Loving Sauce on Sundays

What you call ‘pasta and spaghetti sauce’ is just Sauce in my house. With a capital S because it’s the meal. We don’t have pasta and sauce, we have Sauce. Especially on Sundays.

When I was a kid, I thought my grandpa’s sauce could cure any childhood ailment. Anything. Stomachache, boredom, an earache, a broken heart. Anything. It was the first thing I went for any time I arrived at Gram & Gramps’ house: one of their signature 1960s green bowls and some leftover pasta. Usually Ziti, sometimes rigatoni. And Lazy Man’s Lasagna on holidays.

Some of my family’s best memories are sitting around their Eddie Bauer dining room table, passing the bread and cheese, talking over each other because we’re Italian and we don’t take turns when we speak, and then getting stone silent when we started taking our bites. We’d rowdy right back up, though, whether it was 5, 10, or 15 of us.

Gramps was always on the end, shoveling – in a dignified manner, of course – his meal into his mouth. “What’s the point of dinner? Eating. If you talk you can’t eat.” He would sit there for a little bit after he was finished, laugh at the conversation or pick at his glass. Tease one of his grandchildren or tell his wife to settle down (she’s pretty excitable; read about her here).

Gramps passed away 7 years ago this August. The Sauce tradition has been passed down; every Christmas Eve, the Pompili family gathers in a community room and we fill that space with the most aromatic, appetizing scent known to my people. And the last few years we started watching home videos again. There’s one classic with Gramps singing Silent Night with three of his grandchildren playing background sax, flute, and clarinet. But more often than not, any video of Gramps has him in the kitchen, stirring the sauce, checking on the macaroni, or avoiding the general hubbub of the living room (I’m telling you, we are LOUD).

I’ve served his Sauce to some of my friends, and they’re kind enough to admire it. But it’s never going to be the same, because Gramps isn’t at the other end of the table, silently enjoying his meal and his family. He wasn’t much of a talker, at least not in my life time. And sometimes I think he found it silly that we said ‘I love you’ every single time (every.single.time) one of us left the apartment, even if it was just to go to the grocery store. But since I had him for only 23 years, I’m glad that’s the way we were. His heart softened over time, and he loved his grandchildren something fierce.

We all want to know that we’ve made him proud, because he’s one of the best men we’ve known. He was loyal to a fault, a faithful family man, a provider, and a praying man. We think of him when we turn on the stove or crockpot to cook the Sauce. We think of him when we see a recliner, because he was infamous for falling asleep in his. We think of him when we stand over the pasta, drain the macaroni, and hear the name Gramps.

He taught us to work, he taught us to be faithful and to protect one another. He taught us to make sacrifices and to remain steady for our family. And he taught us to love Sauce on Sundays.

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*This is in response to: Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous. Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

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