Toritto – A Life In Pictures – #15

The Ridge Ruxton School – Towson, Maryland

Banking consolidation was coming and the Rhode Island bank entered into an agreement with the largest Boston bank that the acquisition would take place as soon as it was legally possible to do so.  We were being purchased for our sterling trust business and our retail deposit base / market share in state – not for anything we were doing internationally.  Boston had vast trading contacts all over Latin America and quickly absorbed our business.  The call and a generous severance package came.  It was time to look for work.  It was 1982 and Toritto was 40 years old.

Toritto in Baltimore – when it was still permissible to smoke a cigar in the office!

I received an interview and a job offer from one of Miami’s largest banks but couldn’t find any acceptable facilities for Michael so we had to turn it down.  I subsequently  landed a position with a Baltimore based finance and leasing company owned by Control Data which brought the first super computers to market.  The company had an international banking subsidiary and owned Israel’s largest leasing company.  By this time many states had acceptable support services for the disabled.  I found Ridge – Ruxton school for Mike and we moved into a leased town house for a year until our Rhode Island home was sold a bid a sad farewell to  Little Rhody and Trudeau Center.

We moved in October and it snowed for Christmas.  Looked like New England!

Giant Santa visited Toritto at the office and brought a cigar.

We enjoyed the indoors that Winter

Sitting by the fireplace – (I can’t believe my hair was so brown!)

Daddy, cause he was now 40,  got a bicycle for Christmas and an exercise bike.

and while Marie and Pam grew up

and Marie lost a tooth

Michael remained the same.  He was seven years old.  We enrolled him in the Ridge Ruxton School and he was picked up each morning and brought home after three.

Within the year we sold out R. I. home and moved into our new home in Lutherville where we would live for a decade.  It had four bedrooms and a nice sized yard for the girls.  Daddy would cut the grass himself.

It still snowed in our back yard, though not as often

Marie started elementary school, Pam was in pre-school and Michael went to Ridge Ruxton.   We settled in happily as we all got a bit older.  Life was becoming easier.  I made semi-annual trips to Brazil, Portugal and Spain, including my first trip to Brasilia when the new capital city was still a prairie.  I had time to spend with my family.

And then one glorious February morning in 1985 as I picked him up from his bed to bring him downstairs for breakfast, Michael looked at me and died in my arms.  He was two months short of ten years old.

My wife and I loved our son Michael and we cried many a tear when he died. I know that everyone who came to his funeral thought that his passing was a blessing – both for him and for us, although we did not think so at the time.

Was he a “blessing” to us? Was his passing a “blessing?” Its much easier to say yes if you are not the parents. In a sense that he changed our lives and made us more human and humane, then the answer is yes. He certainly made my daughters much more sensitive to the needs of others.  They never forgot when we were asked to leave a family restaurant because Michael was “disturbing” to the other patrons.  For my wife and I it was a lifetime of heartache.

My wife gave up any dreams she might have had caring for a child who couldn’t reward her with just a simple glance, a smile, a “mommy”.

We got no help from the state or the Feds – I made too much money. What a joke that was. Luckily we were able to find a facility which took him during school hours which gave my wife time to be with her girls and to get out of the house.

Michael was in hospital at least once a year, twice as he got older.  He saw neurologists regularly.  Expensive drugs kept his seizures down to “only” a couple or three a day. Luckily I had great medical insurance through my employer.

We hadn’t thought about testing during her pregnancies with Daniel or Michael. Today extensive testing is available.

So let me ask you.

If you were a 32 and 29 year old couple, happy and doing well and found out a Michael was coming your way, what would you do?

You can blow off the question if you’ve walked ten years in her shoes.

Make your choice and answer to your own god yourself.”


from “On Choice.”




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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5 Responses to Toritto – A Life In Pictures – #15

  1. beetleypete says:

    I could never answer your question, Frank, as I have never had a child. All I can say is that you and Jo-Ann coped admirably with what life threw at you, far better than many would have.
    These posts get so hard to read, and to look at. But I want, and need, to keep going. There are valuable lessons to be learned, in every one.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lara/Trace says:

    I agree with Pete. If someone walked in your shoes, they could decide, not me. I think Michael was a gift, a reminder to be kind and loving to all. You did that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennie says:

    Frank, I have somehow missed a few of your Life in Pictures. Shame on me. This one is as wonderful as the others. Getting caught up. And what would I do? I don’t know. Speculating my decision would be no better than 50/50.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. paolsoren says:

    I can’t answer your question. I am just grateful I have never needed to. My brother could answer because he has a twenty two year old son who has Downe syndrome. I know what he would answer but I don’t know how he would feel.
    This has been a very moving and enjoyable series of posts. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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