As the nation and the world mourn the loss of famed singer and entertainer Tony Bennett, some are going back to his own carefully written words to refresh themselves on — and to reflect on — the many aspects of his memorable personal story.
In his autobiography published in the late 1990s, "The Good Life," written by Tony Bennett with Will Friedwald, Bennett told the world, "I've been asked many times why I haven't written my life story before."
The reason, said Bennett, was that "I'm not the type of person who likes to look backward."
Rather, he wrote, "I've always felt compelled to move forward, and I've never been one to dwell in the past."
However, as he went on to note in "The Good Life," published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, there came a change of heart on this point.
"The pieces of my life have begun to fall into place like an intricate mosaic," he wrote.
To that end, he noted, "I've learned that no matter how tough the struggle of day-to-day living, with enough dedication and patience I will persevere and accomplish my goals, no matter how unattainable they may at first seem."
Among many other insights and stories he shared, Bennett gave major nods to his family members, many of whom left Calabria, Italy, for the United States — the land of new beginnings and great opportunity.
"I consider my grandparents, as well as the many immigrants before and after them, to be the most courageous of people," Bennett wrote.
"It astounds me even to contemplate what it meant for them to leave behind everything they knew" to come to the United States, he added.
His grandparents spent three weeks crossing the Atlantic to get to America, he said.
"They journeyed across the ocean without any idea of what they'd find on the other side, and none of them had ever ventured more than a few miles from the spot where they were born," he said.
"It must have been terrifying, knowing that they would never see their childhood homes, or their own parents, again."
In the book, he detailed how his grandfather, once here and settled, started a wholesale fruit-and-vegetable business "catering to the pushcart owners."
Wrote Bennett, "My grandfather got up early in the morning every day and worked until the sun went down. He wasn't much at numbers, so he let my grandmother handle all the money."
He continued, "At the end of the day, he gave her whatever he'd earned, and she paid all the bills and stashed whatever was left over in an old trunk she kept hidden under their bed."
He also wrote, "I never imagined I'd be fortunate enough to become as successful as I have."
His family's original name, Benedetto, he also noted, "means the blessed one."
And "I feel that I have been truly blessed."
This, despite his Depression-era childhood and more — including his vivid memories of his beloved mother, a seamstress, bent over her machine in their tiny home trying to sew as many dresses as possible, he recounted.
The more dresses she made — the more money she earned for her family.
"I loved her so much, and I felt so sorry for her because she always seemed worried," he wrote.
"I could sense how much she suffered to make a meager living."