He talked of many things that day, and my respect for the man must have been completely readable from the humble look left on my face.

“So?” he asked. “You got enough there?”

I nodded and embraced him for a long time. He held me, the scent of his familiar tobacco and peppermints wafting out of his breast pocket, his strong arms firmly around me.

He wasn’t as familiar to me as my mom’s dad was, because he lived in Pennsylvania and all of my mom’s family in the Cleveland area like my family did. But I was the only grandson on my dad’s side. Dad’s two brothers had only daughters (my only other male cousin died very young).

As years passed, I felt it was important for me to do well as a man; as the last man carrying the family name.

Knowing what he had come through, my mom’s dad as well, this grandson had to make a mark in this world and be sure they lived and suffered through things for something.

I sent him a picture of me in my graduation robe along with a copy of my diploma when I finished high school and college, and set one of the same on his grave when I completed my master’s degree.

I’ve tried to raise my family to live in honor of such pride, and am working to “bend the tree” of my son’s will in that same direction.

I know recent days have been challenging for this country, but we should stay aware of the fact that “making it” was always hard, always challenging, and always about the integrity of individuals; from the humble beginnings of 13 colonies to the immigrants filing into Ellis Island to present-day Americans fighting the blight of joblessness and a tough economy.

It is and always has been up to the people who accept challenge and fight to conquer it. And if a man chooses to handle that with style and grace, his legacy will be forever in the hearts and on the faces of those he bore.

I think if you choose to make your grandparents proud, from wherever they may be watching you, chances are good others will think highly of your choices, too.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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4 comments on “Pappy

  1. armywife on said:

    Ron, you made me cry at work again. Thanks for sharing your heart. I will bring this home to encourage my son and future daughter in law.

  2. It’s clear that you were a journalist in the making, even in elementary school. Also, that you inherited a good chunk of integrity from your grandparents. Keep it up!

  3. Dan Downey on said:

    Great story with a strong message. Both of my grandfathers sounded much the same and made a big impression on me as a young boy and they helped to shape the character of what I stand for today.

    My wife and I have been blessed with four wonderful sons and I know that my Dad (their grandfather — Grandpa Mike) made a similar positive impact on my boys. His wonderful Irish spirit and his wonderful life stories made a strong impact on our four sons.

    My wife and I are “waiting” for the grandchildren so that hopefully I can one day do the same. Marriage and children seem to be coming later these days for this new generation. I will keep waiting as I guess I have no choice.

    Dan Downey (Playground Salesman and loyal reader of your column)

    Thanks, Ron.

  4. Barb Burkholder on said:

    You made the hair on my arms stand up again! You are such a compelling writer. I feel your joy and pain in each segment that you write about each week. Only a few are blessed to have this lovely gift of writing. I can remember my Dad/born in 1913 tell me that my Mom’s family did not suffer during the Depression because my Mom’s Dad was a scientist and head of the Botany Dept. at OSU. His Irish Catholic family did suffer because they lost their farm in Marysville, Ohio when my Grandfather/a successful farmer up to that point waited for the corn prices to go up and it didn’t happen , so my Dad went from a lush farm life in Marysville to the Irish Ghetto of Columbus, Ohio wearing potato sacks as he called them.

    My Dad’s family survived the misfortune and my Dad made a vow that all five of his kids had a college education. All 5 have undergrad degrees, 4 of the 5 have Master’s Degrees and 2 have Law Degrees. I couldn’t understand why my 3 degree Mom and Dad with 3 years of college but no degree were so demonstrative when I graduated from OSU-the 5th of 5 to obtain a college degree. My Dad never got to finish college after 3 years because he had to provide for his old parents. His Mom was 48 (change of life oops baby) when Dad was born and the other 6 siblings were all launched in careers. I get it 35 years later. At the time, I was embarassed that they were yelling and whooping it up in St. John’s arena. I graduated on my 25th birthday. Sadly, it took me a long time to understand the disappointment of my Dad not obtaining his degree when his wife had 3 degrees and a better life than he growing up. He had obtained the American Dream, he owned his home and he had 5 educated kids who wouldn’t have doors closed on them when we tried to better ourselves with a better job. One priest, One Principal/teacher, 2 Attorneys with teaching degrees and one Public Recreator! Amen. Barb Burkholder
    Keep the stories coming. I can’t wait for Fridays to read your articles each week.

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