I had the rare honor of being able to offer a living eulogy earlier this week. My dad, Louis N. Cinquino, was chosen by the Paulo Busti Cultural Foundation of Genesee County in Batavia, NY as one of their Outstanding Italian-Americans, and I was asked to receive the award on his behalf. At 94, he’s lost a bit off his fastball, but he was able to rally and make it to the dinner. He even stayed awake through some long speeches, right until the very last pasta joke.
My daughters were able to join me for the dinner to hear a tiny slice of what their grandfather meant to so many people over the years, as his service to the Army, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, our local church, and the Boy Scouts was recounted. The last group, the scouts, stung a little for me personally, since I didn’t even make the rank of Tenderfoot, while my overachieving brothers both attained Eagle Scout status. So I had to look for other ways to distinguish myself in my father’s eyes– such as writing and public speaking, which finally paid off.
I’m not sure how much of my tribute that he heard, but I did give him a copy of my remarks to read, and I hope he is re-reading them today. I share them here on Father’s Day.
The Original Louie Cinquino is a man of so few words that even a few are one too many. He’d only need two words tonite—Thank you.
My father would want to thank the Paulo Busti Cultural Foundation for honoring him tonight, and more importantly for the work they do to promote Italian culture here in Genesee County. Because nothing means more to him than his Italian heritage.
Well maybe one thing—his wife Rita.
He would want to thank her most of all.
He would be the first admit what we all know—that she shares equally in any award or recognition he’s ever received. She is the love of his life—and the person who brings out the best in him.
He would also want to thank his brothers Joe and John, and all the members of the Cinquino family that are here this evening.
He would want to thank his kids for all the sporting events we made him sit through, all the messes that his grandchildren made of his house, and all the tuition money he was able to spend on our Catholic school and college educations.
He would want to thank his teachers, his bosses, his coworkers, the men he served with in the war, and those he served with back home, at St. Joseph’s Church, with the Scouts, the Legion, the KC and more. He’d want to thank every single one of you, plus the cooks, waitresses and the people who picked the lettuce we just ate, by name.
Last year, I invested a couple thousand dollars to gain a certificate in what’s called Positive Psychology. It’s basically the study of happiness and human performance.
Halfway into the first lecture, we learn the number one secret to prolonged and authentic happiness. The one thing, above all, that happy people cultivate and practice.
Wouldn’t you know it— I felt like I just paid $24 for a plate of greens and beans at fancy Italian restaurant—I could have saved a lot of money by just staying home with my Dad.
Even in this room filled with his family and closest admirers, we’d be hard pressed to come up with a detailed list of what, specifically, he built or invented or achieved.
Yet, as poet laureate Maya Angelou said,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My dad didn’t need a certificate or a college degree to learn that. He just did it.
On behalf of everyone in this room, and all those who could not be here, but know this to be true.
Thank you, Dad, for the way we feel when we are with you.