Jeanette Draper is my friend and former Mahopac High School classmate. I read her beautiful ode to Joe Monte, her late father who passed at age 64 seven years ago. I asked for permission to run it here. Jeanette graciously agreed …
Seven years ago today, you rubbed Danny’s head “for luck” and we had what would be our last real conversation. You were gone a few days later.
The last thing you said to me, besides, “Love you,” was “Get it done yourself, Nettie.” I want you to know I paid attention all those Saturdays growing up when you and I were stuck on soccer field sidelines and you held my hand and spoke about life and how things should be done.
I do my best to teach your grandsons (the second generation of Dirty Rotten Lousy Kids) the lessons you valued most: Be kind, be smart, be responsible. Rotate your tires. Find the time to help a stranger. Brush your hair. Speak up, never burn your bridges—you may have to pass that way again. Liars have to have a good memory, so just tell the truth. Work hard, but learn to relax. Love your sister—she’s the only one you’ve got. Never take more than you give. You’re not too good for any job. Everybody matters—so treat the garbage man with the same decency you would treat the president. Kiss and hug (you were so old-school Italian). Say how you feel. Take care of each other. Brush your hair, again. Learn to do it yourself. Appreciate what you have, because tomorrow you may have less. Say thank you. Keep your word. If you live life complaining about nonsense … may you always hear me playing the world’s tiniest violin in the background to remind you to quit it. Take it when I have it—here’s a $100, go buy yourself something nice. Love your kids, pay attention to where you are.
And, “to make a long story short—we are all just visiting here, so make your time count.”