LIVING MEMORIAL TO DENNIS ARDUINI Welcome to the Living Memorial to my brother, Dennis Phillip Arduini, who went to a better place on January 1, 1998, after a 14 month battle with lung cancer. He was with us a short 55 years, but he lives on with us always in our hearts and in his spirit. IN LOVING MEMORY MY BROTHER, DENNIS On September 12, 1942, in Sterling, Illinois, I was blessed with a younger brother, Dennis Phillip Arduini. He was my only brother, but of course, I never appreciated that until much later in life. Brothers always fight as kids, and we were no different. I remember when we were very young, we played cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers a lot. I guess I always made him play the bad guy and I was always the good guy. I remember always having the white horse and hat, with silver saddle and six shooter. As the big brother, I probably always won our play fighting, too. I don't know why he even wanted to play with me, now that I think about it. But I remember that he would always set me up to get even. When Dad was home, he would want to play, and then while we were shadow boxing (play fighting), he would haul off and hit me in the nose or kick me in the shin. Of course, I would have to retaliate to teach him a lesson. Well, then he would yell and cry, most the time much more than deserved for the retaliation, but it always got Dad's attention, and I would hear, "Why are you picking on your little brother," or "Don't hurt your younger Brother," and then I would get a spanking or the belt. I always noticed about that time the crying would quit, and I could swear that I saw a grin on Denny's face. I never did catch on. He was always the quit nice kid, and I was always the loud bad kid. I was just trying to explain to everyone that I was innocent and set up. But, then I guess I always was complaining about having to stay home and do all the chores because I was the oldest, while he got to go play with the other kids. The next thing I remember about Denny and me growing up together was in San Jose (Cambrian Park area), California, where we were living together with our German Grandmother on Mom's side, Ida Buckingham. Mom and Dad were divorced, and I was sent there from time to time, because I guess I was a little more of a problem then Denny, but this time we were there together. We were in Cambrian School together, he was in the fourth grade and I was in the sixth grade. Grandma was strict and tough, so we had to tow the mark. We would tear around the house when Grandma was at work, and I was convinced that we could get away with it and she would not know it. But she would walk in the door and always be right about us running around through the house, playing our typical cowboys and Indians, I guess. We even tried dusting and cleaning to hide any evidence, but she was always right about us being good or bad. I tried teaching him how to be a smart con, but it never worked for either of us. I remember many things we did together, enjoying or favorite meals of Mom's such as fried pork chops with mashed potatoes and cream gravy, stew and dumplings, green peppers and tomatoes in a soup with French bread, and apple dumplings in syrup and cream. I remember one day Denny came into my sixth grade class room to Mr. Hennessey, my favorite teacher. He had a note from the principle for the teacher to read, and Mr. Hennessey had to ask his name. When Denny said it was Dennis Arduini, my teacher said, are you related to Doug Arduini. Of course, Denny said, yes, he is my brother. Then my teacher said to me, how come you're not good looking like your brother. Well, I sure needed that for my confidence in life. Yes, Denny had a baby-cute face, but he also had big ears. How come no one saw that? I remember he would sit in front of the mirror for hours combing his wave, and smiling at himself. He also had girls chasing him, and was invited on his first date to a movie by the cutest girl in the school. I guess she never saw those ears the way I did. Of course, I was always jealous because he had all the girls chasing him, and I was scared to even talk to a girl. I think I was in the eighth grade before my first date, and I had to ask her with great fear of rejection. So much for that period of adolescence. I also remember the arguing and fighting over the breakfast food boxes to read as we are eating breakfast, who's turn to sit on the hot air register in our underwear on cold mornings in the winter before school, and who was first to jump a ride on the back bumper of the bus after making it stop at our corner in the winter on our sleds. Both of us were tall for our ages, and too awkward to be athletic in school. I had some very embarrassing times competing in school athletics, and I'm sure Denny was the same. I was a misfit all through high school, so dropped out, ran with a gang, and got in trouble with the law as a juvenile delinquent. We were a great disappointment to our Dad, as well as to our Mom, who tried to raise us the best she could. I went into the Navy, and asked my gang buddy to look after Denny, thinking that we all saw the light of our delinquent errors. He said yes, he would take care of him and keep him out of trouble. Well, my buddy just made Denny a smarter crook than I was. But it all came to an end, and Denny also went into the Navy, to the joy of our local police establishment on Sterling, Illinois. Until now, my brother was a kid and I called him Denny. Now, we were older, and he was now my brother Dennis. Dennis was on the carrier USS Hornet working in steam catapults. We both did well in the service, but it was not the kind of career life for us. Of course, if we had stayed in, we would both have retired at 37 years of age. But, how could we then be the big business successes that we envisioned ourselves to be. We both had great ambitions and worked very hard. Dennis wanted to be a diesel mechanic, but instead got into retail store management with careers at Kmart and Wal-Mart. He set many sales records with his own brand of management and made many friends, and maybe some enemies because of his style of success as he had to "do it his way." Dennis stayed with me for a few months in Sterling when he was going through a young- life crisis in his early 20s. He could see that his hoodlum friends were a bad influence on his life, so he could not live there. During one of my many lives of renewal, good or bad, I drove out to visit Dennis in Southern California on my way to Arizona to start a new life. He was in a bachelor pad in Tarzana and I was broke after my typical car troubles. I found his address, but it was dark and there were no lights on when I got there. I found the manager and asked if Dennis Arduini lived there. He said, "I don't know. I haven't seen him in 3 weeks and he owes me rent." Well, he was nice enough to tell me where he worked, at a gas station in Reseda. I drove there on gas fumes because I was out of gas and no money for food. They said they had not seen Dennis in a week, but he might be coming in tonight. It had a lot to do with how his dates worked out. I guess that was his reputation, because they thought that was funny. I hung around until this beat-up Corvair pulled up and Dennis got out. He was surprised to see me, and we went back to his apartment. When I told him about what the landlord said about the rent, he just laughed. Later I found that Dennis always laughed at all problems, that's how he copes with things. I guess that's better than me who handles everything with a AAA personality. Anyway, that morning I looked in his cupboard, at least expecting peanut butter and bread that we grew up on. I found one box of oat meal, one cup, one spoon, one fork, and maybe a knife. Well my concern about eating was laughed at, and we went out to Dennis' favorite breakfast, a roach coach (motorized canteen) for a bean burritos with lots of extra hot sauce. Well, I thought I was going to die, even without the extra hot sauce. Well Dennis just laughed, as usual. Then I find that he was engaged to be married, and we are going over to her apartment in Huntington Beach (Orange County) for dinner that night. Well, now after another bean burrito for lunch, I was anxious to meet this woman who must have a dinner recipe beyond burritos. I couldn't wait to eat after we finally got to her place after our 70 mile trip though Los Angeles rush hour traffic. I met Toni, and the food smelled fantastic. With three pots cooking and all the fixings already cleaned up, I thought she was some great cook. Well, we are talking and the food is cooking, and we are starving, and wondering how long it takes to cook the food after everything is prepared in pots and it smells done. But after about 2 hours, she says it is done, and we eat. It was great, but I think it is probably overcooked, and was done 2 or 3 hours earlier. It didn't take us long to learn that we had better buy some beer and snacks whenever we are going over to dinner at Toni's. Much later we learned that Toni did not know how to cook, but her Mother is a Chef with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft executive dining room, and Toni got all the fine leftovers. Of course, she didn't want Dennis to know that she was not quite the cook that he thought. Dennis and I went to college on the GI bill after the service. The first time I saw Dennis' sense of humor was when we took a class together called "Speed Reading and Comprehension." Our assignment was to pick different teaching aids to improve your speed and comprehension. The rules were to begin at a difficulty level proportional to your test scores, and then accelerate at a given rate by your ongoing test score improvements. Well I am a slow reader, so I started with a low speed score. I started using this neat teaching aid with interesting science essays and comprehension tests. It had a highest difficulty factor of 100, and I was to start at 30 with my original test score, then progress by 3 point levels after achieving an 80% comprehension score at each level. Well I got excited over the material and got 90-100% at 30, then 33, then jumped to 40, then jumped to 60, 80 and was having a real challenge at 95-100. I was excited and told Dennis while he was doing some other teaching aid, as I was very proud and told him to keep it quiet, knowing full well I was not suppose to doing this project so far beyond my assigned level of development. So pretty soon the teacher comes by and says to me that she heard I was having trouble with understanding the instructions with my teaching aid. Them the teacher called everyone together and proceeded to lecture us on following instructions, regardless of our intelligence. She looked right at me and said that "people who can't follow directions are handicapped in life with undisciplined minds." I looked over at Dennis, and he had that old grin on his face that I remembered as a kid. I knew I’d been had again by him. Dennis moved to Reno, Nevada, and for the next 22 years and he tried many business and career directions. He tried logging but the truck always broke down and Dennis had to walk back. He tried wholesale merchandise but could not close the sales and ask for the purchase order. He tried cleaning carpets and restaurant grill ventilators, but his partners could not afford to pay him anything. He worked part time at Radio Shack, but gave his commissions to the young kids because they needed them more than he did. He wanted to be a slum lord, but when he managed a house rental for us, he gave everyone furnishings, sheets and blankets, and put the cable TV and telephones in his name. He wanted to be thought of as a hard tough guy, but he was a nice guy with a big heart that everyone respected and loved. But he was great as a department manager in retail, where he set many sales records at Wal-mart with his own style of management. His workers were proud to say that they were "Arduini trained." He was also very successful in his tax, bookkeeping, and accounting business, where he saved his customers many tax dollars and cleared up their problems with the IRS. Dennis never had any sickness in his life, other than a little hey fever when he was a kid. We smoked his Pall Mall cigarettes and drank his Budweiser regularly, but never suffered with warning signs of problems like the rest of us. He thought that people who were sick with colds or complained of headaches were hypochondriacs, until one day he got one. He thought he was invincible, until he started having heart palpitations in 1988 and 1989. In November of 1996, he didn't feel good enough to fix his usual holiday meals for his friends and any others who needed a meal. He found that he had a rare small-cell cancer in the lungs that was inoperable, and only had a 16% success rate of cure with chemotherapy and radiation. He tried it all and believed to the end that he could beat it. Dennis did not want anyone to know how sick he was or to try to help him. He always was a macho tough guy, yet had a heart of gold. He always wanted to be thought of as a rebel and a con, but always had a high code of ethics and fairness. I remember when he had his nose passages opened by a surgeon, but would not use any anesthesia, only local pain killer. He also would not use Novocain at the dentist. Even in his sick days, Dennis still had a great sense of humor. We sent the rescue fire squad to Dennis' house one morning because we thought he couldn't breath on his oxygen. When the squad of rescue firemen got there, Dennis was OK. They asked if there was anything they could do for him. He said "Yes, you can fix my roof while your here, it has a bad leak." Then when he went to the hospital and the nurse wanted to take his cash and put it in a safe place, he refused. She said you don't need any cash in here. He said "I might need it. What if I have a chance to get a quickie?" Dennis never wanted anyone grieving for him, but just wanted a party and everyone to have fun. He always wanted to remember his friends and loved ones for how they were when they were living and healthy, and wanted the same for himself. Dennis told me that he wanted a party when he passed on, and that I should prop him up in front of everyone with a can of Budweiser in his hand and a smile on his face. Well we did have the party, but with pictures of him smiling and great memories of him in our lives. He always liked to cheer people up, and everyone liked him with his winning personality. His friends said that he was so well known and liked in the Reno and Sparks area of Nevada, and that he could have been voted major. Dennis would only want this memorial to make anyone feel happy and not sad, and to remember him for who he always was, always confident and happy with a winning smile and laugh. Though we deeply miss him, we must feel lucky to have known him and remember how he enriched our lives. We heard many stories about Dennis from his friends that surprise us about the many sides of his life and his sense of humor. I invite his friends to send in their stories about Dennis and how he affected their lives, so they can share them with all of us who knew him and loved him. They will be placed on this web page for all of our pleasure. Even though we talk about Dennis in the past tense since his passing on January 1, 1998, it is only because his physical being is no longer with us, while his spirit and being is always with us.
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