It was the end of May 1999. I was at Nan's bedside at The Jewish Home on 106th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. She'd just passed her fourth anniversary in Room Frank 510 - we didn't celebrate.
"No, the date?"
Nan, my Dad’s mother, turned her head towards the window.
"What's a matter?"
She didn't answer.
I tried again.
"Nan, what's bothering you?"
Your cousin, who?"
"My older cousin."
"Pasquale, your older cousin?"
"OK, where did he die?"
"We're you guys close?"
|Giovanna Cuccia, my great grandmother|
Nan turned her had back to me, her tearing eyes milky white from macular degeneration.
|Anna Cuccia @ 1917|
"He was my best friend."
She was 12 in 1918. Her family lived at 1403 on Avenue A right off 75th Street. Nan told me Pasquale lived around the corner and walked her to school when he wasn't working in the cigar factory on 69th Street.
"I was a tomboy; he'd played catch with me and skate with me. Pasquale got me out of trouble with my mother ~ she loved him. He was tall and always stepped in when she was ready to give me a whack. He'd pick Mom up and spin her round. She'd forget all about me."
81 years later, my grandmother, Ann Pryor Rode, formerly, Anna Cuccia, 93, was remembering her cousin, Pasquale, with love. He died for his adopted country.
Years ago, Memorial Day always fell on May 30th. It was a somber day. No fireworks, honor guard honoring the flag, and later a long moment of silence at the ball game remembering those who died for their country.
|Thomas E. Pryor Jr. @1945|
|Robert A. Pryor with cousins on 84th St @1946|
|500 block 84 St. Flag Dedication @1942|
|Anna Cuccia @ Ann Pryor on 511 stoop @1942|
|84 St @1942|
|Tommy & Nan Rode at her District Leadership retirement|
party at Tavern on The Green @1995