Monday, August 18, 2008

Dino Scoppettone - December 12, 1969 - August 18, 2008

Back in 1966, a woman named Mary Swall found herself pregnant and alone. With no other options, she gave the baby, a little girl, up for adoption. That girl, Theresa, grew up, and eventually became my wife, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

A couple years a later she married her teenage sweetheart, a young musician named Dick Scoppettone, of Harper's Bizarre fame. She had two more children, Dino, and his younger brother Nick. They lived their lives, and Theresa lived hers with her family. Theresa was often curious, and imagined that Mary was too.

Back around 1989 or 1990, my wife started her search for her birth mother in earnest. She talked it over with her mom, who had a few reservations, but out of love for her daughter was very supportive. So supportive, in fact, that on Theresa's 25th birthday in 1991, her mother gave her a birthday card that included the full name of her birth mother. We're still not sure how or where she got it, but she probably saved my wife months, maybe even years, of research.

It was only another week or two when they met for the first time. Theresa learned she had two half-brothers, Dino and Nick. In what now seems like an amazing miracle, the families fell in love with each other, so that our kids now have three grandmas instead of two. Theresa's mother always includes Mary in all the family events, and vice versa, when possible. In fact, I once had four tickets to the AT&T Pro-Am and took my mom and Theresa's moms :-) I may as well have not been there. The three of them are like the Three Amigas.

I tell you this to give you a little picture of how close our families have become over the last 17 years.

A little while after meeting Mary, we finally met her brothers. Nick was a quiet fella (and still is) but Dino was a life of the party kind of guy. He was an open book, a delight to talk to and kid with. Megan, and later our sons, fell instantly in love with Uncle Dino. We'd come to visit Mary, and Dino would be there, and the kids would cajole him into pulling out his Kermit muppet and doing a great Kermit voice for them for what sometimes seemed like hours on end.

Theresa and he looked very much like brother and sister, and in many ways, except for shyness or lack thereof, were very much alike. They both share a sharp and sometimes cutting sense of humor that seems to come out of nowhere and crack up a crowd.

Dino seemed to relish his role as Uncle and brother and brother-in-law. He was a very, very avid athlete in his youth, and sports fan throughout. He did have the misfortune to come into his awareness of fandom while living in Washington state, and so was saddled with the tragic fate of being a Seahawks and Mariners fan. He had the pleasure of reporting on the 2002 Winter Olympics, which I believe were in Albertville, France, for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

He was a pretty knowledgable soccer fan too, esp. of the English Premier League club Aston Villa. Just before he was diagnosed, he finally got to watch his club play while in London. Unfortunately they were the visiting team at Upton Park, and the seat Dino was able to get was in the home stands. Unlike the USA, you don't sit among the home fans and cheer for the away team. Not without some pain, bruises, stitches, and maybe some broken bones. He and I shared a love of football, real football (soccer), and U2, and we could go on and on about those topics. Right up to the end, though, I gave him crap about the time he saw me in my Newcastle shirt, pointed at it and asked, "Juventus?"

Somehow he found his way to working with Electronic Arts for several years. You can imagine the fringe benefits for family :-) I surely took full advantage. On the other hand, it made Christmas shopping easier for him too! Sometime in the last couple years he moved to Sega. How did he get these gigs.

For the last four years or so he's played with a band in Oakland, where he lived, called Mirror Image. He was a bassist, and a good one, a fella who played bass because he liked playing bass, rather than many of us, who play it because nobody else in the band will.

When we gathered together, I often saw Dino and my wife having quiet conversations off in a corner somewhere. Now I loved Dino, but they had a connection from the beginning as though they had actually grown up together, rather than having to pick up 18 or 19 years late.

You often don't realize how much somebody means to you until they're gone. Or at least until you know they're going on their way soon.

Dino crossed over this evening, August 18, a little after 8 pm. My wife called me while I was in the checkout line at the grocery store to give me the news. She knew I wouldn't want to wait. Having to follow up that call by answering three times the question "How are you this evening?" was a very tortuous experience. My 7-year-old son was with me and, when we got to the car, he said, "Dad, you look like you're going to cry."

And so I did.

We love you, Dino, and on into eternity.


It's about me, dummy!!!


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