60, death, torture, on Christmas Eve

3 Jan

On Christmas Eve 1982 one of several brothers was preparing to serve as a professional pall bearer. Outside his family home and work, Charles Guarino was shot to death,

https://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/24/nyregion/brooklyn-man-is-slain-in-gang-style-shooting.html

I went to Our Lady of Grace elementary school with the Guarinos. Their family, formed of several brothers, lived above the Guarino Funeral Home, right by Avenue X. Rumour was they were connected and they were to be avoided.

A number, if not all, of the brothers were killed. One of the last to go was Charles.

Why would a mob hit be done as the victim is to help bury another? And why on Christmas Eve? Why kill the last son?

Christmas Eve is when my family, and all Italian families, celebrate Christmas. We open presents, we drink and eat. We feast on ‘seven fishes’ – seven different fish dishes and a variety of pastas. It is a holy family day.

So why kill a son, a brother, on this of all days? ( https://www.google.com/amp/s/themillions.com/2014/05/thug-a-life-of-caravaggio-in-sixty-nine-paragraphs.html/amp) -the first line of this iconic article is ‘They torture him of course.’- This is why: torture.

Why?

Because the Guarino family was hated so by these others that on each and every future Christmas they would live in a time of ultimate family sorrow; hear always a death song; see always images of children dead, not borne, on all Christmas Eves. Torture of course.

1982 was a transitional year for me. I was leaving a soiled, rejected and bitter past and was slowly moving to a lighten immediate future. No more tortures, no more deaths.

In 1982 I had just moved to a new flat; we, Priscilla and I, had just enjoyed the beauty of our first daughter’s birth; we were happy tired. Happy.

In 1982 reading of this man’s death, then and now, I was taken by a gloved hand from these happy moments again to my past, a past of sorrows and tears; of failing eye sight and betraying hearts.

I also had failed others, along with myself. And I still do.

But now, today, in this moment, I choose to serve as a pall bearer to my past. I move to honour them in their burying.

I only trust and hope; hope and believe, that I, and my past memories, will not destroy me. I hope they will not bury me with them. I hope in you my Jesus fit unfailing love alongside these incessant memories and thoughts.

So, I look to feast on Christmas Eve, on past, on present and future births on all Christmases and their Eves. Memories and dreams will be reborn, and borne in peace together.

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