grandpa’s funeral

Posted on May 16th, 2016 by mountain girl  |  4 Comments »

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Wednesday I flew solo to New York state to be with my family and attend my grandpa’s funeral. I have never left Cash (or  Zia!) overnight, so it was kind of a big deal for all of us. David took off work to spend time with the kids and take them out to do fun things. I came home to a spotless house and no dirty laundry, which was so very nice. Love that man.

My flight to Syracuse was a little crazy. I had a one-hour layover in Charlotte, but before we even left Denver we were delayed an hour and a half. There had been a bird strike on the landing gear, which led to a full inspection of the mechanics, and then a lady passed out cold in the aisle of the plane. They had to call the paramedics (Denver F.D.) to revive her, then disembarked her in a wheelchair and retrieved her checked luggage from the plane. It took a looong time.

The other passengers began making plans to take the night flights out of Charlotte, since it seemed sure we would all miss our connections. I just trusted that I would make my connection. It seemed impossible, but once we finally landed, I ran at top speed to the connecting gate and they let me in, although the door to the gate was closed and the plane was almost ready to take off. Talk about an adrenaline surge when I burst into that plane!

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Flying over the Finger Lakes.

New York was really beautiful and green when I arrived. I think this is one of the best times to visit (aside from being the week of the black flies!) Everything looked verrrryyy low and flat compared to the Rockies, haha. There was also a lovely abundance of oxygen. :)

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My time in NY was both sad and happy. I was really glad to see my grandma, but her health (physical and mental) had deteriorated exponentially since I last saw her, and it was shocking. She was so tiny and old, and it was heartbreaking to witness moments of lucidity when she understood the occasion and grieved for Grandpa.

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Grandma with her daughter Sharon on her right and son Larry (Papa) on her left.

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I explained to Grandma who I was (she hardly remembers anyone) and her eyes opened wide in astonishment. “How big you got!” From then on, when I told her who I was, she said, “I know, honey.” I like to think she remembers me, if only as a curly-headed tot.

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Papa, Grandma, and me outside the funeral home.

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Papa. This was one of the rare occasions any of us have seen him in a suit. :)

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Pictures of Grandpa.

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The headstone–which has been ready for so long it has moss growing on it, lol.

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Zia brought me a card she made for her great-grandpa just minutes before I left for the airport. It was super sweet. They displayed it at the wake, and tucked it into Grandpa’s casket just before the funeral.

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Me with Papa and Mama. Guess I got tired of wearing my shoes!

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The wake was Thursday and the funeral Friday. It was hard and sad to say a final goodbye to Grandpa, but it was also a really beautiful celebration of his life. I got to see my three cousins on my father’s side whom I haven’t seen in years, and a myriad of other relatives and old family friends.

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My cousin Christopher, who is just younger than me. Grandpa was like a father to him, and his passing was especially hard for him.

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All my siblings and three of our boy cousins, back left. And Gaby-Baby!

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…and here with spouses, fiancees, Gianna (my niece), and Papa and Mama.

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My older brother and closest sibling, Seth.

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The best part of the trip was being with my own family. It seems like forever since all eleven of us siblings were together, and I got to see my little nieces and nephews–including the latest, Gabe, whom I had never met. We all hung out together at Mama’s and Papa’s house and had such a good time.  It was strange being without my own little ones, and sleeping alone for the first time in more than eleven years (wow, did I sleep soundly!)

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Saturday morning I headed back to Colorado and my munchkins, and home sweet home. :)

sweet sixteen

Posted on May 10th, 2016 by mountain girl  |  3 Comments »

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He’ll hate me for that title, I know–but happy sixteenth birthday to our Caleb today!

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He’s a music fan (obviously), and for his birthday he picked out a new guitar case to fly with him to Germany this summer. It’s still on the way, but we celebrated his birthday with root beer floats after dinner.

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I suggested putting 16 candles in his float, but he wasn’t into it.

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Happy Birthday, from all of us!

a tribute to my grandpa

Posted on May 6th, 2016 by mountain girl  |  5 Comments »

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My grandfather, Fred DelConte, was born September 28, 1924. He was a farmer and a business entrepreneur, and he built his own house. He was also a brother, uncle, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

Grandpa was Italian, and his parents were immigrants from the province of Foggia in the Southeast of Italy. Here is a little history of Grandpa’s family:

His father, John Delconti, was from the village of Vico Gargano, and his mother, Concetta (Geni) Giannubilo was born and raised until age 13 in the little village of Serra Capriola. Her father, Fortunato (Fred), left Italy before his wife and five girls to secure a job and get established before sending for them four years later. They attended the church in Italy where the famous  young Catholic priest, Father Pio, presided. He was known to have performed many miracles.

Grandpa was very proud of this, and with teary eyes would relate the story of his mother taking her first communion.  She had no veil (her family was poor) and Father Pio said they couldn’t have that, and took the veil off the Virgin Mary statue and put it on her.

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John and Geni ended up living across the street from each other in Pittston, PA. John worked in the mines as a young man, and they married when he was around 20 and Geni was around 18.

Grandpa had 5 siblings.  After Fran, Frank, and Fred (Grandpa) were born, the family decided to move to North Syracuse, New York, and farm. Geni’s parents and sisters–she was the oldest–all packed up for North Syracuse. Louise, Joe, and Vera were all born there. In Italy, the Delcontis fished in the Adriatic Sea and cultivated tomatoes and other fruits, so farming was their forte.

Grandpa spent his early years working as a farmer (and later farmed as a hobby). He married my grandmother, Florence Michelina Koziol, and they had two children, my father, Larry, and his younger sister, Sharon.

When Papa was 3, Grandpa had to have a risky back operation due to scoliosis he had developed as a child from heavy farm work. His disks were deteriorating, and with the operation (which would fuse his disks) came a 50% chance of never walking again. When the operation turned out well, Grandpa’s mother dropped to her knees and thanked God in front of all the doctors!

Still, it was a hard and discouraging time. Grandpa said that while he was recuperating in the hospital, he desperately wished he could have gotten to the window to throw himself out. He was in a body cast for a year, and during that time he watched my three-year old father while Grandma worked a job at General Electric.

After that, Grandpa needed a less physically strenuous occupation. He took up a tool and dye apprenticeship at Pass and Seymour in Solvay, NY.  He worked there for 11 years and also at other places for short segments to gain experience.  Around 1964 he teamed up with 4 other Italian men–his brother, Beppo (Beppo shot at American planes during WWII – he was with Mussolini’s army!) and three other men.

He felt the other men were unwilling to take risks in the business venture, so around 1974 he broke off and started a new business in Phoenix, NY with another partner. The company, Arrowhead Tool Builders, was very successful, but a computer glitch caused a huge financial loss and Grandpa sold the business and retired at age 63.

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After retiring, Grandpa worked his huge garden well into his 80′s. I have memories of picking berries in the field behind his house, and in the summer they would bring us bushels of fresh vegetables. He was also a hunter for many years (his hunting buddy was my other grandfather) and would sometimes bring us venison.

Grandpa was a generous man to everyone who knew him. He and Grandma always brought gifts for us when they came to visit. I went with them on two road trips to Florida and a road trip to Washington, D.C., with my brother and cousin when I was about ten. I remember wanting to stop at the South of the Border attraction (for the second time) on our way back from Florida. Grandpa was tired and said no, but surprised us and took us anyway.

On one of those visits to their Florida condo, he went on a mysterious trip to Home Depot and came back with wood, tools, and stain. By the end of the day he had built a miniature corral for my entire collection of 1980′s My Little Ponies. I was thrilled!

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My Grandpa died yesterday. He and Grandma had been declining for the past year and were living in a nursing home. They had just marked their 70th anniversary the day before. My father was with him, and he passed away quietly. He was 91.

I’m sad he has left this earth, but I’m thankful for the many years I knew my grandfather. He was always kind to me and left me with many great memories. Love you, Grandpa.

Top photo: Grandpa, me, and my brother Seth. 

Second: Seth, Grandpa’s mother (Geni), my cousin Christopher, Grandpa, and me.

Third: Zia (age 3) and Grandpa.

Fourth: Grandma, Zia, and Grandpa.

Bottom: My brother Jed and Grandpa (last summer).

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at home

Posted on April 17th, 2016 by mountain girl  |  3 Comments »

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David is home, and now we’re getting our spring snow. This weekend we got about three feet in one big blizzard.

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Here is the painting I made for his birthday while he was at Masters. I worked it and reworked it, and for such a simple painting, the amount of time I spent on it is kind of hilarious. I stopped work on it simply because he came home and it was time for it to be finished. I can never seem to be perfectly happy with a painting, but he loves it, and that satisfies me.  It’s called Mountain Lullaby.

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That’s my reference photo–one I took while hiking last summer while David’s parents watched the kids. Our house, I think, was just out of the photo to the right.

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This is our back porch, LOL. The snow made it right up to the top of the rail, and gave our planter box a nice top hat.

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Here is the other gift I made for David’s birthday–a small clay lion sculpture. I made him a tiny clay lion (more like a cartoon) when we first became friends, and this is a more realistic throwback to that.

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Our playhouse is almost buried!  This is more snow than we’ve had at one time since we moved here two and a half years ago.

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Isn’t that snow on the rail hilarious?

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Just before he came home, I managed to start not feeling well. It was partly from my experiment with hydrogen peroxide inhalation, which I now think is a really bad idea, especially if it contains chemical additives.  Partly, it was probably due to trying to be Super Wife while he was gone, racing around all day every day trying to transform the house, truck, and goat shed before he got back. Super Wife has now become Snuggled Up In Bed All Week Wife.

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(It looks like my kids are doing all the work, but that’s just not true.)

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Hope you’re having a nice green spring!

happy birthday from here to GA!

Posted on April 7th, 2016 by mountain girl  |  3 Comments »

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Happy birthday to my favorite 42-year-old man.  I miss you so much and hope you take a little breather from your long workday in the middle of your long workweek to read this post and see a few pics of our days without you. You’re starting work at 4 am this morning, and you’ve probably forgotten it’s your birthday.

We’re counting down the days till you fly home–filling them up with school projects, guitar projects, organizing and cleaning, hours of painting, driving from snowy mountains to bask in sunny valleys, then back to snow again. That giant canvas is becoming a little sump’in for you, the kids are making their own birthday surprises, and we are especially wishing we could spend this day with you. But you’ll be home before you know it, and we’ll be here waiting for you.

Love you huge and happy, happy birthday!