It’s at the Catskill Cemetery where five members of the Mammano family are buried. Now at their shared headstone is a way for people to leave messages for those who were lost.
It’s been several months since Cathy Ballone lost her parents Nick and Mary Mammano, her nephews Jonathen and Jayden, and her niece Sophia in an April fire at their home in East Durham.
“It kind of feels like it’s in the past a bit. And to know that people still care is very helpful to us.”
Ballone says over the past several weeks people have been reaching out for ways to remember her family as the holidays approach. So she wrapped boxes in waterproof paper and made them look like gifts for people to leave cards and notes when coming to pay their respects.
For her, the healing process is about looking at the positives. Her brother John was able to escape the fire and is now recovering.
“I actually think that we were extremely fortunate in a lot of ways. My oldest brother had moved out of the house only shortly before the fire. John my middle brother could have not made it out it was by chance that I wasn’t passing the house at six o’clock in the morning.”
She says her family was tight knit and loving and hopes others will take this as a reminder this holiday season.
“We talked on the phone every day. And that’s life. People shouldn’t let life pass them by because it’s inconvenient or there are other things they could be doing. You don’t take things for granted. And they never did.”