Saverio escorts a significantly shorter-than-him Harry out to the car
Change,  Letters to Harrison and Olive

The Loss You Haven’t Known

Harry and Olive, death touched your lives for the first time last week. Great Grandpa Saverio, or “G.G.” died (one of two “G.G.’s” who answer to that name). Though it happened quickly, we knew it was imminent and had the chance for last visits, stories, and slight introduction to loss of this kind.

Harry, being two, you don’t have much concept of anyone other than yourself, and so the absence of Saverio is just a fact. You state it so matter-of-factly: “G.G. died and we won’t see him anymore; You are sad”. This last family visit you stopped asking “where is other GG?”. We were nervous to broach the topic, and explain the loss of someone in toddler-fitting terms. We need not have feared, you simply accepted our words and only today, over a week later are you starting to actually talk about him.

Olive, you got to know a pretty cool guy, however briefly. You won’t remember him, a strange thought when I remember how he held you so carefully and loved you and your brother so much.

It’s been a joy for me to see you both loved so hard by our family, and to wonder at the traits you will bear from all of us “higher up” on the family-tree. Just as it will be frustrating for me to see my own less desirable traits reflected in you, there are many positive and constructive examples of character that await you. Which traits of G.G.’s will you exemplify in the years to come?

He was a quiet person, not the centre of attention, but always kind. He had “grit”, and with it accomplished many projects that still endure. He appreciated beauty in craftsmanship, and Harry, you still play with the wood toys he built 30 years ago (your Dad once enjoyed those same ones!). He built his house, a vacation home, skied, camped, golfed, travelled, and enjoyed an unlimited variety of other pursuits, many of them self-taught.

I’m happy to say you will both probably take for granted the presence of all the family surrounding you. Your grandparents cheer you on and build you up, and up until last week you had three sets of great-grandparents active in your lives. My biggest challenge, in all honesty, is to fulfill visiting everyone enough. Some days it feels like we are celebrating another family birthday party every single week.

Harry, you think you’re lucky because of all the cake that’s inevitable at each family  celebration, but you and Olive have no idea the privilege you’ve encountered in getting to know so many of the elder figures around you (without whom you wouldn’t exist!).

So, cheers to both “G.G.’s”, Saverio especially (and not for the last time!), Bis-Nonna and Bis-Nonno, “Grampa” Bill and “Gramma” Pat, as well as “Mio”, Papa, Nonna, and “Paya”.

We wouldn’t be who we are now without the influence of any of you, and from me personally, I can say I truly feel the love.

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