Birthday Tribute: Thomas J. Nigro, Late but Never Forgotten

Today is rather special, but strictly for a personal reason. As I noted on a previous blog entry, my grandfather, Thomas J. Nigro, passed on a few days before Halloween of ’12. In that special R.I.P. entry, I mentioned several things about the rocky relationship we had for so many years, but also the many good memories we shared, my own regrets about the various issues we had, and ultimately, why I am glad that the venerable Thomas J. was my grandfather.

This brings us to today: It would have been my grandfather’s 90th birthday had he lived another half a year. I feel sad and a bit teary-eyed as I type these words, not only because I miss him as much as I do, but also because of the typical dwelling on all the might-have-beens that come to mind on a day like this. Why couldn’t I have been more patient and understanding with him before his physical decline began several years prior to his passing? For all the years he let me reside with him, why couldn’t I have tried harder during that time to get along better with him? Why couldn’t I have realized sooner that wallowing in resentment is not healthy for you or anyone else around you? Yanno, those kinds of questions.

Alas, one of the traits I inherited from Thomas J.–other than the obnoxious sense of humor and love of “putting one over” on others, I should add–has to be a resolute stubbornness to bend when it comes to my personal boundaries. It’s one of the ways we were too much alike that exacerbated the problems related to the many ways we were so different, if that makes sense. The house we shared was simply too small for that many people living in it, if one of those people happened to be one who greatly valued their privacy and another was a person who felt privacy should be a non-issue (growing up in a modest-sized house with 11 siblings will do that to a person, yanno?). As a result…well, you can imagine, so no need to belabor with the stories.

But I don’t want to focus on our differences today. Or my many regrets, for that manner. Instead, I want to focus on the legacy that Thomas J. left behind, and how I’m determined to carry it on as best I can. Barely being aware of what cyberspace was, or having any interest in learning more about it, during the 20 years his life overlapped with the home computer revolution is no reason why his name and what he meant to those he left behind should be restricted to the print medium alone. A commemoration for him is certainly there today in the local papers (yes, treeware continues to exist!), courtesy of his son. But I think his grandson more than owed it to him to see that his name and life is remembered in the digital medium as well, even if it was a creature he paid scant attention to.

Since I can’t change the past, nor could I cure the ailments that afflicted him during his last years of life (all related to old age), I believe I should instead concentrate on doing my best to honor his memory in the future. Despite the differences we had, and the epic conflicts that resulted, never did he waver in taking care of his family, or providing a father figure to a grandson who never had one living with him.

I publicly apologize to him here for being as difficult to deal with as I so often was during our years together. just as I did in front of those assembled at his memorial service. I’m glad he lived to see his grandson become a published author, and I appreciate the supportive words he gave me for that accomplishment, a lifetime in the making. I may not be able to be exactly the type of grandson he wanted, but I can strive to be the best person I can possibly be, and in honor of his memory, I will always endeavor to live up to that lofty goal.

Happy Birthday, Thomas J. Your family and many friends all wish you were still here to celebrate it, telling more of your hilarious stories of the many classic incidents you experienced in life and being the very life and heart of our family get-togethers. And in spirit, you always will be there with us.

Thomas J. Nigro – 1923-2012

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