Dear Rosa,

Of course Grammy had more than just her “boys”, she had two daughters, both as opposite as they could be. Lilah was the oldest of Gram’s children and took on the mantle of mom when she passed away. She was small, just like Grammy; just like you, Rosa; just like me. 100 pounds on a wet day. Lilah was kind and smart – she just wasn’t Irene.

Strange how I never met Irene, yet she left an indelible impression on my youth. The “Irish Rose” she was called and all waxed poetic about her beauty. Auburn hair, peaches and cream complexion and those soft blue eyes…

Mom told me about her death.

Grammy had called Henry, frantic and screaming, “Irene is dead, I just know it. She’s gone…” They asked if she’d heard anything, something they hadn’t – wasn’t Irene home and healthy, as always?

“No, no…..” They just couldn’t console her.

Both mom and dad hurried down to Gram’s, she lived a half-block away, and found her distraught and pulling at her hair. Dad answered the phone and listened in disbelief when Irene’s husband told him she was dead.

How did Gram know? And why had they ignored her cries for help?

The alcohol had long been destroying Irene. A marriage to a harsh man, the stresses of life just took their toll. It was the drink that killed Irene, but her beauty never faded in any of her family’s eyes.

Ask my dad today about Irene and he’d say, “A beauty, a true god damn shame…”


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