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    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    The Good Old Days: Change is possible as we welcome the new year

    Michael Henry Falcone and Albert Falcone during World War II. Photo submitted

    Welcome 2024!

    The month of January is associated with change. Every year, people make New Year resolutions hoping to change for the better. Most of us shake our heads with a bit of cynicism and think…it won’t last. But I know for a fact, people do change.

    For, once upon a time, I knew someone who changed for the better. His name was Michael Henry Falcone, and he was my uncle. Looking back at his life, he continues to be a legacy of faith in the darkest of nights and the hope one feels watching the break of dawn.

    Uncle Henry was my father’s brother. He was born in the 1920s on Talman Street in Norwich. He was special. However, even as a child growing up in the 1960s, I knew there were aspects of my uncle’s life that needed change.

    My father and his brother came from a home that witnessed violence. My grandfather believed in corporal punishment to control behavior. Striking a child often becomes learned behavior, and the two brothers continued this form of punishment when they married.

    Wives and children were not spared.

    From the beginning, Uncle Henry’s life was difficult. One of his most harrowing moments came when he was a young boy playing at home with his brothers and the neighborhood boys. One of the boys was Frank Albert Delgado, who became a lifelong friend.

    The day began innocently enough, as the boys gathered on the hillside to play a game called “Peggy.” This game involved forming teams and sharpening a long stick to a point. The object of the game was to hurl the stick into the air to see who could throw the farthest.

    And then it happened. Uncle Henry stepped in the wrong direction and the stick went through his eye and stuck.

    In the years ahead, Uncle Henry had to learn to see with one eye while his other eye contained a glass eye that did not move in the same way. His life changed.

    Years later, when WWII came, my father and Uncle Henry enlisted. My father chose the Navy and Uncle Henry the Army. At the recruitment center, Uncle Henry asked the officer how he would shoot with one eye.

    The recruitment officer gave him a stern look and replied with little zeal.

    “You’ll shoot with your good eye.”

    After the war, both brothers married and had families. Uncle Henry worked at Electric Boat in distribution. He also owned a successful landscape and antique business. He was a great cook and worked at the Gam Restaurant in Westerly where he prepared specialty pasta with seafood and other gourmet dishes.

    Despite his success, like my father, domestic violence was still a part of his life.

    Yet, decades later, came a turn of events. My uncle had a son who became a pastor in the Church of Christ.

    Over time, the son led his father to the ways of Christ.

    My uncle began to fast and pray. He no longer gambled, drank or cursed.

    Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” If you were to ask my uncle why he was born, he might have answered, “I was born to give all the glory to Him.”

    Change is possible.

    Happy New Year!

    Concetta Falcone-Codding is a 1971 graduate of the Norwich Free Academy and the author of “The Lonely Nest.” You can contact: concettafalconecodding1@gmail.com.

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