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There’s a Ford in Your Future
Words and Image by J. Ray Paradiso
It’s 1986, and my Gramp asks me to take my Gram to the Villa Scaramucci, Home for Italian Aged, if anything happens to him, which is Gramp-code for pre-deceasing her. When his code cracks, I call the Villa about admission and rue its endless wait list. So, I SOS the executor of my Gramp’s will for help.
“I know a guy, a car dealer, who’s a heavy hitter at the Villa, Jimmie,” he says. “I’ll call him and get back at you.’” POuNdInG heart beats later, I‘m given the guy’s number, and call him jittery.
“Call Armando Pelligrino at the Villa,” he grumbles. “Tell him Joey G. told you about all the wonderful stuff he’s doin’ and that you wanna make a donation.”
“How much should I donate?” I probe.
“Shock ‘em,” he growls, closing with “There’s a Ford in your future, Jimmie Baby. There’s a Ford in your future. And, oh, add your Gram’s on the Villa’s wait list, but that has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with your donation, capisci?”
Following my nothing phone call, as if I were Pope John Paul II, the Villa calls me back quam celerrime, “When can your Grandmother come here?”
Now, you might think my Villa story ends here, but there’s another part, the spicy part, the Gram part, that zests its flavor. When I breathlessly tell her that got her into the Villa, she screams, “I won’t go. I won’t go. I’ll kill myself.” Thinking, I promised my Gramp I’d get her into the Villa, I ask myself, who could sell gum to Wrigley, brains to Einstein, synonyms to Roget? There’s only one guy, my pal, Wilk. So, I call him.
“Wilk, got a special request, understand if you’re not up for it.”
“She’ll know it’s me. I mean, I’ll do it,” he says, “but…”
Back to me, Wilk reports, “I called her, said that I was Father Pelligrino and that I promised her husband that if anything happened to him I’d invite her to live with me at the Villa.”
“What’d she say?” I gasped.
“She said, ‘That’s a bunch of bullshit, Wilk, a bunch of bullshit.’”
That’s my Gram, my spicy Gram, I thought. Next day, I drove her to the Villa, where she lived sweetly, or as sweetly as sweet and sour mix, among nuns, priests and other Italian aged until she died after ‘fessing up that the reason she wasn’t keen about going to the Villa was because (Would you believe?) she couldn’t speak good Italian.