Missing you…

Posted: June 17, 2012 in family, Reading Fairgrounds racing

Father’s Day 2002 was pretty tough. My dad had recently been diagnosed with gliobloastoma multiforme and had undergone surgery to remove the tumor. He was slowly recovering, but the doctors had warned us that his time was limited. He passed that September, and every Father’s Day since has been painful. Hell, every day has been painful. Some more than others.

Mom and Dad at the racing banquet

Many of you who read this had the pleasure of knowing my dad. Jack was well-regarded in the community as a small businessman and was known to the Reading racing community as well having spent many years running the push trucks and tow trucks at the Reading Fairgrounds racetrack. In fact, you might say that I came to be thanks to that track. At the time, my mom was working as a secretary for Lindy Vicari and was set up on a date with my dad by some car owners. They soon were married and I came along not too long after.

Dad with a race car he helped build back in the 50’s

Dad was an interesting man. He wasn’t a college graduate, but was one of the smartest people I ever met. When it came to all things mechanical, well, it was like he had a gift. He could fix nearly anything and he had a sense of calm about him that usually only went away when I did something to piss him off (which was pretty frequently, I might add). I’m sure I was the source of pride and the source of gray hair. Dad wasn’t always the greatest at communicating his feelings verbally, but he could give you the stare and that would do it for you, if you were smart.

Dad and I didn’t do a lot of ball games… oh, we went, but usually to AA games at Reading where the old wooden bleachers would stab you in the butt if you weren’t careful. He even helped coach my Little League team, the Riverview Park Giants. We did go to a lot of races, though. Many Friday nights I remember spending at the track, usually sitting with my grandmother (who had box seats) and hanging out until after the races were over. Often, dad would take us through the pits. I remember getting autographs from Gerry Chamberlain, MeMe DeSantis and my favorite driver, Kenny Brightbill. Those were my special times with my dad… and up until he died, we still shared an interest in racing. We went to a few NASCAR events, I even took him to the September Dover race the year before he got sick. Dad would do things on the spur of the moment. I remember a band trip to Florida where the parental units went as chaperones, on one day’s notice.

Point is, as much as I knew him and spent time with him, I’m not sure he ever knew how much I loved the guy. This is one of the things I went over in my session with the psychologist the other week. She seems to think that I never properly grieved and as such, I still feel haunted by his death ten years later. Maybe that is part of it. I was so caught up in trying to be steady and solid that it was hard to let go when I really needed it.

I have regrets. I wish he would have lived to see me get married. I could just picture he and my father in law holding court in the bar at the reception, arguing over who was going to pay for the next round. That was another thing… he had a heart as big as anything, and he went out of his way to protect those around him. One of my favorite moments is when my mom was about to do her annual cookie baking at Christmas. She had this beat up old Mixmaster and was dreading the cookie mixing. I had excused myself after supper and was watching TV in my room. Dad comes down, says, “What are you doing?” I replied that I was watching TV. He says, “Get your coat…” I asked where we were going and he says, “I’m getting your mom a new mixer… I can’t deal with hearing her complain about the old one anymore.” Not exactly true… he didn’t like seeing her struggle with that old monster, so he and I went to Wal-Mart and came home with a new KitchenAid. She never complained about the dough again.

Finally getting my degree at Penn State… December, 1999.

Dad would also needle the hell out of people he loved. He and my grandmother would go back and forth, but that was his way. If he knew you couldn’t take it, he wouldn’t dish it out, but if you could, look out. He was certainly proud of me when I finally graduated college… he even said, “Don’t worry son… lots of people go to college for ten years. They’re called doctors.”

Fast forward to now, and while I miss him terribly, I certainly lucked out in the father-in-law department. Charlie is a prince among men, always kind and willing to work hard, not to mention a good sense of humor and good taste in Canadian whiskeys. In fact, The Management has weighed in on her dad on her blog. Check it out here.

So, to sum up, dad taught me a lot of lessons, most of which I didn’t really take to heart at the time. He taught me how to fix things, how to work, and how to love. When September 21 rolls around, I’m still going to be sad. But I know that he’s out there somewhere and missing us as much as we miss him. Even though he would’ve gotten a pinko daughter-in-law. And he would’ve teased the hell out of her.

Love you, dad.

  1. pricemi115 says:

    Brian – this one touched me a bit. My mom succumbed to the Evil Glio a little over two years ago now. Definitely tough losing a loved one, especially a kind-hearted parent, to this relentless bastard of a disease.

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