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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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.
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Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!

JQ

Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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17 reasons summers are for our grandpas

Soccer and grilling and buying ice cream, yum.

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Summer is for a lot of things. Taking Insta photos and traveling and camping and spending time with friends.

But the true heroes of the summer have to be our Grandpas, something I'm seriously learning this summer while I live with my grandparents and commute to take a class.

Here's why summer isn't for your friends or that random Tinder hookup or for posting bikini pics in the Mediterranean, it's for our Grandpas.

1. Warm weather means going outside

Whether it's fishing or playing catch or camping, or for my Grandpas, sailing and soccer, the warm weather means your Grandpa is probably going to have some outdoor activity for you to engage in.

2. Time off of school means time to teach them how to use the Internet

3. The air conditioner either runs nonstop or not at all

4. If there's a major sporting event he won't leave the recliner

During World Cup season, forget about doing anything other than watching games. My grandpa's been insisting on dropping me off for the train at 6:30 in the morning on the days when Mexico plays at 7. Definitely has his priorities straight.

5. Going out to eat happens a lot

6. Grilling season!

7. Unconventional ways to escape the heat

We're not going to play in the sprinklers because that would be wasteful but we'd definitely drive to the mall to walk around in the air conditioning for an hour.

8. Father's Day

With a whole day in the summer dedicated to celebrating them, it's truly no surprise that Grandpas enjoy spending the warmer months of the year surrounded by their kids and grandkids.

9. Home improvement projects

Painting or building something or fixing a leaky faucet, summer time means more time, which means getting to the things you don't normally have time for (or don't want to do yourself) during the rest of the year

10. Car washes

Not the kind where you drive through any time of the year but the kind when you're outside in the driveway with a bucket of soap and a sponge glove washing it yourself early in the morning before the sun is strong enough to make the windows streak.

11. Listening to stories

Summertime means more free time and long days mean more late nights. When at Grandma and Grandpa's house, this is best spent listening to stories. Who knows, you may even learn something new!

12. Day trips

Whether it's driving 45 minutes to a different mall and getting some ice cream or spending the day exploring a new town, mini vacations happen a lot during the summer, and seem to be something that grandpas love to do.

13. Spending time in nature

And of course, along with these explorations, one has to find time to hike around a lake or check out a forest or find some other way to "get some fresh air".

14. Playing games

Sitting outside or at the kitchen table even after the sun goes down playing dominoes or learning poker or teaching him fun new games like Uno Attack! are some of my favorite summertime memories with my grandpa.

15. Pulling pranks and telling jokes

The more time you spend with your grandpa, the more likely you are to encounter advanced Dad Jokes, aka Grandpa Jokes™️

16. Insta opportunities

Maria Nelson

Cute grandparent pictures > bikini beach pictures any day.

17. Time very well spent

Maria Nelson

Our time with our grandparents is so short that any time spent with them is time very well spent. I'd rather spend my summer enjoying my grandparents than spending money doing more glamorous things. At the end of the day, summer isn't for our friends or our Instagram followers or our bikini bods, it's for our grandpas.

Cover Image Credit:

Maria Nelson

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