Joseph Melita

Sometimes you hear stories of someone's life and you just can't help but wonder how they possibly did it all. As for my grandpa, Joseph (Guiseppe) Melita, this included entering the American school system during the Great Depression without yet knowing English, growing up in an immigrant community, getting locked on a train for two days without food or water, flying 55 missions as the radio operator over Europe during the Second World War, visiting pre-revolution Cuba, and starting a family that would ultimately consist of 6 kids. Oh yeah, and all of that was before he turned 25.


Most normal people would exhaust themselves with just a fraction of that, but somehow he was able to keep this going with a work ethic that would make Elon Musk look like an anemic sloth. For decades, he worked two full time jobs to feed the family of 8 and send each of them to college, all the while being actively involved in the community and even joining a bowling league with my grandma. He enjoyed and drew comfort from being active and involved, and somehow was able to convey this feeling to everyone around him. Whenever he was there, no matter what the situation, you couldn't help but relax and feel that everything was going to be alright.

Yet with all this, not once did it ever seem like he was trying to prove himself. Nor did he ever brag in any way. To him, he was just living his life one day at a time (his favorite saying). He just kept going, doing everything from playing catch with his grandsons well into his 80s, planting a garden every summer until the final year of his life and never fully retiring. He lived on his own terms, enriching everyone around him. The idea of stopping never once entered his mind.

My Grandpa's most defining feature however had to be his ability to stay calm, relaxed and in a good mood no matter what the situation was. Never did he show any anger, let alone get angry, with anyone (with the exception of a few monopoly games), and he was always there to help whenever need be. And for him, it was never too late to start something new or have a new experience. This even included a visit to his motherland of Sicily while he was in his 70s and trips to California up until he turned 90.

Overall he enjoyed living and being more than anyone I had ever met. There was no need to complain or draw attention to himself. All of that was irrelevant and a distraction from enjoying the present moment. It was as if he had inserted a form of Zen Buddhism into his own Catholic heritage. Life was a celebration, not something to grieve or be upset and worry about. Moments were to be enjoyed and appreciated as long as they lasted. Anyway, I could go on forever with this post but for I will end here by summing it all up in this way. He lived a rich and full life on his own terms, but lived for all of those close to him and around him.

Be like Joe: Live fully, one day at a time.

grandpa and grandma.jpg