Remembering My Father-In Law, Rick Berube

Rick Berube was not just my wife’s dad. He was my friend. He loved to play music loud, really loud, and he loved to listen to Rock. Specifically Hard Rock, specifically AC/DC. I thought I knew what Rock was, but then I met Rick Berube.

Rick enjoyed cooking, not eating so much, but cooking, he loved Barbecue. He enjoyed watching the faces of friends and family devouring up his famous Dr. Pepper Ribs, kicking back in the sun with his radio on loud, his black shades on and drinking a cold Sam Adams.

Rick was a big, adventurous man when I first met him, with a course dark beard, stocky shoulders, and a smile on his face. As time progressed, he began to lose weight after multiple surgeries. One thing about Rick was that he was a retired truck driver, and the constant jolting and jigging of the Semi Trucks messed with his back, his neck and his legs. Because of this he had numerous surgeries. He joked that he wanted to donate his body to science because of all the surgeries he had undergone. One thing for sure was that Rick was in constant pain, but he held a stiff upper lip and, up until the end, handled himself with dignity and a sense of humor. He never ever lost that beard though. It just went from dark black to wise gray. Same shaggy hair cut, same beard, same rock and roll music, same endearing gritty Boston accent. Though Rick was born in Fall River.

Last year Rick had open heart surgery and was in the hospital for 8 solid weeks. The nurse staff loved him, he was always kind to them. He dealt with the pain of catheters, and stitches, pain that was off the scale. We welcomed him home, but Rick was considerably weaker. He now had trouble walking up and down stairs and many times relied on a grooved wooden cane. He was on a medicine for his heart that thinned his blood. I remember maybe two months ago he cut himself shaving. We had to dress the wound for over two hours, and Rick just sat there stoically, while my wife poured some kind of powder substance on his face. Finally the blood stopped.

Rick was also a devoted husband and was married to his wife for over 44 years. Towards the end his wife, my mother-in-law, developed early onset Alzheimer’s and has not been the same since. Part of us mourns her like she is gone. The other part is hopeful things might change for the better.

Rick was the biggest Boston Celtics fan. I remember the first time Lisa introduced me to him, and on the wood-paneled living room wall were framed live action shots of the 1986 Boston Celtics Championship run. On Wednesday March 22nd Rick’s heart stopped. We got the call that he had been watching the Celtics game.

We heard the news just after midnight. About four days prior He had fallen and was rushed to the hospital. Later that night, they discharged him. The next day, he was still in intense pain. He had broken his ribs and hurt his neck from the fall. He was rushed to a different hospital and had been in the ICU. The night he died, the nurse staff had been trying to revive him for over an hour before they called.

We never expected this in a million years. Rick frequented the hospital, and I didn’t think that this was an all too serious fall. We had been so busy taking care of Lisa’s mom that we didn’t realize that we would never see Rick again. I never got to say goodbye. I did love him, and it shatters my heart to know I will never see him again.

We are all deeply grieving, and today is his wake. I know that I must remain strong for my family, especially my wife Lisa. I do believe that I will see Rick again and can call on him at any time to talk with him, ask him advice or just see how Heaven is going. The sad thing is though I will never see his glowing face, hear his gritty voice, or listen with him on Sundays to the roaring race of the NASCAR races, or just enjoy the loudness of his life.

I will say one more thing, Rick loved Lisa. I remember asking him for her hand in marriage. He was so excited. He told me to take care of his daughter and welcomed me to the family. As I said, Rick wasn’t just my father-in-law. He was a friend. We spent numerous days together listening to music and basking in the sun. He was a good man.

He also loved Emerson, my daughter, and though she might not remember him someday. We will show her the pictures of her loving Papa. I think that’s what kills me the most. The fact that not everyone got to witness the beauty of this man. This year we are going to spread his ashes on the beautiful sands of Horseneck Beach, one of his favorite spots

He didn’t ask for much, he just wanted to live life the way he wanted to. If that was kicking back having beers, listening to the waves and playing his Dad Jams, then that’s what he did. He was a beautiful, authentic man, inside and out.

Lisa said he didn’t just love me, he liked me. Love is easier sometimes then someone generally liking you as a person. Rick liked me. We laughed together. We shared beers together. When I stopped drinking, we still never missed a laugh, or a Celtics game. I loved him. He never said one unkind word to me.

I don’t believe he is gone; I believe he is still with me. I know this because whenever you have a manic episode you realize that this world is connected, including the thin line between life and death. God Bless You, Rick Berube.

And though this not-so eloquent elegy does not give justice to the man. What it does, I hope, is give you a sense of how truly special he was to me and my family. As I write this, my daughter is in her play yard and my wife just came up to me sobbing, and I just held her while she cried into my arms. She doesn’t even know what I am writing. All she knows is her dad is gone.

But I know that when this sentence is over, so is this thought, but the memories remain. The summers spent, the Christmas’s and barbecues. The laughter and the music. God Bless You, Rick Berube, I will see you again, as the cliché goes. But every time I hear the crashing notes of “Hell’s Bells” or “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution, or “For those about to Rock,” I will forever salute you.

Amen brother, till we see each other again.


Jason Wright is the editor and founder of Oddball Magazine.