Dancing In Heaven…

My father died on my birthday, but for sure that didn’t make it a sad day.   In fact my sister told me, “Dad wanted to get the family together for one last party and it happened to be on your birthday.”   Every year I will remember him for many things, but especially because of his peacemaker ways.

Dad right in the middle with the overalls.
Dad right in the middle with the overalls.

Instead of getting drunk (I don’t drink), dancing (I can’t dance) and selfishly celebrating my birthday, I will respect life more because of my unanswered knock and Dad’s passing through heaven’s door on my birth anniversary.

I got somewhat close to Dad In the 80’s; that was when we worked side by side on many paperhanging jobs.  Dad instilled strong work ethics in me and one he stressed was to never work just to be paid a pity check, “That’s not fair to the employer,” he stressed.  Dad always emphasized, neatness, and a loyalty to your job.  And lastly he made this prophetic remark, “I’ll work until the day I die.”

He saw no sense in taking the easy life and could not understand when people retired young, “What the hell do they do all day?”  That was my dad.  He worried about me until he saw the volumes of writing I do and though he couldn’t understand how I could busy myself day in and out with that, (he despised any sort of paperwork); Dad was happy knowing that I had something other than raising my daughter.

Dad was always the life of any party he was at; wedding receptions oh my goodness.  Dad could seemingly dance circles around Fred Astaire and he and his sister, Mary could  – cut a rug – better than any two I’d ever seen, yeah he was quite a man, my dad.

1948 - wedding picture
1948 – wedding picture

To me, (and I understood this completely) it was like Dad had a new life after his bypass surgery at the Mayo Clinic years before.  He had changed and was different; he became more solemn. He either didn’t remember or didn’t like to think of the busy 80’s.  

His wild turbulent days were his past, and so I will leave those years behind as well.  He never liked reminders of yesteryear.  I recall asking him about ancestral things but he said, “Steve, I don’t care what happened back then,” I never pestered him again about that or anything else that might upset him for he had too much on his plate as it was, though, he seemed more at ease when dealing with stress.

Throughout the years, as my father saw his youth slip away, he would remind me of his quickness and thoroughness when he was younger with only a few words.  He told me of one day going to a small (it would be time-consuming to most) paperhanging job and never shutting his truck off, “It was only an entryway to hang and it was so cold out.  I carried the papering table in, cut and pasted the paper, tore the table down and hauled it out to my truck then went back inside and hung the vinyl…it only took 10-20 minutes.”   Dad never spoke much about himself though, he let others tell me the stories of his quickness and mastery of the entire construction field.  His good friend, Tom, remarked once that, “Your dad was so smart he finished school in the eighth grade.”  He was old enough to work, earn money and help the family; his dad took his every paycheck.  Sometimes it was difficult being his son because the differences were so great.

He never spoke of what it was like to get old.  He never (or at least didn’t like to think of himself that way) but I saw it happen, first to me, then to my infallible dad.  It’s a feeling that you can do something that physically you cannot.  You picture the activity in your mind and even see yourself doing it, so you try, but you screw it up. It is then time to stop fantasizing about unrealistic goals. Each passing year I will hear Dad clearly on my birthday, March 11, 20… 

Me, Stephanie and Dad
Me, Stephanie and Dad


Dad's Pizza pie at his Romolo's restaurant.
Dad’s Pizza pie at his Romolo’s restaurant.


                         What some of the nephews and nieces said upon his demise…

So sad to hear the passing of Uncle Fred. He was a great man and a great Uncle. He will be missed greatly.Jenny Richie Very sad.

March 12 at 10:25am

Michelle Richie Borre He was such sweet man! What an inspiration -opens a restaurant in his later years to stay busy and social. So neat!
I will really miss our chats.
March 12 at 10:46am

Joseph Richie Sad day
March 12 at 11:21am · Like

Barb Blunt-Holmgren My favorite memory was him playing the guitar for us. He was a gem.
March 12 at 11:23am

Christine Mayo So sad, Yes he was such an extraordinary man! Loved him and am praying for his family.
March 12 at 12:15pm

Janice Richie I loved dancing with him at the weddings. When he told me he bought the restaurant, I thought it was so great!!! He needed a place to have coffee all the time. He was so much like my Dad. I will miss him so much!!

March 12 at 1:03pm

Patricia Ricci Stendahl Heard the news last night and am absolutely heartbroken. Uncle Fred had a great sense of humor, a quick wit, a contagious smile, a gift for storytelling and was a fabulous dancer. I’m so sad he’s no longer with us in this world. I loved Uncle Fred and am praying for his family.
March 12 at 2:41pm

Sue Ricci I will really miss him. In addition to what you all wrote, I will miss his great stories.

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.


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