Although Vincent played a variety of instruments, his favorite was the guitar. When Donna sees this picture, she thinks of all the times he played the guitar for her and remembers him saying his favorite phrase, “I’ve been practicing.” He plays his guitar throughout the novel. The scene below comes from Chapter Four when Frank and Donna go over to visit Vincent in his apartment.


Vincent started playing a song on the guitar and singing with a slight Irish brogue. I took a big sip of booze and looked over at Frank, who to my relief, didn’t look freaked out at all. He was standing over me looking at Vincent play like he really admired his talent. I took another sip and delighted in the warm sensation in my stomach and was able to relax and even enjoy the music. I recognized the song from one of Vincent’s albums. After he finished playing, he told us that it was an old English folk song called “Sheep-Crook and Black Dog.” 

“That was great, Vince,” Frank said, raising his glass as a form of applause. 

 “Yeah, it sure was!” I said with too much enthusiasm. I tried to think of a follow-up question about the song, but my mind was as blank as a shiny-clean chalkboard, and I got uncomfortable in the brief silence. I turned to see Frank looking in the direction of the crystal ball and feared he was going to ask a question about it, and sure enough, he did. He asked Vincent if it was real crystal, and he said “Yeah,” and I prayed he wouldn’t start talking about any funny stuff like seeing the future when he looked into it. I slammed the rest of my drink down and went in the kitchen to get a beer, and when Frank heard me open the refrigerator door, he asked me if I could get him one.

“Sure,” I said. “Vincent, you want a beer or more Baileys.”

“Both,” he said. Frank started laughing like it was the funniest thing he ever heard, and I could only imagine how much he must have loved Vincent’s response. I knew the two of them would be boozing it up. Usually, I’d get down on Frank for drinking too much but not that night. I just passed drinks out like a cocktail waitress and got settled back in my chair as Frank was asking Vincent if he played anything else besides the guitar.

“Fiddle, mandolin, bass guitar, Celtic banjo, dulcimer, penny whistle. That’s it for now.”



This post is part of my latest blog series on the artwork that inspired the family saga, The Bird that Sang in Color. The art featured in these posts comes from a sketchbook that belonged to my brother, Vincent, which I discovered shortly after his death. It had pictures he’d drawn of himself throughout various phases of his life. This pictorial autobiography caused me to wonder what pictures I’d have of myself by the end of my life, which motivated me to live more fully. In writing this novel, I was able to share this powerful realization with the world. This novel is the third book in the Greco Family Trilogy. Each one of these family trilogy books is told from a different family member’s point of view. This one is told from the perspective of the Greco family matriarch, Donna.   

Grace Mattioli is the author of the Greco Family Trilogy books, including Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.