My Dad

P1 obit Spinelli

On July 17, 2009 my father, Angelo Spinelli, passed away from heart failure. Over the past five years his condition deterioated to the point where he was no longer able to drive or walk up a flight of stairs. Complicating matters were diabetes, an enlarged prostate and gout, which eventually led to an infection of his toe. Upon surgery to debride a very painful case of osteomyletitis, my father suffered a second heart attack in thirteen years and a stroke. Eventually, died from complications from all of the above.

An immigrant from Salerno, Italy, my father had very little education. He watched Wheel of Fortune to learn how to spell and often sat fixated in his leather chair whenever a James Cagney or John Wayne movie came on the television. His idol was Carroll O’Connor who portrayed Archie Bunker in All In the Family, a show that portrayed a man much like himself: a hard working laborer who stereotyped other men not simply to exclude or ridicule them but as a crude attempt to to unite these other hard working shlubs who came to this country to ensure a better life for their children but not necessarily for themselves.

It would be a lie for me to tell you that my dad and I were best friends. Even as his only son, we butt heads on many subjects but we did agree on one thing: That life was unfair and the only thing anyone has to do is die and pay taxes. He has now completed both those tasks.

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Today Chad and I adopted a rescue dog from Haven Animal Shelter. Named Hoffman Angelo, our eight week old beagle mix now sleeps quietly by our side as I write these thoughts about my father.

As a doctor, I have experienced life and death many times over the years. I feel detached from the dead once life has left their bodies. Perhaps that is why I was able to sit there quietly yesterday watching my father’s body in his casket as my family weeped. His three grandsons and one granddaughter stood at the entrance of the room, too afraid to get a closer glipse of their lifeless Popi. I don’t blame them. Why should they remember him that way.

Like them, I want to recall the sarcastic, overbearing, hard working, insufferable man who devoured every day as if it was his last. Eating foods he shouldn’t, drinking wine he made himself, which tasted like kerosene and smoking, cigarettes, cigars and even a pipe whenever he chose because life to him was to be lived and not feared, that each day could be your last and to surround yourself with others who thought like you.

I will miss him. But at least I have my niece and nephews to remind me of his spirit of adventure and now a new puppy who bears his name like I do, Frank Angelo, somewhere in the middle, yet always close to my heart.

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5 Comments

  1. Jan
    Posted July 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I have many fond memories of your Dad,Frank. He made me laugh…I guess that’s why he always called me “smilie”.

    Enjoy your puppy.

  2. Larry Flick
    Posted July 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    You have been remarkable throughout your Dad’s final days. I’m sincerely in awe of your inner strength and your ability to cope and move forward through such a difficult time.

    I’m delighted to see that you’ve chosen to life by way of your little pooch during this time.

    Sending you love.

  3. mark
    Posted July 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    that was lovely – your best words yet…x

  4. spinellimd
    Posted July 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you.

  5. scott
    Posted July 21, 2009 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    I am sorry to hear of your loss.


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