At the moment I was alerted that my brother was critically ill and had been for well over a week, I quickly found my cellular way to his room at the Portsmouth Hospital, despite lots of legalistic push back.
The voice of the man that answered the phone was not that of my strong, healthy brother of over 40 years. But he answered, and although I could barely understand a word he said (for the next month), he was alive, picking up the phone and I got to remind him in that moment how much I cared and how he was not alone.
Over the next months his healing, by the limited but significant evidence of the tone of his voice and the level of laboredness in his breath was variable. Variable with a glimmer of hope and of very mild improvement. Then, after a month or so, radio silence, cell calls and hospital calls just went through.
Despite my optimism and unwillingness to acknowledge what was likely going on, then the text came through from family, the big beautiful guy had made his way to the other side. My heart broke in 56 pieces and then sank to the bottom of the grey water onto the dark blond sand 6’3′ deep off of post 17.
My friendship with Izy started when I was 9 years old. I knew him as senior lifeguard, a ref at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, a bouncer at the frolics, a Peterboro police officer, a night shift guard supervisor, a Boxford police officer, a loyal friend, a big brother, a human that would lay down his life for me or my family at the drop of a hat.
We were right hand men in two weddings, two funerals and advocates for our fucked up tribe all the way along, each of us so stupidly imperfect it gave us both permission to feel ok about all of our sins, imperfections and short comings. He took me to my first Pats game, was responsible for my first trip to urgent care and welcomed me home like royalty year after when I visited.
I will miss the steady, caring human presence of my big brother, he can not and will not be replaced, there will always be a void (a sign of deep loving relationship).
As long as I walk the planet and then I some, I will carry his heart and spirit with me and with any luck or grace retain a smudge of his steadiness, light heartedness and warmth. As I write I have no doubt that he is keeping Grif out of trouble in heaven (those angels are so pretty) getting Craig to keep light as only, only Izy could do with Craig and…maybe having a conversation with the big guy to see if some grace might be bestowed on the 2021 Pats.
Its 1985, I’m 16 years old and the dj of the so called new and improved Frolics night club. Pat Griffin is the manager with keys to the safe and the liquor cabinet, (god help us) and as I’m selecting my next vinyl play in walks Izy, former bouncer at the old giant tired gin joint, and I say over the mic,
‘Ladies and gentlemen this one is for all you old timers, who remember the way it once was. but especially, this song is dedicated to the Italian stalion, my brother, John, boom boom Ianazzo.”
Izy looked up at the dj booth, smiled, blue me a big kiss, lifted his plastic cupped cocktail then flipped me off.