While working at Sweet Frog one day last year, I saw a family come in wearing St. Bridget’s uniforms. I started talking to them, maybe they would know my cousins, “My family went to St. Bridget’s, the Gerloffs”.
“Oh, I know them. I went to St. Bridget’s a long time ago with them” The father answered, then followed up with the most unexpected thing, “Yeah, Peter”.
My uncle Peter died thirty-six years ago Monday, and so I never got to meet him. He was a freshman at VCUarts when he was a tragic car accident and died. I don’t know much about him, other than when he was in Daddy’s stories about his youth. Peter went to St. Bridget’s as a child, but unlike his older brothers, he attended Henrico Center for the Arts instead of Benedictine.I can only imagine what kind of shenanigans he got into as a young man/art student. He was beyond excited to attend VCU, according to my grandma. After his death, one of his friends met Andy Warhol when he came to the VMFA, and told the artist how much Peter admired his work. Andy wrote a little note to my grandma, “To Pete”, scribbled a can of Campbell’s soup and slipped his name down at the bottom.
My daddy had a special affinity towards Peter, so it’s quite ironic that his first child considers herself an artist while his bleach blonde, blue eyed baby boy was the spitting image of Peter as a child (or so I’ve been told).
Although I’ve never met him, I do feel close to Peter. I claim him as my original guardian angel, but that’s a selfish statement. He watches over James, our cousins, as well as my uncles and grandma. I know he’s having a ball with my daddy and my granddaddy. Thank you Peter, for always being there for me. Even if we haven’t met, you’ve been a great influence and angel in my life and I’m happy to call you mine.