In my mind there is a vague, foggy image of my Daddy in a hospital bed. It was the last time I ever saw him. He had just had surgery which removed his largnyx from throat cancer. It was sad to see him lying there unable to do what he loved to do best…talk. My father was not the best man. He had a terrible disease it was alcholism along with some mental issues. So most of his life he was pretty unstable and when he was drunk he was downright mean. However, I was the youngest to come into the family of 8 children and so I was the lucky one. He was never mean to me. He taught me all the things I can still recall today. Along with forcing my studies in academia, he also fostered my love of the arts. He taught me about dancing, joking, and singing. He taught me about movies especially the old time musicals. I think to this day my being born somehow allowed him to make up for some of the awful things he did to my mother and my siblings.
He died on May 4, 1969 at the age of 60. Not from the cancer that took away his voice, but from the pneumonia he caught after that surgery. The actual memories are a bit foggy now since it happened 48 years ago today, but the memories of him are deeply imbedded into my subconscious and yes, even in my heart. My brother, Tommy was more like an actual dad to me, moreso after my father passed away. However, I cannot help but recall the many good things my father taught me and the one thing I am certain of is that he genuinely loved me. He always made me feel like I could accomplish anything, be anyone. He emphasized my need to understand what I read, to spell correctly and to do basic math. He showed me fun ways to learn and he taught me a profound lesson in believing that everyone learns something new every single day they are alive. Everytime I solve a jumble of words, it is my father’s face I see urging me to keep trying until I get it. Whenever I see an old time musical film, it is his face and his actions that are sitting right there telling all about the songs, the music, the actors. In my own way, I miss him very much. I don’t like all of the negative things I know about him nor do I ever totally forgive him for some of the things he did, but I now understand that it was not by choice but by his illnesses that caused his behaviour. So yes, I love him as well.
I just didn’t want this day to go by without remembering the man I knew. The one who loved me, taught me so very much and who left an indelible mark upon my soul, my mind and my heart. I truly hope he has found his peace in the afterlife and that after all this time all his trangressions are finally forgiven. One day Daddy, I will write about all your crazy antics and allow that good part of you and the crazy part of you to share the same spotlight.
So Obamacare is imploding. The American Care Act is proposed. Insurance companies have obviously secretly paid off the politicians and the Unions. We the patients aged 64 and above are pushed into a hole until we either go bankrupt or die, whichever comes first.
So I worked for more than thirty years. Twenty-one years of my life I worked in a Union owned environment of Higher Education….a University staff member. At the age of 60 I became disabled as a result of years of my body experiencing health issues, body structure breakdown and I suppose lousy genes. Through no fault of my own my body could no longer withstand the simplest of tasks and since I always put my all into my work, I had to retire early at a reduced pension and take my “reduced by age” social security as a disabled American. My spouse still works so my total income was such that any other assistance is not allowed. It didn’t matter that with this scenario our bills stayed the same and we continue to struggle to pay them every month, barely getting by from paycheck to paycheck. We never made enough money to have savings and when I became ill we exhausted our 401 contributions we had made in our jobs for more than twenty years.
We weren’t complaining though because we knew we were doing better than many others. We could keep the roof over our heads and the food on our table. We were able for a time to afford the doctor co-pays and the co-pays of our required medications. That is until the regulations enacted by my health insurance coverage pushed me head first into a giant hole dug by the insurance companies that covered me.
Paying those Union dues every paycheck, contributing to social security for those 30 years and working my butt off all my life only counted for a short period of time. The song by the Beatles that includes the line, “Will you still feed me, will you still need me when I’m 64?” became my mantra since the answers from my insurance coverage to maintain my existence was a loud resounding, no! My prescriptions that keep my body moving to a minimum are no longer affordable since I was pushed into this hole. What once cost me $15 per prescription of three has now risen to $77 per prescription and I am prescribed to take 8 medications daily, some twice a day, others three times a day and others once a day. I never even took the total on the days I could tolerate the pain that is constantly with me. Other medications that assist my movement are not covered anymore since I was pushed into the Medicarerx (part D of Medicare) by the insurance company that made a deal with my Union to give them the cheapest premiums to cover their retirees. As complicated as this sounds the bottom line is the seniors who are not wealthy can now go straight to hell inside the government’s and insurance company’s and Union’s paid for “doughnut hole” or “Drug tier gap” so the Insurance company CEO’s and their government cronies can get richer. The funny part is that I never asked for a hand out ever. Anything I now have is not an entitlement it all was earned by the contribution of my backbone and portions of my salary. Everything I write about this will probably fall on deaf ears anyway cause until you walk in my shoes you will not care, but I am gonna tell it anyway.
I don’t believe in Universal Healthcare. That similar system is run in other countries around the world and from personal accounts from people I know and love, I am told they cannot see a doctor most times for months, their medications are provided sparsely and not conveniently, needed lab tests have waiting periods up to a year. So why would anyone willingly choose that for their lives? Our Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamp and Prescription Drug programs all seem to be suffering because they are covering far too many people that the economists predicted. The only solution I see for that problem is to remove all undocumented people from receiving the assistance needed by Americans who were either born disabled or worked their whole lives before becoming disabled and give it back to the system that is suffering. Provide that needed revenue and put it into programs that cover health insurance for every Veteran in the USA. If that was done, I would do without to give back to them what they sacrificed for us, but that isn’t what is going on in our country. Instead all of us are suffering and paying for the greed, corruption and mismanagement in the Insurance agencies and in the Obamacare act in our government today.
In a REAL American Health Care Act the following is what it should include:
Total coverage for pre-existing conditions by all health insurance companies
comprehensive, high value long term care coverage for severely ill Americans and American seniors
prescription drug coverage without drug tiers for “common” illnesses as diagnosed and prescribed by physicians
Fair and equitable insurance premiums available to all Americans across every state in the country
Medicaid availability for all poverty level Americans
Medicare for all Social Security American recipients including doctor visits with or without specialties, labs tests, fair priced prescription drugs and long term care for the chronically ill with complete coverage including Nursing care facilities
Preventive medicine and holistic care access for all Americans who choose it (not mandated by insurance companies)
Health Savings Plans accessible to all Americans who want it and can afford it from salary deductions (not mandated by businesses and government)
Available health insurance coverage for the homeless
Health Insurance coverage for all Veterans of the US Military provided outside of the VA hospitals currently run through the government , but not exclusive of
These are the highlights of a Real American Health Care Act. These highlighted proposals are the ones that fulfill the needs of Americans over the needs of the CEOs of the Insurance Companies. These simple, explicit points are what we the people should be sending to our government representatives. This REAL American Health Care Act will take care of the American people far better than the current proposal of the AHCA and far, far better than Obamacare has and would. Let’s talk to the President, the VP, the House and the Congress by copying these points onto a piece of paper and mailing it to each and everyone of them. Let the voices of the American people shout loud and proud that these are these are the things we need and want when we are 64!
I cannot turn on Social Media or the Television without finding a negative expose about our 45th President of the United States of America. My first thought about those statements about him from the Democrats, Liberals, Some Women and Some Young Men is wow they are saying “Pay back is a Bitch”. Only in the very next moment, I think, these poor people have no idea how much harm they are creating in the country that has given them everything they could ever truly want.
All of their protests, name calling, bashing, disrespect, hating won’t really change the world or even so much as make a dent in the corruption of politics nowadays. All it is doing is causing a rift between the people in America who believe in America surviving or America dying. Okay a bit dramatic there, but let me put it another way, America dying the way their parents and grandparents view their country.
I truly feel sorry for all of us. America was not built to be a socialist country no matter how many arguments are out there about Social Security or some other earned credit program. Many times people use that argument, but Social Security is not an entitlement it is saved earnings in every legal citizen’s paycheck. Welfare, food stamps, SSI, medicare, medicaid they are entitlements or benefits if you prefer that word. But, I digress. As I was saying, America was built through the ugliest word in the country today, Capitalism. It is MONEY. Money has driven us from the get go. Whether we didn’t have any, or we had too much. Money in today’s world is a dirty word because not very many people have enough money to live with the rising costs of everything. People have forgotten that values are more important on your death bed. If those you love will miss you is important. America cannot survive without some kind of respect for money. It will not flourish, it will decay and it will become a third world because there is not any idea out there that will take care of all the people that need money and care.
Our 45th President represents “money” and so the hate begins there. Some think he is somewhat “crude” in his speeches. Some think he is getting down to join them. Some think he is brilliant in his idea of being straight forward and not holding back any of the punches to the people he thinks may need them. Some believe he is a racist. (If anyone had the guts to admit it, there isn’t one person in all of the USA who isn’t racist, they are just too afraid to say it to themselves. Most would never act upon that feeling, but everyone feels it and it has been inside of all of us for generations). Some believe he is an ego-maniac out only to benefit himself and his family and friends. Some say he thrives on the power. Some say, no, its the craving for popularity. Some think he hates women. Some think he hates anyone who isn’t a white male. In the whole scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because he is sitting in the White House as the 45th President of the United States of America. (It doesn’t but, that sentence alone should make all citizens stand up and take notice). He is a leader in World Powers. What he does affects the country and the world. So far, I would say he hasn’t done anything at all to hurt this country or the World for that matter. He is in office less than 100 days and yet, he has been given no chance whatsoever to show that he is worthy of the responsibility that three million or so Americans gave to him.
Now, I would say what about my fellow Americans? If you don’t want to accept the President and give him the chance he needs and has earned, then what about your neighbor who does, don’t you give a crap about them? What about the Americans who still hold onto the vision of a majestic, beautiful America, don’t they have a right to appreciate their vision of America? What about the Americans who would never harm another soul, but are angry at being harmed by people who come here, hate it, hurt it, or our friends and families, would you rather we condone and give right to terrorists from any country even those indoctrinated Americans? If you are great socialists of the world who hate our President, why are you not caring enough as a “socialist” that you are making enemies of those who don’t hate our President? Do you ever think to give the President a chance to prove what you are claiming is actually true? Maybe he will do all the awful things you claim in your social media posts and television spots. Maybe he will be the worst President ever, (though I doubt that). If he isn’t given a chance to show us exactly the vision and direction he has for America by getting legislation passed and America thriving again, you will have no one but yourselves to blame. It won’t be his fault that you made his legacy by disrupting everything that he attempts to get done. It won’t be his fault if the country dies, it will be yours.
Most Americans believe in America or at least take advantage of all the good that is offered by America. That is a good thing. It is a patriotic attitude. Do you also believe that we live by the laws of America? Because we do, the law and the Constitution show us what is right and just. The laws rule us more than any one man or collection of men and women who represent us, the people. No laws have been broken by the 45th President of the United States nor proven to have been. No laws have been proposed to change anything that each American has rightfully gained through our struggles. We always have a say, if we want one. We write and/or call our representatives and we tell them, “no don’t pass that law, or no, that proposal is not good, please vote it down”. We all have a voice that way. We can do it without bashing each other because we have different feelings about a man. We can all do it without disrupting our streets with meaningless protests. We can all look deep, deep down into our hearts and give the 45th President a chance without using our own perception of what life is supposed to be, but rather how possibly it could be under the leadership of a person, who up to now has never waivered from his love of America. Irregardless of anything he has personally done, he has never, ever said a hateful thing about the United States and since we all share this country and live as neighbors to one another, shouldn’t we at least give him a chance? I know I will and until he proves me wrong, or my perception of him wrong, I will keep that promise to myself because I, too, love my country and would never choose its’ well-being and the well-being of its’ citizens over any other country on earth.
Here it is 2016 and another holiday is upon us. The years seem to fly by so quickly now. I can remember when it seemed eons before Christmas came around again. The anticipation of the aroma in the air, the gifts under the tree, the pilgrimage to Church and the family gatherings around delicious food and desserts. The feeling of belonging to a community whether you had family or not was so pronounced at Christmas. It was as if the world stood still while we celebrated. The culmination of it all would happen on New Year’s Eve when everyone celebrated just being alive for at least one more year.
Many people, myself included at times, can become very blue during this season, and I wish that wasn’t so because it is a happy time. A time to celebrate peace, love and joy that is all around us if we just look for it. Just being a part of this great world of ours is a reason to pause and say thank you. Christians, like myself, are happy because of the birth of Jesus Christ. He is our Saviour and our Lord. Many people of other religions celebrate something similar on their Holy Days and that tells me that we are in one way and another all connected. Not only do we share our human similarities, but we also share our faiths, we just acknowledge and practice them in different ways. Even atheists celebrate something probably nature itself if not a God.
So my fervent wish during this holiday season is that every person follow a dream, stop and realize what they do have and not what they don’t. Be glad that they are alive. Be happy that hope is always around the corner and we just have to look there to find it. My wish includes a hope that everyone celebrates and partys with joy in their hearts. Living for the moments we have and sharing that joy with others in anyway possible for them. My wish is that everyone have a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.
It is the weekend of September 11, 2016. Fifteen years since America’s last major attack on one of its’ major cities. So many innocent people died that day. So many innocent people were injured that day. So many innocent people remain ill and many are dying because of that day. Our President elect during that time has been accused of mishandling the action taken to combat the evil that exists in the part of the world that attacked us. I am not among those who would know the truth about the reason he chose the action he did and I try not to judge others, instead choosing to believe in the good of all mankind. Don’t get me wrong, I also see evil in the world and the people who are the epitamy of that evil.
Many people have chosen to see the attack and its aftermath as a devious plot on the American side. They have chosen to blame America for its own attack. Some of these people are my friends, some are strangers to me. Well I don’t believe that conspiracy. In my heart I know it was evil that attacked America that day. I know that they chose the World Trade Center because it was the financial hub of the entire country. We are a capitalist country and those who are evil, the ones who hate our way of life, chose that target with one idea to ruin our country economically. They hoped to destroy us from within by destroying our financial pulse. They knocked us down for a little bit as the following years showed, but they didn’t destroy us nor did they win in any sense of the word. They didn’t think we had the committment to keep our country strong, but they were wrong.
Now I am surround by people who are hurting America from within. They have been blinded either by fear and/or frustration. Once more, they blame America for their personal problems. People are people and given the freedoms they have here to keep their own languages, to keep their own cultures, to keep their own religions they are managing to cause more problems instead of solving the ones we face everyday. The fear and stubborness of so many Americans and the immigrants that live here are at the core of our current issues. We are forgetting that we are ONE COUNTRY, ONE NATION. If one part of us gets hurt we all get hurt, but if we don’t fix those hurts we will destroy the entire body. There is so much more good than bad in America. We are losing sight of that fact. Everyone seems to have gotten the idea that one race is better than the other. That one class of people is better than the other class of people. That isn’t why America was founded. That is so far from what America truly is. Are we fallible? Yes! But only from our own citizens. It is time to put away the hate. It is time to get out of our own selfishness and realize that only UNITED we will face future attacks from evil beings. That all the people who sacrificed in the past for us to have our freedoms believed it was to keep us UNITED. “Biting the hand that feeds you” is detrimental to your own survival. Americans should know this.
Too many since the beginning of our birth have sacrificed to get us through some of the worst times in history. The point is we did get through. The point is we should want to be better by now. I believe with all my being that people who hate America and live in America should leave America. Many of those whom shout the loudest about how awful we are as a country are the ones who have benefitted most from what this wonderful country has offered them. They should really find somewhere else better suited to their ideals because if they all left we would probably have lots more room for the refugees who need a new country, who want a new country, who will become citizens who appreciate their new country as our ancestors did before us.
We are currently in the middle of a Presidential election year. Before us are two people with very different ideas about the direction our country should take. We have to elect one of them to be the face of us, to show their leadership of the greatest country in the world. For me neither one has the qualifications to do this. One is corrupt, the other acts like an idiot. However, no matter what I personally think, one of them is definetely going to be elected. All I can do is pray that the right one gets into office and proves their worth. All I can do is hope they realize what a great country America truly is and how her people, her ideals, her future is worth every effort on their part to protect her. These issues that are within our own borders in today’s world are solvable issues. The issues that face us outside our borders are far less likely to be solved. Whatever the future holds, whatever fate has in store for us, we need to face it together united in the respect of our country, united in the responsibility we each have to make us worthy of being the beacon of light to all those who are persecuted throughout the world. This can only be accomplished if we are united as Americans. The families of the innocent people who died and were injured on September 11, 2001 deserve to know that they didn’t sacrifice for nothing. We owe it to all those from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War who fought for America that we can keep their legacy alive and keep America beautiful. With this comes the responsibility to keep the evil and the haters out of American borders whether they come from the North, South, East or West. Makes no difference if they hate America they shouldn’t live here. We can only survive as a nation if we have pride in our country. We can only survive as a people if we learn to live together as one people..American people.
So no I won’t apologize for loving this country. I won’t apologize for loving all people of every race and every class. I won’t apologize for loving the animals that roam the earth and the lands that provide us with beauty and survival. I won’t apologize for believing as I do and for stating it for the world to see. I won’t apologize because I have nothing to apologize for being an American. If I have one thing to leave to my chldren and grandchildren I hope I leave them the pride I have in America and the belief that we are privileged to live here.
Maybe I am just one of those unexplained mysteries in life. Maybe because I always wondered about my biological father. Maybe that is why I have been so lucky in my life having two “fathers”.
My sons’ father is the best father and grandfather I have ever seen. His unconditional love, his self-sacrificing dedication and his ability to keep giving and giving can not be denied. I believe that the word, “no” is just not a word to him. He has always said “yes” to the needs of his children, and for that matter to me as well. Fathers like Rocco are rare, but I know there are a few out there. For instance, my son, Rocky is a dad like his father. He has the same inner ability to love his daughter so completely and unconditionally. As she grows, I hope she realizes more and more how very wonderful he is and how dedicated he is to her.
My “dad”and my “brother” raised me to be a person who is true to herself, kind to others, and to care about the world around me. My “dad” passed when I was sixteen years old. My brother is still the one I look to for answers. Whether or not he reaizes it, he is still the one I depend on.
Today I want to tell you about my brother, Tommy.
If one could picture the life of a person when they were a child and to realize that what they have been through is no life for any child, then they would know that the man I know as Tommy, who came out of that life better and stronger, is in itself miraculous. They would know that this wonderful man is the most selfless, loving, hard-working man that was ever born.
It was a tough life when my brother was a small child. His father was an alcholic and the venom from this sickness took its ugly poison out on my brother and his siblings. Without going into too much detail, let me suffice to say Tommy took the brunt of that venom. It became so bad that for a time his mom sent him to live for awhile to her sister so he could escape the onslaught. When I was born Tommy was ten years old.
I turned seven when I first started to notice who it was that was nurturing me and making sure I had everything I needed, like food, clothing and shelter. Tommy was now seventeen and graduated High School. He was also the protector for my “mom” and me. Ever since he was able to work he made sure our mom and me were taken care of.
Life wasn’t all bad. He was also a prankster and a loyal friend. Some of the funniest episodes I ever heard were about the pranks my brother would pull on his family, friends and co-workers. When our sister, Joanie passed away at the age of twenty-nine from complications after brain surgery to remove a tumor, she left two small babies behind. One was two years old and the other was six months. While their dad had to keep working, my mom took them in to live with us in our six room tenement apartment in Park Slope. They spent Monday through Friday with us and their dad took them on the weekends. Tommy immediately took on the role of dad to them during those days and had always taken that role on for me. Yes, our siblings helped as well. There was after all, eight of us altogether. I was the youngest. I recall Tommy taking us to the World’s Fair in Flushing, Delancy Street in Manhattan for clothes, and to the local theatre for movies, etc. If we had any treats or toys it was Tommy who bought them. When the boys turned seven and five, their dad remarried a wonderful woman named Eileen. Together they brought the boys to live with them, of course, leaving us left us with heavy hearts because they were more like brothers and sons to us. Years later we now know that it was best for them to leave and have a life with their own dad and stepmom. However, I was still there and Tommy became more like a dad to me than ever and when “daddy” died, it was Tommy who pulled me through just as he did when we lost “mommy” and then did the same when we lost two more of our sisters and our niece. He pulled me out of so many childhood and young adulthood mistakes. He helped me when sickness befell my baby boy, he helped me when I thought I would sink from financial disaster. I cannot recall one time in life good or bad when Tommy wasn’t right there, or just a phone call away. He is the one constant in my life. The person to whom I owe everything.
By now you must have surmised why I chose to write this Father’s Day tribute to my wonderful brother Tommy. There just isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him or even talk to him. He has always been my confidant, my advisor, my father in every sense of the word. Even though I am a grown woman, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend..none of those titles would have been possible without Tommy in my life. He is officially “my brother” but everything he has ever done for me is something a great dad would do. So I want to tell him Happy Father’s Day and that even though he chose not to have children of his own, he has helped raise and has given to all his sisters, nieces and nephews so very much that the title Father belongs to him.
He never truly gets the recognition and appreciation for everything he has always done from his heart, so this small tribute is my way of saying thank you with all my heart for being the best real Dad I never really had.
Special is defined in the English dictionary in this way: unusual or better; held in esteem; reserved; made for specific purpose; arranged for specific purpose, etc. In accordance with that definition, my dad was a very “special” person. Today May 4, 2016 is the 47th Anniversary of his death. I was sixteen years old.
Complex; complicated; misunderstood; unstable; loving; self-educated. My dad had a disease known as alcoholism. As mean as he could be when he drank he could be just as kind and nurturing when he didn’t. I often thought of him as two people in one. His need for alcohol was always present, although it lessened in his later years. I came into his life when he was forty-three years old. I like to believe that I made a difference in his life at that point. Members of my family have told me that he was crazy about me at the instant of my birth. My memories begin when I was a small child. Naturally, some of those memories are not good. I would rather focus today on the memories of Dad that have stayed with me my entire life.
The most poignant memories begin with Dad and me watching television in our tenement living room. I would sit on the floor, he in his favorite chair. On the screen before me was always a movie starring either John Wayne, James Cagney, Busby Berkley Musicals or Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers. My Dad would tell me all about the stars in those movies and we would often sing along if it was a musical. When we weren’t watching television, he would work with me on my homework assignments and every day he would “assign” me the jumble puzzle printed in the Daily News. I was always praised and rewarded if I got the jumble words correct. In those days, many students went home at lunchtime. I was one of them and for lunch my dad would prepare grilled cheese sandwiches cooked in the waffle iron, or heat up Franco American spaghetti for me. On Fridays he would add a fish cake or fist sticks with the Franco American spaghetti as the side. He always tried to make lunchtime fun for me. After school, I would often sit at his feet as he told me stories about his adventures in the military or advised me about the importance of education and the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. I always thought he was truly a smart man. Even when he wasn’t sober, there were things that he said that remain with me. When I first heard the words he said, my thought was that he was a very selfish person, but as I got older I realized the words he used were quite filled with real wisdom. He would always say whether drunk or sober, “Me, Myself and I , first comes me then comes you, capital R capital O capital N.” Today I realize that he was saying a person needs to care first for themselves before they can take care of others. It wasn’t a selfish statement at all, instead it was the most sage advice I ever received.
My Dad as complicated as he was, was truly a special man and if he were here today, I would thank him for all those times he was there for me and for all the times that he made me feel like the “special” one. My hope is that after all this time his spirit is at peace now.
Yes, I know it has been awhile since I have been here. By now I should be filled with words, ideas, opinions. Thoughts that will somehow change a life if not the world. It isn’t as if I don’t have lots to say. There is enough material around to keep me writing for months. 2016 is a busy year. Lots of weddings, parties, doctor visits. It’s an election year as well, and boy is America reeling with opinions and competition!
I should tell you that it has been a slow go since my surgery last November. So many tests to follow up with and new docs to see. For awhile I had thought my back problem improved and my life was gonna change delightedly for the better, but nope right back to square one with no hope in view that I will ever boogie as I once did. There are other productive things though as long as they don’t take standing more than 10 minutes at a time.
My youngest son got engaged last November and life continues once again. Unfortunately, being the mother of the groom there isn’t much to do in terms of planning and such. I love my sons totally, but it’s kinda sad that I’ll never know the joy of having a daughter as well. The mothers of girls seem to have most of the fun sharing, planning, spending time with their daughters more often than the boys do with their mothers. I truly am very grateful for all my sons do for me and with me, guess it’s like they say, “You always want what you can’t have.” It should be a great December wedding though! Christmas in the air and all!
Day to day life for me is truly blasé now that I am retired and without true mobility. Even my wondrous friend, writing, is suffering from the doldrums. Bare with me as I am trying to revive this tired old friend, hoping to bring a fresh new outlook to its soul while keeping its heart beating stronger than ever.
So we are living in an election year. Attempting to elect a new POTUS. The playing field is astounding. We have Bernie Sanders (not the Colonel) and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump (yea the Millionnaire) on the Republican side. Not a day goes by where I am not either astounded or hysterically laughing. How this isn’t the biggest political fiasco of all time is beyond me. I love America and believe always that it is the greatest country on earth…..but with this election my head is hiding in my elbow 90% of the time!
Hopefully, my thoughts will stop gathering moss and I’ll share my own insights into this year’s election shenanigans very soon.
I am so excited today! My eldest son, Rocky (Rocco) Napoli has published his first short story today on Amazon.com!
It feels like eons since he first told me about his dream of being a published author. To know Rocky is to love him. He is intelligent, charismatic and possesses a way with words that can transcend your imagination. Sure, people are going to proclaim I say these things cause I am his mother, but that just isn’t the case. As he can tell you himself, I am his biggest critic. Not that I mean to be or that I have malicious intent, no, no far from it! I have always been so very proud of him and feel that I know him well. He has never been ordinary, he has always been extraordinary and has shown his father and I a deep and compassionate soul. His understanding of whatever subject matter was before him consistently astounds us from his unique perspective and profound understanding. He often spoke about publishing a novel and pursuing a career as a writer and now he has set down his foot on that path. While this is just the very beginning with the publication of his first short story, I have no doubt that he has begun a journey of discovery and self-appreciation, which he so aptly deserves.
You can PURCHASE and read his first short story at the following:
(search for The Paper Boat on Amazon.com in books)
I hope you will enjoy this intriguing and mesmerizing short read into the fascinating psyche of a promising author. The Paper Boat is a story that anyone with a good imagination and a wish for acceptance will thoroughly enjoy! Happy reading!
This blog today may turn out to be the length of a book, but there are things about Barbara that I am remembering and some of them need to be told at length. Her personality was so complicated and awesome that to generalize entirely about her now would seem unfitting to her memory. She wasn’t a saint, making her full share of mistakes. She was human just like the rest of us. What sets her apart is what she possessed that few people have or even know about. Her beauty was in her heart and in her inner determination and strength to help others and to love so deeply and so fiercely there was no way to avoid it nor once experienced would you want to. Barbara was and always will be one of a kind.
Twenty-six years ago today, May 8th, my sister, Barbara passed away. Her death was far from “easy”. Her suffering was great. The lung cancer that affected her had been spreading throughout her fragile body and overtook the woman we all knew and loved much too soon. As a mother of five children Barbara was a “force of nature”. Her protectiveness for her “babies” was instinctively inborn in her very persona. It is only fitting that I write about her today for she is missed by all who knew her.
Barbara was born a middle child of eight. She had four older siblings and three younger siblings. We were all born into “poverty” and our parents had their own set of problems. Barbara was a sickly child and had battled and survived pneumonia on five separate occasions. I don’t think she ever weighed more than one hundred pounds even when pregnant on her five foot seven frame. Yet she held a beauty all her own. She was fierce and stubborn, loving and funny all at the same time. Her sense of loyalty was undeniable. She adored her mother and had a closeness with her that most daughters rarely experience. Barbara was on the surface someone we would call “tough” back then. She took no guff from anyone and would defend her family and all those she cared about with every ounce of courage she could muster. It wasn’t till the very end of her life, when I had the privilege along with some of my siblings and her children of caring for her during her illness, that I finally got a glimpse of her true vulnerabilities, fears and passionate heart. I have to be honest and tell you that it was an eye opener for me since she and I practically fought about everything. I am the youngest of those eight siblings and she and I would butt heads about almost everything in life. Barbara was also a religious person and her devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was unmistakable. To this day, I cannot think about the Blessed Mother without thinking of Barbara as well.
The first inkling I had that my sister, who was eleven years my elder, had more guts than anyone I knew at the time, was when she “borrowed” a friend’s car and took off to elope with her than boyfriend, who shortly after became her husband. I recall waking up in the tenement bed I shared with her and my other sister and hearing my parents frantically making phone calls and having the police come to our door. From the gist of the conversations, I had understood that Barbara ran away and the search was on. They found her though and brought her back home before they actually went through with the elopement. She was almost charged with stealing a car, but thankfully her friend didn’t press charges. Another time I recall her coming to let our mother know that our brother was hanging off the fence in the schoolyard down the street from our tenement and that was why he was late getting home for supper. She had tried to lift him off herself, but I cannot recall whether or not she succeeded. Did I mention how strong she was in spite of her thinness? Well that she was. Strong as an ox and was never afraid to use physical force whenever she deemed it necessary. I was afraid of her for most of our lives together. When I turned eighteen, it was Barbara who took me to the my first bar and bought me my first drink. I recall her telling me that she was doing it herself to warn me and steer me against the pitfalls of alcohol. As it turns out, I was never much of a drinker or even enjoyed liquor until much, much later in life.
Barbara had few very close friends during her life, most of them since she was a young girl. Her loyalty and faithfulness to their closeness remains unparalleled. She loved her close friends almost as much as she loved her family. That love she possessed was strongly felt by all. She often did so much for others, quietly without any of us truly aware of how thin she spread herself and how helpful a person she truly was. It was not until her death that this all came to light for most of us.
Earlier I mentioned about Barbara’s closeness to our mother. She took it upon herself to be my mother’s guardian in every sense of the word. She stuck by her and defended her when our dad would be on a drunken binge and take all his hard luck out on our poor mother’s body. Barbara would fight him every time. I recall many a time, when she would come home and I could hear them arguing in our railroad apartment while I lay two rooms down in bed. It would get quiet and after a while I would sneak a peek from my bed to see Barbara hitting our drunken father over the head with one of his beer bottles. Not hard enough to do any real harm, but hard enough to make him leave our mother alone for a while. Our dad died during my sixteenth year, and Barbara had been married for seven years by then. After his death, Barbara once again became our mother’s caretaker (by appointing herself) and during all our mother’s illnesses it was Barbara who took her to the hospital, knew all her medications, and every illness our mother had ever had. She was our mother’s self-appointed spokesperson. There was a time during Barbara’s marriage that she and her husband and eldest daughter, Barbara moved to Oklahoma for her husband’s job. She gave birth to her second daughter, Chrissy there. It wasn’t long however, until she missed our mother so much that she won over her husband and they moved back to good old Brooklyn. When they moved back here, they moved into an apartment on the second floor of the first house we ever lived in. I believe it was the best time and the worst time for her. She was glad to be so close to our mother again, but she now had a growing family to worry about as well and a husband, who was not quite so happy to live in the same house as his in-laws. Our father had died during this period and after a time, Barbara and her family moved to their own apartment and Barbara now had three girls with her middle one, Kelly having been born.
Overall, it wasn’t easy during those years. Barbara was a full-time mom and her husband provided the only source of income for them. She did the best she could with whatever resources she had. Needless to say she was extremely stressed. There is so much more that I could write about her life and my interactions with her, but it truly will be a book if I do. So instead, I will shorten this somewhat and just tell you a few more memories I have of Barbara.
By the time her sister, Doris, who was seven years her senior, became ill while living in California, Barbara had five children of her own. Four girls and a boy. Karen being her youngest girl and John, Jr. being her only son. I had my son, Rocky by then and we had lost our mother the year before. Barbara and I flew to California together to try to help Doris who by this time was on life support after developing cirrhosis of the liver. The plane ride it self was interesting to me as it was only the second time I had ever been on a plane. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who have a built-in fear of riding in planes or for that matter, anything that takes away my sense of gravity. Barbara on the other hand, hid any fears she had and was a true social butterfly. She would talk with anyone and would wander the plane while I sat petrified and glued to my seat. On this flight to California, Barbara had been off socializing and came back to get me to move to the middle row and watch a movie that was being provided by the airline. She convinced me to go and so there we were sitting in the middle aisle of the plane waiting for the movie to start. Barbara, was talking to some people she had met earlier, who happened to be seated behind us, so her back was partially turned away from the screen. A stewardess was coming toward where we were seated carrying a tray of drinks. She tapped Barbara on the shoulder and as Barbara turned quickly to see who it was, she jumped up, knocking the tray out of the stewardess’ hands, and with drinks flying all over, proceeded to yell, “Oh my God, we’re going to crash!”. Although, I was still afraid and now in complete shock as to what happened, I managed to calm her down and tell her it was just the stewardess with drinks for everyone. I quickly learned that she was so afraid herself that when she saw the stewardess as quickly as she did, she thought it was oxygen and not cups. We laughed about that for years afterward.
When we finally arrived in California, jet lagged and worried, we were met by Doris’ boyfriend and son. They took us to see Doris and together Barbara and I went into shock. Beautiful auburned hair Doris, was now this frail woman with a head of gray hair, lying in this hospital bed hooked up to a respirator and all sorts of machines. She saw us and woke up briefly to whisper something to each of us and then fell back into her coma. It was the strangest and most emotional moment in both of our lives. We stayed in California for five days, and we knew from the doctors that Doris was gone and only being kept alive by a machine. It was a devastating time for us, and for reasons I won’t discuss now, I had the agonizing decision to turn off that machine because Doris was brain-dead. It took me five days to decide what to do and it was Barbara who was my rock. It was Barbara who listened to my agonizing and if it were not for her, I do not honestly know if I would have come through that time completely intact. After that time, Barbara had developed a new-found trust in me and I felt it. She always credited me with being a rock and the strength, when in reality it was her strength that I drew from.
During this period of our lives, my eldest son was going through a horrible disease known as nephrosis, and here again it was Barbara who gave me her quiet shoulder to lean on. It was Barbara who had faith in our decisions about our son and it was Barbara who gave me the inner strength I needed to get through that awful time as well.
If I am to be openly honest, I have to say here that I owed so much to Barbara the sister whose inner strength, abundance of love and true mercy was my silent rock. So when she needed help after developing metastasized cancer, I tried to be there for her. It broke my heart to see her struggling through that illness, how it slowly devour every part of her physical being, but it never destroyed her inner strength, it never touched an ounce of her love for her husband and five children. She fought hard to stay alive for them and for us, but it was not to be. She asked each of her siblings, me included, to watch out for her family. She spoke to me in those last days about each and every one of them and how very well she knew each of them. Her main and only concern was their welfare. There was no one who was with her during that time who could deny the love she carried inside for each of them and the hopes and dreams she so worried would not be fulfilled if she was no longer around to carry through her part in those hopes. I made her a number of promises then, and God only knows if I have fulfilled them all, but I have sincerely tried to live up to the faith she had in me. Miss her? So much more than these words or any words could tell you. Wish she was here during the trying times that have followed since her death? Part of me does and then part of me is grateful she was not alive to see the passing of her eldest daughter, Barbara at the age of forty-five leaving three children and a grandson behind. I miss her strength and her knowing ways, but I am glad that her legacy includes eight grandchildren and a great-grandson, all of which may yet carry through all the hopes and dreams she always had for each of her children.
I have never met another person like my sister Barbara and I reckon to wager I never will. She was the rarest of the rare with a pure and honest inner heart, that perhaps didn’t always have the knowledge or wherewithal to be ideal, but nevertheless, gave it every ounce of strength, love and faith she did possess. She is the person, who will never be forgotten by anyone who has known her. She is the person, who twenty-six years after her death, I still reminisce about and care about as much as ever. She is the person, whose love for her family I still feel this very day. I hope in my idealistic way of thinking sometimes, that she is in a spiritual place with our mother, our two sisters and her daughter and they are laughing their asses off at all the foolish things we still do everyday. I hope, also, that she can feel the love we all still feel for her and that she comforts her spirit like a warm blanket on a cold wintry day with that love. Reminiscing Barbara fills me with strength and hope and a sense of pride that perhaps, after all, we were the closest of sisters that could ever be. Rest in peace, my sister, I love you still.
It was one year ago today that Joey passed. Another sad day to mark in our memories. Losing our loved ones through death seems to happen sooner and more frequently in this stage of my own life. I still miss the Joey I once knew and the memories of what Alzheimer’s did to him in the end are forever embedded in my mind. Unselfishly I know God was merciful to finally bring him home, but selfishly, I still think about how much he is still needed by so many. Joey will always be missed and we will forever remember him.
I am reposting this blog I wrote about him right before he passed and remembering how fortunate I was to have had him in my life for all those years. Rest in peace Joey.
Last time I wrote about my brother-in-law Joey was July 10, 2013. Today I am very sad because Joey is now at the very end of his life and I will miss him. His struggle with Alzheimer’s has been a long hard road, especially for his wife, daughter and grandchildren. Everyone else who has the privilege of knowing Joey will also feel the pain of his passing because he will no longer be here in any form, so it is for our own feelings of loss that we will share in this sorrow. You see Joey has touched so many people in his lifetime, some he may have known about, while others haven’t realized until now, just how much he gave to them.
Joey was never boisterous or even talkative, but I remember his smiles and his laughter. I can still hear his corny jokes in my head and even though I didn’t want to laugh, I couldn’t help myself. I can see him making faces when my sister would tell one of her “stories” as if we shared our own secret about them. I can remember my own children and some of my nieces and nephews telling me stories about Uncle Joe and the way he either taught them something or shared a trivia knowledge with them which made them appreciate him all the more. I remember him liking sports and family dinners and vacations. I remember how much he liked to laugh.
I know how he adored his daughter and grandchildren and would move mountains if he needed to in order to protect and care for them. I know how much he loved my sister, his wife and would spoil her without hesitation or remorse. I know how kind, generous and solid he was as a man and a person whom anyone would be proud to know and call a friend. I know how the world will miss a soul as good as his.
I have to be honest and tell you that I have prayed for God to take him away from his pain lately. To allow him to leave this earthly life of struggles, misery and anguish in a dignified and peaceful way. I know now that my prayer is being answered and this wonderful human being will go peacefully into the night free from fear and worry. When his spot in heaven is prepared and ready God will finally bring this loving man home. I hope my sister and niece will be able to rejoice in the knowledge that this great man was in their lives for so long and his life was full and all their lives were blessed despite this awful disease that afflicts so many. I know I feel blessed that Joey was in my life and a part of my family. I know I will love him always and never forget his goodness and kindness. I will miss you very much Joey, but I know, I truly know you are going to a better place. I know one day we will meet again and when we do it will be as if you never left.
Christmas time is one of my favorite times of year. My heart rejoices remembering that once a year a Man was born who influenced millions with His acts of kindness, His teachings of love and peace, the sacrifice He made of His life so that people would believe that His Words were true and that He worshiped God in every way. His birthday allows me, among many others to give gifts and to have hope that peace will spread by remembering this Man’s wondrous life.
It is also a time for joy and laughter. Family and friends who gather together to express their love for one another and to share in the happiness that this season brings. How can one not be joyful? One of my favorite activities is to decorate my home and try to make it welcoming and warm. Of course, I never have enough time or money to make it the way I would truly like it to be, but like so many others, I do the best I can with what I have.
Recently, the news has been filled with acts of violence and hatred, war and strife. It breaks my heart. I believe we have come so far along in our attitudes toward each other and our hope for peace and harmony, yet what I read in the paper or on the Internet or TV, frightens me. It dashes the hope that I had, especially in the year 2014, that people would end their historical biases and replace them with understanding, acceptance and goodwill. Extremists in every walk of life seem to be on the rise and their warped and hateful ideas are influencing people to harm one another. Those of us who believe as I do that the world is not such a bad place need to step up and overtake these extremists by acting with the example that the Man, Jesus Christ left us with. To truly honor His birth we need to spread peace, hope and charity. We need to believe in the goodness of all mankind and accept that people are different only on the outside. Inside we are all human beings who experience the same emotions, the same health issues, and the same inquisitiveness. Only we can change the course of the future. Only we can have the faith in humanity it takes to make that difference. One person at a time, one idea at a time, one act of kindness at a time is all it will take to begin the spread of peace. My remaining hope is that people wake up and realize the power they possess to change the way things are currently. Help yourselves and help the world by remembering that Christmas is a Merry time. Chanukah and Kwanza as well are Merry times. Let’s rejoice in the fact that we are all human beings and celebrate that very miracle. For it truly is a miracle that creates human beings and it bonds us together as nothing else could or would.
It truly doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or what job you hold, or how poor or rich you are those outside appearances are only superficial. What truly matters is how open your heart is, how curious your mind is and how willing you are to have peace and harmony rule your life. Christmas is the perfect time to set these ideas in motion. Spread this joy, this peace, this merriment. Keep the positive side of this humanity alive and I am certain you will find that you have squelched the extremists because of it. Believing in the power of humanity is the only “weapon” any of us will ever need to right the wrongs, gain the strength, and become joyous in every thing we say and do. There is always going to be suffering. People will get sick, people will be poor, people will have violence around them. It is all part of the human condition. There is always hope that a cure will be found, money will be earned, and the violence will end. There is hope because the birth of a Man on Christmas Day gave us that. Remembering the possibility of hope because we are all human is most times all we need. So have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Happy Kwanza and a wonderful, hopeful, peaceful New Year!
People always say you should write about what you know. Maybe so. Lately, however my muse has been missing. For me a muse can be a person, an idea, a feeling. I’ve been stuck in a rut and fighting my way out has been a complete uphill battle. My gut tells me to write everyday, but my physical condition says, “haha” don’t even think about it”. There has been lots of things in the news of late that I could have expressed my opinion about such as the discrimination issues happening in New York lately and then there is the NFL spousal and child abuse issues, and yet again, there is the ISIS/ISIL situation. However, each one of those issues would take pages and pages of this blog and frankly, I believe my followers, though few and far, would be bored to tears. So, Muse, where are you when I need you?
The last few weeks, (I admit) have been topsy-turvy for my family. My brother, Tommy developed some major health issues and was hospitalized for two weeks. The worry about him took its toll on me and I have been filled with stress, which is only now subsiding. He is out of the woods at the moment, but will need further surgery within the next two months. Maybe for most people my attachment to my brother would seem strange (to say the least), but he is the one person who has been there with me my entire life. He is not only a terrific brother, but also a “surrogate” dad to me, and an overall wonderful person. The thought of him suffering or worse is not a thought I can allow to penetrate my mind or my heart. I am very grateful that he has come through as he has from this last episode and I am also grateful that I have the wisdom to know things could be much worse. So yes, the optimistic side of me stays positive and thankful for the little things. Unfortunately, I also have another side, that mostly stays hidden; and every once and while it rears its ugly head trying its’ damnedest to overtake me. That is why I have an inward constant uphill battle these days.
Maybe writing this today will break the ice for me and I will be able to do what my blog song says very soon, but until then, I am still here grasping at the straws being offered by the Universe. I am hoping that soon my very opinionated expressions about life will come about and my Muse will allow my fingers to fly upon the keyboard to talk about life as I see it. If not for any other reason, than to keep me sane!
And that is the The Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.
You cannot run from your past. No matter how deeply your mind’s self-preservation hides those experiences. Doesn’t matter if they are good or bad, happy or sad. Those memories of the past are still there. Every once in a while they get triggered.
A recent family issue has brought one of those memories to the very forefront of my mind. All of the feelings I had arose right along side those memories and they hurt no less today than they did back then. Doris’ birthday is July 7th and there is not a day that goes by that something or other makes me think about her, but none are more conscious than on her birthday. She left this world on February 27, 1982. Five months shy of her 47th birthday. Her death was not an easy one. Her life was not an easy one. Yet, her kindness, her intelligence, her beauty never diminished until the very end.
My sister Barbara and I flew to California that week in February of 1982, trying to prepare for the worst. We received a call from her significant other and her son telling us that she was dying from liver disease and if we wanted to see her we should fly out immediately. It wasn’t until we arrived that I found the real reason for the calls. They needed me to sign off on her death. She was on a ventilator. Her body deteriorating to skin and bones. Her once vivid red auburn hair now a dull grey. Her eyes so full of life and promise now gazing far away as if she could see something none of us could. My heart was so heavy seeing her lying so helplessly in that hospital bed and Barbara, I am sure felt the same.
Here is where my past comes back to haunt me. Since the age of 13 I knew Doris gave birth to me, but I didn’t know her as a mother, only as a sister, but that is another story for another time. It seems that the doctors in California needed consent to turn off the ventilator. They were telling us that her brain was dead and that the machine was breathing for her. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that. She just looked at me. She gestured for me to come down to her mouth so she could say something in my ear. I couldn’t really make out what she was trying to tell me, but I had a deep feeling inside that I knew without the use of comprehensible words. She thought I didn’t know how much she loved me and how she loved her two children just as much. I could see it in her eyes that she didn’t want to go, but had no choice now. Same as most of her life she had no choice but to make the decisions circumstances presented to her. How could I, knowing this turn off a machine that kept her with us? I just couldn’t do it. I had to consult with the rest of the family. We had just lost “our” mother in December of 1979, how could we now be expected to lose Doris as well? It couldn’t be this way. There had to be another answer.
For five brutality hard days we stayed in California. Everyday calling home to Brooklyn to report on any progress she had made, but there wasn’t any. She remained the same and seemed to be melting away before my eyes. She never opened her eyes after that first time when we arrived. She was sleeping I kept telling myself. Just in a deep sleep and soon she would wake up and we would remove that machine then and she would breathe all by herself. The doctors kept bursting that idea everyday. Her significant other and her two children were also of the same consensus. They kept telling me I had to let her go. She was not there, her brain was dead. I had to sign off on papers that would shut off that machine and agree to DNR orders. She had no will so I didn’t know her wishes. All I knew about her was the things she would tell me during our phone calls. She was a drinker so she would call me in the middle of the night and talk to me for hours about her life and dreams and her hopes. She would tell me her concerns about her young daughter and her pride in her son. She would beg me during those calls to watch out for them, to protect them. I could never really make that promise because our lives were so separate, although I have tried in the past to mend those fences, it just was too torn down to salvage. So her wishes for herself never arose in those conversations. She was very unselfish by nature and would never think of herself first in any instance. So those thoughts were with me as my sister and I walked through Doris’ life in those five days.
We met her friends, we saw where she lived. We did things that she would have done on a normal day in her life in California. After a few days, we were able to get a clearer picture of her and how she lived. Her life wasn’t perfect, but then no one’s life is perfect. She was, however, surrounded by love and as far as we could tell she was happy for the most part. I found comfort in knowing that. Finally, the fifth day in California had come and I could no longer delay the decision I knew I had to make. The family back here in Brooklyn didn’t want to give her up, but they couldn’t see her. Back then we didn’t have the same technology we have today. It was my word and Barbara’s word that they had to rely upon. After confirming with doctors one last time, I signed the order to remove the machine and a DNR order. Within an hour she was gone. It was just the machine keeping her alive. It didn’t matter how I felt or anyone felt, her body and mind were finished on this earth. The disease decided for her. I still have no doubt that if she had the choice to live on she would have, even though most of her past was painful. Somehow I know she never really forgot those painful past memories and experiences, but for a short while she found a way to live with them instead of resisting their constant power over her will, hence her drinking problem. I could say “if only” forever, but it won’t change what was or what is. People would say she brought it upon herself. I will tell them they are wrong. Her past brought it on her. Things that she lived through from a very young age haunted her short life and even though she was smarter than most women I know, she just never put herself first and that in the end destroyed any chance she ever had of a full life.
The decision I had to make that day changed my life forever. It placed a crack in my heart that has never healed. She was my invisible support system. Her words of advice no matter how seldom she had a chance to give them to me were chosen wisely and I listened. Her love of life, her passion for new things, her love of people are my legacies from her. How could anyone think the decision that was placed upon my shoulders to shut off the machine that kept her breathing was an easy one for me? Something that profound is never easy on anyone who has the responsibility. The most important part to remember though isn’t what we need or want, it is what the person would want. If Doris would have been a vegetable with the machine, she would have wanted to turn it off and I know that. Her quality of life was gone a while before she wound up in the hospital because the disease was eating her alive. Trying to save her would have been easy, letting her go was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
Today I sit and I watch as another family member is going through a similar heartache. My heart aches for them. I know, I really know that they can’t see beyond the need they have for the person to remain alive and I hope that it will be okay for everyone involved. I hope that the person isn’t suffering as I believe they are and that the person’s family will find the courage and love to let the person go one day soon. It won’t be easy to do and it will hurt beyond recognition. It will, however, also be the most unselfish act they could ever perform. It will also be that memory that stays hidden in the mind, where it resides so that your life can continue and where along with all the other memories it only gets triggered on occasion just so you never really forget or escape from the lesson in life that it taught you. So happy birthday Doris. You are not forgotten. You are forever imbedded in our hearts. Your life was worthwhile and your soul lives on.
It’s amazing how quickly the time flies. A half a year has already gone by and the Fourth of July is upon us once again. Funny, it never seemed to go as quickly when I was younger. I can recall waiting for the holidays and it seemed to take forever before they materialized. I suppose the first holiday of the year that I enjoyed the most was the fourth of July. Not because there were firecrackers and noise, I still can’t stand that part, but I always liked getting to hold the sparklers in the evening outside our tenement. It was the one time I remember my parents being “outside” with me. There we would be standing outside the tenement on seventh avenue in Park Slope, all our neighbors joining in. Some would light the firecrackers in the “gutter” while most of us got to twirl those sparklers as our parents lit them. I can recall making sure to get the “punks” earlier in the day at the neighborhood candy store. The punks (something along the line of incense) would keep the light from one match and light up our sparklers best of all. The only part I didn’t enjoy was when the sparks from the sparklers would throw out the sparks that would land on my hands and arms and cause me to feel a tiny little burning sensation. It was really nothing and never left a mark, but I would fuss because secretly they scared me somewhat. My favorite part was the fourth of July food. We always managed to have hot dogs and corn on the cob and watermelon and italian ices from our local pizza place. All among my favorites as a child.
There was one incident I remember as a very small child where I did something so horrific that when I think about it today, I cringe. After the fourth of July ended, I had to be around seven years old at the time, I found a hidden stash of sparklers in our apartment. So I decided to light one inside the house. I snuck into my brother’s room which was the tiniest room in the apartment and lit a sparkler with my mother’s matchbook. Well it was stinging my hand a lot so I got really frightened and decided to throw the sparkler out the window, thinking to myself that by the time it got to the ground it would die out. You see we lived on the top floor of a tenement above a store on seventh avenue at the time, so it had a long way to fall and blow out. The only problem was that the window in the bedroom was connected by an “airshaft” meaning it was the portion of the tenement where the row of tenements were connected and down below there were papers and other paraphernalia which had been blown there. Well that sparkler did not burn out, instead it caught fire to the papers that were at the bottom of the air shaft. Luckily for me the janitor in the building saw the smoke right away and doused the fire from the sparkler. My Guardian Angel or the Universe or something had to be watching out for me that day because a tragedy was avoided. I did however, get severely punished and rightfully so, when the janitor came banging on our door wanting to know who threw the lit sparkler from the window. I tried to deny it, but I never could keep my face from showing the truth and was found out. From that day till this I have never touched nor lit a sparkler or any firework. As a matter of fact, I truly don’t enjoy any type of fireworks anymore. It just reminds me of a war zone.
As a matter of fact, it does amuse me when I see how excited children and adults get when they see the lights in the sky. I often wonder what the beauty is in them. I have tried to keep an open mind and enjoy the sight, but deep down it just doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. Perhaps my distaste stems from my associated punishment or from those tiny burning sensations, but whatever the reason, I will just keep “oohing and aching” with the rest of the world at the Fourth of July fireworks and be grateful that I am alive to see another year and another holiday pass by so quickly. Most of all, I will keep looking forward to the current day celebration where there will be hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob and maybe even Italian ices to enjoy!
First and foremost, A happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers in my life!
It has been said so many, many times almost any man can be a biological father, but it takes a “special man” to be a true father in every sense of the word. I happen to know a few in both categories. Today I will tell you about those fathers who are worth writing about, those men who show love to their children on a daily basis, those very “special men” who have touched a child’s life in such a profound way that the child grows into a productive, caring adult. These fathers are worth the time and effort every single day!
I never knew my biological father, only his name. I was given an old blurry picture of him once and I still look at it every now and again. To be honest, I don’t even know why I care. He didn’t seem to care about my biological mother nor me. He just let her fend for herself. However, I was one of the lucky ones. I had a couple of “fathers” in my life, so I always had a daddy. One was my grandfather and the other my brother. These very special men taught me values and gave of themselves to me every single day. Their love for me still shines in my heart like a beacon that guides my every step. Their advice resonates within my mind in every decision and/or choice I have to face. It matters not to me what they did in life other than be my guiding lights. I don’t know what would have become of me, if I did not know these special men, if they somehow were not thrown into my path, they took on the responsibility of taking care of me daily. They taught me, they nurtured me, they advised me, they guided me and most of all, they loved me.
Deep down my wish is that every female child born in this world could experience and feel the love that I felt from these special men and from that, love by choice, have a way out of an imperfect life. By far my life has been anything but “perfect” but because of my “fathers”, my life has been worthwhile and basically a fairly happy one. I married a man who is a biological father and he is as good and as solid as the men in my life were and are. He loves his children unconditionally and he is there for them every single day of their lives. He is a true example of the label father. I feel blessed and lucky that the fathers who have been directly involved in my upbringing have been men to admire, love and look up to. These men have surely earned the title of daddy and welcome it wholeheartedly.
I also know many men who are biological fathers, but are not truly fathers. Those men should be ashamed for there is nothing more precious nor sacred in life than the birth of your own child. Yet, those men have made a choice to do little or nothing for their children. They choose to neglect their children instead of nurturing them. I pray that they wake up and realize what a precious responsibility and blessing they have been given. I know men, who by no choice of their own, cannot have children, yet they make a choice to have a child in other ways and those men that I know, who have made this choice, are among the best fathers on the face of this planet. They are more loving, more concerned, and more caring than if the children they father were from their own bodies. Those men are angels sent from above and of that I have no doubt. I know men who are single fathers, who either by divorce, death or separation are the kind of father every child wishes he or she had. These men never relinquish their responsibility. They don’t stop loving the child because the mother is not with them. They don’t neglect their children. I have witnessed all of these men throughout my life. Those experiences have given me an insight into what a father should be and can be. If a man is truly a father their children will know it, remember it and cherish it, even if that man is not their biological father. No matter what mistakes a child makes in life, if they have had a father they will get past those mistakes and they will live a life that is full, a life that gives back, a life that realizes love can be unconditional. To have a father is to have a precious blessing and I truly feel very blessed for all the fathers in my life.
So I wish a very Happy Father’s Day to all those dads who have made a difference. May you all always have the best in life. May you all always feel love, compassion and joy each and every day.
That’s The Way I See It here in Brooklyn.
Say good-bye to not knowing when
The truth in my whole life began
Say good-bye to not knowing how to cry
You taught me that
And I’ll remember the strength that you gave me
Now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you saved me
Inside I was a child
That could not mend a broken wing
Outside I looked for a way
To teach my heart to sing
And I’ll remember the love that you gave me
Now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you changed me
To let go
Of the illusion that we can possess
To let go
I travel in stillness
And I’ll remember
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
Mmmmm… (I’ll remember)
And I’ll remember the love that you gave me
Now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you changed me
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
Now I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
Now I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
And I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
And I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
Copyright: Webo Girl Publishing Inc., WB Music Corp.
According to the Wikipedia Dictionary the following is the definition of the word assume.
verb [ with obj. ]
1 suppose to be the case, without proof: you’re afraid of what people are going to assume about me | [ with clause ] : it is reasonable to assume that such changes have significant social effects | [ with obj. and infinitive ] : they were assumed to be foreign.
2 take or begin to have (power or responsibility): he assumed full responsibility for all organizational work.
• seize (power or control): the rebels assumed control of the capital.
3 take on (a specified quality, appearance, or extent): militant activity had assumed epidemic proportions.
• take on or adopt (a manner or identity), sometimes falsely: Oliver assumed an expression of penitence | she puts on a disguise, assumes a different persona, and cruises the squalid bars on the bad side of town | (as adj.assumed) : a man living under an assumed name.
assumedly |-midlē| adverb
ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin assumere, from ad- ‘toward’ + sumere ‘take.’
My definition of assume: Don’t make an ass out of u and me!
Well I have been accused of “assuming” one too many times in my life and it has finally come to a head. Most of my life I have had the uncanny ability to see things that most people don’t see. Particularly when it comes to feelings and the like. My error, however, has been in stating what I see and because I do that people assume that I am assuming! It has happened to me more times than I can count! My other error is that I care about people and their feelings. I am extremely empathic which leads to a complicated string of events that for some reason always seem to turn around and bite me directly in my proverbial ass!
Most people I have observed don’t want to face their own fears nor do they want to face their own true feelings about any given subject. I suppose it is a predominant trait of human nature to be that way. However, I have never shared that particular human trait. I am constantly facing my own inhibitions, fears, feelings, etc., etc. Naturally I don’t like what I face any more than the next guy, but I do face them. The problem comes in when I can see things that others cannot within themselves and trying to be Ms. Nice Guy, I try to help them out by opening a discussion about what I sense are worries and/or problems that they may be facing. Instead of taking my words at face value though, most people see what i say as projection of my own feelings when they are anything but my own feelings. Ninety-nine percent of the time it results in the fact that I was right in what I stated, unfortunately, it does not present that way until much later on in the person’s life. Once it does, they sometimes will admit to me that I was right, but most times they don’t. What I do get when the incidence is happening is a statement that accuses me of being assuming. It not easy being me. Trust me. I swallow this even though I know within myself that this statement about me is totally unjust and unfair. It is rare that I come across a person who takes me at face value and realizes that what I have is insight. That particular person or persons do not realize what a God send they are to me. To acknowledge that I have an uncanny ability to foresee things that they have even yet to realize within themselves brings me total peace and comfort. That is very rare though within my circle.
So I am peeved today. Extremely and utterly peeved. Perhaps I am a rare breed and perhaps most people don’t want to believe that I am any different from they are and I have never really argued the point with anyone. I am however sure that I am not the only person on this earth with this ability nor do I think I will be the last. I do know quite emphatically that it is a fact of life. I sometimes wish I was daft and didn’t possess this insight as I call it. I would be a lot less insulted. A lot less hurt. A more peaceful human being within myself. That just isn’t something I can control at will. When I have this insight it is often spontaneous and I can no more stop it from coming than I could jump over the moon. It’s in my face. It’s in my every word. It’s in my thoughts. To not tell the person I care about that it exists would be like watching them drown and I would do nothing to save them. I couldn’t nor wouldn’t do that. That is why almost every time I swallow the hurt and the pain and the insults so that the person I have tried to help will actually have an opportunity to think about it and with any luck, act on it.
So all I want to say today is always assume I am right because ninety-nine percent of the time I am and that my friends, is no assumption!
A memorial is a word used to denote remembering and honoring those who have gone before us. A memorial for a person is to recall his or her life. At the end of May there is a day designated through the years in modern times to recall the sacrifices made by our military. In remembering their ultimate sacrifice, their lives, we must also remember the sacrifices of the families who have lost their loved ones forever. “Lest We Never Forget” is something engraved forevermore in our minds our hearts. It is truly necessary and valuable for the rest of us to be grateful, it is just as valid and necessary for us to remember. Many of us will be celebrating the unofficial start of summer this weekend with outings and barbecues. It has just evolved into this type of “holiday”. However, we should also pause and recall the lives that were given so that those celebrations could freely take place. So let us honor and appreciate all of these sacrifices by displaying poppy flowers in plain view and casting our American Flag at half-staff as a sign throughout this great land that we do honor and remember. It is only through memorializing we will keep our pride and show our love for one another and for those who have died in our place. God Bless our military past, present and future. Forever will they remain in our hearts and minds.
This Sunday, May 11th is Mother’s Day and as I sit here thinking about that day that is set aside for Moms, I can’t help thinking about the moms I have had and the moms I know. It is such a special event not because the card companies make money as well as all the florists and restaurants, but because it has come to be more than just a commercial gimmick. Because of that commercial gimmick Moms of all walks of life are now recognized, celebrated and hopefully appreciated. For me it has become a day of reflection as well as a day that allows me to sit back and appreciate the love that my children show me when they celebrate this day with me. It’s a day that allows us to be together without thought of any others. We are free to just be. It fills me with tremendous joy to just “be” with my children. It’s better than birthdays. It’s better than any other holiday to me. It is the one day in the whole year when I really feel like I have accomplished something in life. When I look upon my children and see how they have grown into fine human beings and how loving they are toward their own mates and their own offspring; it swells my heart with pride. I know that my job as a mom was the best I could do and my children are a product of that job. They are typical children with typical mischievous histories and typical angelic histories. They are also very special. No matter what has ever transpired in our lives, my children have always been the kind of children everyone wishes they had. I feel loved by my children. I feel respected by my children. Don’t misunderstand me, they can make me cry as quick as they can make me laugh. They can ignore me as much as they can pay avid attention to me, but the one thing they have never done, either of them is disappoint me. I have never been truly disappointed in either of my children and to me that is the ultimate gift that being a mother allows me. If mother’s day celebrates that feeling than I want to be a full participant. I want to bask in the glory of being able to spend a day with my children and enjoy them and love them and get away with all the kissy faces I can manage!
Mother’s Day is also a day for me to reflect on all the women I know in my life who are also mothers. I watch as they dedicate themselves day after day to their children, sacrificing if the need arises, tiring themselves out till they hurt if their children need them, just doing the best they can every single day to let their children know they love them and are there for them. I celebrate these women today as well. I am so glad I know them and so glad they are part of my life in one way or another. Happy Mother’s Day to all my family and all my friends who are moms! I hope this Mother’s Day you will be celebrated loudly and cherished dearly, just as you are cherished quietly each and every day. Mother’s Day cannot pass without my thinking of the women who have been a mom to me. My mom, Helen and my mother-in-law Teresa. Without their love, guidance and strength I’m not so sure I would be as confident or caring as I find I am these days.
My mom was tough and soft; happy and cranky; a very complex and complicated woman to figure out. The life she had growing up was extremely hard and didn’t get much better until later on in life, closer to her passing. She had so few years to experience the luxury of life, though my brother, Tom tried to give it to her. She was cheated out of most of what life had to offer and I always wish that she were here now so I could show her all the things that she missed out on and worship her as she should have been worshipped. I wish I could just sit on her lap one more time and tell her, “I love you, Mommy”, even if she wouldn’t say it back to me. I hope her spirit is now at rest and she feels all the love that she might not have felt during her lifetime. I hope her spirit knows that she lives on in everyone she has left behind. For a part of my mommy will always be a part of me.
My mother-in-law was also a very formidable woman. Her entire life was dedicated to the health and well-being of her children and grandchildren. She was a woman whose strength of convictions I have yet to see matched. She loved fiercely without wavering. She taught me many things in the years she was with us. I don’t think I was ever able to express the depth of respect and love I felt for her, even though I tried in my own way to communicate. We spoke different languages, she Italian and me English, so it was hard most times. She raised her children with such a magnitude of love that they are still to this day the greatest bunch of people you could ever meet. They carry on her legacy with their own children and their own values. They are the ultimate of what a loving family consists of, they are close, they are caring, they are hard-working, they are proud, they are a unit. My mother-in-law did a great job at being a mom and I can only hope that one day someone, somewhere will be able to say the same about me.
Last but far from the least, are my sisters and my niece who are no longer with us, but moms who have also passed. Their spirits live on in their children and their love of family and of life leaves all of us who remain a goal to thrive for. Their lives were very short, but their generous spirits and their love of family and friends was phenomenal. Not a day passes when one of them or all of them doesn’t pass through my thoughts and cause a ripple of pain from missing them through my heart; or bring a smile to my lips just remembering something they said or did to make me laugh. So I hope that everyone will think of Mother’s Day in a new way today. I hope that those of you who read my blog will realize that it wasn’t such a bad idea to commercialize a day for Mom’s as long as the sentiment that goes with it is practiced and remembered.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
PS: Song in this blog is dedicated to my Mom, who loved this song and often said she wished she was named Rosemary.
Another year has passed by and I am still feeling the same way I did when I first wrote this piece. I decided to re-post it because it expresses my innermost feelings precisely. Please forgive me for any redundancy.
I fell asleep one night twenty-seven months ago and awoke to a startling change in my life. Back then I never imagined how it would affect me so deeply, so profoundly. Today when I awoke it became very apparent to me that my life would never again be the life I had known for the last twenty years and surprisingly I found I am totally unprepared.
Funny how people take their everyday routines for granted. Some people never give it a thought, while others plan every moment. Some people love their jobs, while others drudge themselves through it. I suppose I had a mix of both ways, but mostly I loved my job. The people I came to know, the help I was able to give, the feeling of accomplishment I experienced completing a difficult task. All of those experiences gave me purpose. I didn’t really know until today what it meant to know I can never do that job again, never meet new young people, never have a conversation with a scholar that left me breathless and learning something new or even having a debate over our different outlooks on life. It hit me like a ton of bricks today and the sadness of this forced retirement engulfed me beyond my imaginings.
I still feel too young to be retiring, but alas not being able to use my body as I did before that day twenty-seven months ago has changed all my best laid plans. I never would have believed anyone who told me I would be so lost and so sad just from leaving a job, but I am those things and more. Even writing, which I always believed to be my future, has lost its luster and appeal lately. It astounds me thinking that my purpose is now gone. Good advice is ever flowing my way and ideas from others about what to do with my time now, but none unfortunately wear my shoes nor have my personality so all the good intentioned words of wisdom don’t help me at all. I compare it to the loss of someone dear. Everyone at the funeral says they are sorry for your loss and I’m certain they are, but it doesn’t validate what you feel from that loss. Well, when you are forced to give up something you care about, as I was, it is the same as experiencing the death of a beloved friend or family member. There truly is no consoling. As all hurts heal I have no doubt this will also pass in time, I just don’t know how much more time needs to pass until I can feel like my old self again or if in fact, I ever will.
Am I feeling sorry for myself, probably yes. Do I have a right to? Without a doubt. Maybe something will change again in my life one day soon that will allow me the privilege of feeling I have a purpose on a daily basis. Who knows? Change is certainly apparent everywhere for everyone, just do yourselves a favor and don’t take what you have for granted. Appreciate it, go ahead sweat the small stuff cause the small stuff matters as well, savor all of the moments because you may fall asleep one night and awaken to discover your entire world is changed and you can no longer have the purpose you have today.
Everyone wants to be happy. It’s more than an adjective or adverb, noun or verb. It’s an actual feeling. It’s hardest to do when you are a young adult because all of the troubles in the world are on your shoulders. However, if one would learn to push the negative out and allow the positive side in, I am willing to bet that happiness will start to infiltrate the soul and before you know it…you will find yourself …happy! For me, I can jump-start the process of feeling happy by listening to music….happy, uplifting, danceable music! Maybe for others it would be a movie or perhaps a book, or maybe just a smile from a fellow human being. Whatever the start is pay heed to it! Follow it through. Allow yourself the luxury of feeling happy.
I decided to be happy even though another year has gone by and I am no better nor worse than I was a year ago! As I reflect upon my life these days (which I always seem to do around the date of my birth) it becomes more and more apparent that although I have had trials and tribulations, as most of my fellow human beings, for the most part I have had a good life up to now. A GOOD LIFE, now that isn’t something everyone can say. As I think back and see my childhood, my teen years, my young adulthood and now, I have had the support of family and friends always in one form or another. The people I have met have kept my life in perspective. My life is enriched first and foremost by my family. I have a terrific family. Sure we are all a bit nutty here and there, but no more so than most. My life is enriched further by my friends. I have made so many wonderful friends. Sure they are all a bit out there at times, but those are the times that make me laugh the hardest! So I have concluded that people really do create love.
Even though it’s about to be my birthday and people tend to be a bit nicer when it’s one’s birthday, I have to honestly say that most of my birthdays have been memorable and happy. Yep, I said it …happy! It’s actually a euphoric feeling when one decides to be happy. It isn’t the same as when something makes you happy. It isn’t the same when people wish you happiness, either. It’s more of an inner peace. A gift to yourself. Choosing happiness in the face of adversity, choosing happiness in the face of illness, choosing happiness in the face of poverty, is truly a unique and rewarding feeling. Truth be known, only you can do this for yourself. Happiness is the one true choice a person can make for themselves. All it takes is a decision to be happy. To look at the sadness that surrounds you and the awful things in the world that you can only pray will change and decide that you will do your part to better it by first caring about those things and then do something about them with a happy outlook. I decided that I can’t change things as I would like them to be, but I can accept them and I can make a difference with every word I write and every smile I give. That is how I choose to make a difference and give the gift of happiness by being happy. I have heard through the years that when the person in the household who keeps everything together is happy than the whole household is happy. Same applies to the person on the job or anywhere. If that person is happy everyone is happy. I have tried it and I know firsthand that it works. Happiness is infectious! So infect people with happiness wherever you go!
So Happy Trails! Be Happy Together! Smile! Act as if your life depended on it, because actually it does!
All of my life I have been fascinated by love or the idea of love. Is it solely emotion or is it an idea within one’s mind? Or perhaps it is a combination, something I have come to think of as the emotional mind. Growing up my mother always told me, “There is no such thing as love”. As I matured I realized she was caused so much pain from love that she chose to cut it from her life as best she could. As I grow older, I am beginning to understand that statement more and more.
I’m not referring to a parent’s love for a child or vice a versa. Although that can exhibit the same disappointments at times. However, that sort of love doesn’t fade. Painful or not it remains. Joyous or not it remains. It is the only constant I have come to believe in, for not matter how cruel or unmanageable it may be at times, the love we feel for our children is always there; and the love a child may feel, even for an abusive parent, is still intact after all the hurt has been inflicted. It is a true phenomenon in life to me.
I have been romantically in love a few times in my life. All of those times started out euphoric. The feeling was always good and always left a desire for more of the same. Unfortunately, I have also experienced great pain from those very same feelings of love that brought me such pleasure in the beginning. It has baffled me my entire life and has resulted in extreme skepticism about love and what it is and what it may be. Quite a while ago I wrote the poem, What is Love and perhaps it wasn’t considered great by those who viewed it, but for me it spoke of my conflicted beliefs about love and how one can never be certain that it truly exists no matter how wondrous the lovers or spouses seem.
It has been my experience that with great love comes great pain. For to love someone a person must care about everything that involves that person. For if one didn’t care, then how could it be love? For is not love the desire to make the other person happy at all times? For is not love a feeling of empathy for the other? For is not love an expression of complete desire and need of the other? If those things are not felt than I say romantic love is not present. Perhaps the feeling is carried over from that which we felt in childhood. A need to belong, a cure for loneliness, a comforting gesture, and even a dependency. That is the love felt by a child, but surely not romantic love. Romantic love must be a combination of all those things; and above all the absolute wish for the well-being and happiness of the other person. That is so very hard for human beings to do. To be able to sacrifice, for lack of a better word, their own feelings for that of another. My belief is that to love that way is to experience what love is and the trick is to continue to love one own’s self while experiencing it. So technically, it is not a sacrifice at all, but a willingness to commit to a feeling felt so deeply it is unexplainable.
So is love a reality of the heart? Or is it an illusion of a human’s mind? These are age-old questions and I suppose the answer will continue to elude us. I will tell you this, I would choose to experience always the euphoric aura of romantic love, but would forgo it completely if I knew that with it comes the excruciating pain it can bring. Happy Valentine’s Day!
What is love?
Love is a moment, and too often it passes without a second thought. It’s the one moment in your life in which everything is right. Your faults and failures don’t matter. Love is the moment you know why you’re here; it’s the answer you’ve sought. Love is the absence of emptiness. Love is the sole reason you feel emptiness. Love is a changeling.
It is different feelings in different people. Love is a defined human emotion tugging for comprehension within the center of reason. Love is the confidence to be. Love is essence of beauty. Love is felt. Love is neither intelligence nor a theory provoking process. Love is the core of humanity’s beliefs. Love can be paradise. Love can be excruciating pain. Love is a personal expression of inner self. Love is a mystery waiting to be revealed. Love is the driving force in the pursuit of happiness. Love is self-deprivation in a quest toward selfishness of the highest form by creating happiness in another. Love is what you feel it is and not what you think it is. Love is unforgettably embedded in your being once it is truly experienced. Love is a lifelong search.
With those words came a shock of disbelief, until I heard from her sister, Roxanne who confirmed what I was afraid to face, my beloved friend Wanda passed away from a heart attack on January 30, 2014 at the age of 59.
I am still shocked and I feel her gone from this earth and the sadness overcomes me. Never again will I be able to hear her laughing at my shenanigans. Never again will I hear her childlike innocence over a secret I shared with her. It was as if I shocked her with each adventure of mine that I revealed to her. No I haven’t traveled the world or climbed any mountains, but every little thing in my life that happened and I told Wanda about it, I felt like the most well-traveled outrageous woman ever, sort of an Amelia Earhart or an Auntie Mame, and she made me feel so great! When I was troubled or worried it was Wanda who made me laugh with her and all of a sudden everything vanished and it was funny. This blog tonight isn’t about me though, it is meant to be about one of the most amazing women I have ever known.
We met when we were in our twenties. We both worked at New York Life Insurance Company in Manhattan. Never in a million years did either of us think we would wind up as bookends. She a proud African-American woman and me a Caucasian mutt (Irish, English, Scottish and French) woman. Both of us were considered middle class at this stage of our lives, but we knew poverty and were trying to overcome it. Neither of us believing we had so many things in common. We did though, the more we talked the more we knew we were extremely similar in every area, we bonded from those discoveries and we stay bonded throughout our lives. We trusted one another. We never judged one another. We shared all those intimate details without hesitation, laughing through the other’s shock at our behavior at times. We were similar to two of the “Sex and the City” girls. A bit out there, taking risks and trying almost anything at least once. I can only remember two times in over 35 years seeing or hearing Wanda cry. She didn’t cry in front of people, she tried to show toughness, but her niceness always shined through that facade.
Even though there are a dozen of antics I could reveal, I choose not to divulge them, because I know my friend wouldn’t want that and I will respect her. The two of us couldn’t help but hang out together once we realized we were almost the same person only of a different race. Our friendship grew despite the disapproval and jealousies of our other friends. It was our fault though and we knew it, but still couldn’t help just hanging out together every chance we got. We still loved our friends, we just couldn’t share all the things Wanda and I shared with one another without feeling judged. You see Wanda and I just simply accepted each other and neither of us ever judged each other or anyone else. We never talked about others and how they were or what they did. We just simply were friends. We met each other’s families and they became our family. We met each other’s boyfriends and future spouses. We went to each other’s weddings and childbirth. We suffered together through breakups, sicknesses and accomplishments.
As we grew older we stopped seeing each other, each of us involved in our own worlds of marriage and motherhood. However, we never kept out of touch. At least once a year we would talk about what was happening in our lives, we would catch up as if we saw one another yesterday. We would always remember one another’s birthday. The only regret I have is that I was one of three Godmothers to her only daughter, Shanell and I didn’t keep up with Shanell. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my circumstances through much of my life, didn’t give me the privilege of choice. However, I have always been proud of the honor Wanda bestowed on me from the moment she asked me and I still feel that honor. Wanda knew I felt this and always understood why I couldn’t demonstrate it as I wanted to, she never held it against me and always updated me about Shanell. Wanda loves Shanell and her granddaughter, Nekiia with all her heart and of this I am positive. Wanda was always Wanda. She never changed in all the years I knew her.
She was very ill the last few years, but told me recently that she had her numbers under control, except for her sugar. That was always fluctuating because, like me she was addicted to soda. In the last three years, I tapered off the soda and replaced it with bottled water because like her, I developed diabetes as well. She was on medication, I came off medication but still have fluctuating numbers. Wanda couldn’t escape her need of soda, it was just stronger than her willpower. I understood. Now she is gone from a heart attack. I don’t know what happened yet and I’m not sure what led to the attack, but it doesn’t matter. Right now the only thing that matters to me is that I live in a world now without Wanda. My Wanda the funny, bubbling, secretive, caring, genuine, magnificent Wanda. A true friend, a real friend, a best friend a woman with substance, humanity, and heart. She was brave when needed, strong when needed, subdued when needed. She had wisdom beyond her years. She had love as great as Venus and conquered whatever hate she felt long ago. If it seems as if I am exaggerating than you didn’t know her. She was a humanitarian, a wonderful loving grandmother, a loyal and trusting friend. I loved her ever since I got to know her and I love her still. How I will continue in a world without Wanda being in it is beyond my thinking. I cannot imagine it. She kept me grounded. I had no fear, no mistrust, no doubt when I was with her no matter if we were live, online or on the phone. She exuded such a positive, welcoming aura that no secret was too secretive, no wild or risky act was too risqué. She was so accepting of all of it.
She also was fiercely protective of her loved ones and would be stern when she felt it was necessary. She was stubborn and class conscience, she would let you have it if she believed she was right and you were wrong. She was just like every other mom I have ever known, taking care of her family the best way she knew how. She will be missed beyond any of these words, but I needed to write them. I wanted the world to know that Wanda left her mark. That she is still loved beyond words. The world and I lost a precious human the other day and all I hope is that she is in a place where she is pampered, protected and pain-free. Wherever she is they are lucky to have her.
Wanda I love you, I miss you and I wish you rest in a peaceful and comfortable place. You will always be my beloved, trusted friend.
It’s been quite awhile since I posted anything on my blog. I haven’t had much oomph lately nor much inspiration for my thoughts. I am hoping that in this New Year I will receive insight that will open up avenues that will be of interest to those who follow my thoughts in words on paper.
So much goes on during the holiday season that I get lost in the hoo
pla of it all and my mind is a bevy of ideas and projects. Not that I did very much except gift buying, decorating and bit of baking. All but a fraction of what I used to accomplish. As a matter of fact, the Christmas decorations are still outside my house. It’s been too cold and snowy this January to get them down and put away. Maybe by St. Patrick’s Day!
Just wanted to touch base a bit and let my followers know I’m still alive and kicking.
As soon as the words come flowing…..this blog of mine will be growing. See you soon.
Being truly grateful to our military past, present and future as well as to their families seems such a small gesture when one really thinks about it, however not being grateful or not saying at least a thank you is a true travesty. Yet many Americans have chosen the latter. It may be that many of our military enlisted for various reasons, some were called to duty, but no matter how they became a part of our military, we owe each of them a debt of gratitude far beyond what we could ever come close to repaying. The same debt is owed to their families for they have made many sacrifices as well.
The rights and privileges each of us maintain are ensured by the military who defend us, guard us and believe in the greatness of our country. Without their unwavering loyalty, bravery, and pride America would not exist as a free and independent nation. No matter our differences in politics, religions, races…each man or woman soldier, sailor, marine, air force person and national guard carries inside of them a quality that outshines most of us. They share and spread that beacon of light throughout this nation. That light never goes out because of their service and their sacrifices. There are thousands who have given or lost their lives throughout the generations and those men and women must never be forgotten for this ultimate act. We can never repay this act of bravery ever. The very least we can offer is our eternal gratitude.
By this simple gesture we are showing our respect to these individuals. It has nothing to do with whether or not we believe in wars. Or in the opinions of our politicians. On this day a gesture of gratitude merely recognizes our military and honors them for keeping our nation safe. It allows all to see and to know how important our military is to each of us and that no matter the differences so inherent in this country we are United because of their commitment to service, their bravery and their beliefs.
A thank you costs us nothing but gives us so much. So please during your day today say a Happy Veteran’s Day’ thank you to a military person and their family with true feeling for their unmatched commitment.
It’s amazing to me how I keep hearing how murder in NYC is down each year, yet every time I open up my NY Daily News, my local paper, I see another shooting or knifing. Usually it happens in neighborhood that holds a housing project. Everyday there is an innocent child or adult who gets caught in the crossfire. Yet murder is going down in the City. Aren’t the boroughs considered part of this wonderful city we call the Big Apple?
I turn the pages of the newspaper and see the arguments for and against stop and frisk by the NYC Police Department. I admit I have a mixed reaction to that policy. If it will truly deter crime and catch the idiots who murder or wound innocent human beings — than I am for it. If it is just a numbers game..then forget it. If it means the police can catch terrorists…do it. I’ll waive my Civil Rights if it will help do that. Hah! I can’t believe I just said that, me, of all people! I am such an advocate of Civil Rights and the rights of individuals and totally against any “Big Brother” type monitoring, yet I am also so very saddened and tired of reading and hearing about senseless killings of innocents.
We need a new Mayor that is for sure. If we have the right candidates, I don’t know. I do know as great as the rich Mayor attempted to make the city, and the Police Commissioner protected us, these awful events keep happening. We absolutely need the housing projects in all the boroughs redone. Whatever happens there isn’t right. Hard working, mostly blue-collar or poverty-stricken people reside in them and they deserve to have decent living arrangements and safe, clean properties to enjoy. I believe that with the right Mayor focusing on the housing project problems could be the most major event to happen to New York City and the Boroughs in ages! If the Mayor elect would make that the first priority I believe this Metropolis would flourish like never before. I believe the senseless killings would end. The gangs would be disbanded and the people who deserve not to be afraid, won’t have to be afraid anymore. Cops can get back to fighting other crime because there will always be other crime to fight, in a City this big there will always be crime.
Maybe I’m all wrong and there is something I’m missing, but I don’t think so. I’m so tired of injustice and senseless killings and all the other bad stuff that goes with it. Maybe I should move. Change my state or something. I don’t want to run away from the city of my birth. Brooklyn has always been my home and I love it. I love its’ diversity, its’ beauty, even its’ ugly side. It is after all my home. Quite frankly, though, I have been thinking more and more about finding a different place to settle down and have the things I never could have here, such as my own backyard and porch/deck. My own driveway and lawn. A kitchen that has access to the backyard has always been a dream of mine. Maybe even a pool so I can do a daily swim and get my tone back. Oh so many things I have thought that would mean changing my life, but somehow the pull of Brooklyn, the memories the access to everything keeps me here with my dreams of change, rather than the change itself.
All I really want to change in the immediate future is for me to pick up my Daily paper and not find one story about a senseless killing in a playground or just crossing a street. That is the change I really want and I hope it’s coming soon.
Some people hear the blues and the first thing that comes to mind is music. Other people hear the blues and it denotes a feeling. It isn’t a feeling that one can easily explain since it is an emotion I believe from the brain. It isn’t the same as depression for depression one must be lacking the necessary amount of brain chemicals/hormones that control ones thought and/or feelings. I was tested for those and I am lacking the necessary elements that cause physical/mental depression. However, I am definitely among the lucky few who experience the blues quite often as of late. The Blues are sneaky. One minute you are going about your day as usual and the next you feel this despondency wash upon you as if “out of the blue” you are shaking to the core on the inside.
Anyone who has experienced this must know exactly what I am talking about. It is so overwhelming that any plans you have made go flying out the window. You have no idea what happens. The Blues come without rhyme or reason. They have a very controlling way about them. Used to be they couldn’t get hold of me for long because I would immerse myself in some work project or cook up some elaborate meals while drinking a glass of red wine and dancing to the rhythm of the preparations. However, those things are not so easy for me anymore because my body lately refuses to coöperate with my best laid plans.
To borrow some more song lyrics, “baby the rain must fall, baby the wind must blow”, but must it fall so often and be colored blue? I truly dislike the blues and the uneasiness it causes me to feel. Who could like feeling confused, no ability to concentrate on any one train of thought, and zapped of energy! I certainly don’t like it in any way shape or form. Earlier I mentioned music. Music, if chosen correctly, is the cure that I found for my blues. Some songs can reach deep inside my soul and remove this awful sensation that my little world is caving. I have no explanation for any of this. I only know it is an absolute truth. I find that my particular key to unlock good feelings is the music from the 60’s. Groups like Herman’s Hermits, the Troggs, some of the Beatles, some of the Rolling Stones, Elvis (naturally) and so many others have created tunes that match my inner spirit. These wonderful sounds can fight my blues for me. I can feel the struggle inside myself at times. The blues trying desperately to keep me down, trying their constant trickery of masking a false sense of happy feeling and then coming back “out of the blue” so to speak. I just turn the volume up and can feel those sounds penetrating deep into my soul pushing those blues right out of my system. Before long I am back to my best laid plans and life has a new meaning. My heart grows fonder and my soul reaches levels close to euphoria, well not quite euphoria, but close. Many times, my granddaughter can cure me of any blues I may be having. On the days when I get to experience her amazingness (if that is a real word), I can do nothing less than concentrate on her adventures. She can always bring a smile to my face and my heart even when she prefers her Nonno to me!
I am almost in round fifteen of this battle and I think soon these blues will have turned to a bright shining orange, reminiscent of a beautiful sunset along a quiet shoreline. At least that is the knockout result I am counting on!
reminisce~verb~indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events.
Sometimes our memories are best forgotten and sometimes they are all we want to remember. It”s funny how life works at times. Back before I made mistakes and regrets, there was a time I had innocence and naiveté. The latter time is the time I am remembering today. The different way things smelled back then such as cotton candy or Christmas trees at the street vendors. The games we played in front of our tenements or homes on the side streets. The people we knew, the stores we went to, our neighbors, our friends. Pleasant memories are best remembered and can lift our spirits when we are feeling low. I never thought I would want to go back in time, my life is good. I have love in my life everyday. Yet, there is still a part of me that wishes I could go back to that time of innocence and naiveté when life was simply uncomplicated and the only things that mattered were the things you planned solely for yourself that day. There were no real thoughts about sickness, or death, poverty or wealth. The world around us was just there and the opportunities were in front of us. Sure we were always harassed by our parents and perhaps other siblings, but for the most part we were free and young, ready to skip and jump to our next adventure. Our friends were our lifeline. We trusted them and hung with them and always wanted to be a part of them. Funny how life changes much of that and how we lose sight of our friends for so many different reasons. I’ve been blessed as of late through the wonder of technology. I became a member of the social phenomenon known as Facebook. Through this social media I have found friends I thought I had lost forever and friends have found me. I have been astonished to learn how much we missed each other even though our contact was absent for so many, many years. I have discovered that I was wrong in thinking they forgot about me or I never really touched their lives. I had always known how they had touched mine, so it is a pleasant feeling to know that I have also made a small impact on them. Talking to them brings back happy memories and can almost make me feel that I am young once more in the age of innocence and naiveté. Not a bad place to be in this crazy world of ours. Remembering, I have come to realize, doesn’t always need to be bad or sad and for me that is a wondrous emotional discovery. Going back again is sometimes more of a salvation than a heartache and I am really glad that I took a chance and followed that path. So in the words of Frank Sinatra, “That’s life….regrets I had a few, but then again too few to mention.”
Hi! I know it has been a while since I wrote on my blog. Lately, life has taken a curve and my thoughts have been preoccupied with family woes. I would much rather be optimistic in my posts and write about happier moments and thoughts than the ones I am experiencing as of late. So for those of you who follow this blog and for those of you who care….I hope to be back soon with some joyful posts, some serious posts and some posts that make you ponder! Meanwhile, happy Labor Day one and all!
Ah summertime! Hot, hazy, sunny skies, beaches, lazy days and ice cream! I can remember waiting impatiently for either the Mister Softee truck or the Good Humor truck to come sauntering down our street playing their jingles and capturing my kids attention like no other sound! It was those few minutes on those busy days when their excited faces and happy smiles would bring joy to my heart. Choosing what to order usually took more moments than one would want, but hey there was so much to choose from! Ice cream has always been a staple in my family ever since I can remember. Even as a child, my mom and dad and brother would have ice cream from Si’s candy store almost every summer night. I would be sent to Si’s on 7th Avenue to get a pint of cherry vanilla for my dad, either strawberry or butter pecan or peach for my mom, same for my brother. I would always get vanilla fudge. Thinking back I hadn’t realized that Si’s containers were the same containers that they still use in the Chinese restaurants to put “take out” rice in! Funny how seasonal memories stay in one’s mind!
I have loads of memories about ice cream or involving ice cream, but I believe the best one I am ever going to have is the one in my video on this post. I will cherish this memory for as long as I am allowed to remember.
Going away for a few days and won’t be posting for about a week or so, but hope I put a smile on your face and hop in your step! Enjoy!
My brother-in-law Joey is one of those guys who people can easily label as “one of a Kind”. He is a very special person. I have known him for most of my life and I have never known him to be anything other than kind, caring, helpful, quiet, and born with a true heart of gold.
I first saw Joey when he came to get my sister, Gerrie for a date. It was very late at night and he was in the Navy. He came by our tenement with his friend Roger. I was around 11 or 12 at the time. I recall waking up and seeing him by the door with his friend. Both of them in their sailor suits and as handsome as could be. As soon as he noticed I woke up (our tenement was a railroad apartment and my bed was in the middle of the apartment (no doors and I slept with two of my sisters) he came over to say hello and to introduce Roger. I remember jumping up and hugging him and then falling back to sleep. I didn’t really know Joey well all I knew was that he was totally and madly in love with my sister and that they would soon marry. Back then Joey was not much different from how he is today. After he married Gerrie he had a job at UPS and would work long hard hours. They have a daughter, Barbie Jo and she is the apple of Joey’s eye. He was always fiercely protective and a loving husband and father. No one could mess with either of his girls or their extended family if Joey had anything to say about it. His presence alone demands respect and his good looks are still with him today. No one, except maybe my mother, could find fault with Joey. Then again, my mother found fault with every single guy her daughters ever went out with. She was a tough bird and took no-nonsense from anyone.
Joey continued to work really hard and long hours providing a great life for Gerrie and Barbie. He extended himself to many members of our family as well. He taught my oldest son, Rocky to drive. He loved baseball and other sports. He hunted a little when he was younger and collected baseball memorabilia and hunting rifles. He took his wife and child on a vacation every single year. It is easy to know that Joey cares about us even if he never utters a word in that direction. I have only seen him angry twice in my entire life and both times in defense of either his wife or daughter. Now that is saying a lot, don’t you think?
Well sadly and heartbreakingly Joey has gotten Alzheimer’s disease and the symptoms started about 16 years ago. For quite a long time Joey held his own and with the help of Gerrie and Barbie and now his two grandchildren, he maintains a pretty “normal” life. Recently, he became physically ill and consequently the dementia worsened. Now he needs additional help from a professional staff at a rehabilitation/nursing facility. It breaks my heart to see this happening to anyone and their immediate family. Alzheimer’s is a horrific disease because it takes away the cognizant portion of your mind. It becomes so debilitating and a person afflicted with it cannot survive without help. More has to be done about this disease. Research must be explored further. A cure or at least a better treatment to delay the onset of this disease must be found and soon. I believe half of the population will develop either dementia or Alzheimer’s at some point and no matter what kind of lifestyle one lives, if it happens it will only be the research for the treatment and hopefully the cure that will help.
So as I sit here reminiscing about my wonderful brother-in-law and knowing that somewhere inside the man I now see is that same man, that same caring, kind, loving man who if he could would still defend and protect his family to the bitter end. His handsome, strong body is deceiving, but I am grateful that he still has those qualities.
I chose to write about Joey today because he is on my mind each and everyday lately. I know I could never repay him for all the kindnesses he bestowed upon me throughout my life and I wanted to pay tribute to a great man who deserves to be happy, loved and taken care of in the best possible way. Joey is “one of a Kind” there is no doubt and I am very glad and grateful that I am privileged to be part of his extended family. I will love him always. Thank you, Joey. I am sorry I never took the time to tell you how I felt long before now and I hope that somehow you know all the lives you have touched, changed and made better just by being, Joey.
The song on this post is for Joey because he loves these types of songs and would often listen to them.
Count me among the naïve in the world because I still believe that the truth is the truth and no matter how one tries to cover it up, make excuses for it, or give that age-old comment that there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth, it is still the truth. For me justice and truth are partners. Married for life. In American society today, and perhaps even in the world, media and communication methods have evolved into a state of exaggeration, exploitation, and injustice and all for the sake of dollars and cents. Everyone seems to have forgotten what morals, honesty and forgiveness means. The media are most guilty of doing this and we as a society have enabled them to succeed by buying into all the sensationalism and thrills that they provide by coloring what is truth and in turn what is actual justice.
It troubles me that we are all forgetting that our country is based on “innocent until proven guilty” in all matters, regardless of circumstances. We are all so ready to be gullible and swallow all the hype without questioning its origins or ulterior motives. Very few of us has the courage anymore to stand fast and loyal to what we have been taught, to what we have experienced and most importantly to what we actually believe in our hearts. I am personally upset by the news all around me. All of the sensationalism has sickened me to the core.
Justice fairly distributed is an American pride. Where is it going? How do we get it back? What has to change in order to feel that pride again? It worries me that the future generations are being swept up in misguided ideals in such a quantity because of modern technology and communication that the very foundation, from which they have come, is so severely cracked that their entire lives will be slowly destroyed if it continues along this path. It has actually upset my balance of self just from watching, reading and listening to all the misguided virtues and untruths being tossed about in order to entice, tempt and devalue all the work that was done to build this country in the first place. America is nothing more than a rebellious teenager in the history of the world and it is time she grew into the next phase of her existence by remembering her foundation, improving upon them and utilizing her mistakes, experiences and lessons to keep her earned title of the greatest country in the world.
America needs to remember the value of family and that today’s family is not the family it once was formed to consist of. Today’s family is any body of people who reside as one unit and take care of one another in whatever way possible. That family is the American family.
Our elected officials are elected to represent the consensus of the American people. They are not in those positions to form small dictatorships or private enterprises. It is society’s responsibility to keep those representatives in compliance with their positions.
It is society’s responsibility to uphold the principles of our country’s constitution, including the protection of all people within the boundaries of this country who are participating in this country’s laws and regulations, customs and predominant language. All American people inclusive of all races, creeds and religions have been given the rights and privileges afforded by that Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Uphold the premise of “innocent until proven guilty” as the ultimate form of justice. It is that very premise that will set us apart from all other nations and help us to grow and learn from our past indiscretions and outright wrongs.
The media are not the law of the land. Justice, independence and integrity are the laws of this country. Society controls the perception of these values and to me right now, they are lost in the misguided notion that media and communication are the scripts of the law and justice of America. This age of technology has given us a great deal, but it has also taken a great deal from us. The media is a place to report news, to entertain, to share. It is no more than opinion in any way shape or form. It is society’s responsibility to know that difference and to subscribe to it with that knowledge. It is time to stop and take an assessment and realize that our rebellious teen ways must come to an end.
I am at a time in my life when I don’t believe I have that many more years ahead of me as those I have behind me. My one wish is that I once again am allowed to see the pride in America rise. That the justice I believe is the cornerstone of our great nation will once again shine as a beacon across the seas and she will hold her head high knowing that she has moved on from the past and has kept her foundation, while reaching the next phase of her existence and is stronger than ever and ready to embrace her future, free and independently as she was born to be.
Shadows of memories tracing empty spaces in my heart
For here lies the key to my home
Brooklyn, oh Brooklyn from you I cannot part
I hope you will forgive me, today I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness from the thoughts that I may soon need to leave the borough of my birth. My present circumstances is making it harder and harder to live here and be financially stable. Not quite sure about the definite plan as yet, but I know there needs to be one very soon. How will I ever be able to break my own heart? Life is not always as we planned nor does change always come with joyful challenges. For now, though, its just a jumble of thoughts.
Reality TV has become the “popular” genre on the television screens across the world. People exposing themselves gives a new meaning to entertainment. Personally, I would rather be entertained by programs such as “VEGAS”, which of course was cancelled for a show exposing the Brooklyn DA’s office! Pathetic! What I want to see is reality in Advertising. You know all those commercials portraying wrinkle reducing or eliminating fine lines and creases creams ads? The ones where there is a photo touched twenty something model applying these “miracle” products! I would just love to see an actual 50-60 year old untouched model applying those creams and actually wait the 8 weeks for them to take affect and re-shoot the commercial showing those results live! Oh yea, now that would make for true reality! Talk about preying on the helpless! Women with limited incomes have been wasting their money for years hoping one of these “creams” would take the place of the plastic surgery they can’t afford. While I’m on the subject, lets take a closer look at another “reality in Advertising” medium that has bugged me for years.
The picture above shows a woman who is obviously not a size 2XL, but if you look closely the small sketch within her photo shoot does. With my idea of reality advertising, that illustrated sketch would be a real untouched photo of a 2XL woman wearing that “miracle” suit and if it did all that it advertises to do for just $20 plus S&H, that designer would make billions in no time! Wahla….Reality Adveristing!
Another pet peeve of mine is the frustration infused upon women above the size of 12 while shopping. I am sure there are hundreds if not thousands of women who have experienced the hunt for a special occasion outfit, whose soul purpose is to spend money on something they will probably only wear once, but instead of snaring their prey…they wind up wearing something from their closets or settle for less than what they wanted. This makes for very unhappy and disappointed women worldwide. With good intentions, we enter the high-end department stores. There before our eyes are just the dresses and/or outfits we have been searching for, so we walk briskly to that desirous rack. We find exactly the dress we desired. We look at the tag and of course, it is a size 8. We search frantically through the rack only to find that the sizes end at XL or L. Now, keep in mind every designer seems to have their own vision of what constitutes a size S, M, L and XL. It is as if those designers have visions so outside the box of reality that it should be deemed true fantasy! Well back to the desired dress…with true disappointment we leave our gorgeous dress on the rack for the imitated models to find on another day. As we look through the larger size or “woman’s size” area, all we see are sacks and dresses that even our grandmother’s of 90 wouldn’t wear. No style, no shape, blah designs with big flowers or some other hideous accessory attached. We are just about to give up when lo and behold, we spot the desired dress in the women’s section of racks! (This unnamed high-end department store will remain unnamed to protect the innocent). All the awful thoughts we have been having during this shopping event are disappearing, we rescind our curse upon the designers and the stores. We can’t believe we see that dress in the size we were looking for. We (my companion and me) practically run to that rack, bumping into other shoppers because we can’t get there fast enough! We grab the dress from the rack and oh no…we have been taken again! While the dress appeared to be that very same dress that we saw on the size 8 rack, it was anything but! It was the same material, the same color, but the style was completely obliterated! Why we cry? Why? If the designers’ manufacturers can make the dress from size 0 to 12, why in heaven’s name can’t they make the EXACT same style in size 14 to 22? In reality, our bodies aren’t shapeless, so why make the dress in the larger size shapeless? Here was the dress in my hands. Proof that it was duplicated in color and material. I walk back to the size 0 to 12 size rack, I pick up the desired dress, I compare it to the larger size duplicate…it is totally not the same styling! “What in the world is going on?” , my mind shouts! Somewhere between the designer and the manufacturer or distributor, that dress was REDESIGNED hideously. It makes no sense at all. It doesn’t only happen with this dress, it occurs in blouses and skirts and pants as well. We keep asking ourselves, “Do designers actually think that the style can’t be worn by a larger sized woman?” “How discriminating is that?”. Of course, both dresses get placed back on their prospective racks. Waiting for just the right person to buy them. While the reality is that hundreds if not thousands of women would have paid the price for that dress if only it was styled as the original instead of settling for some other cheaper dress or a closet standby. When will the world of “reality advertising, marketing, manufacturing and designing” come to pass? Or, “Will we forever be stuck in this merry-go-round of taboo clothing because we happen to be larger than a size 12? “. What will it take to change this status quo? I’m thinking perhaps it’s time for the networks to consider a true reality show. One based on reality advertising, where people are real, not made to look real, but are real. I can envision an explosion of interest in the less than perfect people out there and an increase in profits for the brave designers and manufacturers with an abundance of courage ready and willing to expose a false and fake system for all the world to see. I patiently and anxiously wait for someone to realize that the desired dress would look just as great on the body of a size 14, 16, 18, 1x or 2x woman. Just as I wait for the discovery of a cream that truly erases the wrinkles of a forty, fifty or sixty year old woman. Oh if only that day would come!
I am so amazed by all the scientific technology that has come to pass, yet saddened by so much that has not yet been developed. I am so tired of being entertained (or better yet…curiosity satisfied) by the barrage of reality television programs, but disillusioned by the continued phoniness in advertising and marketing. I am a hopeful optimist! An idealist, I suppose, about certain variants in life. I, also presume, I’m an average woman who shops, watches television, reads magazines and newspapers, and searches the internet, so shouldn’t I be listened to? It would seem not. It seems as if I am invisible in the modern world. There is no reality in advertising and marketing for people like me because there are no brave souls out there willing to stand up against the status quo and develop or invent a reality that would mirror the reality of my existence, but nevertheless, I will hold onto the dream because after all that IS my reality.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Being a product of the Catholic School System the month of May meant many things to me, but most of all I have always associated it with peace, joy, and beauty. My father passed away on May 4th and one of my sisters passed away on May 8th. So along with my wonderful memories of May comes a bit of heartache. Among the most vivid memories I have is one of the Blessed Mother. Not meaning to give anyone the idea that I am still affiliated with any organized religion, because I chose a long time ago not to associate, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some of the things that I was taught as a child. Naturally, I don’t believe them as blindly as I did back then, however there was always something to the idea of my beliefs, especially when it came to the Blessed Mother. I belief that the man Jesus may very well have had a mom named Mary and that she suffered greatly when he was crucified as any mother would. She has always been a part of my life and I have turned to her many a time to console me and to help me deal with the most painful moments of my life. Perhaps it is just an idea that I turn to, but for me she was a very real person and her spirit lingers within me. She represents all that is peaceful and beautiful to me. She encompasses the makeup of my heart. I strive to be as loving as I believe she had to have been for she sacrificed greatly for the good of all. The other side of my persona is very much rooted in patriotism. This from both my father and John Wayne, two men who convinced me, whether acting or not, that America was a great country and worth defending to the death. Listening to my father and watching John Wayne with him in the old movies was a great adventure for me. I got to spend time with my father, which wasn’t always possible in our lifestyle. My father loved Fred Astaire, John Wayne, James Cagney, and many more movie stars long gone to graves. My father instilled in me that same passion. I am not so naive as to think that this could possibly be conceived as “brainwashing”, but whether it was brainwashing or it wasn’t doesn’t matter anymore. That feeling of patriotism is still very much a part of who I am and what matters in life to me. Wouldn’t you say I have that right?
I recall those days in May when we would wear our communion dresses for the crowning of Mary. It was an exciting time in my young life and I always loved the songs we would sing as we processed down the aisle of the Church to where Mary’s statue sat and one of the girls would be chosen to “crown” Mary with a bouquet of flowers. I felt such inner joy and peace during those simple ceremonies. I can still recall some of the songs we sang and how their lyrics and tunes would be forever imbedded in my mind. Perhaps they might ring a bell to some of the readers, so I have inserted a couple below. You still might be asking yourself, “What has this got to do with Memorial Day?”
When Memorial Day was approaching, at the end of May (May 30th to be exact), our school would collect donations from the students and once we donated we would receive an artificial poppy flower to wear for Memorial Day. I was always lucky in the fact that I was always able to “purchase” that poppy. I recall walking along the street, proud as a peacock with my poppy pinned to my chest for all the world to see. I knew it had something to do with our military dying for our country, but as a child, I never connected it to the horror of losing someone you love in a war. Nowadays, I would never deny that this is truly horrific, however it is also an honor for those who chose to fight for this country and for the families who sacrifice because of that choice. No one wants to be at war. No one wants to have men and women dying because they chose to join the military. The ugly facts are though, that it is a reality and since the Civil War onward, our military have given of themselves to protect what they believe to be freedoms. They fight in wars so that those freedoms can be protected. So that their country can continue to be a “land of the free and a home of the Brave”. Perhaps the reasons aren’t always crystal clear to many. Perhaps those people are right in saying that America should mind her own and stay out of other country’s troubles, but I personally wonder how long we would be able to be the country that gives all the people those rights, if we don’t defend her ideals? How long could we maintain our independence if we don’t help defend the independence of those who need it or ask for it? Not long I assure you.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Somehow, along the way, the very reason that Memorial Day was declared a holiday became lost in a new idea that Memorial Day was the beginning of summer. While I personally believe barbecuing and celebrating is a great way to commemorate Memorial Day, it should never be without remembering how it came to be.
People have forgotten or have set aside the notion that it is truly a day set aside to remember all those who have fallen in the service of their country since the beginning of our time. It is a solemn day, yet joyful day when we can get together to celebrate the sacrifice of life that our military has made in order to ensure that we keep that right to celebrate. We can best honor them by doing what we do best, going to parks, beaches, backyards and enjoying the freedoms that are ours because the military who have died, and the military who still serve, have given us those freedoms for a while longer. And when we are at our events, we need to stop and remember those military personnel and their families and be grateful to all of them for their sacrifices. That is how I can connect Mary, Blessed Mother to Memorial Day. As a mother, she sacrificed when her son gave his life up for the things he believed, just as our military men and women give up their lives for what they believed. As do their mothers and families. All who have sacrificed and suffered should be remembered on Memorial Day. This day should remain so that the memories and the lives of all these people will be forever immortalized in the hearts and the minds of each of us. We should never forget.
For me May will always be a month of memories, memorials, joys, and beauty. It will forever hold for me the wish that all who seek peace in this world will work toward it. Merry is the month of May and hopefully, we will continue to keep it that way.
Today my thoughts turn to love and something my mom always said to me. She would often tell me, as I would speak about loving someone, that there was no such thing as love. I realized a long while ago that she said that because of all the hurt that she had been through in her life. To her love meant getting hurt physically, emotionally and intellectually. I do believe that regardless of what she said, she did love and knew she was loved, she just couldn’t bring herself to express it for the fear of feeling that (oh so awful pain) one feels when love hurts, and love, my friends can be excruciatingly wonderful and even more excruciatingly painful. I have always been fascinated by the emotions of love and how one can completely change their own vision of themselves or their ideals once love enters their emotional make up. I have always wanted to study what constitutes love as love, but never had the opportunity. So instead I have written over the years a series of poems and/or essays, which I will share with you today. Some may seem complicated or perhaps way to deep to comprehend, but if you can read them more than once, perhaps the message I am attempting to convey will dawn on at least a few and my efforts in creating them will at least not have been for naught. Of course, I know that my mother’s reasons for not wanting to believe in love were very valid, but her words did spark the notion within myself to wonder, is there really such a thing as love? Or is love just an illusion that people create so that they can give more freely of themselves? I know that I love my children and my siblings and my friends, but I don’t believe that form of love is the love I am curious about. It is the love between two people that ignites my interest in the subject. How can we really be sure that the chemistry or the caring or both is truly selfless love and not just an expression of need within our own self? What if, my mother was right without knowing she was right? What if there is truly no such thing as love?
Hope you enjoy my thoughts on love.
What is Love?
Love is a moment, and too often it passes without a second thought. It’s the one moment in your life in which everything is right. Your faults and failures don’t matter. Love is the moment you know why you’re here; it’s the answer you’ve sought. Love is the absence of emptiness. Love is the sole reason you feel emptiness. Love is a changeling.
It is different feelings in different people. Love is a defined human emotion tugging for comprehension within the center of reason. Love is the confidence to be. Love is essence of beauty. Love is felt. Love is neither intelligence nor a theory-provoking process. Love is the core of humanity’s beliefs. Love can be paradise. Love can be excruciating pain. Love is a personal expression of inner self. Love is a mystery waiting to be revealed. Love is the driving force in the pursuit of happiness. Love is self-deprivation in a quest toward selfishness of the highest form by creating happiness in another. Love is what you feel it is and not what you think it is. Love is unforgettably embedded in your being once it is truly experienced.
Love is a lifelong search.
by Kathy Napoli
Two beings meet amidst the threshold of love and suddenly its a choice of life and death,
A kindred spirit arises in each with no thought, no strive just need and to need
Reality a fleeting whisper of wind.
As if inside a vacuum of space the depth of one another silently speaks.
A tumultuous, rapid commonality grows – the need is met
The whisper of what could be gushes through the vacuum pulsating its vibrations until it gains a voice.
Spirits connected through embedded memory emerge infiltrating the kindred’s peace.
Now the threshold of love between life and death surrounds the passage splitting the heart, suffocating the spirit.
Struggling, transforming the internal emotions into a battle of the self.
Abandonment the strongest appeal; dependency the anchor.
A self expression surrounds the vacuum – yet longs to linger among the kindred and the memory.
Turmoil of the soul continues -diversions emit magnetic power dulling the reality
Somewhere the whisper of wind filters through and once again the vacuum emerges –the threshold attached to the memory.
Within the spirit a solution evolves and hides itself as a sacrificial lamb
Fantasy guides the consciousness as need controls its direction
A sheltered thought of love shackles the spirit while feeling it emancipates the emotion.
For the spirit to pass through the threshold of love between life and death-happiness must saturate the passage
Seeking through the haze of disbelief, clinging desperately to the unfounded trust, the heart is bound
Knowing full well the answer lies within and reality must win
Flighty, wildly swirling about
Like butterfly cocoons split apart
Exploring, sensations vibrating; carried afloat
Surging onward touching each cell
Vanishing briefly; suddenly appearing
Fluttering, nagging, pulsating the nerves
Spirit pushing the soul
While logic disintegrates and explodes the brain
Wet as the rain, soaking and drowning
Sense evaporates; fear begins
Searching for answers; never sure of the questions
Looking, listening, hearing, seeing; still swirling about
Ah, it comes, like sunrise o’er the Balkans
So simple, so easy, always safe, secure
Hidden inside until the dawn springs its light
Dreams long forgotten in the flutter of wings
Sweet song of belief; singing through the heart
Words making music for faith to exhale
Always inside the shell; fate through circumstance prevail