Follow by Email

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Dedication to Victor AKA Uncle, Cousin, Friend

How to you begin to honor someone who has passed? Someone who has been so important like my “Uncle”, my cousin, my dear friend. Victor Cimino aka “Uncle” Victor was my first cousin once removed from my father’s side but since he was from an older generation we affectionately called him Uncle. We meaning me and my fiancĂ© Randy. We’ve spent a lot of time with Victor over the past several years and always during the fun times in life: when we’re on holiday. Before I met Randy, I spent my vacations with Victor in Philadelphia solo.
 Victor always made me feel welcome even though I felt a little awkward around my vast family of cousins, uncles and aunts with whom I didn’t see very often since I live several hundred miles away in Florida. However, Victor made me feel like one of his own and it didn’t hurt that I always felt like his young niece.
Victor was my professor in college for one of the most pivotal courses in my career: Job Placement and Co-op. Through that course, I landed two paid internship jobs in my field. I felt an affinity toward him then. Yet life got in the way, I moved on into my first real job after graduation and didn’t stay in touch.
Years later, my Aunt Marie invited me to her home in Florida, the “Grand Central Station” where family visitors flocked. My Aunt invited me over when Victor was there, our kinship rekindled, and we became close friends. For he was a bon vivant, a lover of life, much like me and thus we became kindred spirits.
He invited me to stay at his three story home in South Philly anytime I came in town. And I took that literally. I oftentimes stayed at a hotel in Society Hill or at the Stadium but eventually; I came to stay with Victor all the time. And that would be a week or two at Christmastime or, more recently in the summer as well so we could go to his beloved shore home in Brigantine.
I met Randy six years ago and Victor welcomed him, as well. In fact, Randy and Victor would hang out when I met my best pals Barbie and Gina for our annual three hour Christmas dinner. Victor often teased that he and Randy would go to a strip joint and get in trouble while we were out. They didn’t of course. In fact, I often found them both at home asleep in their respective chairs in front of a blaring TV.

As far as the shore  was concerned, Victor persisted to invite us during summer so we could go “down the shore”. He told us he had comps, we could go to shows, stay at the casino hotel for free, etc. and being a “shore snob” I thought to myself that I wouldn’t want to leave the pristine beaches of Florida for the likes of Atlantic City. But I can tell you, once I went to El Rancho Deluxe (as my cousins affectionately referred to Victor’s place) I became hooked. We loved cooking great dinners and having many laughs and seeing cousins dropping by or flopping for the night. Last Christmas, at Victor’s house in Philly, I complained that all the “good” pots were down the shore and Victor responded that it was because everyone bought them and left them there but his pots in Philly would do. And they did.



Being the girl on the go, I often begged Victor to come with me to dinners and outings. Victor was a very ill man, although you wouldn’t think so the way he downplayed it. And every time he did get sick he'd bounce back. He liked to go out, only he’d tell you when he wanted to go home and that’d be it.
As a cultural man, and a former professor of Temple University, he often knew of the latest art or museum exhibits. We trasped the city, Randy would drop me and Victor off out front and while Randy searched for parking. We went to many exhibits, the Art Museum, The Barnes, Art after the Dark, Jazz Ensembles, Temple’s Faculty Lounge, the Mutter and Rodin Museums, and many restaurants and even wine bars. He never wanted to take the time away from our travels and being half-blind he'd often find his way to meet us anywhere in the city. I remember seeing him wait on the steps of the Civil War Museum. We'd  asked him to meet us and it wasn’t even open because of inaccurate website information. But we found somewhere else to go anyway. 
Oh, Cousin Victor, my heart bleeds and it’s with a heavy heart that I write these words. I could not adequately express what you meant to me or how very much I will miss you. I can only hope that we will be able to once again party in the stars, attend jazz fests and visit more museums in God’s Kingdom.
Rest your weary soul, my friend, my cousin and my uncle. I will forever be grateful for the fun things we did together. And I will always love you and miss you until the day I die. God Bless You.