Monday, August 29, 2005

A Loss In The Family

This past week has been hard on my family, tempering us, but it's been difficult for many. On Monday the 22nd, my uncle Joe lost his 4 year battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his 2 beautiful daughters Isabella and Daniella and his great wealth of family that I am so grateful to be part of. During the funeral service, Father Virgil Cordano, the man who not only baptized Joe, but my mother, myself, my siblings, and who has been involved in nearly every religious event in my family (including surprise visits to Renga family Christmas Eve dinners), commented on the very close ties in the Renga family. We're one great huge neurotic argumentative beautiful passionate Italian mess, and we all love it.

My cousin and I had the joy of preparing both a large collage and a photo slide of Joe's life, and the memories were at times overwhelming. Nonetheless we both seemed to do a pretty good job and now I have to make sure that everyone who wants a copy of either gets it (the collage weighed in at a whopping 450 MB in uncompressed photoshop psd format).

In the Catholic faith, a "funeral" really has two parts, the first part taking place the night prior to the funeral, a sort of informal gathering for family to share memories, grieve, and of course, say an Our Father and 10 Hail Marys (my Grandmother believes that Father Virgil may have lost count of the Hail Marys and gave us a few extra). The second part is the actual funeral which was held at St. Raphael's church. At both the rosary and the funeral Isabella and Daniella got up to speak with their mother by their side, which was probably the hardest thing to watch. My Uncle Anthony and my Dad both said some very wonderful things that I know would have made Joe both laugh and cry, including my Uncle Anthony saluting Joe with his favorite word, "dickhead."

What I know would have made Joe the proudest was the proper send off we gave him at my parents house afterwards. Cars lined the streets like I've not seen for any event at the house I grew up in in years. I won't mince words, we basically all partied and got hammered in Joe's name. People stayed for so long in to the night (it started at noon) that the catered lunch had long since run out and we ran out for supplies and barbecued about 60 or so burgers, at which point we continued drinking to Joe. My friend Mike and I stayed mostly to scotch and whisky, while my Uncle Joe's best friend Phil bartendered outside making Grapefruit and Vodkas which were very popular. Between ice runs with my friend Mike, I joined my younger cousins in the pool and later spent some time at the poker table where usually either my Grandfather or my Uncle's friend Alan were winning by a large margin. When they were done later on, I grabbed the cards and traded card tricks with my cousins.

In my fond memories of my Uncle, I'll always remember this day as one of them. Here's to you Uncle Joe, salut.

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