** Disclaimer – this is a personal post for me (Michael Streko), and doesn’t reflect KnowEm’s business perspective. But since we are such a very close-knit family team here, once I explained to them what I went through and how much this person meant to me, they all agreed and supported me in declaring today a special day here in honor of my Grandfather’s memory. **
I will never forget before going to bed on June 5th last year. I stayed up with my wife to watch a movie and was ready to hit the sack, but before I did I wanted to grab a water bottle out of the fridge around 1 a.m. (which was now June 6th). So on my way I decided to stop and check my phone, which was blinking meaning I had an email / text. I checked my email and one caught my eye right away, it was from my mother stating “Poppy passed away”.
My grandfather’s heart was failing, and he was at the point of having heart attacks twice a month – some months even more.
He was one of the toughest people you would have ever met, the people who did know him said that my comment I made after his second heart attack was right on the money; “Poppy is one tough S.O.B. and is not going to go without a fight.” This proved to be very true. Over the period of time from his first heart attack until the one that took his life he had well over 10 heart attacks, and these were only the ones he would tell us about. More then likely he had been having them for years, but because of the way he was he would chalk them up to “Ojida“, and never complain about them.
My Grandfather was a Marine and served in World War II in the Pacific Theater (if you actually watched the HBO series “The Pacific” his division was mentioned in it). He was wounded in combat and survived, but even after being offered a free ticket home due to the shrapnel in his leg he opted to remain and continue to serve his country. He would tell me stories of the war and what he went through, and things that were so vividly shocking I couldn’t believe he lived through it. The stories he told me he has never told to anyone else and he has asked I never mention anything about them to anyone because as he put it, “I saw stuff that people shouldn’t see and I watched bad things happen to good people.” When he left for the war (along with his older Brother Joesph Silveri) my Great Grandmother gave him and my Great Uncle Joe each a ring with their initials engraved on it, he never took it off and the initials wore off completely. I was given the ring the day he passed and haven’t taken it off since.
When I opened that email from my mother my life changed instantly. Because this man was not only my Grandfather but also my best friend. My parents divorced when I was entering the 3rd grade, and at that time my mother bought a house and my Grandfather moved in shortly after. He was there every morning when I left for school and would have dinner with us every night. When I went through my wild and crazy “Lets hang out at the mall” phase, it was my Grandfather that would drop me off and pick me up on those Friday and Saturday nights. It was my Grandfather that gave me a lot of those awkward ”talks” that parents have to have with their children. Saturday nights every summer that I can remember I went up with him to the race track in upstate New York to watch car races, eat sub sandwiches and have a blast.
If I ever needed anything, he was there for me — through thick and thin, no matter what. The relationship I had with him only comes once in a life time, and that relationship ended on June 6th 2011.
I would like to thank Barry, James, Rick and the rest of the team for helping me through that time. It sucked but it was something that was bound to happen and I knew it. But via skype, text message or phone one of them was always there for me.
One piece of advice that I will give to anyone in a similar situation in which you know this inevitable day is going to come, is to say to that person everything you want to before they pass. After his 7th or 8th (I literally lost count at that time) heart attack I sat at his bed side while he slept. I didn’t want to wake him so I just waited. Eventually he woke up and was surprised to see me there and asked how long I had been there for, and I would tell him an hour or so and not to worry about it. I then told him that no matter what happens I couldn’t have asked for a better grandfather, how much I loved him and how much he meant to me. He thanked me, shook my hand and gave me a hug. This is something I was very happy I did because I wasn’t sure if I would ever have a chance like that again.
I visited him in the hospital multiple times after that, from when he would be brought in via ambulance when his lungs would fill with fluid at night and he would need to be put on oxygen. I used to call his room in the hospital my “satellite office” — I closed one of our white label deals from his room and even gave a few webex demos using the hospital’s WiFi.
I’d also like to take this time to thank Tamar, because she wrote a similar blog post when her grandfather passed and was there for me on Skype to chat when I was really in the thick of it. I spent a few days sitting on my back deck staring blankly into the sky just feeling lost. When I spoke with her on skype and re-read the blog post that she had written it was a bit of therapy I needed at the time. **Side Note** – I kept trying to send Tamar a picture of the ring, there is a better one on this blog post not blurry or anything
So from me to Poppy, this one is for you Baccalà! A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about you, and my son Everett misses you also! You always did say that you were going to stick around to meet one great grandchild, and you did.