In Memory of Tom (1/5/71 to 6/16/86)

2016 proved to be quite a year. Quite a few major life-changing events occurred and I’m still processing many of them. Today, in honor of my brother Tom’s birthday, I’m going to highlight just a few; broad-stroking it. I’ll fill in the details as I go along.

So, let’s see – 2016 was my 30th wedding anniversary, the 30th anniversary of my brother Tom’s murder, my 50th birthday and the year my mother-in-law passed away. I’d say that was quite enough dramatic life changes for one year.

I think the one that surprised me the most with its impact was turning 50. I honestly believed it would be just another birthday but sometime after the 2016 Readers Studio and the lessons gained there I began to realize that I had entered an incubatory period and the me that emerged was quite different than the me who entered.

So, in honor of my brother Tom, I’ve decided to start back into blogging by remembering him. I’m also including articles from New York Magazine written about him. One when he was around 10 and the other after he was killed.

I still remember the day my mother went into labor with Tom. It was 1971 and we lived in Woodside, Queens. We had been staying with my maternal grandmother on the West side of Manhattan in anticipation of Tom’s immanent arrival but apparently the doctors told Mom that she still had a few days to go so we returned home. I can still smell the aroma of fresh baked bread that used to permeate the air going over the Queensboro Bridge emanating from the Silver Cup bread factory (now a movie studio). I remember the weird noises the cab’s tires made as they drove over the grating on the bridge. We finally arrived at our apartment and settled into our beds (my younger sister and I were in our pajamas). It seemed only minutes later when Mom came to wake us up – it seemed Tom had decided to join the party after all. So we put our coats back on and trudged downstairs to get a cab back to Manhattan so Mom could go to the hospital and give birth. We should have known Tom would create his own unique path in life.

In many ways, Tom was the best of us. He had a fierce temper which he eventually learned to control and channel into healthier outlets. He was a redhead like our sister and maternal grandfather. He was also quite the clown – he could make us laugh no matter how angry or tense things were. Tom loved animals. His menagerie of pets ranged from cats and dogs to parakeets and snakes. We all watched as he’d bring home new inhabitants – a nasty small turtle that was quite a snapper, goldfish, etc. He was a prankster – once setting up sofa cushions, clothes and a fedora to make it look like someone (possibly the ghost of our recently deceased great-uncle) was sitting there. His chuckle as he heard my shriek that morning was one we still remember fondly. I still miss him every day and wish I had the opportunity to see what kind of man he would become. Tom was quite the character and I like to think that despite his only 16 years on this earth he had a positive impact on a lot of lives.

 

A Death in Hell’s Kitchen

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