On April 9, my mom and dad, Nick and Mary Yankovic, passed away in their home in Fallbrook, California. It was the result of a terrible accident – that morning they had started a fire in the fireplace with the flue closed, and were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Suzanne called me that afternoon on the bus to give me the news, so that I would hear about it before the wire services picked it up.
Needless to say, I feel pretty much the way you would expect me to feel – shocked and devastated beyond words. I loved my parents so much, and this all still seems like a horrible nightmare that I can’t wake up from.
I want to thank my family, friends and fans for the incredible outpouring of love and support that they’ve shown me. It’s wonderful to know that there are so many people around the world who truly loved my parents, and also nice to know that I am not alone in my grief.
I take some small measure of comfort in knowing that they died peacefully, and that they never had to suffer through the pain and loneliness of living without each other. I'm also grateful that they both lived long enough to see me happily married to Suzanne, and particularly happy that they got to meet our beautiful baby daughter Nina. She filled their lives with so much joy this last year. Nina may be too young to remember playing with her grandparents when she gets older, but don’t worry, we’ll have some great videotape to show her.
Many people have wondered what’s going to happen with the tour. I briefly considered canceling some shows, but I ultimately decided that it would be better for me personally to continue working. Plus, I’ve heard from so many people over the years that my music has cheered them up in times of tragedy… well, I thought maybe my music would help me too.
So far, it has. Going up on stage in front of thousands of supportive fans is a cathartic and somewhat therapeutic experience for me right now. I don’t know if I can say that the concerts really take my mind off of the tragedy, but at least they give me a break from sobbing all the time.
Anyway, I have decided not to cancel any shows – the tour will continue as planned. However, I have decided to put a moratorium on all interviews and meet-and-greets for the time being – I just feel like I need some time alone right now.
The funeral will be a very small, intimate service with only the immediate family attending, so please, I ask that you respect our privacy. Just knowing that your thoughts are with us at this time is more than enough, but if you care to contribute anything, in lieu of flowers, Suzanne and I suggest a donation to the Natural Resources Defense Council in my parents’ name.
One thing I would like to ask everybody to do, though… please, go out and get carbon monoxide detectors for yourself and your loved ones. If my parents had had one in their home, there’s a very good chance that they would still be with us today.
In fairness to the memory of my mother, I should point out some errors that appeared in the press. Although she was starting to have a problem with short-term memory loss (she was taking medication for it), my mother was never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
As long as I’m pointing out errors that the press has made, it was my Aunt Dot who found my parents when she was bringing them lunch that day, as she routinely did (and not a group of relatives concerned that they “hadn’t heard from them in a while” – the family was close and caring and saw each other several times a day). Also, my aunts and uncles all live in separate houses (not together, as some articles implied), and for what it’s worth, I am not represented by the William Morris Agency either.
I don’t know how much else I can say about my parents that I haven’t already said in interviews over the years. Although I always found it a little uncomfortable, my dad talked a lot about death. He mentioned a few times that he was planning to go on a diet so that his “casket would be easier to carry.” I guess that’s where I got my sick sense of humor from. And he was always talking about how much he was looking forward to seeing his old army buddies again (in the next life). I sure hope they’re having a great reunion right now.
As unthinkable as this tragedy is to me, I just know that my mom and dad were very much at peace with the world and with their lives. And I guess I can take a small amount of comfort in that too.
Thank you all again for your overwhelming kindness and support. It means more to me than you can ever know.