Celebrating 90 Years with Zio Germano
I visited Palm Springs this weekend to celebrate Zio Germano Di Gregorio’s 90th birthday. Zio Germano grew up in Cansano, Italy on a farm. The family was evicted from their home by the Nazis when the Nazis set up camp there to protect Germany from a potential American invasion. Germano was born in 1927. He came to America in his 20’s and raised three amazing children – Carmela, Dino, and Lia. We traveled from Ohio to Palm Springs to celebrate this occasion with my husband’s large Italian family in the wine cellar of Toscana Country Club. Germano shared memories of growing up in Italy and moving to America, finding work, and starting a family. We shared memories of Germano. His children expressed their gratitude for his love, teaching them a strong work ethic and the importance of giving 100% to every endeavor. Other family members praised him for his self study of electronics developing a precursor of a memory chip without a college education. He taught himself mathematics, science, and mechanics. He was also praised for his kindness and generosity (especially with his family) and standing up for what is right despite social pressures to remain silent.
I absorbed the evening like a sensory sponge – taking in what it means to live a long and well-lived life. The road seems straight and narrow at times, then curves suddenly sending one madly off track, only to find another wide and meandering expanse. But one cannot truly live as a traveler. As Chris Cornell sang, “I am the highway.” To truly live, one must be the road for others, help them traverse safely, and fully embrace our experience.
This journey was another puzzle piece toward understanding meaning – is it possible to live a meaningful life unto oneself or do we need to share experiences to create meaning?