Since Joe died I’ve remembered, astonishingly, that most of our conversations were arguments. Whether in New York in the sixties, when I tried to strangle him with his own scarf, or in Zihuatanejo in the eighties, when I tripped over some furniture because he accused me (falsely) of being a bad mother, or most recently in Los Angeles: all we ever did was fight. A week before he died, Joe made me so mad I was actually determined never to see him again.
While writing his obituary, it occurred to me that, being Sicilian and therefore Catholic, Joe would want the solace of a priest before he died. I called the Catholic church closest to where Joe and his wife, Patsy, lived, the El Palacio apartments on Fountain and La Cienega, and arranged last rites. When I visited Joe later that afternoon and gently reassured him that Monsignor Murphy would arrive the next day to hear his perfect Act of Contrition, Joe said that was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard.