February 25, 2011
Lesson learned: Mary moved from her Northeast Philadelphia home into a retirement community just before Christmas. She was, as so many others are, reluctant to leave her warm and welcoming home of 50+ years with all its memories for an apartment. While Mary knew she would have to ultimately sell her house, she was reluctant to proceed with the listing. But last week’s nightmare drastically altered her thinking.
Sometime during a few days of extremely cold temperatures, Mary’s heater malfunctioned. With the heater inoperable, several pipes froze and ruptured. The house and some of the contents sustained extensive water damage. After the mess was cleaned up, an insurance claim was filed and repairs were made. It was through this upsetting ordeal and the stress it caused her and members of her family, that Mary realized it was time to sell her beloved house.
Speaking with conviction, even though traces of sadness could be detected in her eyes, Mary concluded that you have to “rule with your head and not with your heart.” It was time to leave that part of her life behind and to focus on a new phase of her life in new surroundings. She seemed content with the decision she made and relieved that the trials and tribulations of home ownership will soon a be thing of the past. She was ready to move on.
February 17, 2011
Lesson learned: Yesterday, as I was helping Elizabeth and Ralph move from their apartment in suburban Philadelphia to a retirement community in Center City, I came across a gem tucked in the deep recesses of the bedroom closet. At first, I thought it was an ordinary piece of cardboard, but as I looked at it more closely, I realized that it actually was a storyboard about Ralph that had been researched and prepared by a student named Leah. It was neatly presented and included a large color photo of Ralph, reprints of naval ships and insignias, the lyrics and music of two songs (presumably Ralph’s favorites) and the best of all – a full page chronicle of Ralph’s life. I was enthralled by the title Leah had chosen for her project – “Ralph P: A Man of the Greatest Generation” and read on.
From the narrative, I learned that Ralph was the son of Italian immigrants who had grown up in South Philly. He served in the US Navy during World War II and enjoyed a 20 year naval career before accepting a job with the Department of Defense. But what captivated me most was reading the advice he had received from his parents and his own advice that he shared with his young researcher. “Never be ashamed of anything unless it’s dirty or you lied”, his mother always said. From his father he learned, “keep an open mind; something might fall in.” As for the advice that Ralph has for young people, it is “get everything you can out of school. You may have friends that may not show too much interest in school, but you make sure you get a college education. And if you can go further than that, you should!”
I hope Leah and her fellow classmates took this counsel to heart and benefitted from it. It certainly is the same guidance given by so many others. Salute and Grazie, Ralph!