Sonia Sotomayor: Mom was depressed, I learned later. She’s very technical now; she says, “I wasn’t depressed, I was sad. I was grieving.” And she explains that she knew that his drinking was causing him physical harm. He had had one heart attack five years before he died. So a second was going to be very likely if he continued drinking, which is what the doctor told him.

In fact I’m not sure I relay in my book anymore that the doctor who took care of my father learned that my mother had stopped paying my father’s life insurance. I don’t know how he learned that but in some passing conversation with my mother. And insisted that she do so. Insisted so much that she finally felt compelled to pick up the policy again and continue paying it.

It was quite helpful, at least it permitted us to bury him. It wasn’t a huge policy. It was a couple of thousand dollars but in those times it was a lot of money. It’s what helped us move from the projects to Co-op City, which was out of the projects to a private apartment complex in upper, in the upper part of the Bronx.