E.B. "Skip" Antonelli
Jan. 7, 1943 - Jan. 5, 2003
Today would have been my poppie's 65th birthday. I imagine he would have been fully ready to retire tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM! heh heh! This picture is how I always see him in my mind - the blue Ben Davis Work Shirt, the smile that is a little uneasy with being in the spotlight (even of a casual photo!) and the littlest bit of a raised eyebrow that reminds you that his next practical joke is just around the corner. He was a great practical joker! He never did anything harmful to folks, because that would have gone against his kind and generous nature. But he did love to pull a fast one on his friends and family! And I've got the rubber snot to prove it! Oh yes, that is the special thing of his that I now have - his prized rubber snot! I was there the day he used it on a family friend and had her running around the front lawn like a crazed chicken desperately searching for tissue! Chuckle! That was a great day! Those who really knew the "real Skip" have their own stories and I hope they bring them as much happiness as my own!
Two days ago on January 5th was the 5th Anniversary of Poppie's death from lung cancer. He was merely 2 days away from turning 60. That's such a "big" birthday and the time when your life changes once again from a worker into (hopefully) a retired and free soul. And no one I know deserved to retire more than my Pops! He worked hard every single day of his life and never had much to show for it materially. But boy oh boy, did he ever touch people's lives! He was a gardener, a nurseryman and worked in the family gardens for over 40 years! He created new strains of tuberous begonias and fuchsias and brought pride to the family name. But more than that he showed kindness, generosity and honesty to those who came in contact with him, and most especially his family. And he did it all while handing them flowers to make their lives just a little more beautiful. How can you beat that legacy? If you are only going to get to live 59 years in this life, there really is no better way to do it!
It's strange, but this year, this anniversary, was so much easier for me than the rest. I'm not sure why exactly because I still miss my Poppie every single day. But now when I think about him, there are more smiles than tears. It is as if the fog of sorrow has lifted from my heart and has been replaced with love and a sense of contentment. It's a good feeling. Especially since I know my Pops wouldn't want anyone to remember him with sadness. He would want us to go out and perform random acts of kindness for others, to bring more plants and flowers into our lives, to enjoy the birds that are chirping in the trees and to once in a while play the perfect, harmless joke on someone you like! So maybe as a birthday present for my pops, you can do one of these things today. I think he would love that! :)