A Pie for Mikey

I was five years old when my father died.

It was pancreatic cancer what done the old man in. With a baby on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about him, about the man he was, the father he was. And naturally, of course, I’m thinking a lot about the man and father I want to be, and about the little boy we’re about to bring into the world. And it makes me miss my father all the more.

We awoke Monday morning to the unexpected and tragic news that our dear friend Jennifer Perillo had lost her husband, Mikey, the father of her two beautiful little girls, to a heart attack on Sunday night.

I was immediately shattered. Knowing what my mother went through in the days and years after his death, and the way it still affects her today–I could immediately empathize with Jennie. And of course I know all too well how it feels to be suddenly bereft of a father.

Jennie posted a video Monday morning of Mikey dancing with his daughter, and I have to be honest: I still can’t watch it.

The next day, Tuesday, while planning Mikey’s memorial service, Jennie posted a simple request of her friends and loved ones. Today, Jennie and her closest friends and relatives are gathering to memorialize Mikey’s life. Her husband’s favorite dessert was her recipe for peanut-butter pie. Jennie kept promising herself that she would make it for him … tomorrow. But there was no tomorrow. So from those who can only be there in spirit, she’s asked just this simple favor:

For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

This one’s for Mikey Perillo …

A Pie for Mikey

For Virgil Dietsch and the grandson he’ll never know …

A Pie for Mikey

And for squeezing out every bit of love you can while you still have time.

19 thoughts on “A Pie for Mikey

  1. This is such a lovely, well-written post. Of course I can’t speak for your dad, but I, for one, am proud of the generous man you’ve become and the loving father that I know you will be.

    Big hugs to you and Jen.
    xo

  2. Margie says:

    What a beautiful post. I never had the pleasure to have met Jennie and Mikey and their 2 little girls, but my heart is aching for them.

    A Pie for Mikey is a lovely way to remember him and any other person we have all lost at one time or another.

  3. This is really beautiful and moving. I lost my father when I was young too—to abandonment and later to death–and have been thinking a lot this week about how that shaped me. I know that growing up without a father has propelled my brother to be a really amazing dad to his children. As I am sure you will be as well.

  4. . Mike, I doubt that you remember me, but I am Court’s mom. We met in B-ton Hospital when you came by to lend your hand to her healing. I knew then what kind of a man you were right then. You will be an amazing father, no doubt. The tribute to your friend was beautiful. Your father would be proud. Best wishes for your new journey. Hedy

  5. What a touching post, well written and sincere. I lost my Mom when I was very young and know how the feelings come right back to the surface when something like this happens.

  6. My father passed away when I was 23, and every major life event makes me think of him. He was not there to give me away when I got married, but the hardest is when I think of my kids. They will never get to have him read to them or play with him, or even meet him.

    My heart goes our to Jennifer and her family, I cannot being to imagine how hard it is and will be.

  7. Kate McDonough says:

    I am stunned by the grief, wisdom, and love in what you have written. Thank you and I am so very, very sorry for you, Jen, and your dear friend Jennie and her children.

  8. Crazy as it sounds, I find comfort knowing you still think about your dad after these years. He’s managed to stay a part of your life, even though he was taken far too soon. I worry about this for my Virginia. She’s three. How much will she remember? You’ve given me hope. Thank you for that. xo

    • Jennie,

      I have very strong memories of my father. I don’t have many, but the memories I do have are vivid. Some of them are more … chromatic, if you will, than specific. I remember rough-housing with my dad, but when I say that, what I mean is that I remember the joy of that kind of physical play more than I remember specific instances.

      But I also have very specific memories. The day he spanked me for venturing onto a busy highway to retrieve a Big Wheel stolen by the neighborhood bullies, for example. (I was proud I stood up for myself, so I came back with my chest out and my chin up. And later, he also said he was proud of me. But he and Mommy would have been heartbroken had I been hurt.)

      And then a night a year or so later when he made up a bedtime story, one that centered on an adventure I embarked on with my little stuffed bunny.

      My sister is 18 months younger than I am; she turned 4 about two weeks after my dad’s death. I know she has her own memories. I haven’t discussed them with her recently because it’s still a painful subject for us both. But even Beth, at 3, formed memories of him that she carries with her today.

      I hope very much that Virginia carries with her something that she’s tucked away deep in her brain for when she, too, is pushing 43, even if the memories are more chromatic than they are specific–the feel of his unshaven face against her cheek, maybe, or just a feeling of blissful joy in his arms.

  9. I am a new father myself and I often go through the same thought process of wondering what kind of example I will be to my son. Had I the wit, I might have been able to express it as well as you. Losing a parent at a young age is terrible, I know this, and I was 21 when my mother died. I think about that almost every day and do my best to be happy, healthy and stress free so that whatever happens in the future, my time with my son will have been spent as enjoyably as possible. My condolences for your loss.

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