My Corner, Your Corner: The joy of having family together again

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

The old saying goes, “If you don’t have family, what do you have?”

Years ago, people didn’t move around the country like they do now. You were born, raised and died in the very same town. College wasn’t much of an option because it was too expensive. So you stayed close to home, fell in love, married, had a family and probably lived very close to where you were raised.

When grants and loans for college were more available from the 1970s on, students migrated to college away from home. Of course, there was always joining the service where you were stationed all over the world.

Being worldly was not possible unless you left the confines of home.

Fast-forward 30 or 40 years and it’s very common for young adults to go away to school and, in many instances, never come back, consequently breaking up a lot of families.

My family is no different with my brother and his family living in two other states. We used to say we only got together as a family for weddings and funerals. We’ve pretty much run out of marriages at the moment, so now we’re down to funerals.

This past week, some of my brother’s family, including my great nice, returned to Greater Pittston. Great niece was not easy to say, believe me.

While the family was in town, we celebrated a few birthdays, one of them at my grandparents’ home. My grandparents have passed away and my uncle and aunt currently own the home. I thought it was a good idea to have a combination birthday party for my two daughters who are six years apart but have birthdays two weeks apart.

My uncle is now 90 years old and I felt, with the frigid weather, it was better he stay put and we go to him.

It felt great to fill the rooms we once did when I was a child. I’ve documented this many times but, when I was growing up, we all went to my dad’s parents’ home in Pittston every Sunday after dinner.

My grandmother made a scratch cake on Saturday in preparation for Sunday evening. My dad and our family, my uncle Tony and his wife Nellie, my Uncle John and his wife Pat would meet up. My grandfather’s sister Mary Dileo also stopped in.

On many of those Sunday nights, we’d cram as many as 13 people, including four children, into basically two rooms, the kitchen and living room where we’d end up watching Ed Sullivan at 8 p.m. Great times. Fun times. Priceless times.

Filling those same two rooms last Sunday was a great feeling. My grandparents’ names came up frequently and every time I go there, I feel their presence.

We didn’t have 13 people, but we came close with 10. I even made a remark asking how did we ever fit all those people in that room to watch the Beatles on Sullivan?

I think my aunt and uncle were happy to host the party and have their home filled with life and love again. Having my 2-year-old great niece present was the icing on the cake.

I’ll bet many of you have similar experiences and miss those days with all of your family in one room.

Maybe we need to work on a few weddings in the future.

Technology can be great

With the arrival of social media, namely Facebook, I reconnected with a pen pal from my early 20s. Deborah Chang and her sister from Taiwan had been college students in New York City when we connected for the first time. Eventually, Deborah visited my family and it was a great experience.

Fast-forward 30 years and, after losing touch, we met up again via Facebook.

This past week, her two-year relationship ended with the death of her boyfriend from an undetected brain aneurysm. They were going to be engaged in the near future.

From looking over Deborah’s posts, I knew she had suffered the loss of someone very close to her, but I was not sure how close. Translation is not Facebook’s forte.

In one of her posts I caught late night, she expressed such great sadness and I offered some kind words for her. Before I knew it, she called me via Facebook and we had a lovely conversation. I tried to make her laugh in between her tears.

This is one time I was very glad technology was available to allow me to help. Deborah was clearly halfway around the world, yet sounded like she was in the next room.

Oil prices

I’ve been scratching my head the last few months over the price of crude oil and the cost of gasoline. I’m one of those people who look at the daily prices of crude oil and, over the past six months, crude has gone from about $38 a barrel to over $63 a barrel as of this past Thursday.

It’s so disappointing to know PA pays the most in gas taxes in the land.

Quote of the week

“From birth to age 18, a girl needs good parents, from 18 to 35 she needs good looks, from 35 to 55 she needs a good personality and from 55 on, she needs cash.” – Sophie Tucker, American singer

Thought of the week

“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.” – Albert Schweitzer, German philosopher

Bumper sticker

“To move freely, you must be deeply rooted.” – Bella Lewitzky, American choregrapher

My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at