Guest columnist Mary Ann Barrucco: Dear Ma, It’s Time You Heard The Truth

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Mary Ann Barrucco has lived her whole life in Brooklyn, New York. She and her husband Eddie worked for the City of New York in The Department of Finance until retiring. She is the author of a non-fiction novel about all her experiences called “Hi, My Name Is Mary Ann” and published by Morton Books. The following is a letter she recently wrote to her mother, Concetta Ceraolo D’Achille, who passed away in 1965.

Dear Ma,

It’s 47 years since you died and I’m finally ready to tell you how much you hurt me all my life.

I watched you fight a long battle with pancreatic cancer during my whole senior year in high school and my heart was breaking. I felt so helpless. Daddy said that you were dying. I wondered, What does that mean? Will mommy just go quietly to sleep, or scream out in pain? I had no idea that the cancer would go to your brain and you would have seizures and go into a coma and never wake up.

I felt numb as I watched my father and my brother Sal crying over your death. It was heart-breaking to see grown men cry. I clung to to my younger sister, Vincenza, or Vinnie, who was only 14 and knew only that you had gone to heaven. Every night when we went to bed, Vinnie would tell me she dreamt about you.

My grandma, Ceraolo, who lived with us, had the worst time dealing with the shock. She was 88 years old and blind. She had outlived her husband  and now she had to face the death of her daughter. Your brother, my Uncle Gene, came up from Florida and sobbed the whole way. His wife, my Aunt Marie, kept giving me tranquillizers and I had no idea if I was coming or going.  So many people loved you that they called you Saint Connie. Even Sister Patrice, the nun from my eighth-grade class, came to the wake.

Throughout the wake and funeral, I never shed a tear. I kept thinking, If only people knew the way I really felt.

I was only seventeen when you died and had just graduated from Lafayette High School In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York the week before.

I was your problem baby from the very start of my life. When you were pregnant with me, you got very sick with toxemia. Back then toxemia could be fatal. So you had to be on bed rest until I was born. And we both almost died. But by a miracle your doctor, a friend of the family, managed to save us both. I was born weighing only four pounds and had to stay in Lutheran Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York, until I gained some weight. The doctor said the three of us would go down in medical history.

Every time you took me to the doctor, all I ever heard was how much I looked like you and how you almost died having me and so now I have to be especially good to you. All my life I heard this. I was too young to understand or answer back and say I almost died too and nobody cared about me almost dying. All I knew was I felt very hurt.

P.S. – Please see part 2 tomorrow.

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