Remembering Ronnie

Remembering Ronnie


Yesterday marked twenty-five years since we lost my younger brother in a tragic accident. I put out a post as a tribute to him, I wasn’t asking for sympathy or prayers. I’m not one of those people asking for prayers on Facebook. I really don’t know what good it does. Will my praying make the doctor repairing your Uncle Louie’s hernia any better?

So instead of making this a sad occasion, I thought I would share some of my memories of growing up with Ronnie. Anyone that met him will tell you he was a character…and they mean it in the best way possible. He was the kind of person you just had to love…no matter what.

Like any brothers we would fight. I remember more than once after going to bed, we would suddenly be throwing punches at each other in the middle of the bedroom. Then my dad would show up in his boxer shorts trying to be the disciplinarian. The sight of his skinny legs and fly hanging open would calm us with laughter and the fight would be over.

Yeah, we would fight each other, but nobody else better start anything with us. You start with one, you get both.

There’s a lot of stories I could tell about him. Like the time he attempted to do stand-up and handled a heckler by leaping from the stage and tackling him…No, that’s not the proper way to handle heckling and I don’t teach it in my classes.

As we got older and both were driving, my dad got tired of us always borrowing his car. He and my mother talked us into buying a car we could share. We got a Piss Yellow Dart Swinger with an ugly green vinyl roof for $1300.

After a few weeks, the gas gauge broke and stayed on a constant half full. We were on the honor system and it was up to the last person who drove it to put gas in the tank. I should have known better.

“Ron, did you put gas in the car?”

“Yes, John…don’t you trust me?”

The first time I ran out of gas, I was at the bottom of a steep hill. This was before cell phones and the closest pay phone was about a mile up this long dark hill.

It was Christmas Eve and Ronnie convinced my dad to let him use his car to do his Christmas shopping…Yes, I did say it was Christmas Eve.

My father informed my brother his car was low on gas and actually gave Ronnie money to put gas in the car.

About three hours later, Ronnie called to tell us he was out of gas. Furiously, my dad grabbed an empty gas can and took our car to assist my stranded brother.

It was one of those brutally cold days with a temperature around or below zero. It was an hour after my dad left, Ronnie came walking into the house. My mother asked where my father was. My brother informed her that my dad never showed up and he got tired of waiting for him in the cold so he walked home.

My mother was panic stricken until an hour and a half later when my pissed off father entered the house. Turns out, he ran out of gas on his way to get gas for the other car. Then he had to walk to find an open gas station in the freezing cold on Christmas Eve…and you can see why he wasn’t exactly in the holiday spirit at the time.

Somehow, I was the one who had to go back with my father to retrieve the other car.

Then there was the 3rd of July party at my good friend Mark Petrucelli’s house. He invited me and my friends, so I told my brother about it. Ronnie had to work, so he drove himself and showed up later than the rest of us.

At some point during the evening, this guy Marty shows up with his date. He had taken her out to dinner and a movie, so he had laid down the ground work. My brother took a liking to her and began working his charm.

After a while of his magic, she agreed to go home with him. That’s right…another guy paid for dinner and a movie and my brother was getting the good part.

They left together and were back almost immediately because…You guessed it, Ronnie’s car was out of gas.

So now our friend Wayne is driving my brother and Marty’s date back to Ronnie’s place. Not only that, Wayne came back the next morning, drove the girl home and then went back and picked up my brother to get gas and take him to his car.

I have a lot more stories like these…you had to love him. I know I did.


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