the year is 1922...before the depression, but immigrant families struggle as though the dark days have already begun. my grandfather takes his wax paper wrapped ham sandwich from inside his desk. the nun walks over and yells at my grandfather, "it is friday, you may not eat your ham sandwich!" the nun picks up my grandfather's lunch and hurls it into the trashbin.
my grandfather stands up and walks out of the classroom, across the schoolyard and into the prieist's house. he tells the priest what the nun has done. the priest gives my grandfather a nickel to buy a lunch from the butcher shop across the alley. my grandfather does just that and returns to the classroom where he unwraps another ham sandwich and eats the whole thing under the watchful eye of a nun who knows she is clearly outranked.
at ten years old, my grandfather already had a strong sense of self.
my grandfather died last week at the age of 94.
he lived exactly the way he wanted. everyone who knew him was inspired by his honesty, work ethic and ability to cut through to the meat of the matter to get things accomplished. he will be missed.