As Eric’s wife, I can tell you that as of Nov. 20, 2017 going into the Emergency Room for what we thought was a UTI in which Eric had been being treated for turned into a nightmare when the Doctors gave us a diagnosis of small cell stage four bladder cancer. In an instant, our world drastically changed. For us, it was, is and always be the most difficult news we could have ever been given.
I found myself distraught and needing to ask for help. At this point I came to the conclusion that this Go Fund Me page was one thing in which I would need to ask another family member to write. It was just too much for me to bear the brunt of this dreaded disease with Eric and take the time to write Eric’s legacy. So I asked Eric’s younger brother for his help. The following is an account of Eric’s legacy. This is what he shared:
My brother Eric was diagnosed with stage four bladder cancer 4 days before Thanksgiving in 2017. Having just celebrated his 49th birthday a few weeks earlier, this news was a shock to everyone that knows him. This strong, full of life, compassionate race car loving man with an unbelievable worth ethic, lived the dream working on race cars professionally. He means so much to so many, he cannot be dying of cancer.
For those of us who knew Eric “before racing", it is even more difficult to comprehend. From the younger brother perspective, I know Eric's entire life legacy. Watching that dream world, he never thought he would have, slip away is devastating to observe.
His story is a shining example of how tragedy leads to redemption and ultimately reward. There is no doubt that choices my brother made in his early adulthood led him down a road less traveled. What was seemingly a life of fun in frivolity, became self-destructive and not without consequence. He was young, with baby on the way, and a stepchild in tow. He provided for this expanding family working in the automobile repair business. He held a degree in diesel and automotive transmission specialties, living paycheck to paycheck. Which was (in his reality) to be expected for many of us in our younger adult life. Living paycheck to paycheck was the norm, therefore he was doing well. When it seemed that all of life’s joy were available to him, his young family was suddenly faced with an unbelievable complication.
An ultrasound showed an abnormality in his soon to be expected baby girl. So severe, doctors started preparing them for the worst. Through the eyes of the young man who could handle anything, this challenge would be faced in the only way he knows: full-on and with a fight. The battle was short, unfortunately, and not ending in their favor. The effects of this loss were life altering. What was a horrific experience for anyone to face; losing a child days after birth became the awakening. Filled with the knowledge that this tragedy was the consequences of his lifestyle and that it affected the innocence life of his daughter; Eric was forced to realign his world to be less destructive. It was time to leave the party, time to say goodbye to poor decisions, and in the end say goodbye to his wife who was unwilling to leave the party.
Having completely removed himself from the world of parties and the reminders from the past, he entered into the new world of auto racing. Landing an entry-level position with a small auto racing company, Eric relied on his strengths to lead him away from his former world and into one that rewards your efforts for hard work, commitment to quality, and the undying desire to obtain the respect of his new working community. In the past two decades Eric has accomplished just that by building relationships within the race community. He proved to his boss and clients that he has tremendous value. Though he is not error free, he maintained his forward progression to become vital to the success of the company in which he is employed. Most young men in America relate success to career and home ownership. Eric was not any different. Knowing he would have to save enough money for a down payment and rebuild his credit history did not stop him from setting a new goal. Applying his same diligence and drive that changed his lifestyle and sustain his new career; his goal was now in reach. What Eric may have thought would be his legacy (home ownership) was in reality just a component to a much bigger opportunity.
When Eric met Christine, they worked together at the racing company. Having experience in dating coworkers, he approached with caution (the last time it didn't work out thankfully). As the relationship grew Eric found that he and Christine had many similarities. Their past life choices mirrored each other with an emphasis on the most destructive components. Through time their friendship transitioning to roommates, and eventually to a life long love. Christine became Eric's life. Having enclosed his heart with the shackles of unforgettable heart ache, Christine held the key that brought love and joy to their world. In most unions of two lives, there is often products of the past that come with the deal. For Christine she had to continually unlock barriers to love, trust, passed heartaches, and financial decisions. As Eric resisted with fear of reliving his first marriage, because this new relationship had an uncanny resemblance to the first. Similar lifestyle choices and even a step child to consider, were reminders of what he left behind many years prior. But this stepchild would include something Eric never thought he would have in his life, grandchildren. Christine’s patience was to Eric’s benefit. Their love grew over many years. As their love grew, their family bloomed. Time with the “the kids” became the time with family. On May 31, 2014 they officially became a family with a beautiful wedding sealing their family together forever.
Following their amazing honeymoon in Hawaii, Anthony joined the their household full time. Seeing how lifestyle choices could lead one down the road of destruction, Eric hoped he could influence Ant. He shared with him how goal setting, diligence, and hard work can lead to great reward.There family of 5 lived off of his modest race car salary in their small home in a remote community only convenient to the track in which he worked. This new family of five set goals that brought the grandkids into a secure nurturing environment. One that would lead these young children to a successful academic future while their father Ant could make needed changes in his life. Ant worked on an education that would turn a job into a career. His primary focus turned into being a good father to his children and knowing the value of working hard. Ant is well on his way to building his own legacy of self-sufficiency and being a role model to his children.
Eric's influence to all of those that he cares about is often lead by joy and laughter in life; measure only through his efforts to push those in his world in a positive direction. He, like most men, would never see himself as portrayed in this story of his life. He will see these words as "his baby brothers" perspective of what he feels is an ordinary life of a man living paycheck to paycheck, like many others fellow blue-collar Americans.
Let us now go back to the beginning of the story and recall that Eric has stage four bladder cancer. Even though this sounds bad it is even worse is this kind of cancer is the kind that moves fast and destroys everything in its wake. My brother moved from his former self-destructive life, to one full of hard work, love for family. He reached his life’s filament through joy and laughter and to create a world of a positive future for his family. His legacy is not the career he built through his love associated with auto mechanics; nor was his legacy the modest house he purchased through saving and sacrifice. Some would argue that Eric’s Legacy is his influence of change that led Christine, Anthony and the grandkids to a world which includes a promising future. All of these accomplishments are legacy worthy. But from this “baby brothers" perspective, I see Eric's legacy as a man taking control of a roller coaster of life speeding down a track that had missing rails just around a sharp unsuspecting turn ahead. He used that life changing experience to influence positive changes to affect not only himself but all of those lives he touched. There are examples after examples that can be shared of his selflessness and love for human kind.
Now with the mounting medical bills, increased cost of travel expenses attributed to chemo therapy and doctors appointments all in which require visits "into town". All of this is exasperated by the fact that he has no income now. In the racing industry, you get paid to work; if you don't work, you don't get paid. Eric’s legacy is now at risk.
We have set up this Go Fund Me Account to bring financial relief to a struggling family. One of which includes a man full of pride as the breadwinner and provider with a new burden that his family and home are at risk. His medical treatments are not 100% covered by his insurance, but they must continue so that he can be with us as long as possible while holding on to some quality of life. Basic essentials needed to maintain the household are being supported by his extended family, but this campaign is to support Eric's legacy and allow him to leave this world knowing the impact he made will continue long after he leaves us. To those of us that have been blessed to have Eric in our world and felt his impact deep in every fiber of our being, please help us keep Eric's legacy racing forward.
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