On January 19, 2016, heaven gained another angel. My father in law, Arthur John Pidoriano, lovingly known as "Grandpa".
He passed in a way that most of us can only hope for. He was with his son, on the golf course, doing what he loved. He had no pain, no long illness, and as far as we can tell, no suffering. This truth has brought some comfort to the family, but as my husband said in his heartfelt tribute to his dad, we will miss him everyday for the rest of our lives.
Despite the pain and shock he was feeling when his dad died suddenly in his presence, my brave and strong husband managed to write a beautiful eulogy for his father, a task that was both heart wrenching and an honor at the same time.
He told us that his father often said, "Don't feel sorry for me when I die, I have lived a great life and have done everything that I wanted to do." He told us that his father was content and had no regrets right up until the day that he died.
Arthur Pidoriano Sr. was born in 1932 in Brooklyn, NY. He was an only child. He never understood how siblings could fight since all he wanted growing up was a brother or a sister to play with. According to my husband, this lack of siblings may have been the reason that he cherished his relationships and treated everyone like family.
My father in law's parents were hardworking and very loving, but they didn't have enough money to send him to college. Fortunately, they raised a bright, athletic,and hardworking son who was able to secure a basketball scholarship to Boston College and St Mary's in California. Having never left New York, he chose Boston College to be closer to home. When he arrived at BC, the coach told him that he couldn't major in pre med because the labs and practices coincided. Since his sights were set on dental school, this was a deal breaker for him. He acted quickly and called the St Mary's coach. By luck or by fate, his scholarship was still available. With a suitcase full of clothes and twenty dollars in his pocket, he boarded a train and went all the way across the country to California.
At St. Mary's, Grandpa excelled in basketball and academics. He made more than enough money to support himself by running a successful babysitting business out of his dorm room, working at the local pool hall, and managing a nearby racetrack. His hard work paid off and got him accepted to NYU Dental School.
During college, my father in law met, in my husband's tender words, " the love of his life." My mother in law was a perfect match for Grandpa...bright, athletic, hardworking, and beautiful. They married and went on to have five children, fulfilling Grandpa's dream of having a big family.
My father in law was by all rights a successful man. He had a thriving dental practice and worked really hard to provide a great life for his family. He also stressed the importance of having fun and enjoying life. He taught his kids to water ski, snow ski, fish, and play golf. He loved to gamble and taught them to play blackjack and craps. But the most important thing that he taught them was to love each other. In his eulogy to his dad, my husband told us that he was grateful to have grown up in an environment of love, kindness, and commitment to family.
My mother and father in law's love and commitment to each other has produced eighteen grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren (so far). At a family function teeming with kids, all of whom were related to him, my father in law once said, "If I had five million dollars in the bank, I wouldn't feel as rich as I do right now." Grandpa's biggest accomplishment had nothing to do with his financial success. He was the most proud of his family.
When I expressed my sadness to my mother in law over the loss of the love of her life, instead of wallowing in her own grief, she told me, "Grandpa loved you very much." I told her with tears in my eyes, "I know he did because he told me often." What I admired most about my father in law was the ease with which he said, "I love you." He never held back his expression of love.
My father in law was lucky in many ways. My husband believed that it wasn't luck but his positive attitude that helped him to survive a massive heart attack at age 59 and bypass surgery at age 78. I believe that his positive attitude also helped him to survive the heartbreaking loss of his beautiful daughter Regina, fifteen years ago.
After Grandpa's funeral, I heard my husband tell someone that his father "had a bad heart" which is what ultimately caused his death at age 83. I was a little taken aback hearing this because it seemed so far from the truth. Physiologically, his heart may have in fact been "bad", but in every other way possible, his heart was amazing and good, and overflowing with love.
I am sad to say goodbye to my father in law. I will miss his twinkling eyes and loving smile. Although our lives will never be the same without him, his legacy of love, kindness, and commitment to family will always be in our hearts.
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