The scourge of losing my 26 year old son Paul Philip Grammatico to a drunk driver leaves scars ~and I chew on my thorns in the stunning reality of Paul’s death each day. My title of MADD Mother was impaled on me and it breaks my heart. Paul was my past, my present and my future, my only Son. He was a natural leader, an extremely generous young man, the epitome of loyalty and possessed passion, motivation for life, and a true goal setter. Our hopes as a family was crushed against the pole that split open Paul’s head in four places. I cannot experience him. He is not physically in my life. I cannot touch him, cannot hear his charismatic voice, he cannot hold me and whisper as he always did, “Mom I Love You”. Nothing new will happen between us.
Paul’s life was cut short by a man who with total regard for sacred life and his own, took control of road rage and the power and influence of alcohol and speed and wiped out; annihilated, in a nano- second, the brilliant promising productive life of my child. My entire family dynamics has been altered and traumatized and we cannot measure our loss.
Paul had No Voice! No Choice! No second chance in his death! His injuries were so horrific and devastating; I did not recognize my child. His handsome face had no features. He was declared brain dead. Just hours before he was an effervescent young man with a big heart helping get ready for the wedding of his sister. Instead, we had two funerals and my daughter Christine is condemned to life without her only sibling/brother.
The offender was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to jail to serve 21/3 to 7 years. At his sentencing the Judge gave him an ‘F’ for failure and told him he was every parent’s worst nightmare, he was a criminal; he took hold of 3,000 lbs of steel and killed two young men. During his time in jail, he never reached out to either family and his parole was denied twice. He served 4 years in jail, never accepting responsibility and ownership for his heinous crime and deadly actions. I have a ‘24 hour life time’ sentence on earth in an un-structed jail without my precious son.
These are shared words from the eye witness to the death of Paul and Mike.
…”As a surviving victim of the May 16, 1999 double fatality, the horror of witnessing the death of Paul and Michael will never leave me. The anguish and nausea I feel of those two young men being propelled like rag dolls, so high, crashing so hard against telephone wires, is almost unbearable. The drunk driver never expressed his sorrow for his cowardly act; I am not in favor of his parole…”
My Son Paul leaves a legacy of himself in his own Circle of People in Organ Donation.
In the declaration of brain dead, I donated all of my son and he saved the lives of 11 people. This gives purpose and meaning in the senseless way Paul died. Neglected and abused children live in a building named after Paul at MercyFirst in Syosset, NY. Paul’s story continuously echoes of drunk driving very loud and clear, resonating each time I communicate as a sorrowful MADD Mother /Donor Mom. Recently, Kathleen Rice, DA of Nassau County opened the Grammatico Wrestling Tournament at Valley Stream H.S. in NY. As DA Rice stood next to me along with Paul’s heart recipient, the song I wrote; ‘The Gift of Life and Love’ was played to proclaim the message of DWI and the Miracles in Organ Donation. Witness and voice gives power and transforms me as shattered victim into Survivor~ remembering, the presence in the absence of my Beloved Son/Sun Paul!
Caveat in Paul’s Death.
The story of Paul’s death is more than just a crime.
Beside MADD work and Organ Donation it is also about Forgiveness.
Years into the journey of life without my physical Son/Sun,
I realized that my anger was toxic to my spiritual well being.
It was a noose around my neck.
I decided at that time to reach out and ‘forgive’ the man who killed Paul and Mile.
I knew he would never contact me as Mother or the other Mom.
I had to make the first move.
I wrote a letter to the parole officer.
The offender answered eventually.
…In few words he said, “I did the crime and I did the time”
and furthermore, he needed to go forth with his life and not look back..
Was it a slap in my face?
No absolutely Not!!!!
I forgave for me so that I could go to another level.
I put it in the universe!
I learned that I cannot reach out and touch others with a clenched fist!!!
I cannot be all that I can be staying in chaos.
Forgiveness is Powerful!
It is ‘life affirming’ to my broken heart!
It released bondage, gave freedom, new opportunities, challenge, second chances,
spiritual wisdom, rebirth, Transformation and Hope.
I will never ever forget how Paul died.
But because I have assigned ‘purpose and meaning’
in the death of my Paulie, I am blessed.
Each breath I take every new day is renewal of God’s Gift.
I am only one breath away from my precious Son/Sun~
but the chance to make a difference is Now.
MADD Mother/Donor Mom