Saturday, March 20, 2010
Anne Deliberto lived on Lorimer Street most of her life. At one point, the Brooklyn apartment building I've lived in for 13 years was filled with her sisters and their families. Anne and her husband raised their daughter, Connie, in my apartment. Connie never had privacy (it's a railroad apartment) and swore she would get out as soon as she finished high school, which she did.
When I first moved in, Anne's sister, Micky, still lived upstairs. Six years ago, she was removed from the house when someone found her cooking money. I don't know if Mickey was boiling change or roasting dollar bills.
Last month, Connie had to put both of her parents in assisted living. Her father had several heart attacks (and--she found out recently--cancer) and her mother has severe dementia. The home made Connie pick out her parents' caskets and prepay for them. She had to show two years of bank statements for her parents, and explain any withdrawal larger than $2,000. She had to buy her mother pants, though Anne has worn housedresses her entire adult life. Connie had to go through her parents' home and sort what to keep and what to give away. I heard her banging around in there frequently.
I walked in one night to see if she wanted help. She asked "Why is God doing this to me?" and started crying.
When I first moved in, Anne baked cakes every day and took a lawn chair out on the sidewalk in the early evening. Her cardigan sweater permanently hung on her chair. She and her husband took trips to Atlantic City, and a woman came to do her hair every week. She wore black knee socks and sandals and housedresses. She came to one of my parties, drank beer, and told dirty jokes. She left threatening notes on the garbage can that warned strangers "Don't use our ash barrel. I know who you are"
Connie told me to walk around the apartment and take anything I want. I took a few pictures of the mural that her sister painted. My landlord is gutting the place. This is what it looked like after Connie left and after a few men came to take furniture.
For the last 13 years, I never left the house without Anne opening the door and saying hello. When I was 24, I found this annoying. At some point, I realized I would miss Anne. Every morning, I opened the door and she would open the door at the same time and say "Look at that!"
This is Anne's cake stand, her espresso maker, her enamel pots, her cocktail glasses. This is the family telelvision. Connie said it sat in exactly that spot and they watched television every night, over dinner.