John P. DiMeo

John P DiMeoIt’s been 2 months since my dad died, and even as I say that… as I type it, I find it hard to believe. It’s just that it is so final.
It was a wonderful death if that is possible. Dad died in the arms of the woman he loved so very much, he’s wife of 61 yrs, in their own bed as he slept. That is what I mean by a wonderful death. I believe that is the way we would all like to go.

I just want to share with all of you a few stories about my father because I am so proud if the life he led.
Jack, as everyone called him was born June 23, 1922 on the 3rd floor of a mattress factory, the factory his father owned in South Philadelphia on the very table his father used to make mattresses.

Dad was a very good athlete, not big but tough and very fast.

At 19 he and a buddy bought an Indian motorcycle, ran away from home and drove out to Los Angeles. Along the way they would work odd jobs, just enough to get by. Just about the time they got to LA the war started, he enlisted in the army where he was a medic. After the war, on the GI bill he went to USC as a business major and soon changed that to a degree in interior design (I just found that out from my mom on this last trip to Philadelphia).

In 1947 he met my mom, Jean. There in LA they had 3 children, Michael, Dianne and Tommy. Dad never really liked LA. Thought that it would be better to raise their family back east. Why? Because dad believed that it is important to live with seasons. So in 1955 he loaded everyone up in a car and headed back to Philadelphia. There he went back to work for his father in the family business, making mattresses. Now dad had an older brother, my uncle Eddie who was the eldest son in a family that immigrated to America in about 1911 from Italy. Those of you that come from an Italian family know that the eldest usually gets the goods. So after having 2 more children – me in 1958 and my sister Mary in 1961 dad was living the life of a suburban father.

In 1963 our house burnt down and we were all split up living with friends of the family. The contractor rebuilding on the same foundation went on strike. So it was up to dad to finish the house along with the many friends and neighbors that would come and help. That sounds very familiar!!!! When we all got back in the house 16 months later my dad wanted a better life so he went back to school to learn about computers. He would come home from the mattress shop then go stock shelves at the Food Fair in Brookhaven during the week and go to school on the weekends. He got a great job with the Government. He would have to commute to Washington D.C. then be home on the weekends.

Whenever I would ask dad a question about life he would quote Kipling. His favorite poem was Kipling’s “IF”. If that poem did not have the answer then Sinatra did. How he loved Frank.

Music and art were so much a part of my life. I would not be able to play the piano had it not been for my dad forcing me to practice. Everyday, one hour for 7 yrs. I should be so much better.

Only once do I remember my father crying and that was a short time ago.
I get the crying from my mom.

Never did he want for himself, and never did he need.
No one ever loved a wife more.
Never has a father loved his children more.

I was traveling back to Philadelphia when my dad died. I missed him by just a couple few hours. So I am beginning a new life, one without my dad being here to ask those questions only a dad can answer. Now it is up to me to take all those virtues, all that wisdom that he has given me and like the poem says, “and what’s more, you will be a man my son.”

I am so blessed having Jack as my father. I am so proud of him.