Yesterday evening, I learned that the man I considered my grandfather, Vincent Vallely, had passed away. My biological grandparents have all been gone for many years, and I never even met one of them, so “Vince” filled that role in my and my siblings’ lives.
Vince was the father of my aunt, who is married to my mother’s brother (got that?). In short, he was in no way biologically related but instead, he became family related. G always jokes that he can’t follow my family tree and it’s because I don’t have a family tree in the sense that most people do – most of the people we see on a regular basis and holidays are the people we consider family, and Vince was one of those people.
He had a dapper old-time look and a great sense of humor. It was no wonder that in his 90s, he continued to pick up ladies left and right at the nursing home. Two nights ago this week, confused, he wandered out of his room, down the hall, and jumped right into another tenant’s bed – with her in it.
Vince cracks me up because he loved wine, gin, and meat, in that order, yet somehow not only lived into his 90s but also stayed sharp enough to debate politics and issues at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I’m not sure that I could have explained vegan to him, but I’m fairly certain he would have thought it a silly idea.
It’s strange that I met Vince so late, when he had already experienced a lifetime of events. The part of him that I knew about was so small in comparison to all that he’d done before we even met. I hope when I reach his age, I will follow his way of looking forward. We’re drinking a glass of red tonight for you, Vince.