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.
Sal was five years old when I was born and he was the apple of your eye. Everything was about Sal. He was always getting into trouble and was such a comedian and made everyone laugh. When I was three years old, you had my sister, Vinnie. Everyone loved my new baby sister. I loved her, too. We were so close growing up. She had fun following me around and kept all my secrets. It made her feel special. I felt such joy when I saw her so happy.
All my life, though, Vinnie and Sal got all the attention. They had all the birthday parties, went on outings with friends and had all the fun. You would never even let me go to my friends’ pajama parties. I was always left out.
I was your first daughter but I never got new clothes. I always got the hand-me-downs. Vinnie got all the new things. You constantly said, “Sal is my one and only son, Vinnie is my pride and joy” and you called me “your problem child.”
All my life you made me feel so guilty because I was the kid who always got sick. I had to get my appendix out when I was 12 years old and get my teeth pulled under anesthesia because I was afraid to be awake. It was always me that had to cost you money.
You never let me be a normal teenager. I never got to do what all seniors get to do, like going to the prom in a limo and staying out until 5 in the morning. All my friends had graduation parties except me and I was left out of all the fun. Every time I asked you for money to go to the movies with my friends, you said no. One day I took money from your purse. That got your attention.
When I was in Catholic grammar school and I won a bicycle, I was so happy. But you gave my bike to Sal so he could work in the drugstore. It was my bike and you stole it from me.
When the nuns would call you to tell you I was boy-crazy, you believed they were right. You never defended me. You never said, “No, not my daughter.” You even let a nun slap me in the face.
When I was ten years old, you got me a job in the corner bakery after school. I was too short to reach the racks. I was so young and small that the owner of the store thought you were crazy. My friends made fun of me and I was embarrassed.
Growing up, I never felt any love from you.
Now I’m asking you why.
What did I do wrong?
How could you hurt me like that?
Why should I feel guilty about your near death giving birth to me?
Shame on you ma, I hope you can see the damage you did to me.
The year you died turned out to be the worst year of my life. Instead of looking forward to a brand new future with happiness, my life was full of tears, guilt, and despair. Ma, the only thing I did right by your standards was to graduate from high school.
P.S. – Please see part 3 tomorrow.