Hey, Waddaya Gonna Do?

hey-waddaya-gonna-do_Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.  Matthew 6: 27, 34

Recently, I made contact through Facebook with an old friend, Tom Occhipinti, from Youngstown, Ohio, who went to the same Italian parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as I did, until Diane and I moved to Atlanta.  I knew his parents, his older sister, Janice taught my wife’s CCD classes, and Tommy credits me (a little) for encouraging his career as a song writer.  And, he is a very successful, now living in Nashville.

I was checking out a very beautiful audio book entitled “Tools” that Tom has written and narrated about his dad, John, who was a wonderful Sicilian man, who always was kind and welcoming to me and my family at church functions.

Like many Sicilian immigrants, they were men of few words.  Tom recalls that whenever something bad would happen to a friend or family member, a death in the family, the loss of a job, divorce or health issues, his dad would ponder for a long moment, look the friend straight in the eyes and say, “Hey, whaddaya gonna do?”

That was it; it pretty much summed things up.  I can remember when I was a kid going to funerals of elderly family members and the men would all line up to pay their respects.  They would shake the bereaved persons hand, or hug and kiss them if they were family, pause and say, “hey, waddaya gonna do?”

Recently, I attended the calling hours for a young man that had passed away.  He was from a wonderful family and we were friends with the young man’s parents.  As we approached them in the line, I was pondering in my mind just the right thing to say to these grieving parents.  As I hugged and kissed the man’s mother, I was speechless.  When she hugged me, she whispered in my ear, “Tony, waddaya gonna do?” My tongue finally loosening, I replied, “I know, waddaya gonna do?”

Hundreds of books on compassion, anger, resentment, worry, and anxiety have been written by writers with a lot more education than John.  But I’ll tell you this, from all of the books that I have read on these topics, nothing sums things up better than, “hey, waddaya gonna do?”

***This is an updated post that originally appeared on September 30, 2012***


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