Simon’s Says ~ from Alan

A longer note of a more personal nature, if you’ll indulge me.  I want to share the following with you all; this was written by my cousin Holly, whom some of you met when she worshiped with us last June:

This week we lost my great Aunt Kay. She was my grandmother’s sister and the last survivor of the 10 siblings that were the foundation of my large extended Italian family on my mother's side. Her parents emigrated from Italy and the "Vumback 10", 5 boys and 5 girls, grew up on a farm in Meriden. The boys and girls alike attained good jobs and raised their families despite their limited education. Their assimilation into American society and their hard work made it possible for me and my bizillion cousins to live the American Dream. We became a solid part of the middle class, many attending college and/or becoming professionals of one stripe or another. I believe Kaye was 103 or 104, a good run. RIP, Auntie Kay and thank you Guiditta and Guiseppe for coming to America.

Aunt Kay was sister to my maternal grandfather Tom Vumback – Popoo, we all called him.  He was the eldest of what Holly calls “The Vumback 10,” and died way back in 1992.  It is incredible to think my Aunt Kay lived to 103.  They were a wonderful family.  Pop had many stories of growing up on the farm, of going to school until eighth grade, when he had to drop out to help sustain the farm, and of his job at Meriden’s Napier Company, where he started out as Joseph Napier’s chauffer.  I’ve already told you a few stories about him, and believe me, there are many more to be shared.

This is a wistful moment, not only because it is the end of a generation – albeit a venerable one – but because of the many things I learned from Pop.  Here are just a few:  he loved his vegetable garden and taught me, at a tender age, how to plant, tend and harvest; he loved to cook – in fact my grandmother made him build a second kitchen in the basement so he didn’t mess hers up; he was a great public speaker, and woe to the person who tried to take the microphone out of his hands at a family wedding (as patriarch the speeches fell naturally to him); and he taught himself violin – in fact, all the boys were musical, which enlivened the weekly barn dances on the farm.

But mostly, I learned from Pop, his siblings and progeny the importance of family, a lesson I have tried to inculcate to my own family.  It is not for nothing that, more than any other, Jesus used the metaphor of family when talking about the realm of God.  And so I leave my perch at Simon’s a bit earlier than usual this morning to drive to Meriden and bid Aunt Kay adieu amidst the other “bazillion cousins” who will likely gather to honor her this morning. 

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