Angelo Zuccolo

If you read Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar, you know there was a teacher who changed my life. He was the theater director at the community college I started out at. One of the reasons I decided to “go public” with the book was because I wanted teachers to read it. I wanted them to know how much power for good they hold in their hands. How far and wide their ripples extend. How much some kids truly need a kind word, or a little extra support. How truly transformative it can be when we get it.

Over the last 25 years, Angelo Zuccolo has been the teacher I’ve stayed in touch with. He rallied the troops for the benefit concert we held to raise money for Riley’s service dog. He’s written me glowing references for every job I’ve ever had. He has a way of puffing up one’s accomplishments, and forgetting about your failures.

My dear friend and teacher Angelo Zuccolo left this earthly plane quickly and unexpectedly yesterday. He leaves behind his two beautiful daughters, just little girls when I met them. He leaves behind so many friends and students whose lives he changed for the better. One person who read my book emailed me in March and said, “That exercise your theater teacher had you do…the one you mentioned in the book….I just did it with my students and it was amazing!”

25 years later, a teacher all the way across the country, her students, benefitting from his ripples.

He made me feel like I was worth something. Like I mattered. And you know what? He did this for everyone. He parented his two girls, and then had enough left over to parent the rest of us some, just enough to see us on our way.

I will miss him.

Below, I am re-posting a piece I wrote about him in 2010.

Angelo, it was an honor and a privilege to be in your circles.

I love you.

Thank you.

 

It is always such a treat for me when my former theater professor writes a new book of poetry. I was fortunate to do a work study in the theater, and we worked side by side for a couple of semesters. In all that time, he never talked much about his personal life. He was a single dad. Sure, he gushed about his daughters, but not a peep about his love life.

His romantic poetry is so very personal. It almost feels like I shouldn’t be reading it! Like I happened upon his diary and took advantage of the situation!

Still, it’s the poems about his daughters which get to me most. Angelique and Marielle. Just little girls when I met them. Both grown now. Gorgeous dark haired beauties, making their way in the world as successful adults.

Looking Forward to Heaven

Sometimes

people ask me

if I’m looking forward to Heaven. 

My reply is always

the same,

namely

that I have already been to

Heaven

every time that I walked down

our road

with you on

your little blue tricycle

on my left

with your little sister in

her little blue stroller

in the center

and

our wonderful family dog

strutting along on our right.

We sang marvelous little songs

as we went on our way,

laughing

smiling

calling out to the world.

Oh yes,

I’ve already been to Heaven

many times, and

it’s as incredibly joyful

as people say.

See why he’s so special?

Everyone should have such a teacher in their lives.

Here’s hoping we all look around and see a little heaven in our own lives today.

Angelo Zuccolo is the author of At Nighttime’s Bedside, New Year’s Laughtears, The Ocean Rose, Forty-Four Poems in Search of a Long Black Dress, and numerous short stories and playscripts.

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9 Responses to Angelo Zuccolo

  1. Angelique and Marielle says:

    Thank you so much, Michelle. We needed this, in this very moment. All our love…

  2. mom says:

    I am greatful for this wonderful man who came into my daughter’s life and will be there for a lifetime.

  3. Sheri says:

    I’m so sorry for the ending of your earthly relationship with him. I’m sure you will miss him very much. What a blessing he was to your life. I also love Looking Forward to Heaven, so sweet and full of simple joy.

  4. kario says:

    What a lovely gesture it is to stop and honor someone who made a difference in our lives. I am sorry for your loss of his presence, but grateful for his effect on your life.

  5. Carrie Link says:

    As our friend Thereser says, “Our loved ones are at safe and at peace on the other side, and there is more than what we see in the physical world.” Now Angelo can teach you some new tricks.

  6. Jim Hull says:

    Michelle, you really captured the spirit of the man. Angelo was teaching all the time, even when he wasn’t trying to. For those of us who were lucky enough to be around him a lot, all we had to do was watch and listen. So much of how I look at the world, how I view the art of acting and performing, and now how I view parenting two little girls I owe to Angelo. This really makes me hate death. Death should have no sway over someone like him. He was bigger than life and should have been bigger than death. There are some people who, even if you don’t see them every day or even every week, it’s just good to know they exist and are there. It was always a joy to answer the phone and hear “Uncle Angelo! How ya doin’?” Very very happy I got to tell him often how much I loved him and how much he meant to me. His lessons will continue until the day he and I start rehearsals for our next show…

  7. Meg says:

    There are angels among us, aren’t there? So glad you found yours when you needed him and that he and his family knew how much he mattered. Love.

  8. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Michelle, my heart goes out to you as you experience the death of Mr. Zuccolo–a teacher who touched your life and through you the lives of all the people you have since met. That is the power of the kind word, the listening ear, the compassionate heart. When we encounter a person like your teacher, we are changed forever and the history that we then begin to live is changed also. Peace.

  9. Tanya Savko says:

    A beautiful poem from a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing him with us.