[Note: This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events directly experienced by the author.]
There's one member in every family who holds everyone together.
In my family, growing up in Rochester, New York in the 1960s and '70s, that was my Aunt Rita Tacci. Although she was not really my aunt, but rather my first cousin. Because she was older, we all referred to her as an aunt, out of respect. As part of my Roman Catholic family, Aunt Rita was also my godmother, who was there at my Baptism, along wither her husband, the renowned dentist Dr. Vincent Tacci.
When she was not holding our family together, or bonding generously with countless friends, Aunt Rita was working her magic as a First Grade teacher at Number 7 School in Rochester, New York. She taught there for decades and would have many of her students contact her over time, expressing how much she meant to them. The school was close to her and Uncle Vincent's beautiful home on Lake Avenue, where we all enjoyed so many happy memories with various holiday parties, birthdays, etc. We did that, too, at everyone's home in the family, including my own, which was a red brick house on Erie Street, close to now where stands Frontier Field.
It was in that same red brick house that Aunt Rita would frequent with her mother, Anna, who was one of several siblings to my mother, Frances Turri Pilato.
Both Aunt Rita and Uncle Vincent are now gone, as are many members of my large extended family in Rochester, including my mother and father, Herbert Pompeii Pilato; Aunt Rita and Uncle Vincent's son, and my cousin Carl Tacci; my cousins Eva Easton Leaf, Billy Valerie, and Rita Valerie, who we used to refer to as 'Baby Rita' (because she was named after Aunt Rita), and too many others.
Today, families aren't as close as they were 'back in the day.' It's a different world now, and there's a different family dynamic. But for me and my family of the 1960s and '70s, it was a little piece of Heaven, where Aunt Rita, and every other family member of mine who is now gone from this world, now surely resides.