my mother-in-law passed away 1 year ago. unlike my mother, her mind was strong and her limbs weak. months before she passed, she pulled out a photo book. a shiny white with gold trimmed book i imagined would be full of photos of her husband, 5 children, many grandchildren, and several grand-children. a beautiful family of love and compassion. and republicans.

she asked me to open the book, so i did.

“so this was joe. what a nice god loving man. he went to our church.”

“how nice,” i said.

it was full of obituaries. people that my mother-in-law outlived. i have to say, it was an impressive amount of people. mostly old white men and women who lived into their 60’s and 70’s. church friends. cousins. neighbors.

she insisted on going through each perfectly cut clipping. some of the words were yellow with age. she did not need to read the words. she knew the story of each and every death.

i think she found comfort in remembering the stories. i wonder if my mom would remember her nieces, nephews, co-workers, friends, parents, sisters, and brothers that all died before her. would a scrap book of the dead offer my mother the same comfort.

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.