Rocco LaCapria, In Memoriam

Last Monday my great uncle, my grandmother’s twin brother, died. I knew he was sick, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer a few months ago and had a heart attack recently. Against my better judgment I left on vacation anyway. He died while I was gone. Today is his memorial service. I wanted to say a few things of my own.

Uncle Rocco, throughout my childhood you were a constant inspiration to me. You were someone to be admired, an artist, a musician, a jokester. Ironically, my first memory of you isn’t of you. It is your art. I remember the drawings and paintings that my mother had up all over the house. She would proudly tell me that my Uncle Rocco had painted them. I remember being astounded and proud that we had such talent in our family.

When I was in the 5th grade I joined the school band and learned to play the alto saxophone because you were a musician. My brother played the trumpet. I know that we both picked our respective instruments because of you. I, for one, wanted to please you and show you that your musical ability did live on. I couldn’t paint, but I could play.

You had quite a controversial sense of humor, but no one, not even your detractors, could deny that you had the gift of storytelling. Even your most crass jokes could bring a smile to the most prude of faces. Of course, those same jokes were known to bring on many a blush as well. I used to love bringing friends home to meet you because I knew you would entertain them. You’d embarrass them, but I knew they’d be entertained.

Not only could you tell a joke, you were a consummate story teller. I may never know if even half of your stories were true, but to judge by the facial expressions my grandmother would make while you were yarn spinning, I can only guess that there was quite a bit of embellishment involved. Perhaps that’s what made the stories so enjoyable. Maybe it was the fact that the adventures you told by and large were wild. How may of us really expect that our elders were wild when they were younger.

Because of you I learned to speak Italian. You were insistent that it was important for a person to understand his or her heritage. Sure my family was Italian, but like any stubborn kid I thought it wasn’t important for me to appreciate that. You convinced me otherwise and I put my nose to the books to learn the language of my family. You were also the only person who insisted on only speaking to me in Italian. I remember sometimes being reluctant to get on the phone with you because I didn’t want to have to think and I knew you’d make me leave English aside for the duration of our conversation. I want you to know that I do still practice at every opportunity. I still have the books you brought back for me and I do still read them: Pirandello, D’Annunzio, Svevo, Levi and Calvino.

Because of you I lived in Italy. If it hadn’t been for your encouragement I would never have applied for the program and I certainly wouldn’t have had to guts to pack my bags and move to another country. I would never have had the incredible experiences I did and I wouldn’t have met the people I did, some of whom I still call friends.

Now that you’re gone I regret all the time that I didn’t spend with you. I know it does no good to look back and say “I should have” or “I wish I had” yet I find myself doing just that. The last time I saw you was May and that was only for a few short hours, the time before that had been almost a year earlier. I should have come visit more often. I should have told you more often how much I loved you and how great an impact you have had on my life. But I didn’t.

I regret not going to visit you when you got sick. I know you wouldn’t have wanted me to see you laid up in the hospital, you wouldn’t have wanted anyone to remember you that way, but I regret not going anyway. I wish I could have had the chance to say goodbye. Had I known in May that it was the last time I was going to see you I would have hugged you longer, I would have said something more memorable, I would have tried to remember the moment more clearly.

I want you to know that I loved you dearly and part of who I am is because of you.

I will miss you forever.

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~ by CableGirl on Friday, August 17, 2007.

10 Responses to “Rocco LaCapria, In Memoriam”

  1. Good bye Uncle Rocco.

  2. Though you didn’t say goodbye earlier, it sounds like you just did here. Beautifully said. It’s amazing what how much one person can influence your life. It sounds like he was a wonderful man.

  3. Thank you for sharing those beautiful memories and feelings. Many times in the past two weeks I’ve had similar feelings of regret and raw emotions. I think Grandma would love to read this but since they no longer have a working computer, is there a way to print from you blog and snail mail it?
    Love you,

  4. Sorry to hear about your uncle. I remember you said he was sick but I didn’t realize he had died. He sounded like an interesting guy and I love the name.

  5. My Father, Rocco La Capria….
    My Father, Respecrtful of others, Honest, Different, Funny, Talented, Caring to a falt, I remember the times we, my Brother and I would stay at his House as young children, fall a sleep to the sound of his Flute playing lightly. He was always close to family members and stayed in touch as he wanted us to as well. He tought us to care. I was adopted into the family by him although I was not biologically his Son I was his first Son.

  6. My condolences

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss… he sounds like a very special person

  8. That was beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  9. Beautiful.
    What a great woman you are.

    (jenn in holland)

  10. That was beautifully stated. I am wondering if we are related. After reading what a wonderful person your great uncle was I wonder even more since I come from a very nice La Capria family too.

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