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One Photo; One Story: A brother provides a smile

This weekend I will gather with my family to celebrate my youngest brother’s life.

He possessed a wicked wit from a very young age. It’s the gift I will remember most about him.

My family and I have spent the last few days gathering photos and memories. As I looked through a dusty old box, my brother sent me a laugh that cut through my grief.

I found a tattered musty autograph book that belonged to my mother. As I took a moment to look through it, my brothers’ sense of humor leapt from the pages.

June 1950. St. Jerome’s Girls School, Bronx New York.

Throughout the book, I find names of my mother’s closest friends and relatives. As the girls are leaving elementary and middle school, they take a moment to write a few thoughts in the autograph book.

I see Catherine Cox who went on the be my mother’s maid of honor, the day she married my father. Catherine wrote: “Your father is a butcher; your mother cuts the meat. You are the little meatball that runs around the street. Yours until Gregory Pecks. Catherine Cox.

Old family friends, Ronnie Dineen, and Mary Healy are on the pages. Jacob wrote:

“In the soup of friendship regard, me as a noodle.”

Other wishes are from Helen Mahoney, Mora Mary Dillon and teachers like Mrs. Hoffman, Mother Mary Patrick, and Mother Mary.

“Yours till the Statue of Liberty sits” and “your cellmate”, and a classic from a student named Gerry McNaughton; “I like you; I Like you; I like you, but don’t get excited I like monkeys to.”

I saw a sweet message from my late Uncle Billy and another from my mom’s beautiful Aunt Alice.

One that surprised me, and I wonder how old he was when he wrote it.

“Dear Mary, remember all the fun we had in Algebra, you don’t know me cause I’m not born yet”. Your Son, Dave.

For a moment, grief subsided, and my brother came shining thorough. A laugh from beyond and gift when I needed it most.


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