P. O. Box 1115
St. Peters, MO 63376

 

J.P. Rosciglione
June 14, 1984 ~ February 4, 2005


Good Evening
My name is Terre and this is my beautiful daughter Mandy. We are mother and sister of the handsome angel you see pictured behind us whose name is John Peter Rosciglione. When I was asked to be the guest speaker at this evening's candlelight service, I was filled with a mix of emotions: honor, joy and complete fear. What would I say, will I say it properly or as gallantly as my predecessors? Can I even get through this??? Then I heard those familiar words, "Calm down mom" and suddenly it became clear. Just start from that first moment. After all I'm talking about you, a subject that possess half of my heart, and so my story begins.

On June 14, 1984, I was blessed with a beautiful bouncing (literally) baby boy who we chose to call “JP.” He liked that name a lot as I found out he would correct all of his teachers who even attempted to call him “John.” As a toddler, we quickly discovered he was going to become quite the entertainer and possessed the uncanny "gift of gab." He spoke at a very early age and continued for the next 20 years, many times when silence might have been the better option. He would talk, sing, dance, or whatever performance was necessary, an attribute that would prove to be beneficial at a young age and even more in his later years. He was asked to be the valedictorian at his pre-school graduation. What better opportunity for "the entertainer." I remember him walking to the podium and so proudly crawling up on a chair in order to reach the microphone. There he stood, in his gown with spiked hair under the cap wishing his friends good luck and knowing how they would all rule the world, just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I know those other 10 or 12 "spiked hair boys" in the audience were listening with great pride. Yes, he too was a trend setter. By graduation every boy in the 4 year old class had that jelled spike hair do that looked like a fresh clean carpet.

JP was a typical boy. He played many sports, soccer, baseball, basketball and even swimming. He was a bit better than average at soccer, too short for basketball but pretty good despite his height. He was a switch hitter in baseball and actually a really good swimmer. His swimming career didn't last long and he just could not wear that required Speedo as he got older. When he was 6, he finally got the audience he had been waiting for, his sister Mandy. He was thrilled. Someone new to entertain, and the singing and talking escalated with his new attentive "Guiney Pig". From the beginning, he was a wonderful helper and took on the role of her forever mentor and protector. Sometimes he was a little disappointed in my decisions for his sister. For instance, on their first Halloween, he was quite perturbed as he stood in his “WWF Ultimate Warrior” costume repeating over and over "I can't believe the Ultimate Warrior’s little sister is a ballerina"!!!

And OH the WWF. It played a big role in his early years. Every night would end with a wrestling match with his dad, which was never complete until he had won, and then that request of "5 more minutes" of reading or talking in his room until either myself or his dad would have to crawl out of the room on all fours before we were missed.

It was during this time he also showed his softer side as well. He wasn't partial with his friendships. The girls were just as much fun. We lived in a one court neighborhood so the closest person to befriend was our neighbor Maria. They were actually a perfect match for each other. Maria was a sporty girl. She would play soccer and even wrestle but made sure to negotiate her own activities. So I was not so surprised to hear him report to me he had been playing "Pretty Pretty Princess," won and got to "wear the crown." Even at this age, he was a semi-metro man which would later become even more evident. He also seemed to associate any person in uniform with the Schwan’s man. It must have had something to do with his love of food which he would say, "Must include at least 3 items in order to qualify as a feast."

In the next year or so JP would find himself the man of our new home, a role he filled with great dignity at such a young age. Always the protector and optimist with a sunshine smile that every happy home needed. This was also a time he finally found the courage to ride his bike. You see, he had had several crashes when he was younger which made him lose interest but once he started we could never get him off. He would ride that bike every moment he could. That mode of transportation got him and his sister everywhere. We lived very close to his Dad and both his grandparents which made it easy to get to all the places he loved quickly.

As a young man, JP continued his interest in the “WWF world” as well as the real wrestling world. It became a passion for him in high school. He was a smaller person so I was forever the parent of the 103 pounder and then the 112 pounder in his junior and senior years. His conference did not have many light weight wrestlers on the freshman and JV squads so his matches were few and far between. He made the varsity squad at 112 pounds his junior and senior years, which opened up much more opportunity for him to actually wrestle. He was fairly successful during his junior year but did not meet his goal of make the "State Championship” bus. Senior year was going to be his time. Then early in the season, he broke his arm at practice and was sidelined for 6 weeks. Even with his injury, he continued to run and attend practices and in January came back with a fury going undefeated until his final match.

There were high hopes for the bus trip to State. Unfortunately, the pressure overcame him in his Sectional matches and he fell just short. It was a devastating heartbreak for him as well as me. A heartbreak nothing compared to what I would feel in the future. At the banquet at the end of the season, he again found himself standing amongst a group of his closet peers and their parents. He again used that infamous "gift of gab" as he spoke of his regrets of the season but more importantly the wonderful relationships he had formed as being a part of this close knit group he was so proud to call his friends. Not a dry eye in the auditorium and a beaming Mom sitting in the audience so excited for the person he was becoming. So much more meaningful than a State qualifier. It was also during this time he met and dated his first real girlfriend and I finally got those Homecoming and Prom pictures I thought I might never see. Yet another precious memory. They dated for a while before eventually going in different directions causing another of those lifetime heartbreaks. Through this period, I realized I was just beginning to reap the benefits of seeing what a wonderful person he had grown to become. All was not perfect, we had the usual parent-child arguments over curfew, chores, grades, listening and those "Calm down mom" words on more occasions than I wanted but it was all fairly short lived. Neither of us liked to be mad long and the silence was usually more than we could handle so one would usually break before too much time had passed.

After graduating, JP chose Maryville University for his college in hopes of attaining a degree in, no surprise, Communications. He worked at the family bakery while attending Maryville. The perfect scenario for him, getting paid to be with the people he loved. He was there for the first year of college and then decided to use his talents and venture into the field of sales working for 1-Mobile and then ATT. Since he was very independent, it was not until after his accident, I found out how successful he really was in his part time career. His new past times were very typical for a young man of 19. He loved the Cardinals, the Indianapolis Colts, playing any kind of poker, working out with his dad at the gym and being the obnoxious jokester whenever and wherever possible.

Then came the nightmare on a rainy Friday in February. JP was doing is usual class time and then off to work in the evening. On Thursday, he had intentionally missed a dental appointment as it seemed more important to visit his family at the bakery. I remember yelling at him about his responsibility to cancel his appointments and insisted he make it a point to call the next morning to explain and reschedule. Little did I know his decision to visit turned out to be a gift to his godparents. That evening, he came home after work as usual, visited with his sister and insisted I go to bed in hopes he would then gain control of the remote. Such a typical man. I was on to his scheme. He repeated it frequently. On my way to bed, he told me he would be going to his monthly card party with his cousin and friends the next evening. I acknowledged and said goodnight not knowing this would be the last time I would see him. On Friday evening, I was not surprised when there was no trace of him since I knew his plans. Mandy was at a sleep over with a friend so the house was mine alone. The ring of the doorbell woke me at approximately 11:30. Two State Troopers stood on my porch as I answered and was asked if everyone was home. Of course, my first inclination was "what did he do and where is he"? I quickly found out the reason for their visit. There had been an accident. It was a hit and run and they were trying to piece together details. They had not found an ID and the car was registered to a much older person. JP's car was registered under his dad's name. The rest of that evening is somewhat of a blur. I remember small portions of those first few minutes and somehow found myself surround by family and friends. My worst nightmare has just become my reality. My heart had been ripped apart, chewed up and spit out in a matter of seconds. My family insisted on getting my daughter home immediately which in retrospect was a good decision. She did not realize the magnitude of what had happened when she first arrived. She thought her brother was in an accident and we were going to the hospital. In the silence of the room, I sat her down to explain. It was the longest conversation I have ever experienced in my life. I do remember in the days following, the outpour of support and love we received from more people than I could have ever imagined. Over 1200 people attended his visitation and my mailbox overflowed with cards and letters for weeks to come. Although most of the details during those days following February 4, 2005 are not very clear, I do recall a couple particular incidents I will hold close to my heart forever. The visitation line was extremely long and recall one young man, just an average guy, introducing himself at Matt, a friend from Maryville. Over the next 4 hours, this young man returned through that long line several times. The last time through, I thanked him again for coming and told him he did not have to stay to the end. He then began to tell me the story of how he met JP in the Commons at Maryville playing pool and although he knew him only a short time he felt as though they had been friends forever. He said he had been struggling at Maryville and JP had given him the inspiration to keep moving forward with his goals. And there I was again, that beaming Mom so proud yet so devastated but confirmation of another of those special qualities he possessed coming full circle. That was the last time I saw Matt but here is no doubt in my mind he accomplished exactly what he had intended which I believe was encouraged from my handsome angel. I also received a letter in the mail from one of JP's professors. It reads:

These are only a few of the many stories I heard after that horrific day. A couple other side notes, on my next dental visit, I found out he did make that phone call on the morning of Feb 4th to reschedule his appointment and that girlfriend he had, they had reconnected and he had sent her an email the afternoon of Feb 4th, attempting to make plans for Spring break. And lastly, on Feb 4th, 2006, those Indianapolis Colts won the SuperBowl Championship. What an ending to his first angel date. We believe all these things are more than just coincidence.

There was much media attention surrounding JP's accident as it was a hit and run and the responsible party had not been found. The 2 troopers working the case continued diligently until he was found and arrested. Those first 2 years of my journey were focused on a trial. As painful as it was to withstand, I felt I could hear JP telling me, "Mom please make sure everyone knows I didn't do anything wrong." It had nothing to do with vindication, we just wanted someone to admit responsibility so we could begin to heal. Unfortunately, we did not get that result, so a judge made the decision and came back with a guilty verdict. That was a sunny day nearly 2 years after his accident and I remember thinking that was JP's smile saying "Thanks everyone." Especially to those 2 troopers who have now become a very special part of our family. Thanks to a close family friend suggestion, we initiated an annual bowling fundraiser in JP's name which proceeds help the families of the rural counties of the Missouri State Highway Patrol who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We have raised nearly $100,000 and JP was made an honorary member of the MASTERS organization.

The rest of these years past have been spent listening to all those stories, some familiar some not, and searching for anything to help me take one more step forward in my grief journey. As we all know, this is a terrifying rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs but I do believe it is possible to find our way in the right direction. So here I stand, nearly 10 years later feeling as though time could not have possibly passed so quickly. I understand this journey will never end but I have also learned I can live as well. I have found the courage to live for my daughter and can't wait to see all the wonderful accomplishments she will achieve in the future. With the help of all the people who surround me, we also continue every day to celebrate JP's life and let him live through our experiences. We celebrate birthdays with balloon launches, we support each other on angel dates and holidays, we participate in trash pickups for MODOT adopting the stretch of highway we call the JP Mile, we watch for the Schwan’s truck and pick up pennies and we talk a lot about "the gift of gab" but mostly we laugh and sometimes we cry. It's all a part of living his life.
I would be remiss to finish without expressing my gratitude to some very special people who have touched my life in more ways than I can express. First, my daughter, you are my world and the reason I am able to open my eyes to a new day each morning. I am so proud of the amazing person you have grown to be. To my family and friends, without your love and support the past, almost 10 years, would have been more than I could have ever handled alone. I love you all. To the BP organization for creating a forum that aspires to help parents who have endured this terrible tragedy. An honorable mention to my St. Peters Group who on the first Thursday of every month allows me to wear whatever face is necessary for that evening without prejudice. You have all been a great source of strength for me. And last but not least, to my handsome angel in heaven, thank you for watching over us and for picking me as your mom but most of all for making me a better person than I could have ever been without you. My heart aches for you always.

Thank you for allowing us to share a small portion of JP's life with you this evening. This has been a bittersweet opportunity for both of us but one we will cherish forever. We leave you with warm thoughts for a blessed holiday season and the hope you can take a deep breath, "calm down", and find some moments of peace. Good night.

They say you don't realize what you have until it’s gone. Well I am a perfect example of someone who had to learn this the hard way. About 10 years ago I was forced to begin living a new life. A life I never thought I would have to live. A life that would cause me heartache forever, but a life I was chosen for because of my strength. In early 2005 the person I loved most in this world was taken from my family and I instantaneously. The person who was supposed to be around forever, my second half, my protector, my brother. And now, my guardian angel. As my mom mentioned earlier, I am the little sister of the handsome angel you see pictured behind me. My goal tonight is not to focus on sadness or self-pity, but rather to bring my brother to life and have you leaving this evening feeling as if you've met him. And so, MY story begins...
My first story is not something I actually remember because of how young I was, but it is one of my favorites to tell, and put's J.P and my relationship in perspective pretty well. My dad used to video tape us when we were younger, and some years ago I found one of his old tapes and couldn't stop watching. Here we were, 2 and 8 years old wearing nothing beyond our footie pajamas with uncombed hair in the middle of the afternoon. Singing and dancing to one of the most popular kid songs from the early 90's, “BINGO.” Remember the song about the farmer with a dog, "and Bingo was his name-o". Well that's it. I think it was designed to help kids learn how to spell. But no, not JP, instead it was a chance for him to show off his vocals. With every letter came a clap and another letter and another clap. He put on a show like the star he was, while I was his back up dancer attempting to mock his every move. We continued the song as we walked around the house, and as my little legs caused me to fall behind, I could hear him yell and wave "Let's, go Mands!" And that was the commencement of the most un-musically talented singing and dancing duet, “JP and Mands.”

In grade school, the theme song to the old show “Step by Step” was another one of our favorites. As JP hit the high notes, I focused on the choreography. When we had practices to go to, or errands to run, we found it most convenient to perform in the car. Like I said, neither of us were musically inclined what-so-ever (we were actually terrible), but it was more for laughs, and now I have those memories to share.

When he wasn't at practices or open gyms, he was watching it at home. It was a huge part of his life. But it wasn't just regular wrestling he loved. I'm talking about the “WWE.” Yes, the super fake, totally rehearsed "wrestling" that ‘s on TV that no one watches anymore, yep that's the one. He loved that the most, and on top of it all, he would be the first person to convince you that all of the matches were ABSOLUTELY real and the blood was NOT fake. At one point we even had a homemade wrestling ring in our basement.

Unlike most of his friends, JP was blessed with a sister instead of a brother. Well to him, all the more reason to toughen me up and teach me the sport. It didn't take long before my brother made it very apparent that my new role in the house was no longer his little sister, but instead, his most favorite wrestling toy. Every night before I went to bed we have to wrestle for at least 5 minutes which usually grew to 10, then to 15, and then to mom yelling, "JP, leave her alone!." Our matches usually consisted of me standing there pretending to care while he power-bombed, suplexed, DD-teed, and submitioned me until I tapped out and he won. This continued until the day he died, and I have no doubt that if he were still here I would probably be getting power-bombed on my wedding day. He loved wrestling, and I began to love it to.

I will never forget all of the high school meets, weekend long tournaments, and most importantly one match in particular. It was the high school varsity duel between McClure North and my brother's school, Hazelwood Central. They were huge rivals, both with very skilled teams and young boys with sincere care and compassion, hoping and praying that they wouldn't let their team down, and defeat their opponent. The energy was insane. There was chanting, face painting, and a few very cruel remarks from both sides. These kids took this rivalry very seriously. Following a victory by our 103 pounder and good friend of his, it was time for JP to take the mat. I remember feeling so nervous for him, just hoping he would come out on top. I knew it meant so much to him and just prayed he would succeed. My mom took her usual seat in front of one of the other parents. She always had to lean up against someone because she couldn't ever sit still during JP's matches, and for whatever reason, she thought it helped. We too took our wrestling very seriously. But it was time, my brother rushed the mat in those hideous, but very cool white Adidas wrestling shoes looking ever so skinny and extremely nervous. The whistle blew and I couldn't believe it. The young man I saw on the mat that night was not the same one I had seen many times before. He looked 10 times faster, stronger and determined to win. I even remember him being quick on his feet (which was something not normal for him), and his team along with the rest of the Hawks fans went crazy. My brother pinned his opponent in the first period with ease and I couldn't have been more proud. I remember being so excited that I could say that the little tiny 112 pounder was my brother. I sprinted over to him and literally jumped onto him with pure joy. His passion, ambitious attitude, and determination allowed him to win that night and I will forever remember that.

As my brother grew into his college years I started noticing some differences in him. Don't get me wrong, he was still his funny, talkative, inappropriate self, but this was something unrelated to his personality. I noticed that he started putting a large amount of effort into his appearance. I would realize later that my brother was in fact the metro man.

Like my mom mentioned, JP worked in sales for AT&T, which required him to wear professional clothing every day. Something that was foreign to him after hiding behind sweats and singlets for 4 years in high school. Where most young men would be bothered by this, my brother absolutely loved it. He now had an excuse to go on shopping sprees spending entirely too much money on dress shirts, ties, pants, and shoes.... AND OMG THE SHOES! I have no doubt that my brother had more shoes than every woman in this room. Whether it was the latest tennis shoe, Kenneth Cole dress shoes, or his favorites which were Diesels, he had them all. He had a pair to match every outfit because let's be honest, the shoes MUST match the shirt. He was a trend setter and ALWAYS had to have things other people wouldn't have. His fashion sense resembled his personality quite well. It was loud, obnoxious, and a bit unique. For being such a typical guy, he was actually such a girl when it came to fashion.

I remember one night after one of his many shopping sprees, he of course wanted to show off what he had bought. But before he did, he made sure to preface with, "Mandy, DO NOT tell mom how much money I spent!" Assuring him that YET ANOTHER secret was safe, I said okay and let him continue. He carefully took out each item, thoroughly explaining its importance. One of the last things he showed me was a very cool navy blue blazer from Express. He was so excited because of the sale he got on it, but more excited about the cute girl who sold it to him. After proudly showing me what he bought, he finally let me leave and go back to what I was doing. A few hours later I heard him yelling for me in the next room. "Muuuuundz!" (This was one of my many, but most common nicknames). Thinking that this MUST be something important, I quickly got up and walked into his room. There he was standing in front of his closet with this cheesy grin on his face and two outfits perfectly laid out on the bed behind him. Confused, and kind of annoyed because I was missing my show for this, I just looked at him. He was responded to my expression with "Help me pick out what to wear out tonight. What looks best?" He and his friends were headed to a new area that night and he OF COURSE needed to make sure he was dressed accordingly. I quickly changed moods and instead became honored that Mr. Fashionista wanted ME to help him pick out an outfit. After spending far too long on this decision, we finally came to a consensus and my brother was off to a night out with friends, but more importantly off to impress the ladies in his new attire. For whatever reason I was flattered that he sincerely wanted my opinion on something as little as an outfit, but I later realized this truly had a huge significance.

After JP died, my parents asked me to pick out his outfit. I obviously had many options, but since he did love his clothes so much I wanted to make sure I picked the perfect one. What better choice than dark jeans, his favorite Diesel shoes, and that trendy navy blue blazer he was so excited about. He had never gotten a chance to wear it so I figured now, he could wear it forever.

 

 

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