New York Times Portraits of Grief

Salvatore B. Calabro

Here is one thing that says a lot about Salvatore B. Calabro: He wore a tattoo of a cross and roses on his right forearm, with the inscription, "In memory of Mom 11- 30-89."

His mother, Connie, struggled to raise him and his two brothers on her own; he never forgot.

Mr. Calabro made his mother proud, a good boy from Bath Beach, Brooklyn, who wore a firefighters' uniform for 14 years, said his father-in-law, Francis Carillo, a retired New York City police officer. Mr. Calabro, 38, built a solid middle class life for his wife, Francene, and two sons, Daniel, 5, and Alexander James, 2.

Another thing that spoke to his essence: He was a good son-in-law. It had nothing to do with toeing the line because he married one of two daughters of a police officer. He was just that way, Mr. Carillo said. "When I met him, I had guarded feelings," said Mr. Carillo. "He was marrying my baby daughter. But as I got to know him, all of that went away. He became the son I never had.

"He was a gentle person, but he had the heart and courage of a lion," Mr. Carillo said.