Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Whiskey and Whine

This piece was written in memory of my brother, Raymond Valentino Recchi. He died from Pancreatic cancer in 1999 at a horribly early age. Like most things I do these days, I was late getting this post to my niece, Ray's daughter, who started a memorial site for the family a while back. I felt under the gun and am not particularly thrilled with the outcome, but it is from the heart and it's all true. I am missing him, so I thought I'd make him part of this world too. PS Isn't he darling? I love that face!

Most of the significant moments I shared with my brother were just that, moments. I don't have any sad or funny stories to tell, just a series of moments. But I'm happy to share them.

Ray was my big brother, but he was also my friend, my go-to guy, my shrink, and at times, a father. When I was little, we spent lots of time together, but it was mostly him babysitting me. I felt very safe in his arms. It was like being held by a huge friendly bear...He taught me lots of valuable life lessons... For instance, he is the person who got me to stop whining when I was a kid, by teaching me what it was.

RAY: "Min, you REALLY have to stop that whining".

ME: " IIIIIIIII dooooooooon't knoooooooow what yoooou're taaaaaalking aboooouuut!!!"

RAY: "The waaaaaaay yooooou're taaaaaaaaaaalking... It's caaaaaalled whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiining!"

He was great at getting me to stop being hysterical when I was little too, by instructing me on the finer points of taking a deep breath. (I used to be somewhat of a dramatic and convulsive crier.) He also MADE me eat the cecis in my ceci and pasta... I hated him for that! I used to roll them to one side of my bowl in a nice, neat pile, and eat the pasta. Because let's face it, to a kid, ceci beans (garbanzos) are just plain gross! Well, they were to me anyway. I remember holding quite the grudge about that one!

Then there was his old Mercury... "The Merc". We would race down the road with the windows down singing to the radio. It was grand! He usually had the dial (back when there actually were dials) set to an oldies station, Sunny 106. Sweet City Woman was a particularly fun one. Other favorites: anything by Abba, Buddy Holly or Elvis, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, OOga Chuga Ooga Ooga!... those kinds of songs. The songs that make you feel the whole world is still shiny and new.

As we got older we became more and more like friends. I was the baby of the family, so Ray was quite a bit older than I. And although I spent many years of my youth lost and confused, he never talked down to me or made me feel badly about it. He taught me how to drink a real drink... proper and lady-like. (Which is about the time I really began to drop my grudge about the Ceci beans). He taught me to order VO whiskey and soda. I could not understand this, because Kahlua and Cream tasted SOOOOOoooooooo much better! I said something like: "Ack! I can only drink this in little sips it's so bad!" And he said something like: "Yea! That's the whole point." You've just gotta love that. I didn't always take his advice, but when I was out with a guy I really liked, instead of "the gang," that was how, and what I drank...

We also watched a whole lot of football. I used to be a huge fan, as did most everyone in our family. The day the Fins won the Superbowl and had their historic undefeated season, our whole family was there. My mom and my aunt Esther were the scariest of the whole bunch... Seriously! That was a great time. We were all together and everyone was ecstatically happy! Years and years after that when I would visit Ray's family at his own house, there always seemed to be a football game on. If I wasn't in the mood to watch, I'd do something else in another room, but I could still hear it going on in the background. I always found that comforting.... and I still do.


Maggie May said...

This just gave me the best feeling. What an awesome brother. I'm sorry you lost him so young, so unfair.

Ms. Moon said...

I wish I had known him, Mindy. I'm so glad you did.

Danielle said...

thats a lovely written post..

its always hard to loose a loved one...even harder to let go ....

isnt sometimes the memories we have the most precious thing we own?

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I find the sound of football comforting too, PF. Your brother sounds like a great guy. Wish I had known him.

Love you,


Petit fleur said...

Hey Maggie,

I'm glad it gave you something good. Thanks for stopping and for the warm words.


Petit fleur said...


Yep, you'd have loved him. In fact, he was somewhat of a mini celeb in S. FL as he wrote the lifestyle column down there for years. He was an incredible writer and so freaking funny... and BITING.

Most conservatives did not like his politics! heheh~

Thanks for stopping MM
xo me

Petit fleur said...


Thanks. And thanks for popping in. Yes, the most precious things are indeed memories. And they are indestructible! Nothing and no one can take them... except dementia I suppose.

Peace to you,

Petit fleur said...


To quote a line from Pulp Fiction... "You'd dig him the most baby!" I wish there was a way for you all to read his articles, but as far as I know, the damn paper he wrote for owns his intellectual property...sigh.

I am going to look into that as there may be a statute of limitation or a clause that as long as we aren't "selling" it, it's ok... So frustrating!

white rabbit said...

I had a female friend - we sort of adopted each other as brother and sister - she died of pancreatic cancer. It's a merciless condition. I understand your beautifully expressed emotions.

Petit fleur said...


I am so sorry you had to loose someone this way. I can't really even talk about it, like how it actually went down. It was such a tragic mess in every way.

You are right when you chose the word merciless. It is.

Thank you for stopping and for all you said.
Peace to you,

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Dear PF,
That card you sent cracked me up. Got it last night, and it made my evening. It now sits in a place of honour on top of my fridge.

Thank you so much!

Love, SB.

Have a great weekend.

Petit fleur said...

You are so welcome. Check your email.
xoxo pf

Petit fleur said...

PPS The look of sheer excitement and anticipation on Millie's face is just too precious isn't it??!