Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Happy Birthday" in Heaven

When you were born, an angel smiled,
As you became a child, an angel sat on your shoulder
When you became an adult, an angel held your hand
As your family grew, an angel walked down the road with you,
And, when you died, another angel got their wings.
This poem is in loving memory of my brother Christopher, who would have been 49 years old today. He passed away on Aug 1, 1999 from a brain aneurysm. He really was a true Angel and I know that he is watching over our family from Heaven.
There are so many happy memories of Chris, I guess I should start at the beginning. I was almost eight years old when he was born April 6, 1962. I remember vaguely when my parents brought him home. Chris was a very happy baby and had a head full of brown curly hair. The curls looked like cork screws, and my Aunt Nancy used to put her fingers in the curls and twist them. He was 10 ¼ lbs when he was born so he was a rolly poly baby. He used to smile all the time. I remember when I was young, I wanted to help my Mom take care of Chris. So I asked to hold him. My Mom told me it was OK, but not to get up from the sofa as he was a handful and remember I was only about 8 or 9. So my Mom put him in my lap and then she went into the kitchen for a moment. I thought I would be strong and I wanted to be like my Mom so I got up to hold him. And thump he went down on the floor like a sack of rocks. He then started to cry, (but was not hurt, only scared) and my Mom came running into the living room. She picked him up and scolded me as I should have listened to her. I felt so bad, I cried and I cried. I thought I hurt him somehow. After that fiasco I never did that again and listened to my Mom.
Another fond memory of Chris was at Halloween time. I would help him get dressed up in a costume, with makeup and would take him out to go Trick or Treating. We were a little older then and I remember taking him up and down the streets in our neighborhood. Then we would go back to our house and dump out the candy and go back out again, up one block and down the next. At that time, you would be able to go from door to door, with no worries. By the time we would finally go home, we both would be exhausted, but it was fun and I would not have given it up for the world.
Christmas time was a really exciting time for us. I remember going into my brothers’ room early in the morning to wake them up and see what Santa had brought us. We would try to be quiet as my parents were still sleeping at 6:00 am and we would go straight for the tree. It was great to see both my brothers dig in and see all of the toys and gifts they received. But Chris was very neat. He would unwrap one package at a time and neatly put the wrappings in the bag for trash. As he grew up this trait followed him. He was extremely neat and organized. His room, his job, and even when he got married and moved into his own house his neatness continued. His clothes were immaculate and always dressed very well. He had a good sense of humor and his passion besides the family was sports. He was a real sports fanatic. His favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers and today his son Nicholas and his daughter Lauren are following in his footsteps.
Chris was a self made business man. At the beginning of his career he was part owner of his own company which he started. He was Vice President of a collection agency and had many people under him. He was a fair yet understanding person. As the years went on he branched out on his own and became President of his own company. He enjoyed sales, and was able to talk about anything to anyone. He worked hard and played hard as well.
As he became a husband and a father, his family ties were a extension of his love, which included his wife Lori as well as his children. He would have been very proud of his children today, especially of the accomplishments in their lives. His family was extremely important to him. His heart was filled with joy and love. He was always there for my parents who he loved very much and my other brother Robert to. His friends were a group of very special people. They were a big part of him and were always there anytime they were needed. But Chris was very attentive to me, his only sister. No matter where I was or lived he would call me at least once a week and find out the scoop of what was going on. He was not just my brother but my best friend.
One last thought about Chris was that he loved to cook and really enjoyed food. Among his favorites were my Mom’s meat sauce (or gravy) and her meatballs. He used to make my Mom’s recipe for his family. He loved all the Italian dishes that my Grandmother’s and Mom would make. Holidays were special and he really enjoyed being with the family. Especially when we would bake all the traditional Italian cakes, cookies and pies. He was into traditions and the Italian way.
My brother Chris, was a very special person who I think about all the time, and will always remember the memories that were left behind. I know that if he were here right now looking over my shoulder he would be very proud of me for creating this family cookbook as a reminder of who we are and where we came from. But I think most of all he loved life to the fullest and loved his family, friends and food. Chris, not a day goes by that you are not thought of, loved or missed. We all will cherish the precious memories you lovingly created in our lives.

A tradition in our family was to have a tray of antipasto before our meals, which I know Chris would have loved me to share with you. He really enjoyed eating this dish. So try this dish and tu mangi (you eat) !!!

Antipasto Platter
You can use anything you like instead of one of these suggestions.

Cold Cuts sliced thin:
¼ lb. Imported prosciutto sliced thin or on bread sticks
¼ lb Genoa salami sliced thin
¼ lb. Sopressata sliced thin
¼ lb. Pepperoni sliced thin

Marinated Vegetables:Jar of Marinated artichoke hearts
Jar of Marinated eggplant strips ( my brothers favorite)
Jar Roasted red peppers
Jar of marinated mushrooms
Insalata Caprese (tomatoes with mozzarella and basil)

Chunks of Parmesano Reggiano cheese
Asiago, Provolone, cut in thin stripes
Fresh Mozzarella sliced into thin slices

Breads:Breadsticks (I usually roll my prosciutto around them)
Italian bread sliced or chunked or (variety of artisan breads)


Misc:Grilled vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, peppers)
Figs (if in season)
Melon (if in season, can wrap the prosciutto around it).
Anchovies draped over the roasted red peppers

This plate can be prepared a couple of hours in advance, covered and chilled. Bring it back to room temperature 10-15 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. I do remember when we all got tobether at the holiday your family treated me as if I was part of the family too. I always said because of your family I was Irish with an Italian stomach