Coming from such a big family, I always had a
hard time explaining, to my friends, my relationship
with my brother Tony. I’d call him “my youngest
brother”, and they’d say, “but he’s nine years older
But my brothers Guy, Leonard, Ray, and Phil were
grown men when I first knew them, and Millie, Connie
and Mary were young ladies. To me, they were
more like parents, and even more so when our father
died so young.
But Tony was a teen, and he was the closest to me,
in age. He did things that I wished I could
do: he was in high school, he joined the Navy, he
sailed the world, he even “bought a car!”; and he
married a girl who looked like a movie star.
He was my idol, and he was my brother in a way that
the older ones weren’t. Not that they didn’t all, brother
or sister, spoil me and give me anything I ever
asked for, all my life, to this day.
The other day, Tommy told me that my brother Tony
once said he was envious of me, because, for nine
years, HE was the special “baby of the family”, and
then I came along, and his status changed. If he was
envious, though, it never showed, because he was as
generous and as good to me as all the rest were.
As I remember him now, I realize that I wasn’t
“special.”, because Tony was kind, generous and
cheerful with everyone he ever knew! I was just
lucky enough to be his brother.
We’ll miss him, just as he has missed his beloved
Frannie for almost thirty years. I already
miss his stories of his travels: breaking his leg in
the wilderness, and videotaping and narrating it
while he was lost, and then as he was being rescued. I’ll miss his taking photos at the family picnics,
even if he had to take fifteen shots of every pose,
“to get it right”. His philosophy on travel
photography was: “If I take enough shots, some will
be spectacular.” And they were. I’ll miss
arguing with him about such things as whether our
parents came from the town of “Serradifarcu”, as I
would say, or, as he would put it, from “Serra - di
For the past few weeks, you may have noticed at
sunset that there was a very bright star in the
west. It wasn’t actually a star, it was Venus, a
planet. The ancient Greeks coined the word
“planet”, and it means “wanderer”. To
the American Lakotan Indians, that planet
represented wisdom, and the last stages of life.
Other cultures had different names for this
particular planet. The Hindus call him Shukra, which
is Sanskrit for “brightness or clearness”. The
Masai people of Africa call the wanderer Kil-e-ken.
He visits the Earth in the form of a boy, who
eventually vanishes in a bright light and returns to
When Aunt Angie and I left Tommy’s house after
saying goodbye to my brother Tony, the sky was clear
and dark blue. Venus wasn’t alone in the sky: below
it was a crescent moon, with its ends pointing
upward, as if welcoming the star.
The ancients referred to this apparition as “Venus
in the arms of the moon”, but I know what it really
The star was
Tony, wandering no more, and the moon was Frannie;
and Tony was returning to her arms again, forever.