It was sometime around October 15, 2020, when we had to make the dreaded visit to the funeral home to plan James’ funeral. I had been in a state of shock since the moment I saw the look on the police officer’s face and she said the words, “I’m sorry” I knew what was to follow. I had been on the other end of delivering this message in my days of serving as a charge nurse at the hospital. Life stopped, there I stood staring at the officer, shaking out of control. The noise in my head was so deafening. I could not move.
The next thing I know I am at the funeral home of our dear friend Bryan Riccardi. This cannot be real that I am picking out a casket for my son. It was all so surreal. As Colleen, Sandro and I sat down with Bryan, he gently asked us what we wanted in the obituary. As much as I wanted to say about my precious son the words really could not come out. Prior to our arrival I recall saying I want to take the lead on what we are putting in the obituary. In looking back of course I did. As in James’ life I had to protect what was said and heard about my son.
When I read his obituary two years later, I think how much it did not really say about the life of the boy that brought me such joy.
James was born on May 23, 1997, two weeks past his due date and on the sixth birthday of his cousin Mallory. That was James for the rest of his life, he did things his own way, when he was ready and typically in a dramatic fashion. He was such a good baby, and I cannot recall being any happier.
James was well cared for after I went back to work. His day care was with Grandma and that is where and when he and my mother developed the ultimate bond. He loved that woman more than anything. His partner in crime at Grammy Day Care was his cousin Mallory. God Bless my mother. James was all boy; he was always on the go. He was mischievous and he and Mallory got into more shenanigans than we ever knew.
James attended St. Mary’s School, CBA in Syracuse, and Cortland City Schools. He made many great friends along the way, but what I admired most was his love and care for students with special needs. He always looked out for them and for that I am so proud.
James had a love for basketball from an incredibly early age. He loved to play and watch it. It was his favorite sport and he attended basketball camps at SUNY Cortland and TC3 for many years. James also found a love for fitness and weightlifting.
He was his mother’s son, James loved Syracuse University sports. He attended football and basketball games at the Carrier Dome from about the age of three. He loved Syracuse University and I remember the SU acceptance letter brought both of us to tears of joy!
James had a variety of jobs from the time he was a young boy. He was caretaker in chief for “Revi” our neighbor, Johanna Ames’ cat. Johanna hired James to care for her cat when he was about 8 years old. He did so until he went to college. He also worked for Sandro at Lansing Market, Price Chopper and briefly at the NY Bagel shop. I was always in awe when I listened in to him telling Sandro how he thought things could go better at each place. He really impressed me with his knowledge of the big picture.
While in college James worked with a landscaping company in Syracuse. He worked hard and his boss loved having him. Several of the clients were in Skaneateles at the homes of some very prominent people, and he formed unbelievably valuable connections with them. James also worked in hospitality for Syracuse University and a new local restaurant on Marshall St. where he learned to make an impressive garbage plate.
James graduated from Syracuse University in 2018 and I like to brag a semester early. He earned a BA in Economics and a minor in Real Estate Investment. He easily found a position in his major and also worked part time for FedEx. He worked his ass off for them and was prepared to enter their management training program at the time of his death. As well, James had started to pursue his dream in real estate investment and filled his love for fitness working at Planet Fitness.
James was very spiritual. He was a reader of the Bible and Psalm 23 was his favorite in the Book of Psalms. His rosary beads and the Bible were always in reach. On the lighter side he was the family comedian. He was hysterical and loved to do impressions. He would keep all of us laughing at his impressions of his teachers, his doctors, and many other people. I often told him he definitely needed to look at breaking into comedy.
James had a sensitive heart especially for the elderly and the underdog. After his death, a young man called me the minute he learned of James’ passing. He was a kid James met through playing Xbox. I remember James talking about him. He was from Michigan. This young man started crying out of control and told me this story. He told James he applied for a job in the automotive industry. He was talking about wishing he had a suit and nice shoes so he could impress the interview team. James may have been 13 or 14 at the time, but he found a way to send his virtual friend money to buy some nice attire for the interview. His friend got the job, and said he still had the job and owes it to James.
James loved his family and friends. People I don’t even know tell me he was a well met and polite young man. All those years of me preaching the “Kane” manners paid off. He was not perfect but who is. He had his struggles as all young people of today do. I know I was criticized as I had the ability to give him a lot and do a lot of neat things with him. Aren’t you glad I did? Surely, I am thankful we packed in as much as we did in his short 23 years.
I recall shortly after I learned he died and the only thought that continues to keep me going is that he is with my mother, his gram, the woman that was his person.
James died of natural causes. Unfortunately of undetermined origin. Many are quick to think the worst when young people die suddenly. Could it be suicide, could it be drugs or alcohol? Society assumes this because young people just do not die. Well, yes, they do.
Thank you for reading an updated essay of James’ life. Come back I have so much more to say about him.