Other than a few birthdays I don’t have much news this week. Since Jan. 16 our community has been in mourning and many have been walking around in kind of a daze. That is the day when we lost Barbara Tocci in a horrific motor vehicle accident on Route 24, aka Flanders Road.
If you didn’t know Barbara personally, you most likely knew someone in her family.
All six of her siblings attended Riverhead schools, so chances are you went to school with or knew one of them. Even her dad, whom everyone in the community affectionately calls “Pop,” is a local celebrity. He sells clams and crabs across the street from the original Walmart.You can also find him sitting in a lawn chair hanging out with his friends on Flanders Road by the Clam Man’s stand.
Her brothers Scott, Paul and Phil either are or were members of Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance for many years. Her sister Susan was chief of FNVA. Her sister Nancy is the ultimate “mom,” dedicating her life to her children and husband, and her sister Tammy has dedicated her life to her late husband, Jeff, who passed away not too long ago.
This is a family that has strong roots in the community. They are always the first in line to help out, giving tirelessly with no need for recognition. This is why it’s been so diffi cult to accept Barbara’s passing. The Flanders community feels the pain this family is going through because we are all “family.” We rally around each other and hold each other up when we can’t walk alone. We are all in this together.
I’m honored to say I knew Barbara personally and am good friends with the family, especially her sister Susan, with whom I graduated in 1986. I will always remember Barbara’s kindness. She never had a mean thing to say about anyone and always had a smile on her face.
Often I write about slowing down on our roadways and paying attention to your surroundings. Now more than ever, in the wake of this heartbreak, please slow down and pay attention. Do not take tomorrow for granted. Be kind to each other and love one another. We’re only here for a short time and we should fi ll that time with laughter and love, not tears and sadness. If it takes you an extra five minutes to reach your destination it’ll be worth it in the end.
I’d like to announce some birthdays this week that I forgot to mention in my previous column. First, belated happy 21st birthday to my son Thomas, who celebrated Jan. 18. Baby, I love you and I’m so sorry. I didn’t forget it was your birthday‚ after all, it was one of the best moments of my life‚ I just forgot to write about it. I hope you had a great day. Belated happy birthday to my brother Mike, who celebrated Jan. 26, from your wife, Kim, your son, Ryan, and all your family and friends, and to Ed and Lee Rasanen on the 28th. We hope you had a great day.
Happy birthday to Holly Payton and Jill Konkel on the 31st; Thud Hill and Kirsten Skarka on Feb. 1; Betty Lescenski on the 3rd; and Tia Robinson on the 6th. I hope you all have a great day.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing in our grief this week. Take care and have a great weekend. Remember: Slow down and be kind.