Heartache, times two

Reading obituaries first thing in the morning can ruin your day.
It did mine Friday.
Scrolling down on my smart phone I came across the name Janet Kowalcik Cefalo and my heart sank.
It was one of those obits we call in the newspaper industry “pending.” That means there were few details. Just that she had died. In Ohio.
I was crushed. Janet was one of the most beautiful people I had ever known, inside and out. I only knew her because she was married to a guy named Michael “Mickey” Cefalo, whom I met when he was manager of the Greater Pittston American Legion baseball team and I a young sports writer. I liked him from the start.
When he introduced me to Janet, I thought Mickey the luckiest guy in the world.
Actually, they both were. To me, they were the perfect couple, perfectly matched, perfectly supportive of one another, perfectly in love.
Those Legion teams Mickey managed were in the ‘70s, or perhaps early ‘80s. My mind doesn’t do well with putting exact years on memories these days. But it doesn’t really matter. As the years passed, I’d run into Mickey and Janet from time to time, most recently and most often at Wegman’s supermarket. We’d always stop to talk. And I always came away uplifted.
Looking at Janet’s brief obituary it occurred to me I had not seen them in a few years. Five, maybe. The Ohio threw me a curve. I had not known they were out of the area.
I stared at her name and wondered about Mickey. Was he still alive? He must be. I’d never heard otherwise. And I bump into his brother Joe fairly often, always at Anthony’s Restaurant in Old Forge. Always at the same table with his wife and daughter. “You’re right where I left you,” I say every time. Joe would have said something.
I found it hard to stop looking at Janet’s name and letting my mind go where it wished.
But I did eventually scroll down further. And found my answer about Mickey.
The very next obituary was also a “pending.”
Michael Anthony Cefalo.
Also in Ohio.
Also few details.
How could this be? Mickey and Janet. Both gone. Both gone together.
I had hoped to find full obituaries this morning. I did not. But there’s this thing called the internet.
Mickey, I quickly learned, had died on April 29. He was 77, which is the precise age I’d guessed. Their daughter, Michele, lives in Carroll, Ohio, which answered another of my questions.
Janet died on July 9. She was 69. Which confirmed a suspicion I long held. I always thought Mickey had “robbed the cradle.” Good for him.
Janet and Mickey also are survived by sons, Mark, of Philadelphia, and Joseph, of Hanover Twp., and another daughter, Jennifer, of Daytona Beach. They had four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
It took a day, but it finally dawn on me why Joe Cefalo had not told me about his brother. Restaurants have been closed since March.

Ed Ackerman