By Kevin Williams
Many of you came to know him, if only slightly, through the “Amish Meets Italian” videos I posted on this website a couple of years ago. The videos featured my grandmother and my Uncle Pat sampling and commenting on various Amish goodies.
My Uncle Pat Scorti passed away at age 78 over the weekend after battling an aggressive lung cancer.
Pat was a sensitive man who had a passive-aggressive streak that would sometimes show itself. But his gruff exterior often hid a great heart. Pat was a first generation Italian-American who assimilated into the melting pot of my Rust Belt hometown. He worked at a neighborhood grocery for decade, waiting on late-night drunks, lunch-pail carrying steel mill laborers and frazzled moms. Pat was always impeccably clean, but one time a customer ordered some sliced ham and then commented to him to make sure his hands were clean before slicing. Which the mere mention Pat took as a personal affront. Pat’s hands were always clean. He slowly walked to the sink. Stood there and lathered his hands for minutes on end while the customer looked on. He slowly dried each hand off and then with a dramatic flourish held each one up to the light for the customer to see. His point was made.
Pat was a hard worker who, earlier in his life, had worked his way to up manager of a department store called Checkers. On the rough west side of Dayton, he once saw some would-be shoplifters casing his store. Pat wasn’t much for a confrontation so, as he told it, he grabbed a giant wrench and sneaked into the storeroom at a spot directly behind the pegboard where the shoplifters were about to lift some goods. There happened to be a pipe right in that spot. Pat heaved the wrench and banged at a pipe with all his might. The shoplifters, terrified by the sudden and unexpected noise, quickly turned tail and ran out of the store never to be seen again.
Pat had three children early on his life but when his marriage ended he found his way to my grandmother (his sister) who’s husband had just left her. And for over 40 years the two shared an apartment. For most of that time, Pat went to his job, grandma went to hers and they went about their business, but towards the end as Grandma’s age caught up with her, Pat would become her full-time caregiver, going above and beyond what most siblings would probably do. Pat was a good and decent man who made it possible for my grandmother to stay in her own home far longer than she probably should have. Largely because of Uncle Pat, my grandmother is surviving and thriving today at age 91.
When I was a toddler I took my first steps to my Uncle Pat. And when I was a child, I pestered him with endless questions about everything, which he good-naturedly endured for hours on end. Like Pat, I’m not a perfect person either, but I’m better for having had him in my life. On Friday I was able to see him a final time. As he lay in his bed, the cancer rapidly extinguishing his life, I was able to hold his hand and I know he knew me but I was mute with words. So I guess I’m saying now some of the things that should have been said then.
Like a giant, stately tree he’s been part of my life’s landscape for as long as I can remember. Like that tree, perhaps I wasn’t always interacting with it or climbing it, but it was still comforting knowing it was there. And now there’s a big missing spot in my life’s yard where Pat once stood.
In the end, I think most of us live our lives doing the best we can with what we have and hope it all somehow evens out in the end and usually it does. With Pat, it did. AMISH MEETS ITALIAN – EPISODE TWO