LOVE AND LOSS
Remembering My Dad, a Tough Guy With a Big Heart
My father, John Nuzzi, was complex and beautiful and solid. I wish the world could have known him like I did.
I lost the love of my life, my father, yesterday. I wish the world could’ve known him like I did.
John Nuzzi was a character. Actually, he was a few characters. He was a tough guy: Born in Brooklyn on April 7, 1955. He had a tattoo of a baby devil on his bicep and a star on his knuckle. He wore white T-shirts and smoked Marlboro Reds. Decades after his resettlement to Red Bank, his tough guy accent remained—intensifying for comedic or dramatic effect, or when he said “coffee.”
He was a union man: Working—often nights—for the New York Department of Sanitation, but never missing an important moment in his children’s lives.
He was a showman: Bursting into song and dance and out of his tough guy exterior in the kitchen, in the car, on the patio or while pushing a shopping cart in Whole Foods. He loved Sinatra and Bennett, naturally, but also Judy Garland and disco.
He was a prankster: So much so that on one occasion, when he nearly severed his finger while slicing onions, his wife, Kelly, thought he might be trying to fool her with ketchup.
He was a weatherman and a tour guide: Before smartphones, this trait seemed perhaps a function of sorcery. Any building in Manhattan, he knew the interesting folks who inhabited it. And any day of the week, he could tell you, in advance, how to dress (the direction, to his daughter, was usually to wear a lot of clothing regardless of temperature).
He was sensitive and loving and quick with a hug, but at times it seemed like he worked hard to keep his vulnerabilities hidden. This was, in his mind, for the benefit of others. Because in a world of flakes and non-committers, he was a sure thing.
If you called, he was always at the other end. If he said he’d be there for you in 5 minutes, you could bet on seeing that unmistakable head of his—clad in a baseball hat—in 4 minutes.
He was complex and beautiful and solid. And for too short a time, some (now permanently heartbroken) people were fortunate enough to call John Nuzzi their father, husband, brother, and friend.