Hello everyone, my name is Nicholas Robert Priest, but everyone just calls me Nick. I am 18 years old, and I am senior at Salesianum School in Wilmington, Delaware. Although I live in Delaware, two of the most influential people in my life were from Wisconsin (my mom and grandma), which has all resulted in me being a huge fan of the Packers, Bucks, and Brewers. Sorry, Eagles fans!
My family is big--I’ve got my mom, my step-dad John, my younger brother Matthew, my two step-sisters Emily and Sami, our dog (a puggle named Hank who eats any and everything imaginable), and our cats, Kisses and Miracle. It gets a little crazy (especially during our family Wii sports games), but I love it.
To keep active, I play football and basketball, and one of the things I enjoy doing most is playing video games. I love Madden, 2K, and even will dabble in Minecraft sometimes. I also enjoy playing many of the retro old-school Nintendo and Atari games. And, as I mentioned, we dug out our old Wii and love playing that as a family.
My love of video games is probably genetic
My dad was a video-game addict from the time he was a toddler, but my mom (who was kind of a straight-A, student council, cheerleader type) was secretly also a little bit of a gamer too. On one of my parents’ first dates in college, someone brought out an old Nintendo (complete with controllers that actually plugged in to the console, which sounds horrible), and as my dad told it, my mom casually picked up a controller, acted like she had played once or twice as a kid, and beat Mario 1 in one life, and without fireballs. He said he knew then that she was the one for him.
My dad introduced me to video games before I could barely walk, letting me hold a controller while he actually played. I officially played once I was about three on our brand new Wii, playing such games as Mario Galaxy and all of the Wii Lego games. Now, my friends and I all play, and gaming continues to be a big part of my life.
My Inspiration: My Dad
Joseph Romeo Priest, known as Joe to most people (and Judas to his college friends), was born on May 15, 1978. He grew up with his parents and his two younger brothers in south Jersey. He loved the Eagles and all Philly sports, and Bruce Springsteen. Every summer, he went with his family to the Jersey shore, and one of his favorite things to do was play video games on the Boardwalk.
My mom-mom and pop-pop would take him to Duffer’s, which had arcade games. He was about three, so he would stand on a milk crate and play PacMan. My pop-pop said little by little, teenagers would start to come around, just mesmerized by how my dad could clear board after board, until there would be an actual crowd watching him.
His love of playing games continued through his life (my mom-mom said she would actually have to make sure he would go outside to play sometimes). He was the kind of person who before playing a game would sit down and read all the instructions, because it was important for him to fully understand things before diving in. Although his gaming was usually just recreational, he did enter and win a Nintendo competition once that took place while the famous Eagles-Bears Fog Bowl of 1988 was on TV.
My dad was a great student, but the kind of kid that would figure out the absolute lowest possible grade he could get on a final to still get an A, and then aim for that low grade. He loved playing soccer and even into adulthood, would organize wiffle ball tournaments with his brothers and friends. He graduated from college with a degree in Computer Engineering. His specialty was hardware and he loved tinkering in his own office, which was really a computer lab of sorts, and was somehow taping TV shows and saving them on his network before DVR was even a thing.
My dad was diagnosed with oral cancer after finding a sore on his tongue when I was about two and a half. He wasn’t a smoker or drinker, so it was really kind of a fluke. He had surgery to remove the cancer the day after my brother Matt was born and my mom, dad, and Matt actually shared the same hospital room. He was given a clean bill of health, until about a year later, when he noticed that a lymph node on the side of his neck seemed inflamed. He had surgery to remove it for a biopsy, but during the surgery they found out that eight nodes had cancer. They removed all of the nodes in his neck, and he went through chemo and radiation (working at his job through most of it, but naturally playing video games through all of it).
After once again being told he was cancer-free, the cancer came back to the other side of his neck, and this time there was a tumor wrapped around his carotid artery. They did chemo and radiation, and once it was safe, they did surgery again to remove all of his lymph nodes on that side. After that, he never really got better. The cancer continued to spread and he felt sicker and sicker. Around Christmas of 2009 (I had just turned six), he took a break from treatment to try to gain weight and feel better. He was usually a solid 190 pound guy, but he was down to about 120 pounds. One day at the end of January, my dad just was feeling off, so my mom took him to the hospital. That night, his carotid artery burst. They were able to do surgery so that he didn’t die, but that made future treatment impossible.
My dad came home on hospice during a snowstorm, and because we live in a city, the ambulance couldn’t get up our street with the snow. My dad, just to give you a sense of his personality, was amusingly disgusted to have to come home in an ambulance and even more so that the ambulance drivers were afraid of the narrow street, so he insisted on walking the rest of the way, laughing the whole time.
His room was on our second floor, and he was pretty much stuck there. But even at his most weak, when his weight was down to 100 pounds, he told my mom he wanted to come to our finished basement and play video games with me. He was so weak, he went down the stairs on his butt, step by step. But he made it, and I remember being so happy and surprised. We played Mario Galaxy. He fell asleep a few days later and really never woke up again, and he passed away about two weeks after that. I’ll never forget him, and I especially will never forget and am always thankful for him instilling in me the love of video games.