Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The passing of a GREAT Man

My AMAZING UNCLE, Mr. Robert M. Zito, passed away on the morning of Sunday, August 26, 2012.  My Mom, Dad, Brother, my husband Phil and I were by his side. Mom and I spent the night with him in his hospital room, and I thank God for the strength that he gave me to help my Mom, and to honor my Uncle's decision, to help him to go peacefully to Heaven.

You see, it was not an easy thing for him to let go, and go peacefully, as he never was one to "give up" or loose a battle.  I told him it was okay, he didn't have to struggle anymore, and we would make sure he would be comfortable and we would be with him. We never left his side.  We are thankful now that he is at peace.

My Uncle Bob broke his neck in a swimming pool accident, on August 10th, 1965.  He lived a very full and wonderful life, until his body got the best of him over the last 5 years or so.   He always said, "you never see an old quad," but at 61, (he would have been 62 on September 7th) - he sure fooled them!! 

Although he lived well beyond the years he expected to, it is still not long enough for those of us that love him, and will miss him terribly.  My Mom was a wonderful sister to him, she cared for him more like a Mother, as they lost their Mom, my Grandmother, when he was just 13yrs old.  They were very close, and were always there for each other.

The condolences that are coming in on the funeral home's website are a wonderful tribute, from all over the world.

The words that were spoken by his friends and co-workers who came to pay their respects yesterday were uplifting.  He touched so many lives by just being Bob.  Just a guy, who happened to be in a wheelchair. He never felt sorry for himself, or complained.  We even had him in his favorite T-shirt at the viewing - it said "Attitudes are the only disability."

I would like to share the words that I was able to speak at his funeral yesterday.  I hope by sharing these words his strength carries on and he is able to help anyone out there who may be struggling, or feeling that life is too hard.

"He was Robert, Bob, Chuck, Brother, Uncle, Great Uncle, Friend

He was all of these to us, and so much more...

My Uncle Bob was in a wheelchair for 47 years, since the age of 15, BUT, the one thing he was not, was disabled or handicapped.

Even though his injury defined him as a quadriplegic, he still had the partial use and strength in his arms, and the use of one finger on each hand. It is amazing what he was able to accomplished with so much less than what the rest of us take for granted - 10 working fingers, and 2 working legs.

He drove a car -before there were handicap vans - he'd transfer by a board, from his chair, into the passenger seat, fold up his chair, put it in the back seat, slide himself all the way over to the driver's seat, and off he'd go, using hand controls. We were not allowed to help him - we had to stand there and watch him - he had to do it on his own. - He also enjoyed yelling things out while we stood there watching, and people passed by. He and my husband Phil used to go Christmas shopping together, and his favorite things to yell out were "sure just stand there and watch the quad" or one time he said "Where were you when I was in the war!"

He graduated from Hawthorne High School, and from Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts -he was a gifted artist. Up until a few years ago, he enjoyed distressing model cars, and even sold them on his website, The tiny detail work that he was able to accomplish is amazing. Please check it out, and read the stories he made up to go with the cars, and the wonderful comments he received.

He learned computer programming and got a job at Met Life. He drove into New York City every day, parked his car, and worked in the Met Life Building, until he was transferred to the Lebanon, NJ area. He was described by a coworker as "a skilled technology specialist and a creative colleague, one who somehow had the ability to get a smile on everyone's face, no matter how tough or pressured things got. He was always there for everyone on the team, and even offered to help when he was out on medical leave."

He got married and had a son.

All of this with just the use of his arms and 2 fingers.

He had a way to make people forget about the wheelchair - he never let it define him -he never let it stop him. 


My sons will miss his crazy accents, like when he talked like Steve Erwin, or the guy behind the counter in the 7 Eleven.

Phil will miss being embarrassed in parking lots, their trips to Point Pleasant, and all the laughter they shared.

I will miss his sense of humor, his creative talent, dressing up with him on Halloween, his strength and his love.

He was a strong man who was put to so many tests. Weaker men would have given up long ago. He never let anything stop him. Even after he lost a leg from the hip down due to bed sore complications almost 3 years ago, he kept on going. He was even doing community service up until 2 months ago.

He was a crazy, funny man who loved life, and loved us. Besides asking for "Spirit in the Sky," "Born to be Wild," and "Magic Carpet Ride," to be played at his wake, he also asked that we BE HAPPY.

So I will ask you, please remember my Uncle Bob and go through life ignoring your "disabilities" - however big or small they may be - don't say you can't do something - have strength and try your best to overcome or reach your goals, and most of all Be Happy.

He fought a good fight, but now it is his turn to rest and no longer struggle. He leaves a hole in our lives, but has filled our hearts with love, laughter and wonderful memories. "

This is one of my favorite photos of him, my Mom and I. It was taken this past April.

I LOVE YOU Uncle Bob, I will NEVER forget you, and I will  always try to be strong like you and live by your example.  Thank you for being in my life.  ((HUGS)) ~ Sherri