That's me in the floral shirt, my two oldest brothers, a Franciscan friar and a musician/high school music teacher, both WWII veterans, to my right, in front of them my third oldest brother, just leaving his life as a teamster to become a cop, leaning over his wife, daughter of a cop from the next street over, we all called "Sis," an independent working woman, my mother and her mother in front of me , in front of them my other sister-in-law, an Italian-American accordion player from DC who led an all women band during "the war," her firstborn on her lap, and my two sisters, the oldest with the then fashionable "pixie cut," the youngest about to enter the nunnery for a few years, and the only one in this photo besides me who's still alive (though she woke up recently blind in one eye and almost blind in the other), and our father, a seventh-grade-drop-out who had just started a home repair business and had installed that mirror to make our small living/dining room appear bigger.
I've known "Sis" since I was a kid, a tiny woman, deceptively tough under a sweet spirit. No matter how much my behavior might have made her uncomfortable she always treated me with honesty, tolerance, kindness, and love, with a little humor thrown in. I adored her and broke down when I heard the news that she had passed last night at 93, even though she's joined my brother, her husband and is at peace now. The Irish I grew up around, like her, always said to the families of the deceased at the wakes: "Sorry for your trouble" because they believed the departed were at peace, and it's the ones left behind who face the trouble each death presents. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved her.