A light went out.

(Written 11/22/2012)

Vinnie died today.

My sister woke me with the news. In a pre-coffee haze I turned on NPR. Conditioned by natural disasters, terrorist attacks, blackouts, subway closures, and celebrity deaths, my impulse was natural. It was completely confusing to me then, that they weren’t reporting his death on the radio. Why weren’t DJ’s playing all his hits? News this big is national. The only thing that made any sense was the parade marching down 6th Ave in his honor. 
It was no accident that he chose today, this day, this holiday, to die. After all, it was his favorite. 
Vinnie showed me what it was to be a gentleman. He was chivalrous in a city that has no time for manners. His example taught me patience, and grace, and humor. Especially in the face of tragedy and misfortune. Even when his wife could no longer dress or bathe herself Vinnie made sure they still visited Ireland, France,and Italy together, looking sharp as ever. With Betty and later solo, he’d travel across country or midtown traffic to witness loved ones in their passage from one phase of life to the next. Wether wedding, baptism, first communion, bat mitzvah, graduation, or funeral. He was there, and most likely, in a hat. 
The man had style. 
His wit could stop you in your tracks. Ever eloquent, his word was usually the last. He had a way of punctuating a thought.
Losing him feels like losing The Plaza, the Bronx Zoo, Central Park, or the goddam Empire State Building. Vinny IS New York. My friend proclaimed it the end of an era. It’s true.

I miss him something fierce.

In lieu of NPR:
Vincent Connelly died around 3 o’clock in the morning Thanksgiving Day. He was 88 years old. His life was grand.