Today marks the ninth anniversary of the passing of our dear friend, Vinny (AKA Father) Gorman.
Vinnie was one of our parish priests back in Blessed Sacrament in the Bronx. He, along with Father Dolan, would take us to the beach and other places to get us off the streets of the Bronx.
Later in life, we had the pleasure of taking Vinny and Maryann to the beach.
( A side note here. It was during this time that Vinny exhibited many symptoms of OCD. His obsession was getting a resident’s beach pass so that he could come and go even when we weren’t there. I don’t think it was the money as much as the thrill of the hunt. He lay in the high grass waiting for just the right teenager to take over the ticket booth, and then he would pounce. He never failed to get a pass.)
We used to kid Vinny and Maryann that they always seemed to magically appear at our doorstep when we were sitting down to Saturday breakfast, we said they could smell the bacon and made a dash.
One of the first times that we saw Vinny after so many years and long after he was at Blessed Sacrament, he and Maryann came out to see Aunt Mary, and they came over to our house. One thing you have to understand about Vinny, he was always smiling. When he wasn’t smiling he was, belly-laughing. You never could keep a straight face with him in the room.
During that first visit, I kept rehashing my Blessed Sacrament experience, which of course included, his. In the eighth grade Vinnie would come to our class once a week to teach religion. He always reminded us that there would one day be a test.
Sometime in the winter of 1964, we were given the test. Vinny called it his “Nutty Ned Test.” When I started reminding Vinny about it, he glowed and smiled like I had never seen anyone react before. I also reminded him of his challenge. He said that the student who had the highest mark would win $5. Then he added, almost in mocking sort of way, that if anyone had managed to get a 100, they would get $10.
Well, I did get the only 100 in the school, but Vinny reneged on his promise and gave me $5, and then he gave another student, let’s call her Mabel, another $5. I told him this was bull shit and wanted my additional $5 with interest.
Well, that only made him laugh more. But I was going to do something that would almost make him swoon right there in our living room.
I gave him my copy of the test.
He couldn’t believe it. I think it was a statement of the impact on our lives that he had. Why would anyone keep such a test? To me, it was a relic of a marvelous time with marvelous people. I think Vinny felt that too.
I didn’t hesitate and said he could keep the test, and I really believe that was the nicest thing I ever did for Vinny.
My kindness was repaid in so many ways. It wasn’t just the joy that he brought into our home every time he arrived. He was also a welcome sight in times of trouble.
In 2010, Eileen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told me on the Tuesday after the 4th of July weekend. The following weekend Sean and Jeannine came out, Bryan was studying in London.
The weekend was going to be stressful as Eileen had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for that Monday, where a decision as to what to do next would be made.
I was not doing well. That morning Jeannine and Eileen went to the Farmer’s Market and I had a complete meltdown listening to Jimmy Buffet sing “Come Monday.” Jeannine and Eileen came home and could not enter the house as I had locked the door. I didn’t want anyone to see me in that condition.
A few hours later, as we were sitting around the living room, Vinny and Maryann appeared. Vinny wanted to pray with us.
Ironically, Vinny had not too long before this presided over Eileen and my renewal of vows. Now he would be praying for God’s mercy for us.
Vinny asked us to close our eyes, but Eileen didn’t. She kept her open eyes on me as I was in convulsions trying not to cry out loud.
Vinny concluded the prayer, and he and Maryann said they would be going home now. I pleaded with him to stay. I might have been crying when I did so, but anyway, he and Maryann did stay and helped us get through that weekend.
His loss was devastating to all who knew and loved him.
The comfort that we can give Maryann is to let her know how big a role they have had in our lives.
They provided joy.
I don’t know about you, but just writing these few words helped restore a little joy in my life. It’s good therapy and a lesson to us all. Neither Trump nor Corona can’t take away our hope and joy.
Remember, in our catechism, we learned about the three virtues: Faith; Hope, and Charity.
Vinny would be reminding us of that now.
God Bless Vinny.