Keeping "in touch"

Mar 15, 2019 744

BY: Charles Sacchetti

On June 26th, 1979, my wife, Luann, and I were blessed with the birth of our first child: a beautiful, little daughter. For me, it was an extra kick because it happened to be my birthday. Naturally, everyone in the family was thrilled with our new addition. She would have four loving grandparents to dote over her and shower her with a ton of love.

My parents already had two granddaughters, from my sister and her husband, so the birth of our daughter was extra special for my wife’s parents, Fred and Rose Sorbello, who now had their first grandchild. Rose was a sweet, loving lady who exuded femininity in the fairest sense of the word. She was the ideal mother-in-law, never butting into our affairs yet always there if asked for advice.

I joked while delivering her eulogy that the only bone I had to pick with her was that she had prevented me from telling “mother-in-law” jokes because she was so nice. My father-in-law was a handsome, hard-working, gregarious man whose chief loves in life were God, family, and Sinatra … Perhaps not always in that order! He was quite the kidder too. Like her mother, my wife is a meticulous housekeeper, but that might surprise anyone who knew her as a child. Little Luann was a holy terror, grabbing everything in sight, knocking things over, jumping on furniture, sliding down the banister, and just generally getting into mischief.

Dad saw his opportunity for a little good-natured “payback.” Just about as soon as our daughter was born, he stated his intention to teach her how to run around the house and grab the tablecloth, throw newspapers, and perform other feats of mayhem. At her 1st birthday party, Dad was true to form. He produced a neatly wrapped present and, upon opening it, we discovered a very realistic-looking toy hammer. He was quick to point out that it would be put to good use once he was able to teach the baby how to wield it.

Three years later, on December 19th, our son came along. My wife’s pregnancy was a very emotional one because, at the time, her Dad was engaged in a very courageous battle with lung cancer. Dad died just two months before our son’s birth, so the new arrival was greeted with emotions of every type. Like many great mothers, Rose came to our house in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, to assist the new mom while she was getting back on her feet. After a few days, it was time to take Mom back home to New Jersey. Earlier that morning, I decided to take a walk to the shopping center to pick up a few things. The half-mile walk gave me time to reflect upon the events of the last week and take stock of my new responsibilities as a father of two. As I walked down State Road towards Lansdowne Avenue, I thought of Fred and said a quick prayer, thinking, “Boy, Dad, too bad you’re not around. Now you have a grandson who could really make use of a hammer.”

A few hours later, I loaded up the car with Mom’s things to take her home. We started our trip and, after about a mile, I drove up the hill just past Garrett Road. In the distance, I saw a fairly large object in the street, which I would have to avoid. As I approached it, my heart skipped a beat, and I let out an audible “Whoa,” startling Mom. There, in the middle of the road, was a brand-new, shiny hammer. Not a plastic, toy one; a real one, like the kind all men keep in their toolboxes! I kept driving, adrenaline pumping, and told Mom the whole story, from my walk to the store up to that very moment. She looked at me in amazement. 

Was the hammer in the street a coincidence? I’ve been driving for over 50 years, and I’ve never seen a hammer in the road. I have unfortunately met up with a nail or two, but never a brand-new hammer. Naturally, this story was shared with the entire family the day it occurred and many times thereafter.

Fast-forward 24 years. That baby boy is now a young man contemplating a proposal of marriage to the love of his life. Although sure this is the right thing to do, he has the normal amount of anxiety as he realizes how his life will change forever. Still, the big day arrived, and he would pop the question after Sunday mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Riverton, New Jersey, which incidentally was the site where my wife and I tied the knot. After mass, the young couple strolled into “Mary’s Garden,” a scenic shrine dedicated to the Blessed Mother. My son’s nervousness immediately disappeared when he looked at a nearby bench and saw a shiny hammer just sitting there. He then realized that his “Pop-Pop” was giving him the message: “Go for it, kid, and don’t worry about a thing.”

As for me, I have chosen to believe that those hammers were clear examples of Dad’s sense of humor. Symbols which let us know that, even though he isn’t down here with us, he is still looking out for us and loving his family.

Charles Sacchetti is the author of two books, It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change and his new book, Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.   Both are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online outlets. Contact him at

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