himself out there with such conviction, tenacity, integrity, street smarts & entrepreneurship, by the time he married by grandma (they were 17 and 18), he already owned 2 houses & took care of his family.
From living in an attic with a 6th grade education, to being a retired multi millionaire by 40, living a full life & passing away in his sleep, in his favorite chair, in the house he built himself 50 years ago, my grandpa will always be an absolute legend in my eyes & I’m so thankful for the 34 years I had with him.
Thank you to those of you who included him in your prayers and rituals for healing over the years. You helped extend his time here, and made his last years more comfortable. My family and I are so grateful 💚
I'm so grateful for his presence in my life. For always being such a source of wisdom and safety, for not being afraid to tell me what I needed to hear, for always encouraging me, and showing me by example that anything is possible.