In May of 2010 Theresa and I made a decision that had a major impact on our life together.
Having recently learned that her father, Pete, had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, Theresa and I began preparing to move to Long Island to walk with him through the journey that he was about to undergo. On Sunday morning, that journey ended.
During his seventy-four years on Earth, Pete exemplified self-sacrifice and a commitment to others. As a young man Pete joined the New York City Fire Department, serving for twenty-nine years. In 1966 Pete was awarded the Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia Medal for valor in the line of duty after risking his life to save others. Pete went on to become a Lieutenant and finished his time as an instructor at the New York City Fire Academy. From time to time Theresa and I have crossed paths with some of his former students, and to a man they have all said the same thing “he may have been tough on us, but he is the reason we are alive today.” Pete also understood what it meant to sacrifice for his family. When Theresa was seven, her mother had a major brain bleed which dominated much of family life for the next three decades. Shouldering the responsibility for his wife and two children, Pete did whatever it took to ensure that his wife and kids were well cared for, even in the midst of frequent medical crises. Through it all, Pete was also a great neighbor. As the unofficial mayor of Abbey Court, Pete’s home was where kids went to get their bicycle tires and basketballs inflated, where people came to ask home remodeling questions, and the surrogate neighborhood hardware store… since he had at least three of every tool known to man.
Pete went about dealing with his cancer in much the same way that he lived his life: quietly, resolutely, and tenaciously. Never one to complain about his lot in life, his doctors became his friends, and made sure that no one felt sorry for him. He fought his cancer with a quiet dignity, and in the end was allowed a peaceful, merciful, release from the disease that was consuming his body.
While I have only known Pete for a few years, I am better for having known him, lived with him, and having his influence in my life. Pete has modeled for me what it means to be committed to your family, and others, while exhibiting a willingness to embrace Christ’s words in John 15:13 as he consistently showed a willingness to lay down his life for others.
Over the next several days we will be making arrangements, grieving with family, and bringing this stage of our journey to its close…
Will you pray for us during this season?