Mary, Tony, and the midnight visitor

Jun 13, 2019 544

BY: Charles Sacchetti

In November of 2008, like many elderly south Philadelphia residents, our Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony Rocca enjoyed taking the late-afternoon bus ride to the casino in Atlantic City. Certainly, at the age of 88, they both deserved to have a little fun after raising their three kids in a most selfless and devoted way.

Uncle Tony learned the printing business as a young apprentice and was able to start his own successful company over 60 years earlier. Aunt Mary was the typical Italian housewife, taking care of her kids and home while squeezing in daily mass at the Epiphany of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church, only a few blocks away from their Wolf Street home.

Her piousness was well known in the neighborhood. Each day she would buy a fresh loaf of Italian bread at the bakery down the street. Since she arrived there at various times, the baker always put a loaf aside for her. On the bag, he would mark, “Holy Mary,” so everyone knew to whom it belonged. Although Uncle Tony had turned over the day-to-day operation of the business to his sons, Bob and Tony, the big guy still made regular appearances, just to be sure things were going well. By 2008, Uncle Tony had an array of physical issues, including the inability to walk without the use of a cane, due to his two damaged knees. However, he gladly endured that discomfort to make sure his beloved wife of 64 years had the opportunity to drop her quarters into the slots at the Showboat Casino.

This above-mentioned trip was coming to an end, and the bus was just about ready to leave for home. Mary was finished playing and sat on one of the elevated seats at a nearby, vacant blackjack table, while Tony attempted to get a few more pulls on the “one-armed bandit.” When Tony finally surrendered, Mary began to get out of the seat. In doing so, she lost her balance and fell abruptly onto the floor. As she writhed in pain, Tony made a valiant effort to help her. Two security guards came to Mary’s aid almost immediately and offered to take her to the local hospital. Mary resisted and instead waived her right to medical attention. She requested to be taken to the bus for the ride home, and her wish was granted.

As the trip progressed, Mary’s pain in the abdominal area worsened. Upon their arrival in Philly, Mary and Tony were let off the bus only a short distance from their home. The bus driver obviously altered his route to do so, then made a hasty departure. It took them a while to exit the bus, and then they were alone. Mary was unable to walk. Due to his condition, Tony was unable to help her negotiate the short distance to the house. They were faced with the realization that they were out on the streets of Philadelphia, alone, at 12:30 a.m. They were 88 years old, Mary was injured, in excruciating pain, and it seemed a sure thing that they would be unable to get to their destination. They were easy prey for any bad guy who was looking for a target.

Just when it seemed the bleakest, Mary looked up and saw a figure of a large man about 50 yards away. She screamed for him to help her. As he approached, he said nothing while Mary explained, “Can you please help me to my home? I can’t walk and my husband can’t help me. I only live a few houses down the block.” Still saying nothing, he scooped up Mary and carried her in his arms to the house as Tony used his cane to follow them. Arriving at 1110 Wolf Street, Tony unlocked the door as the man carried Mary up the steps and into the spacious living room. He then gently placed her onto the sofa, about 20 feet from the door.

Mary and Tony were safely home.

Tony immediately turned to the man, at the sofa, and offered him money for his help. The stranger smiled and then spoke for the first time, saying, “Have a good night.” Tony glanced at Mary, looked up again, and the man was gone! The glance at Mary took but a second, yet somehow the visitor traversed the living room and was nowhere to be seen.

They looked at each other in amazement.

The following day, their daughter, Terry Savarese, a retired nurse, arrived for her daily 9:00 a.m. visit. Not knowing what had transpired the night before, Terry took one look at her mom, found out what happened, and called 911. The ambulance took Mary to the hospital, where x-rays revealed that she had broken her pelvis in two places. She would spend the next two weeks in the hospital and one month in rehab before returning to her home.

Soon after she was admitted to the hospital, Mary made it a point to tell the family that she was saved by an “angel” whom she referred to as the “Good Samaritan Angel.” The mysterious circumstances only made both her and Tony believe it even more. So did we all. Let’s face it: If anybody deserved to be saved by an angel, it was Aunt Mary, whose devoutness was unquestioned.

Uncle Tony would pass away four years later, at the age of 92. Mary lived for nine more years after the incident and passed away at 97.

She was no doubt “picked up” again, this time at heaven’s door, by Tony and his new buddy, Mary’s Good Samaritan.


Charles Sacchetti is the author of two books, It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change and his new book, Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.   Both are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online outlets. Contact him at

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