A father for Father’s Day

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.

Happy Father’s Day, Tommy.

And that’s the Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.

K

 

 

 

 

Everything Changes

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.

And that’s the “Way I See It” here in Brooklyn.

K

Love: Reality or Illusion?

MC910216986All 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.

                                         ~Kathy Napoli

And that is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

 

My Beloved Wanda

My Goddaughter, Shanell Nekiia stated to me tonight,

“Kathy your girl left this earth yesterday”

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.

And that’s The Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

New Year

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.

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As soon as the words come flowing…..this blog of mine will be growing. See you soon.

And that’s the Way I See It, here in Brooklyn!
K

Change is a coming!

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.

That’s the Way I See It here in Brooklyn,

K