My wife Bern's older sister died yesterday. He name was Angelina Pisano.
(When Bern and Angie's grandfather and father immigrated to the US, their name was 'Lachedicnola'--but the dumb Anglos who ran the coal company where they both eventually worked couldn't be bothered to figure out how to spell it so they asked Bern and Angie's grandfather what food he liked best. He had little English but did know what 'peas' were. So, the family name became "Peas". When the whole family was in America and people started marrying into it, no woman wanted to change her name to 'Peas', so they made it Italianized...Pisano...Italian for 'friend'.)
I really didn't know Angie. When I started dating Bern in high school Angie, though she still lived at home after several adventures in colleges and jobs, was most often in her room. I shared meals with her but never quite had a meaningful conversation.
After that and always, Angie was a distant island that we had visited but never lived on.
Looking back, it is clear she had several psychological issues. I won't put a label on them, but they hampered her in life. Though she was talented as a painter and musician, she could never live very long independently. She's spent the last dozen or more years in a care home where she was comfortable if not fulfilled.
She was so much older than Bern that they never really connected.
Angie was always 'out there' for the two of us, but never close by. I've tried to remember her visiting our home and really can't though she must have since we lived in Charleston, WV for five years while she was living there.
I've tried to remember encountering her at Bern's father's and mother's funerals--but there is little I can hold on to.
Of course we'll go to her funeral in Princeton, WV, one of the most southern places in the state. Getting there isn't 'half the fun'. It's no fun at all.
Monday night we fly to Pittsburgh and Dan, Bern's brother who is a RC priest, will pick us up and take us to Wellsburg, WV, where his parish is. The next morning the three of us and cousin Tony (Bern's age and lifelong confidant) will drive the 5 hours or so to Princeton. (WV is a very big state!)
We'll spend the night in a motel and the funeral will be Wednesday morning. After that we'll drive back to Wellsburg and Dan will take us to Pittsburgh the next morning and we'll be back in Hartford mid-afternoon Thursday.
Trying to get from Cheshire to Princeton reminds me of the Irish answer to a request for directions: "If I were going there, I wouldn't start from here...."
Even though Angie hasn't be a vital part of our lives for decades and decades, she is 'family', she is blood.
We will travel to say good-bye.
Rest in peace, Angie, though I hardly knew thee....
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