Good people are the best rewards

By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be over. I often talk about family. I value families so much. Parents play a vital role in the kinds of lives their children have. We were taught to have a heart for the needy, like the bums off the railroad tracks, widows and the sick, to whom we sent food.

We had no pity parties. There was lots of laughing, singing and dancing in our house. Then I married into the Valone family, who were very much like the Leone family, so it stands to reason that we brought our kids up the same way.

I remember one night when Dan was going to Fredonia State, he invited some boys to make dinner and then eat all the food they had cooked. Of course, Russ and I ate with them. We talked about everything under the sun. In our house, dinner time was the time to catch up on what was going on all over the world, including Fredonia. Needless to say, it was very informative.

One of the boys said, “I never could understand why you lived at home. Now I understand it. I wish I had a family like yours!”

What did you teach your children? Are you having a positive influence on your grandchildren? Don’t forget, the first part of your identity is “grand.” Make sure that you live up to your name. I never knew my grandparents because our family moved to a new country and Jo and I were born in Fredonia, so I adopted Mrs. Conti as my grandmother. She loved it because I spoke Italian. Would you believe her maiden name was “Valone?”

Whoever would have thought that little tot sitting at the kitchen table would have married a “Valone?” A bonus was that she was grandmother to Hoppy and Marian Castellana, who were very close friends to me. Much later, I took 10 trips to Italy. I also made it to England several times and France.

I remember a doctor’s mother in Valledolmo asked where I came from. I talked just like them. Now here’s a kicker — my second cousin is named Nina Conti. Through the years, she entertained a lot of American tourists. What could she do for them? Feed them (of course)! Fortunately, she came to Rochester to sew in the pants factory. She learned a lot of English. She was able to seat up to 60 people in a long, enclosed porch. Heritage moves on.

Teach your family to love people and have a strong desire to serve — other things besides food as well!

I have mentioned that my sister Louise (Jeffrey) was like a second mother to me and she was very religious, so I was very religious, too. It’s a great strength and comfort. I remember when I was 7, I used to think “I’m God’s pet” (like teacher’s pet). I mention this, because you may need comfort, too.

A church is just a building. Relationships are anywhere, anytime. You know if you need it. Don’t be too proud to admit it and use it. Be happy and pass it on. That will make you happier.

Remember, “you get what you give.” It’s happening here. Give thanks. Open your eyes! Enjoy life! Make lasting relationships. Good people are the best rewards.