PapaStavo turned 70 over the weekend.
In 1944, $1 was the equivalent of $12.43 today. Europe was in the throws of World War II. But in a small abode precariously situated in the province of Verona, Italy, a boy was born.
So I packed up the boys and headed south for the celebratory shindig.
He was 33 when he met my mom. And I still remember spending my childhood days thinking how OLD my dad was. Iâ€™m 33 now, with friends and family who never cease to make me feel young. (Not to mention the dynamic duo who never fail to make me feel that Iâ€™m *far* too young to be responsible for human lives.)
Grandpa Stavo comes from a humble Italian background but he certainly wasnâ€™t huddling against the bow of a ship wondering what was to come. Instead he came to this great nation via cruise ship. He didnâ€™t see Lady Liberty welcoming the tired, poor and huddled masses. He arrived in Miami, via the Bahamas, seeing liberated ladies of the 1970s partying the night away.
Hindsight being 20/20, turns out Papa wasnâ€™t always old (or bald).
Papa: Should I go get my hairs cut like Gramma?
Destroy: Silly Papa! You have to have hair to get a haircut.
Friends and family came from far and wide to celebrate the crazy old Italian. The laughter and wine flowed freely. (His sister began compiling a list of all the Italian words he was making up. The muppets corrected his English pronunciation.)
I created a slideshow depicting the previous seven decades. (Itâ€™s 20 minutes long, but youâ€™re welcome to watch. Hey â€“ itâ€™s hard to compile all those yearsâ€¦)
Search and Destroy narrated the bit, snuggled comfortably in Papaâ€™s lap. Although truly their enthusiasm merely masked an obsessive desire to partake in birthday cake. (Destroy spent a good part of the day hanging from the cake table. Hanging from. Not hanging around.)
I am the mother of boys. But I know firsthand how special the relationship between a father and a daughter can be.
These days, Iâ€™m of relatively little concern to SoCalâ€™s favorite senior citizen. Papa will push past me in his excitement to get to â€œhis boys.â€
My dad and I certainly had our ups and downs as I grew up. (I was not a pleasant teenager.) But in my old, grownup, parenthood age Iâ€™ve realized we often butted heads because of our similarities. Today, Iâ€™ve realized I take after my dad quite a bit. And Iâ€™m lucky to do so.
Happy Birthday, Dad. (â€œThatâ€™s not Dad! Thatâ€™s Papa!â€ the muppets always correct me.)
Iâ€™ve learned a lot from him over the years. And I remain proud that, so far, the muppets demonstrate the strength and determination toward life heâ€™s already taught me. It doesnâ€™t matter where you start; itâ€™s where you finish â€“ thus far humble beginnings have begot huge rewards.
I love you, Daddy. I know Iâ€™ll always be your little girl. (Even if you are distracted by the adorableness of your boys.)