Yesterday marked one year since my father passed away. One complete loop of birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and other life events without him. While the disease took him physically many weeks prior, the actual day he died is still a wretched anniversary for me. The support and check ins from his friends and acquaintances is heartwarming, but it can never make up for his absence.

John had 68 mostly good years on this Earth and, although, still too short, more than many others. It has been tough to see the others within our industry suffering from similar diseases and some at a much younger age. Our community has unfortunately had to deal with the more recent losses of Frank Aragona Jr and Steve Drummond from cancer at a much younger age and with kids who are still in their teens. I feel for both of those families. It was encouraging, though, to see Frank Aragona III win the Atco National Open a few weeks back with his family there.

The one that has hit me a little harder though, has been Lizzy Musi. My parents have known and done business with the Musi family for many years, but I never met Lizzy in person. I can’t even say I followed her on the various social medias or throughout her TV and racing career, but she’s younger than me at 32 and has been given a tough cancer diagnosis. The fact that she is getting her treatments through the same hospital system in Houston (MD Anderson) that my father died also brought up some tough memories. I know she is getting the best care possible there, but it is never a situation one wants to be in. I pray for her and her family.

While I can sit and regret all the conversations I should have had with my father (there are many), I try to focus on how lucky I was to have him as my Dad. He always pushed himself to do whatever he could to try to give me more opportunities than he had growing up. I cherish and will never forget the memories I had with him. A lot of people don’t have as good a person to look up to as I did. I only hope that I can live up to his standard while raising my son.

It saddens me that John will not get to see what his grandson becomes as he grows up, but that’s just life sometimes. I do feel guilty thinking about that when compared to the Drummond and Aragona families though. Life isn’t fair, but nothing is, so enjoy your time here. Now back to trying to figure out what the hell these custom tools John made are to fix. Most likely something on his comp car from the 80s, because he might have needed it again. -Franklin DiBartolomeo