Paying Tribute

Today is a tough day for my family, as it would have been my Uncle, Rick’s, 62nd birthday.

If you will recall, I mentioned that he had passed away back in November due to a heart attack while he was out jogging on a trail in northwestern New Jersey.

Uncle Rick was one of those guys you could always count on. A huge New York Yankees fan, he would have been disappointed in the year that they are having, but he would have still been watching due to his unwavering loyalty. To his team, his friends and his family.

I cannot stress that enough. He was loyal to everyone who he considered himself close to. (On a personal note, he was one of most encouraging people around me when I started this blog, always reading – as subscriber to the print version – and telling me what he thought.

He was a contractor by trade and his attention to detail was legendary. He always did things right the first time. If you do things right initially, there is no need to keep going back and having to correct your work.

He loved sports. The Yankees, the Minnesota Vikings and Villanova Wildcats basketball (Villanova was his alma mater) were his teams. He was also a big Track and Field fan, having run track through high school and continuing all his life. He passed doing what he loved – running in his “church,” as he was known to call the outdoors.

Because of his love for running, one of the things he lived for was the Olympics. He religiously watched the races leading up to the Games, such as the Olympic Trials. One of his favorite days of the year came in early November when he would sit down and take in the New York City Marathon.

He ran several marathons in his life and one early writing project I am most proud of came from his experiences.

I was doing some sports writing for a publication called Jersey Sports News in the early 2000’s and I wrote a piece where I took people through a marathon, mile-by-mile. My Uncle was the go-to for that, since I am no runner.

He took me through what he would have been feeling at each mile of the race. From the water stations to the final mile, he told me what he would be doing and thinking – in terms of where he needed to be timewise and if he was on pace to finish in the time he wanted.

I got to know what all those miles of training did for him. They trained him to run those 26.2 miles and do it in the time that he wanted. It was still grueling, however, and his accomplishments were certainly nothing to sneeze at.

One of the final races he ran was the 2019 Running with the Devils 5K. He came in first place in his age group. I did the walk with other members of my family and was standing there talking to him when they announced that he had won.

In typical Uncle Rick fashion, he did not realize he had won – he was paying attention to our conversation so intently – and I had to tell him. I have a picture of him up on stage with Colin White and Grant Marshall along with NJ Devil receiving his medal. I was and am very proud of him.

So I guess the point I am trying to make is to tell those around you that you care. Don’t let petty things get in the way of hugging you family or saying “thank you” to your friends on occasion. They could be lost in the blink of an eye. Have no regrets and let them know that you care. Especially nowadays with everything that is going on in the world, hold those around you closer.

On that note, we will be back to talking Devils hockey tomorrow – should something come across the board, of course.

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