Time Well Spent

Time well spent.

My father, Ralph Migliore had a life that was not easy growing up. His own father died from pneumonia when he was not even one year old in 1933. It was a terrible time in the United States and the Great Depression was in full swing. I know that the elementary school he went to would supply him and his brothers with clean clothes. It had to have been very difficult, but I suspect that it instilled in him a drive to provide for his own family someday in a way he wished his own father could have.

My mom Lena was a typical American housewife. She kept the home spotless, watched soap operas and had her girlfriends like Maria Canella from the neighborhood over for coffee mid-day. We had a wonderful middle class suburban life.

My dad worked road construction-and my mom was a bit frugal. But I mean that in a nice way, in that she was the type of frugal that she would go without new bras or underwear just so she could save money so at Christmas there would be a ton of toys under the tree, all wrapped perfectly! My mom and dad were incredible partners in many ways and on many levels. I can honestly say, that I never remember them fighting, but do remember being woke up after I fell asleep because they were laughing so loud! My mother always had our beds made, laundry folded & put away, dinner on the table and some icebox dessert or pudding in little glass dishes ready for us all to enjoy later after our meal. My dad took great pride in our home and kept the lawn and landscape manicured. Every time he mowed the lawn, the hose would come out and he would wash down that mower afterwards. It did not matter how old things were around our home, they always looked new since my mom and dad took care of them so well.

At some point – my parents decided to turn the front family room of our 1964 split level into a dining room. My dad surprised my mom with this chandelier in the early 1970′s. My mom cherished it! I remember it was always sparkling and how often she would clean it. I can still picture her in the dining room with bright sunshine beaming through the front picture window, as she took off each crystal. My mom loved music and would always have it playing when she cleaned the house. I can literally hear Bobby Vinton singing Blue Velvet right now! She also loved Engelbert Humperdinck!!! She use to tell me she thought he was so handsome! I am having a flashback and can so see it like it was just yesterday, versus being 35 long years ago. My mom would play the music ….and sing and dance and clean our home. Life was perfect then…safe and warm and it was a really happy time in the home I grew up in.

As for that chandelier, as a little girl I don’t think I ever saw something glitter and sparkle more. As I got older, I recall thinking that it was a bit too big for the room and the height of the ceiling, but for my mom- it represented how much my dad loved her! I always admired it and enjoyed all the holiday and celebration family dinners we had beneath it.

Four months before Steve and I were married in 2003, we purchased our home in Macedon, New York. It is an 1880′s Victorian Farm House – and we were so excited on the day we moved in. My mom came to my house in East Rochester and helped with supervising the movers pack up all my boxes onto the moving truck. Upon walking in to the new house – we found that the previous owners took the dining room chandelier and our foyer overhead light….leaving only bare wires hanging for us.

A few days later, my mom brought her chandelier over to us, all packed up safely with each crystal wrapped and said it was a house warming gift from her and my dad. I should share – that in January of 1982 when I was only eleven years old, my dad passed away from cancer. Life changed after losing him and our family has never been the same since.

Well, I spent an hour last night carefully taking each and every crystal down and cleaning it…and I enjoyed ever minute of it!

I was trying to find a photo of us at the table, but instead here is one of the table set waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to begin back in 2008. You might notice the dishes on the table? They have a silhouette of two men sitting at a table on them. Those dishes were my maternal grandmother’s. Her name was Theresa Zupparo Mastroeni. She collected the dishes that would come free when you purchased Cooks Coffee and other household staples. The dishes were manufactured in America under two lines- one was Taylor Smith Taylor and the other, was Hall China.

Click on photo to enlarge

My father always admired my grandmother’s collection because it reminded him of the few pieces his own mother Nancy had when he was a child. Nancy Mollo Migliore Giglio only had a few pieces and sadly, she passed away when my father was just a pre-teen. My grandmother Theresa always knew how special the dishes were to my father- so one day she called up my mom and told her to come over to her house. When my mom arrived, there was a big box taped up and my grandma told her to take it home to Ralph. My mom asked what was inside, and my grandma Theresa – in her true nature- told her not to worry about it and just bring it home to my dad (her son-in-law.) I don’t know what year that was, or what my father’s reaction was- but I suspect it brought tears to his eyes since that was the kind of man he was. Those dishes filled our hutch in the kitchen in that split level I grew up in for most of my life and now they are in my home. I have added quite a few additions to the collection and someday, my 7 year old daughter Danni will inherit them. Danni has a great sense of family and is very interested in family genealogy and always asks me to tell her stories from when I was little- so I know she will cherish them just as much as I do.

It seems now I know my father more through stories shared with me than my own time spent with him. I am so proud to say that he was a family man, a man who was the first to jump to lend a hand to others and always friendly and smiling. A man who spent Saturday nights with his wife and best friends gathered around our kitchen table playing cards and telling jokes. A man who I believe- I received so much of my personality from.

I love you so much dad and know how happy you must be watching me and my little family live out our lives. We sit under your chandelier every day for our family dinner now. Thank you so much for all that you gave me. I love you – always & forever.

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