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The lighting of a Memorial Candle not only provides a gesture of sympathy and support to the immediate family during their time of need but also provides the gift of extending the Book of Memories for future generations.
Nana, I hope you enjoy reading my memory of Grandpa. Out of all of us, he was of course the closest to you. I will miss him. I'm sorry I can't be in New Jersey for the ceremonies, but I figure the least I can do is share this one of my many memories with pop.
An Afternoon With Pop
As we turned left off the busy New Jersey highway up the wooded residential sidestreet, I noticed the open field on our left. "That's it?", I thought to myself as we drove past the open area and found a parking spot next to the old museum. As we got out, I saw more clearly what was in the center of the large field of grass: a monstrous tower with a unique figure on top - a light bulb.
We got out of the car only to find the museum closed. No one was around. Besides the buzz of the busy highway we had turned off of and the clatter of New Jersey homes on a weekday afternoon, Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Park a ghost town; pop and I had it all to ourselves.
I don't remember whether it was his idea or mine, but after a doctor had probed the hole in his neck with multiple cotton swabs, leaving me in astonishment, I think we were both in the mood for a break. As we made our way toward the tower, cars whizzed by on the highway, eager to get back to work. Our afternoon was more relaxing. Pop had bought me a few slices of pizza only a half hour before at a pizza shop down the road. He, on the other hand, forced himself to struggle through a dry tuna sandwich. I knew not being able to eat his favorite foods was one of his least favorite parts of his condition.
The huge tower in the park, though, was the perfect distraction. The base of it was laid out like an octagon, with one plaque on each side describing Edison and his accomplishments. Pop and I took turns reading his chronological history, circling around the tower in a stupor of amazement. On the final side of the octagon, there was no plaque, but instead a window looking into the tower. Inside, an incandescent bulb shone bright. The inscription in its base made me believe it had been on ever since Edison invented it in 1879.
As we walked back to the car to drive home, pop filled my mind with stories the monument reminded him of. He told me of how Henry Ford had shipped a plot of physical land which belonged to Edison all the way from New Jersey to Dearborn, Michigan (which my grandpa had visited). He told me about the friendship between Ford and Edison, enlightening me on a topic I had previously been clueless on. He told me about the cool jobs he had had done in his early days of AJ Celiano, building refrigeration systems and wine coolers for big wigs in New Jersey. His quality work got him recommended to more and more jobs, helping build the company into what it is today. He talked about the relationships he developed with his customers, the same relationships my dad maintains and develops. On that car ride back, I listened. I listened to the wisdom my grandpa shared with me and the amazing stories he told, all through his raspy voice - a voice I loved.
A year ago, I came across an old website my Uncle Ken had created for my grandpa when he was going through his surgery*. "More Than a Voice", Uncle Ken had called it. What struck me about the website was that no one had written on it recently. There were tons of posts of love and praise from 2012 and 2013 - but since then, nothing. While my grandpa still had the support and help of my entire family during the last few years of his life, the day-to-day battles were those of my grandma and grandpa. A few days ago, that battle ended. Most important, though, are stories such as these which help us to remember him - the stories of a hardworking grandpa who was full of curiosity and intelligence. He inspired the qualities of curiosity and hard work in my dad, me, and everyone in our family. Those qualities, along with his memory, live on.
* You can still see the website, which has many memories, here: https://morethanavoice.wordpress.com