Something From My Dad

My dad didn’t make it to Veteran’s Day this year.  As you’ll see from the context of my eulogy below, he passed away last week.  But Louis N. Cinquino left us all with something.  Something I explain in my remarks below. If you look closely in the picture of his Army Company N (or any photograph, for that matter), you’ll find him– and it.  If you can’t, then keep looking.

 

Company N Army APB #1

Here’s the bunch of guys he started with in the Army with, many of whom never made it home to enjoy the incredible fruits of their victory. Happily for me and my family, my father did. But now he’s gone to rejoin his boys, where they can relive the stories of their lives and find what he always taught us to look for.

 

I have to say, that growing up I remember feeling a little bit like royalty. Like there was something special, something noble about our family.

I guess it never crossed my mind that royalty doesn’t live in a two-family wooden shingled house, the same one my parents moved into 67 years ago on the day they were married. Or that royalty doesn’t work as a tool-and-die maker and medical records librarian and take one vacation a year to your relatives’ house in New Jersey. Royalty doesn’t pack a brown paper bag lunch every day— and bring that same paper bag home every night to be used again tomorrow.

So why did I feel like royalty? Because I got to live with the king.

The king was a man who liked everyone he met and became a leader in every group or organization he was involved with. A man who did what was right and expected us to as well. A man who saw the good where others would overlook it, and appreciated the tiniest of blessings.

If he was a king, he was the King of the Little Things— the things that don’t get written about, except clumsily by adoring sons. The king of showing up for your kids’ sporting events. The king of volunteering to visit Veterans in the hospital on Christmas morning while your little prince and princess are impatiently waiting to open their haul of presents. The king of endless stories about Italy, the king of the tomatoes, the basil, the garlic. The king of waking up early to make breakfast and play with his grandchildren. The king of playing cards. The king of picking beans for a penny a pound. The king of cardoon.

In recent years, he became the king of waking up every day and dressing himself. The king of doing his exercises. The king of rubbing his wife’s back. The king of not complaining.

The king still had the warm handshake and his enormous machinist’s hands. The king still had the big smile. The king still could make you feel important whenever you were with him.

The puzzling thing I feel today is trying to understand how the King of The Little Things bequeathed to us such Big Things. And I’m not just talking about a garage full broken hand tools, bottles, ladders and scrap lumber. (Which we do have available at a good price.) What I’m talking about is how all of us— not just his family— are left with a huge piece of his immense heart, a massive dose of his good nature, his straight up goodness.

You don’t have to be his son or daughter to inherit his legacy. Just by being here today, you’ve already proven your birthright to the treasures he left behind —and keep in mind he didn’t just leave them TO us, he leaves them WITH us, IN us.

The greatest of these was love. And yet for my dad it was more than love— for he didn’t just love us abstractly, he cared for us. He didn’t just imagine his love, he lived it. He was a great man in all the little ways we remember — his gentle sweetness, his willingness to serve, his optimism and perseverance.

That’s what he’s given us— and what we ask of him to keep giving us now that he has moved into his new address.

In the past few days, I can’t help thinking there must be a lot of people in heaven right now getting the full Louie treatment— you know. He pulls up a chair with someone new that he meets, smiles, listens and asks questions, tells a few stories and listens some more until he finds what he is looking for— that connection, that love.

4 old photos_0037

It’s there. Our job is to look for it.

 

My cousin told me the other day that my Dad gave her some of the best advice she’d ever received. Something he told her years ago that she always remembered, something she still thinks of whenever she meets someone new. Something I want to leave with you today, something he left with us to carry forward.

Something that kept him going from his early days on the South Side of Batavia to World War II in the South Pacific, from the south block of Myrtle St to the southern shore of the Oatka Creek at the Village Green. Something he found in appreciation of all the people who cared for him when he was no longer able to care for us. Something that he sought and found everywhere, every day and embraced as the truest sign of God’s love— at home, at work, at church, at meetings, with his dearest friends and people he just met.

That something is that We ALL have something in common. It’s our job to find it.

Today, we don’t have to look far to find what we have in common: We love the king.

On behalf of my mom, Rita, my brothers Michael and Anthony and my sister Liz, we thank you beyond these humble words for being here today and for being a part of my Dad’s life. He will continue to live on in us whenever we are at our best.

Legion Dad close up

Luigi Cinquino, King of the Little Things

The King is dead. Long live the King.

 

27 comments

    1. I’m glad to share it with you, Lucy.

  1. Maureen Longhini · · Reply

    Blessings & God Speed Lois Cinquino

    1. Thank you, Maureen!

  2. You did it again. Beautifully written tribute to a modestly remarkable father. I had one, too. Perhaps your father has joined mine by now for at card game in heaven or to inspect his tomato plants.

    1. I guess we made good choices about who to have for our Dads!

  3. chrisiswright · · Reply

    Beautifully written, Lou. A fitting tribute to an exceptional life lived.

  4. chrisiswright · · Reply

    Beautifully written, Lou.

    A fitting tribute for an exceptional man.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I’m glad you got a chance to “meet” my dad through my thoughts about him.

  5. Stew Koenig · · Reply

    Lou – You have done great honor to your dad in your written piece. Not only that, but it makes me think of my dad, of blessed memory, and although Louie and Bob came form very different places, I’m sure they would have hit it off famously. As we Jews say, may his memory be for a blessing. Stew

    1. Stew, thanks for taking the time to read the eulogy and share your thoughts. It’s fun to think about our Dads meeting and what that would be like. And yes, his memory is a great blessing to us all.

  6. Stew Koenig · · Reply

    Lou – You have done great honor to your dad in your written piece. Not only that, but it makes me think of my dad, of blessed memory, and although Louie and Bob came form very different places, I’m sure they would have hit it off famously. As we Jews say, may his memory be for a blessing.

  7. Matt Harris · · Reply

    Louie,

    So sorry to hear that your father passed. Your eulogy brought back fond memories of the time I spent with you and your family when I lived in LeRoy. They were special times and he was a special man who raised a wonderful family. Matt

    1. Great to hear from you Matt! Thanks for letting me and for your good wishes. My dad loved “talking shop” with your Dad and used to always ask about him — and you. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  8. jeane bundy · · Reply

    so sorry for your loss I remember your parents well

    1. Thanks, Jeane. I also remember your parents well. LeRoy was certainly an interesting little town to grow up in!

  9. Maria Mangefrida · · Reply

    Louis,
    Not only beautifully expressed but amazingly true! My son, Ben, my mom, Connie and I went to visit your beautiful parents and best friends one day and your dad made such an impression on Ben with all the qualities you shared. They talked about growing up in Batavia with my dad, Sabby (Bens grandfather who had passed), about Italy, being Italian and they looked at old albums.
    Your story made me cry because I miss all of these strong, loving, “broke the mold” giants.
    Let’s keep them alive! Love to you and your family.
    Maria Prospero Mangefrida

    1. How good to hear from you. Thank you so much for sharing that story about Ben– it’s a joy to know that others saw that same light that we did. Your family has been such a great and happy part of my mom and dad’s lives for so many years. We always knew your parents as Compare Connie and Compare Sabby. Love to you and your family as well.

  10. Bernadette Spinnegan · · Reply

    Such a beautiful tribute! I am so sorry for your loss. Cousin, Bernadette Charvella Spinnegan

    1. Thank you, Bernadette.

  11. Selby Davis · · Reply

    Feeling blessed to have shared that same love.

    1. We all are. Thank you so much for helping LeRoyans keep taking care of each other.

  12. Nan Johnson · · Reply

    Dear Lou (and rest of Cinquino clan) this is Liz’s friend frm Boston days and I wanted to thank you for such a moving story..I am in tears of gratitude that you guys had such a father and tears of sadness for your immense and irreplacable loss as you all move through grieving and also caring for your mom……I had the chance to meet your dad when he and your mom came to Liz’s condo in J.P and we had dinner together…it was a riot!!! And I feel like I know something of the spirit of your dad as I am also an organic farmer/gardener and loved his part in the Rodale book on gardening published years ago….I used to joke that LIz was just a “fake Italian” since she and I had the same coloring or eyes, hair and skin (and I am scandanavian) and Liz did not like tomatoes, so that proved it…but I bet your dad grew amazing tomatoes!!! Much love to you all. Nan Johnson (Eureka Springs, AR)

  13. Dear Lou.thank you for the most wonderful eulogy I have ever read….This is Liz’s friend from Boston days and I had the chance to know your Dad a bit….I am crying tears of gratitude that you all had such a father and tears of sorrow at your irreplacable loss..please know you will all be in my heart as you navigate your grief. I had the pleasure of meeting your dad and mom at Liz’s first home in J.P. over dinner (what a riot!) and then thru the Rodale organic gardening book….I am also an organic grower and felt a kinship with your dad and appreciation for his love of gardening. I used to kid Liz all the time that she was really a “fake Italian” since she and I had the same hair,eye and skin coloring (I am scandanavian) and, believe it or not, Liz did NOT LIKE TOMATOES…..bet your dad grew great tomatoes. Please know that all of you siblings and your mom are in my heart at this time…love, Nan Johnson (Eureka Springs, AR)

    1. Nan, he did love his time in the garden, and it’s wonderful to hear that he was able to share some of his enthusiasm with you. May the tomatoes be with you! Thank you for your thoughts. p.s. Sorry I made you cry 🙂

  14. Deb Carter · · Reply

    Lou,
    Your dad’s greatest blessing was he knew he WAS blessed. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. All our prayers for your mom and your entire family.
    Love,
    Deb (Musshafen) Carter

    1. That’s a beautiful way to think about it, Deb. Much love to you and yours at Thanksgiving.

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