The Greatest Man I've Ever Known

The Greatest Man I've Ever Known

My Grandfather
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Every now and again in your life you meet someone who actually shares your birthday (unless you were part of a multiple birth, this is generally uncommon). For me I knew someone who shared my birthday from day one; I was born on an important day in my family due to it being my Grandfather’s birthday. I was born four weeks premature, but somehow decided that October 8th was the day to be born. After visiting my mother and meeting me for the first time, my Grandfather actually told my mother to not bother ever getting him another birthday present because nothing could beat me. I was the first grandchild and I was born on his birthday. Needless to say I was say I was spoiled.

But this article isn’t about me but rather about my Grandfather who will always be one of my favorite people. Robert A. Moriarty was born October 8th 1929 outside of Boston and had one brother, Thomas. Robert served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War and after the war was over, he married Doris. A few years later they adopted two children and my mother was the first one. My Grandpa worked for ABC Wide World of Sports for almost the entire time it existed. His office was in The World Trade Center and he journeyed every day from their home in New Jersey to New York City.



After the birth of yours truly, Bob and Doris traveled more regularly which included trips to Europe and just anywhere they felt like being at that time. They were actually on vacation during the 1993 attack on the Trade Centers. After that, Grandpa started to dial back until the day he retired. After 35 years of working he decided that was enough and that they were moving to Florida. I was 5 when my Grandparent’s sold their house in New Jersey and moved South. We actually went with my Grandmother and my Great-Grandmother due to the fact they needed another driver as my Grandfather had just had his first heart attack and was still in the hospital. So began my first trip to Florida.

By the time I was 10, my Grandparent’s convinced my parents that a few weeks with them at the end of the summer was a great idea. So in August for anywhere from 2-3 weeks we would fly down with my mother, who would stay for a few days and then she would fly back leaving us with Grandma and Grandpa. We ran around the section of Florida they lived in and got to see all sorts of things that kids who grew up in Upstate New York didn’t see on the regular (baby alligators for one). We named the alligator that lived in the waterways by their condo Ally (we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl it was just Ally the Alligator and that name stayed even if it was a different alligator) and generally just caused mischief as most children do.

But in the evenings when we were back at the condo, I would go to my Grandfather’s office and I’d sit with him while he watched the news. I learned a lot and a good portion of my political leanings are actually because of this man. I’m sure my parents were never really thrilled that their pre-teen daughter was learning politics when I should have been doing other things but hey, life happens. I watched the news with him every night until my Grandmother would call me away because it wasn’t right for me to spend all my time in the office. Because according to her, I just "had to be bored".

My Grandfather was a brilliant photographer and he also did his own framing so the photos in the house were usually done by him. I learned photography from him and my mother who he taught. I spent most of my life being on either side of the camera depending on who was there. I perfected the freeze and smile by the time I was five, which is probably why to this day I can’t quite manage the whole spontaneous photo thing.

One thing that I noticed as time went on, was my Grandfather searching for his words more often and getting more frustrated with himself. I didn’t know then but Grandpa had Alzheimer’s and it was getting worse. That of course was compounded with the guilt he had from what occurred on September 11th 2001. A family friend, the man my Grandfather had handpicked and trained to replace him, was in his office that day and unfortunately didn’t make it out like many others. After that there was a more drastic change and it just kept going. There were moments of the trade centers all around the condo and he would always pause in front of them and you knew he was thinking of everything.

But still he stubbornly kept trying; if you’ve never met a Bostonian Irishman let me tell you when they get set on something they just keep going. So my Grandfather kept getting worse but they tried to hide it from us, maybe to protect us maybe because they weren’t sure how to explain it. But slowly Grandpa kept retreating into himself and suddenly he wasn’t really up to talking to anyone anymore, including me, and when he did he would call me Kathy because he would get myself and my mother confused.

In December of 2013, my Grandparents took a trip to Maine to see where my mother lived and so my Grandfather could meet my step-father. I was living in Florida at the time working for the Walt Disney World Resort and we spoke on the phone a few times but it wasn’t much because I’ve always been a workaholic so I was kind of just working and sleeping 95 percent of the time. So my Mother got her final visit with her Dad and my Grandfather got to see everything that he hadn’t seen in years.

July 2014, I got a call that stopped my heart. It wasn't looking too good. After a certain incident where he got lost, had fallen and it his head, my Grandfather was living in an assisted living home. It was then when my mother drove down from Maine and together we went to my Grandfather. As we reached Venice city limits, we got the call that my Grandfather was being moved to hospice,and according to his doctors, he wasn't going to survive the day. We got to the hospital and my heart broke, the man I remembered was just a shadow now. He had lost weight and he had scrapes and bruises from where he fell.

My Grandfather didn’t die that day, but he did give us some rather entertaining one-liners that my mother and I will still laugh at. We stayed for a few days but then the real world came knocking back. I needed to go back to work and my mother needed to drive back to Maine. We said our goodbyes and I hugged him one more time and then cried as we left. On July 6th 2014 my phone rang again, my mother had just made it back to Maine and I was on my break at work when I got the news. My Grandfather had died. My best friend and my mentor in photography and politics was gone. I took the rest of the day off got my second tattoo and didn’t exactly handle the loss properly.

It’s funny how you don’t really ever get over losing someone. To this day I miss him and my heart breaks a little bit every time I see anything that reminds me of him. But I know that now he’s in a better place, he’s watching over me. And occasionally things happen that remind me that the ones we love are never truly gone.

I love you Grandpa and I hope that you’re still proud of me. One day I’ll see you again and we’ll discuss the political world that happened after you left us. I’m sure I’ll get to hear a rant or 12 about Trump and I’m sure you’ll understand why I couldn’t and still can’t support him.

So in honor of all of the Father’s be that biological, adopted, step or grandfathers, Happy Father’s Day. Know that you all are loved and cherished, and thank you for supporting us and enjoy yourselves.

You deserve it.

Cover Image Credit: Kathleen Marcheletta

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The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
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Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

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An Open Letter To One Of The Greatest Men I Have Ever Known, My Grandpa

Thank you to the man who taught me laughter, confidence, and so much more.

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Dear Papa,

My favorite memory of you is one that I can barely remember because I was so young. But I remember riding on your four-wheeler, holding on to the gas cap as hard as possible, and screaming every time I saw the speedometer go over 25mph. I remember just hearing your sweet laugh and slowing down just to speed it up again so I would keep screaming. You fueled my love for the mountains and the outdoors. I thank you for this.

I had my first love, who broke my heart into a million different pieces. I was so hurt, devastated and my self-esteem broke along with it. We were walking on the way back from your shop, under the canopy of grapes you planted. You asked me how I was doing. I lied I was doing fine. And said that I know I deserve better than a boy who cheats on me with my best friend. You looked into my eyes like you always did.

I stared back into your beautiful blue eyes and you told me that you never really thought he was good enough for me, and you said you did not like him very much because I deserved the world and he never gave me that. You also told me something I will never forget. You said, "ordinary men cannot handle extraordinary women and you are an extraordinary woman." You told me to never forget this. You raised my confidence and it meant so much to me. That heartbreak wasn't the last, but I always try to remember those words and it helps me get through it. I thank you for this.

I remember when you offered to let me learn how to drive in your truck. I hope you knew how much of an honor that was to me. I knew how much you loved your cars because you helped fuel my love for cars. We had to go to Walmart. And we were driving on the highway for quite some time when I looked over and realized you were sound asleep. We had driven forty minutes out of the way. You just laughed and instructed me on how to get to Walmart. You complimented me on how calm and relaxing I drove. You gave me the confidence to start driving, although back then I hated it. I thank you for this.

One day we were sitting, eating breakfast around that giant table you bought in the cabin. I reached out and held your hand before we said a prayer. You looked down and said, "you have beautiful hands, they remind me of my mothers'." I didn't let you see but I started crying because I always thought my hands were stubby and man-like. But you made me feel like they were the most beautiful thing about me. I thank you for this.

Papa when you were diagnosed with ALS I was stunned. I didn't know what it meant, although I had heard about it before. When everyone started telling me what the months and years ahead for you were like, I wanted to take it all away. I didn't want you to have to go through that. You are and were the best man I have ever known. I remember praying with our family, ugly crying for what felt like forever. When you came and hugged me, and you told me "It's all going to be okay sweetheart". When you would call me sweetheart, I knew that was my cue that you needed me to be strong. You only used that when the situation was grave, and it gave me all the strength I needed. I loved our lunches and little grandfather-grandaughter dates we would go on.

When I learned how to stick the needle in your chest in case of emergencies, your strength is what got me through it. That morning that my dad came up into my room and told me you had passed, I couldn't believe it. I promise I will take care of grandma, and try to be the woman you have raised me to be. Thank you for all of the memories and lessons. All of the laughter and amazing stories. Thank you for showing me what a full life actually consists of. I will see you again. I love you.

Your sweetheart,

Kenz

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