Vic and Terry – God Parents to my youngest daughter
My brother-in-law Vic passed away last week, suddenly struck down several days before Christmas. He was 88 years old and I have known him for more than 55 of those 88 years.
I first met him in 1963 when I began dating my wife to be. He was married to her older sister Terry; they lived across the street from her parents and she was pregnant with their first child. The sisters had two brothers; one older than both girls and one significantly younger.
Both Vic and I had new cars that year. Vic had a new maroon Pontiac Grand Prix and I had a stick shift 409 Chevy which we lovingly polished while getting to know each other and shooting the breeze.
Vic was a dozen years older than I and had married Terry when she was 18 and he was 30. In our widower old age we would laugh contemplating the reactions today of a 29 year old dating a “girl” of 17. He was a college graduate however, had done service in the Navy,would have a fine career with the I.R.S., had a respectable family and courted Terry in the manner expected by Italian parents.
Over those car polishing sessions he clued me in on the idiosyncrasies of my prospective new relatives as well as the similarities and differences between our two brides.
My girl and I however decided without any parental input that we wanted to marry when we turned 18 and 21 and did just that causing quite the uproar. After a family get-together over a jug of Italian red it all settled down; besides we no longer needed anyone’s permission to marry.
Vic drove us home from our wedding in his shiny Grand Prix.
He and Terry were there in New Jersey when our first son died 9 years later.
He and Terry came to North Carolina when our eldest daughter was born in 1977.
He and Terry were in Rhode Island to stand as God Parents to our youngest daughter in 1979
Terry, my wife, Vic and their two sons at the baptism of my youngest daughter – 1979
He and Terry were in in Maryland in 1985 when we buried our second son.
He and Terry were there in New Jersey for the funeral of my wife in 2004.
After his retirement in the early ’90s Terry and Vic moved to Florida; much of the family including my father and mother-in-law were already here in retirement. We would usually visit twice a year, taking the kids to Orlando for a few days during our visits.
After the passing of my wife I brought the girls south as well in order to be closer to family. They have both made lives for themselves here.
Usually about once a month on a Sunday morning I would pick up half a dozen donuts and visit with them for coffee and conversation. Vic and I continued the ritual after Terry’s passing in 2016. Donuts, coffee and a good cigar out by his pool.
The eldest brother of our two wives also lives here – and is also a widower. We were three old men, 88, 80 and 76, all widowers. Very unusual around here where surviving ladies outnumber the men by a good margin.
“What did you guys do to your wives?” became the joke.
Vic and Terry were married some 55 years and raised two fine sons, one of whom lives here and one in Tennessee.
This week they buried their father, which is as it should be.
He lived a good life and was a good man. He never once uttered an unkind word to me.
Looking back, he probably passed the way he wanted.
Easter Sunday 2017 at my home – Vic on the right next to our wive’s eldest brother – also a widower. Vic’s eldest son is top, 2nd from the left and his granddaughter is front left.
He lived to be 88 years old and was active until the last moment. He lived in his own house, still drove a car, moved without a cane, walker or oxygen tank. Like me, he smoked cigars and enjoyed a fine scotch.
He got a haircut that morning. We both have our hair cut by the same woman we have known for years. She told me the girls in the salon joked with him that morning about getting a girlfriend.
It was 3 days before Christmas and he told them he was going to Kohl’s to pick up a few things. He left and drove to the huge parking lot at the strip mall and parked his car straight between the yellow lines.
He never got out of the car. Apparently he suffered a massive stroke at that moment and went unconscious. He never regained consciousness. A passerby, noticing he was unresponsive, called for an ambulance and he was put on life support until several days into the new year.
Doctors advised we would never recover and that the Vic we knew had died at the moment he parked the car. His sons decided to remove his oxygen; if he breathed he would be transferred to hospice care.
Vic passed away very probably the way he wanted to go having parked his car perfectly, hurting no one on his last earthly journey.
He was prepared. We should all be so lucky.
Addio Vittorio. Kiss the girls and my sons for me.