Startled, I was awakened from a deep and restful sleep this a.m. before the cock crowed. My first thought was my uncle Angelo. Gramps and Nana’s youngest angel, Angelo, was taken from this earth by the hand of a cold blooded murderer in April 1978. This father of three, and loving husband, was on his way to work and accidentally stumbled upon an armed robbery in progress. In his attempt to aid the victim he was shot and killed as the perpetrator escaped never to be apprehended. Being separated eleven years by birth, his untimely death affected me as if a playmate was taken away. The following is a testament to “my pal.”
I arrived home from a day of sandlot baseball to find my uncle Angelo and his fiance, Liz, seated in the kitchen sharing coffee and mom’s biscotti with my parents, dad being unc’s eldest brother. After kisses all around I was asked to join in on the pre-dinner snack. Hard pressed to refuse I plopped down, poured a glass of milk and dunked a biscotti, that even today, would make a geologist scramble for his research papers. (Only hot coffee takes the crunch out of mom’s biscotti.)
The conversation turned to unc’s impending wedding. I was asked to be an usher and would be partnered with Liz’s sister, Pat. Rehearsals, bachelor party, tuxedo. No gift from unc was greater than being asked to be in his wedding. What a couple they made. Among the cadre of memories I must mention he was my Confirmation sponsor. Sweat pouring down my back I approached the Bishop. As I neared Him, I tuned in to the Latin mumbo jumbo that was being said to the kids in line ahead of me. I got closer. Someone asked what my confirmation name was and I firmly said “Angelo.” The Bishop stammered, cleared his throat, paused for a moment, smiled a bit then professed that I was to be confirmed “Angelino.” From that day to this, I believe the bishop never heard of a cannoli or an Angelo. As a matter of record I must mention the Gruen 17 jewel time piece gift is still in my possession and works just fine.
Traditionally, at the high school where I graduated, a class picnic was formed. My parents, being members at a private lake and picnic area south of Euclid, aided our group in securing the club to host the event. After much planning, a Saturday date and meeting time were scheduled. Because of my familiarity with the route I volunteered to lead the over forty car procession to the lake. There was one unresolved hitch, though. I owned no car but always had access to mom and dad’s . . . 1962 Ford Falcon STATION WAGON! What was I thinking? “Jan and Dean,” “The Beach Boys,” “The Beatles,” and the Falcon. While visiting uncle Ang and Liz prior to the picnic, I expressed my displeasure with having to drive the “wagon.” After a nod and a smile with Liz, unc said I could trade the Falcon with him on Friday and could use his 1959 Ford coupe to lead the pack. Oh, my, God! The classic taillights and fins and with me in the driver seat. I immediately called dad for his approval, which I received, and arranged a time for the swap. Oh, yeah, the picnic was a success.
Uncle Angelo would have been seventy-four, if not for his untimely death. Our youthful relationship was a breeding ground for what could have been. Along with my father, his dedication to family and industry lives with of me today. Our conversations about retirement and being a grandparent are in the wind, though, it is a gentle breeze stirred by a gentle man. I miss him greatly.
By Carlo Orlando©
Photos provided by Georgeann Orlando Butler©