Mario Emanual Nozzarella, 86, passed away April 11, 2013. Born in East Liverpool, OH, on March 7, 1927, he was the son of the late Manuel and Zilea Nozzarella. He was predeceased by his wife of 64 years, Louise Nozzarella. He is survived by his three sons, Emanuel Nozzarella (Sandra), Mario Nozzarella (Bonnie) and Dwayne Nozzarella (Kim) and his daughter, Cynthia Herchenroder (William); seven grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren. The Family will receive friends at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home Tidewater Drive Chapel and a graveside service will be conducted Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery with Pastor Steve Styron officiating. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Alzheimer's Association or Davis Corners Rescue Foundation.
So that's him. Or part of him. Let me tell you a few things about a cool old man.
Most of us don't think of our grandparents as cool. I always thought of my grandfather as a kindly, sweet old fellow. Then I remember watching an old MTV show called FEAR in which young, fairly stupid 20-somethings would be in notoriously haunted places and have to complete tasks. One such location was the U.S.S. Hornet, the most haunted ship in the US Navy. I mentioned it at my grandparents' house, and and my grandmother looked to her husband, and said "You hear that. He's talking about your Hornet."
Gran'dad served in the Navy for twenty years. I regret not asking him more about it. I do recall seeing the picture of him in the hula skirt though. Also heard a story about him getting a hit by a Jeep while in the service. Well, it seems he sort of hit it back as when he determined getting out of the way wasn't an option he shoulder-blocked it.
He thought the world of the Missus, and was quite happy that I settled down with a Navy girl. Him and Meagan would sit and chat away for hours if you let them, and I wish I could get the picture of the two of them dancing at our wedding out of the album. Unfortunately, I can't dance nearly as well as he could. He loved his great-granddaughters as well. Dad brought him over to the house and at that time the girls were very shy around my father and would hide from him. They didn't have that problem with Gran'dad as they quickly ran up to him with great big hugs. Dad wasn't sure why, but I pointed out that kids know who gives out the five dollar bills.
Of course he borrowed those five dollar bills from my dad, but that's beside the point.
We did have some good quality time. Like when Gran'dad, Dad, and myself had a nice Father's Day dinner at Pargo's. The restaurant was giving free ties to all the fathers that came in, so they got theirs. This was long before I had kids, but sure enough Gran'dad sweet talked the waitress out of one more tie for me. We pondered when we should show off our matching ties, and with my cousin Ashley's wedding impending we decided that would be the perfect time. So I show up with my Pargo's tie. There's Dad, and sure enough he left me hanging. No Pargo's tie. Then Gran'dad got there and no Pargo's tie on him either. "Et tu, Gran'dad?", but with a smile and a wink and revealed that he had the tie tucked neatly in the inside pocket of his jacket. I'm pretty sure Gran'ma vetoed the tie.
To say my Gran'dad enjoyed golf a bit is like saying I talk about comic books a little bit. They say that golf is how you ruin a perfectly good walk. Well, to Gran'dad that perfectly good walk was a waste of time if you didn't have your clubs with you.
As he got on in his life his memory began to fail him. He spent his last few years in an assisted living facility, which was very nice. The transition wasn't the smoothest one as we were told visiting wasn't a good idea until he really got settled and used to staying there. There was even a couple of reports that he attempted to escape. About a week after I was informed of this, this picture landed in my inbox.
That would be Gran'dad at Hooters.
I have an elaborate fantasy as to the details of his escape.
But lastly in regards to me: I am a nerd. Not one of you tourists who think you're nerds because you watched THE AVENGERS five times in the theaters. Oh no. I can tell you who was the best man at Spider-man's wedding. I can drone on endlessly as to why Batman is an important literary figure. I still have my Marvel Super Heroes lunch box from kindergarten. I can tell you about how Ironman's armor used to have a roller skate feature. Quads. Yeah, you read that right. Ironman rocked quad skates!
And how do I know that last bit?
Because there was a little table next to Gran'dad's chair, which typically held a few magazines and that day's newspaper. I was three, maybe, and in with those magazines was a FANTASTIC FOUR comic and an IRONMAN comic. To this day I don't know if he had those for him, or if he knew his first grandson would like them. I still have them both. First two of thousands.
Thanks, Gran'dad. I love you.