Today close friends and family gathered to say their final farewell to sister Gloria. It is strange but all the time spent with everybody today, not once did I think - really think about Gloria. Oh, I thought about her but not deeply, specifically. There was too much distraction. We were all taking care of each other thereby avoiding Gloria even though we were gathered in her name. And now I understand how necessary that was. We will inevitably have our alone time like now, for me, where we must confront Gloria - deal with her - meditate on her life and what it meant to us - what it meant to the universe. Why was Gloria even here?
I don't know why any of us are here. Yet, we are. Maybe the real tragedy of life is not knowing why. And then, perhaps it isn't a tragedy unless we torture ourselves with the whys and wherefores. Is it not important just to take this life we are given and run with it? Do what we can to supply meaning. It isn't why we are here - it is that we are here.
So, dear Gloria, this is what I think of when I contemplate you. This is not a bio or even a summing up. It is random life bites that stick out in my memory of your life - the parts of your life I witnessed.
- You would take me everywhere with you when I was cute chubby little Anthony. It was as if I was assigned to you. Except I wasn't. You just decided I needed to be under your wing. This I recall was our first few years in Bay View. You always said later in life how much you loved that house - our time on Enterprise Avenue - the Staserowski's, the Beckwith's, Kalendars, Cabers, Mr. Lynch - later the MacDougal's. I especially remember Halloweens and strawberry picking in Bay View and hide and go seek or as we called it hind go seek. Crystal Beach, The Skyway Drive-In, the Steam Shovel. I choke up on the brink of tears recalling those days where summers were long and autumn was forever.
- I think of 5th Street and the Saricks, Father Lascovitch, singing in church choir led by Jeanie. You sang alto, I sang as did Patsy but I don't remember our parts except we all sang in Latin. How did we do that? Did Georgie sing in the Baksa choir, too at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? We were pretty remarkable. All so young singing in Latin directed by Jeanie playing the organ and singing - her at such a young age to be doing that.
- I have a cloudy but persistent memory of you being hit by a car in Lackawanna. In my cloud I have a vision of Grandma Scarsella hysterical walking up and down the stairs like a crazy woman. The memory is oddly comic considering the circumstances.
- I see you walking down the halls of Frontier Central holding hands with this really cool guy with the DA. He was stylish with the drape pants, rolled up sleeves and that thing he did with his hair in front. You were so pretty in your crinolines and curly long hair. You guys looked like the dream couple out of American Bandstand. His name was Danny. Danny was a popular name back then. Remember Danny and the Juniors?
- You and Patsy became mothers to Mimi. Mimi came along and everyone became her mother or father. Ma was lucky to have us especially you and Pat. It wasn't that you were given Mimi as a chore. You gladly mothered her. Remember the time Ma and Mimi were locked in the bathroom in the Big Tree Road house? You fell into super mother hero mode. That was awesome and funnier than dad falling down the stairs in Lackawanna. Well, maybe not that funny.
- You married young. You married your heartthrob, Danny. You had a beautiful golden haired baby daughter, Julie. We all fussed over her as we did with Mimi. Remember when you asked me to babysit Julie? Why was I asked to do this? Well. I did. I was an awful babysitter. Poor Julie who was so full of mischief had an intolerant teenage uncle who wouldn't have any of it. You told me later that Julie begged you not to ever let me watch her again. That was the end of my babysitting career.
- Remember Lily Dale? Remember how Little Danny and I embarrassed everyone at the mass séance in a church, no less? We had to leave because we couldn't contain our laughter. You were having a hard time controlling yourself as well. And later - on the way home - the sisters' fight that was broadcast unknowingly to the patrons at a Wendy's. Little did we know that the outside drive-in take out mike was picking up the drama in the parking lot. It wasn't funny then but we laughed about it later and no one harder than you.
- I was always so amazed at how effortlessly you seemed to cook the best spaghetti sauce, Italian sausage and meatballs I will ever have. Everyone felt the same way about this. Michael's great lasagna is obviously inspired by you. And, for me, your pork chops were the best. I even went out and bought an identical electric skillet like yours so I could duplicate your pork chops - as if an appliance could recreate such a miracle as your pork chops - Julie's favorite as well.
- We bonded over TCM. I will miss our marathon conversations about Kim Novak, Loretta Young, Margaret O'Brien and all the other black and white icons we worshipped. You were so pleased when I produced and directed for my first HTUTS play, "Picnic".
- I have to say and this will sound a little odd but I so appreciated your honesty and humbleness when it came to your children. You were so proud of all of them - that was clear - yet, you never indulged in bragging or over praise. I liked that a lot about you. It was classy. You understood that your kids shined without mama directing hordes of spotlights on them or making up stories to hide their foibles. As for your grandchildren - you were their spotlight - warm and softly glowing. They loved you so much.
And now I am crying. I can't avoid these feelings any longer. So many highlights are coming at me now and I just cannot put them all down at this time. You spent your life with the love of your life. You and Danny forged a life of ups and downs and, as I saw today with everyone gathered, it was a life of worth. We were all saddened by your heavy grief over Julie. You tried to cope and it was a roller coaster of emotions for you. You had your closeness with many friends and family especially Mimi. I know it is a cliché' but I do so strongly feel that your soul is at peace. I think your family feels this, too.
Robert Anderson wrote. "Death ends a life but not a relationship"
Gloria, we will always be related - sister and brother. I will continue to talk to you when the need arises. I know you will hear me. I also know, now, that we don't die. I can't prove it but you can - you have - the radio, the bedroom TV, Danny's ray of sunlight, Mimi's multiple texts. Do I have stories - oh, what stories - talk to you later - love, Anthony