In my younger years, growing up in the Sunset District in San Francisco, I was given the unofficial title “Ambassador of 38th Avenue.” I don’t recall exactly who pinned me with that honor, but I know why. If a new family moved onto our block, I never hesitated to knock on their door and welcome them to the neighborhood — even at the age of seven or eight! It’s just something I did. I had an insatiable desire to meet people, to socialize, and to welcome the newcomers. Those traits have served me well throughout my life.
Little did I know, when we first inherited Jack, our beloved Shih Tzu, that he, too, was a very social being. He wasn’t one for fetching a ball or doing fancy tricks, but he had an uncanny ability to make friends with people throughout our neighborhood. He would approach anyone, calmly allowing them to pet him. With small children, he enjoyed climbing up on them and giving them doggie kisses all over their faces. Most of the kids in the neighborhood seemed to enjoy this immensely. Only one, to my knowledge, was traumatized by the experience. And because Jack was such a friendly little critter, I had the opportunity to get to know people throughout the neighborhood who I might otherwise never had the opportunity to meet.
Dominic and Rocca Guido live on Daffodil Way, right around the corner from our home. It was my walks with Jack which enabled me to meet Dominic, and then, later, Rocca. Both are in their 80’s. They are east coast Italians who relocated to the South Bay more than forty years ago. They attend Mass at Queen of Apostles Church on Saturday evenings, play Monday night Bingo at Saint Joseph of Cupertino Parish, and offer the type of hospitality in their home which reminds me of my Uncle P. D. and my Auntie Mary, who were the personification of hospitality.
On my regular visits with Dominic and Rocca, we sit at the kitchen table. Rocca instructs Dominic to get me a drink and offer me something to eat. If he forgets to give me a napkin, Rocca reminds him about that, too. They are an amazing couple — the epitome of marital love. Last January, Rocca took a spill in the kitchen, damaging her hip. After surgery, her rehabilitation was slow and painstaking. Throughout it all, Dominic was by her side, ministering to her day and night. Recently, Dominic had surgery to remove a cataract from his eye. Rocca, still not 100% after her fall, took care of Dominic to the best of her ability. They seem to have a good understanding of the definition of love: “Seeking the highest good for the other person.”
Last night, Kathy and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at their home. Rocca prepared homemade turkey noodle soup, cheese-covered meat loaf “bites” (cooked in cupcake pans), mashed potatoes, and corn. For dessert, we feasted on homemade date nut bread, topped with whipped cream. The meal was incredible, but the time spent with these special neighbors was the real highlight of the evening.
I am grateful for Dominic and Rocca’s hospitality and friendship. I’m also thankful for Jack. He was a true ambassador.