December 20, 1973
The truth is no one knows what's just around the corner in this life. I certainly didn't on the evening of December 19th, 1973 as I got ready for bed at my pal John Clark Gable's house. The day had been filled as so many others with our riding motocross bikes in the canyons and empty dirt lots above Beverly Hills. When we woke up the next morning we noticed that John's TV was missing. This was followed by our realization that his stereo/radio was also gone. A moment or two later John's mother Kay Gable walked in and told me I had to get home as my mom needed me for something. I told her I'd hop on my bike and go straight home. She said no that she would drive me; I again assured her I would ride straight home. She wasn't having it and loaded my bike into her car and we headed to my house.
I immediately headed into my mother's room and will never forget the sight of her sitting up in her bed with the room completely dark other than the light from the TV. She said "I don't know how to tell you this but your father has died." He had passed in the middle of the night; my mom had called Kay Gable who of course took John's TV and radio so that I wouldn't learn about my dad from the news. I was completely numb in my initial response and then had a grieving/denial period about my dad's passing for many, many years. Now, as a parent myself, I can't imagine what my mom suffered through in telling me what happened. I will always remember the late Kay Gable fondly, at one point she took both my hand and my mom's and said that "everything was going to work out ok." She said that she and John had survived the sudden death of Clark Gable and we would too. She was a really beautiful person and her words that day helped my mom and I enormously.
Truth be known for many years starting around Thanksgiving my mom, grandmother and I would try and celebrate the holidays but December 20th was always there like a painful ache that just won't go away. The reality is that a big part of my mom's spirit and life died that day along with him. I can understand this as my dad was larger than life; he was like a drug and just being around him was an adventure. He never, ever did drugs and never really was a drinker; he didn't need it he was on a natural high! The natural high of life, and learning, taking risks, performing ... just being alive! Truly alive! Forget his magic on a stage; he could make a simple trip to the market a fun and wild adventure. Being a parent has made me adjust my feelings about the holidays so that my kids and lovely wife can enjoy it properly. This is what my dad would have wanted for me and my family. My dad only lived 37 years and that is a tragedy. However, he crammed an awful lot of living into that 37 years and I dare say he didn't waste a minute of it. That is my dad's true legacy, to live your life fully and with passion for whatever you love for the amount of time you have on this earth. When he first told people he was going to be a star they all laughed at him and told him to look in the mirror! Don't let anyone squash your dreams, ever! Look what little Walden Robert Cassotto, a sickly kid from the Bronx, went on to achieve. I want to say to all of you to cherish your family, your friends, the good things both large and small this and every holiday. Reach out and get in touch with that friend you lost touch with, have a forgiving spirit to someone who has offended you, take a moment to do something kind for someone who may be in need or lonely and be grateful for all the good things in your life. In my humble opinion this my friends is what the Christmas/holiday season is about.
My dad would be amazed by all the love and kindness that flows through this FB page. He would want you all to remember his happy times and celebrate his life on December 20th. It has taken me a long, long time to realize this in my own life and to admit at times this has been to the detriment of my friends and family. I want to thank all of you for letting me share my feelings with you. Writing this has lifted my own spirits and been cathartic. I hope that in some small way it touches your heart as well.
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