Shared by Mandy Weber on April 17, 2016

I am not the writer that my sister Nancy is but I will do my best.

 I too remember the day, the moment, that Mike came into our lives.  You don't often remember that but for Mike, we all did.  It was, in fact, during a box ball game up at the church.  He ran across the street, shook Evan's hand and joined the game.  He immediately was part of our group and part of our family.  

I remember the "Mikeisms" that still crack us up, like the time he got bonked in the head, and said, "that didn't hurt, it just sounded" or "what do you want a cookie?".  I remember hanging out at the Leo's, or at the L wall, or on our front porch playing cards, going to the Scano's grandfathers to swim or to Cheesequake park.  

I remember when he taught my Mom to make "real" coffee; Puerto Rican coffee in a press.  Or when he tried to "woo" the Greatest American Zero wearing my rainbow striped sweater.  Or the night before he left for boot camp, just a small group of us, me, Mike, Evan and Nancy at the Choir Loft listening to Carlos Trapp.  When he came back after basic, I stole his red USMC sweat suit and wore it constantly.

I so wish that life didn't get in the way, getting married, moving away, having kids, jobs.  The trials and tribulations and circumstances of our lives that seem to make it so damn difficult to stay in touch.  The assumptions that these people, old friends that we spent all of our time with, will not care to hear from us, me.  I will try to do better.  I will try to not shy away from being the person who initiates contact.  I can't promise anything to anyone, but I will try.

I never thought you could miss someone more than you already did when you were just not in touch, if that makes any sense.  I miss you my friend.  

Shared by Nancy Simmons on April 17, 2016

The large sidewalk squares in front of St. Peter's church, situated on the most curvy section at the west end of St. Mark's Place in the neighborhood that was surely St.George but nearly New Brighton, were the perfect size.  This is the reason we were where we were when Mike Vazquez first showed up. We, most of us, anyway, lived on the block and Mike had just come to stay with Beth and Joe and Tony and John in the big old house across the street from the towering church.
We were playing box ball that sunny afternoon as we had so many times before on the perfect concrete squares.  I don't remember hearing news that a new kid had come into the neighborhood but I vividly remember the skinny, smiling, curly-headed boy bounding toward us from the other side of the street as we tapped and slapped and bounced the small rubber ball alternately and randomly into each of the four perfect squares in an effort to knock out one of our three opponents so as to obtain the coveted 'Ace' square until we, in turn, became the knocked-out opponent and were forced to step back, past King, past Queen to begin again.
Mike, with his quick and contagious laugh, had a certain demeanor that was immediately likeable, immediately a friend, immediately one of the gang, immediately forever.
And so, even as he comfortably and naturally stepped into the outside corner of that perfect 'Jack' square to begin the game for very first time, I am quite certain that on some level we were very aware that our newest player would be forever on our team.

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