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  • Tom Rastrelli

Letter #12 — Dad’s final letter

Feb. 19, 2021

Dad (Thomas Edward Rastrelli) died on Feb. 12, 2021. He told me the weekend before that he was going to write another letter for this project.

He started his letter on Feb. 7 but did not finish before his death. Mom found it and forwarded it to me.

Mom and I have edited this letter as minimally as possible for clarity. Ellipses indicate where he left a sentence or thought unfinished and was unable to complete them before passing.

He loved that we were writing these letters and appreciated all of you who are reading them. Dad had started to write a book telling the story of his parents, Grandpa's immigration from Italy, Grandma's surviving abandonment by her mother when she was a child left to care for two younger siblings, their story of founding Rastrelli's Family Restaurant, his decades growing up and working in the family business, his second career with Cutco/Vector, his 52-year love affair with his dear wife Jill, and all the wisdom and experience he learned and embraced during his 73 years. He was a nurturing, loving and authentic person to all he met. I am so grateful that he was my father.

Here's his final letter.

February 7, 2021

Dear, Tommy.

Wow, there is such a backlog of information that has passed since my last response to your letters, things that have happened in the world that quickly needed to be addressed.

1. I've had a few health challenges with my fatigue and energy.

2. Covid-19 vaccines — We got them!

3. The election euphoria.

4. The insurgence at the Capitol.

5. Pending second impeachment of Trump.

6. Buildup of excess ice cream in our freezer.

Then, I want to address your Q on how I want to be remembered.

In Skamania County, Washington, they have a vaccination lottery and on the first day, I was lucky to get picked. So four weeks ago, I had my first Moderna shot. Tomorrow, I’ll get shot #2 and then wait for two weeks. I had some nausea for the first 4 days afterwards, but I was also doing an experiment with a water that had sodium and chlorine cell detox and that was the problem. I discontinued it and got immediate relief, so I won't be doing that again.

Jill got called the week after me, so she gets her second shot next Tuesday. We are both getting close to finished. You and Bruce got your first ones, so did Paul and Mirta. Still have Maria, Gabe and the kids to go, which will be a while.

No more Trump. In with Biden and an infusion of hope, joy and feeling that we are heading in the right direction, or any direction for that matter!

Trouble with white supremacists, Proud Boys, etc. and how we as a country will handle the deaths of citizens, federal property will end u ...

Impeachment is out of my pay scale, so I can't be bogged down with it now.

Now the big one!!!! Jackie and Mike got us hooked on Blue Bunny Cherry Chocolate Chunk, and then we tried Tillamook Oregon Cherry and it was the bomb!! Also tried Mint Chocolate Chip, Moose Tracks, Caramel Rabbit Tracks, Tillamook Peaches and Cream and Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia of which we liked the least. (Sorry Grateful Dead fans!) We grew from one ice cream tub to eight quickly, but it's a good problem to have. Right???

The hospice team is adjusting meds which is so helpful. Hospice is great, and we are so thankful to have them leading us.

As I start to feel stronger, I feel like playing cards with Jill again and I still am the rummy champ. Jill is definitely still the peanuts champ however. So we are slowly easing back into our routines, which is most welcoming.

When I think about how to be remembered, I often think about the face of a tombstone in a cemetery. We have the person's name, the birth date, then a rather subtle dash mark, and then the date of the death. Most people reflect on the dates and how long they lived. I like to think about the dash mark in between the dates: What happened then? Those are the important things that we never fully know about but are probably the most interesting to read about. That is our life!!! Those are our stories and it's all clumped into one dash mark!

n ...

(End of letter.)

These are the last photos I took of Dad dated Jan. 15, 2021. He and Mom made incredibly scrumptious pizzas following my husband Bruce's crust recipe.

Here are links to Dad's obituary: Clinton Herald and Gardner Funeral Home.

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