Monday, July 23, 2007
Frank A. Gatto: July 4, 1972 - July 16, 2007
On the 16th of July 2007, a good friend of mine passed away. He had battled diabetes his entire life. It kicked his butt pretty good, but he never let anyone know it.
There are few words that can express the loss of a family member or close friend. My brother, Marty, was especially close to Frank. As close as any two people could ever be. I am copying a letter he wrote about Frank and read at his funeral. A lot of it won't mean anything to a person that didn't know him, but it meant the world to me and the dozens of other friends and family that heard it. I wanted to post it here as a farewell message.
I am uncertain about exactly when the friendship between Frank and I first began. It seems like it was just forever. Our friendship was a constant; it always was and always will be. Our mothers brought us together. They met at our grade school. So, I guess you can say that our friendship spawned from the friendship of our mothers. Rose and Dreena are a couple of sweet, kind, caring and loving women. They took an unwritten oath when they gave birth to their children. They said that they would take care of them, not just until they were old enough to be on their own, but until time no longer permitted them to do so. Frank and I had no say in this. Our mothers worried about us every day of our lives, every day we walked out that door. For me, my mother worried because I was a nut case. Frank, his mother’s worries were doubled. Rose worried about Frank’s battle with the unfortunate disease he was dealt at a very young age. I’m sure she also worried that he was hanging out with a nut case. In all seriousness, I am certain she knew he was in good company. Our families were much alike. We are what you call good people. It was that awful disease, diabetes, which kept her awake till Frank walked back in the door at night.
Somewhere around high school we became inseparable. It was Spezia that reunited us. From there on; Frank was my right hand man, and I was his. Soon thereafter he was dubbed “Nitty” by the crew. A name of respect, we called him Frank Nitty. He was very close with many members of the crew as well. You need look no further than his pall bearers to find the individuals that shared many of the same memories that I have with him. I’d sit on my couch at home on Stephens and wait till I heard the thump of Nitty’s kicker in his black Lebaron as he left from home on Pingree. The first moment I could faintly hear the sound of the bass was my cue to walk out to the curb. The timing was perfect. I would ride shot-gun and we went on our way. The destination was never in question. The Sheikh’s house was the place to be. This is where everyone was. This is where Frank was Frank. He was cunning, he was sarcastic, he was funny, and most importantly, he was completely happy. These were the best years of my life, and please let me tell you, they were most certainly the best years of Franks as well.
I wouldn’t know where to start if asked to tell some good stories from that time. I have a million of them. Suffice to say that we never had an uneventful day. I believe that people live on through the experiences they shared with others. I assure you that Frank will shine bright within me as long as I live. Every time someone shares a memory of Frank that they have with another, his existence will persist. I am very fortunate to have shared the amount of time that I did with him. With all the memories that I have, I can assure you that Frank’s soul will remain immortal. His soul will remain immortal until the day I face my own mortality.
Frank was a very loyal, kind and caring person. He was what I call a genuine human being. I spent most of my life with this man, and never once did we have a falling out. Frank was an old-school Italian at heart. He didn’t like to be double-crossed. We never had to worry about that though. We had more than a friendship as we grew older together. We became brothers. He was part of my family. I loved this man. I spoke those very words to him on the phone just a couple weeks back. I loved him as much as I could love another man that didn’t have the same blood as mine pumping through his heart.
I will miss you terribly my friend. My life has been changed forever. Thank you for being the best friend I ever had Nitty. Thank you for being my brother. It makes my heart feel good knowing that the majority of our lives were spent with each other. I told you many times that you would be the best man in my wedding someday. This has not changed. No one stands next to me that day my friend. That spot remains reserved for MY BEST MAN!!!