We decided to take the next day, Father's Day, to honor Poppi and celebrate his life and legacy. He was a simple man with simple needs, and all he needed was his family. He was a man who proudly served his country in World War II and worked a 9-to-5 job as a butcher to provide a good life for his family.

He was also the best pizza-maker and made a killer sauce with meatballs! Every Sunday after church while my sister, brother and I changed into our play clothes, we could hear music coming from the living room with the sounds of Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Soon, the aroma of my dad making his meatballs would permeate the whole house and the anticipation for the meal to come thrilled me—I could hardly contain myself!

I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world because even though we didn't have much money growing up, I always felt like our home was different and special. It was constantly filled with relatives, neighbors and friends. None of my other neighbors' friends had fathers who cooked unless they were grilling, and certainly no one made meatballs like my dad did!

So, in honor of Father's Day, as we remember Poppi on the first anniversary of his passing, we are going to gather at my nephew's house in Montana to have a big, blowout family reunion (I don't know why we call it a reunion—we are always together!) and scatter his ashes. He lived a great life, and he left behind an incredibly large, devoted and loving family.

My poppa always told me that no matter what you do in life, it was important to "finish well." He believed that everything you try and everything you do must be met with honesty, integrity and loyalty. As he would raise his glass every night at dinner, he always would say, "La famiglia." (The family.) He lived up to that promise: He always put us first, and judging from what he left behind, my pop "finished well!"

Happy Father's Day to all fathers and fathers-to-be! Especially to my nephew-in-law Byron and my niece Nicola, who are expecting a baby boy in a few months! Poppi would have been so proud!

Sending Father's Day greetings with thanks and gratitude to all the dads serving our country who cannot be with their families on this day. Our thoughts and prayers are with you! Safe and speedy return.

In honor of Poppi, I would like to share his recipe for his fabulous sauce with meatballs. It will surely please your dad and is a great dish to make and serve to him on Father's Day.

Sending "a big bowl of love,"

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