June 18th, 2020

WHAT ‘DADVICE’ MEANS TO ME

Mo Bro Nicholas Iadevaio remembers his father and his pearls of wit and wisdom.
Real Stories
1 MIN READ
 

I have had the privilege of having so many amazing men in my life that have helped form me become the man, husband, father, brother and colleague that I am.

I was born in 1966 to Ann and Nick.  My parents were of the Depression era, and I was a later in life baby, with my parents having 4 girls before me.  My sister Carolann passed away before I even arrived.    I was born a month early and was troubled almost from the first moment I came into the world. I would require multiple blood transfusions to survive, but thanks to the skills of some amazing doctors and nurses, the love and care and donations of blood from my relatives, my mom was able to bring me home after a month.  I was a normal happy child and it wasn’t until I was in pre-school that my parents realized I had severe hearing loss.  I was fitted for hearing aids, which back in the early 1970s, the technology wasn’t what it is today.  I lived with the stigma of being told by coaches, teachers, and even some neighbors, that I was different and couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do, which was to play sports like every other kid in my age group.   

My dad would often use the phrase: “Nick, the word can’t lives on won’t street and when you say you can’t do something, it means you are making the conscious decision to not do something”.    That one lesson has rung true throughout my whole life.   I am 53 years old now, with a beautiful 25-year marriage to my angel Sue. We have three wonderful children in our lives that we have been blessed with.   Nick is 23, Liz is 20, and Grace is 15.    My dad (also named Nick) passed when I was just 23. It would be 30 years ago this year.   Some days it seems like yesterday and some days like forever ago that he passed away.   But, he “talks” to me all the time. I think about him and his voice is in my head. Those thoughts include so many of the lessons and talks we had.    My Dad was such an amazing man and always made people laugh, feel better, and was just there for people.   He proudly served in the Army Infantry in the South Pacific during WW2 and was lucky to come home. He saw some pretty heavy action, but he never talked much about it.   When he was sick with cancer 30 years ago, I remember sitting on the couch with him watching the Jets football game.   He started to cry. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he was never so scared as he is now.   I asked him why he never really talked about WW2, and I think he probably suffered from some form of post-traumatic syndrome disorder (PTSD).   He did say to me that those 5 years of being in the war were the most harrowing of his life, and that no person should ever have to experience or do what he had to do.   But he was thankful for those awful times and the most terrible moments of his life.   Another big lesson that I have remembered, over the many years of my own life journey is being grateful. Through marital troubles, health scares, job losses, loved ones passing, I still remember the lessons my Dad taught me which is to always be thankful. Even in the hard times, there is always something to be grateful for, because they bring us to the better place.   

Another very important person in my life was my Uncle Ralph who was also a WW2 veteran and the first triple amputee of WW2.   Uncle Ralph was involved in a tragic hand grenade action when he was 18 years old and lost 3 limbs, two legs and one arm.   He lived 75 years missing three limbs.  I never saw him use a wheelchair, but he had his own business, got married (after his injury) to my mother’s sister, my aunt Catherine.   They had 3 children and did everything together during their 60+ years of marriage.   Uncle Ralph passed away last year, and he was given a hero’s funeral, because he was.    When I was growing up and feeling bad about my hearing loss, my dad used to tell me to look at my Uncle Ralph and remember that despite his injury, nothing ever stopped him from doing what he wanted to do.  He showed me a perspective I needed to be reminded of.

My mom was one of 10 children. Sadly, my mother and all of my aunts and uncles, and have passed away.  One man that has been an inspiration to me in the last few years is my Aunt Rose’s husband Vinnie. He is 93 year-old widower and lives in Florida. I decided to go visit him when I was down there for business.  His response to me was classic and said he would love to make time for me, but he needed to fit me into his itinerary!   Even at 93 he still bowls, dances, plays billiards, walks and works out in the gym. He also finds time to send all of his nieces and nephews birthday cards.  He was able to fit me in his schedule and we had a great time.   I talk to him fairly often on the phone and those conversations have taught me is, there is nothing greater than love to give first.   He drives every weekend 2 hours, at age 93, to see his younger brother who had a stroke.   He spends the weekends caring for his sibling, to give his sister in-law a break.   At 93 he is the one caring for his 75-year old brother and that taught me a a lesson in selflessness.    

Needless to say, I have had the privilege to be around really amazing men in my life who were vulnerable yet strong, selfless yet ambitious, caring yet tough.   These three men could not be more different, but they also had one thread amongst all of them, they leaned on their faith and lived a life filled with serving and loving others. I can’t think of any greater lessons than these.