It all began when my Grandpa Moe made a wrong turn. He was 93 years old, but he was still driving to and from his butcher shop. And one night he missed his turn in the dark. That’s when I offered to start driving him home.
But I think he misunderstood me. Because the next morning he called at 7:30 AM, and asked: ‘When are you picking me up?’
That was the beginning of me coming here every day. The shop has been in our family for a very long time. But it was barely running by the time I arrived.
Moe could still cut and prepare the meat, but I’m not sure people even realized the place was open. He saved every piece of paper, so even the refrigerators had files in them.
But thankfully he had guardian angels in the neighborhood. People were always stopping in to make sure he had water, or coffee. And there was always a neighbor to sit with him while he closed the store.
It wasn’t really making money, but I think this shop is what kept him going. My first priority was to clean everything. He didn’t like that very much. He thought I was ‘messing everything up.’
He’d already started to lose his memory, which frustrated him. He’d always prided himself on telling stories and remembering names. But he was still so young at heart.
We’d put on records from the 40’s and 50’s, and he’d remember the songs. And he was so gentle with me while I learned the business. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, he’d say: ‘piano, piano,’ which means slow in Italian.
He taught me how to saw a lamb in half. And how to pick out meat at the market. He could get impatient sometimes. But if he ever lost his temper, he’d always apologize before the end of our car ride home.
We worked together for 2.5 years. But during the first week of quarantine, my whole family got COVID. And Grandpa Moe passed away two weeks later. It was right before Easter.
And when I came back to the store, there were so many flowers at our door. It was a little scary because the streets were empty. And I kept the door locked because I was all alone.
But loyal customers kept stopping by, to see if I needed anything. And at night, when it was time to leave– there was always a neighbor to sit with me while I closed the store.
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