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

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

Uneasiness

As much as I want to believe that I can handle almost anything, my mind and heart remind me that I have an emotional mind. I call it that because no matter the amount of logic that I think I have my emotions rule my logic and cause me turmoil and stress.

There are so many things I want to change in my life, or better said, I wish to be different. I find myself thinking too hard being too self-righteous at times and I don’t know how to turn off that part of me. A sadness overwhelms my usual optimistic outlook on life and changes my behavior and my feelings. I know for certain it is not depression. I had an endocrinologist once who tested the hormones associated with depression and I, thank God, had normal results. So I cannot blame my sadness on hormones. I suppose it may be because I have an inner sense of not being happy with the way things are in my life right now. I am surrounded by sickness within my family and a circle of friends. The things I wish to do with my life I cannot do because of physical restraints nowadays. I’m writing my blog but with a troubled mind. I am not seeking sympathy nor empathy. It has always been easier for me to write rather than speak. The words, most times, come out a bit better when I write them. I suppose what I am looking for is release. A way to express what is deep inside myself, without burdening anyone with worry or stress over me, at least to those who truly care about me.

Maybe my emotional mind started as a child. Perhaps between my dysfunctional childhood mixed with being spoiled, the signals that I am supposed to have got crossed somewhere along the line. Perhaps the maturity level I should possess at this stage of my life hasn’t quite developed and so I am unable to unravel the confusion I feel inside my mind and heart. Life is supposed to be better now. It is supposed to be a time when I have finished with mistakes and learned from them. It is supposed to be a time where I listen more than I speak or express my opinion in a self-righteous way much less often than I have expressed that opinion. I should have learned to temper my anxieties, my anger, my frustrations. It seems though that I haven’t accomplished those yet. I don’t like being sad, I’m sure no one does. Yet, I am sad. I am lost in this world of emotional upheaval. It is usually believed that people can change things with mind over matter. I have tried to do that, but I find that when I truly care about something or someone, I cannot find self-control. This uncontrollable need to express myself overwhelms my logic and impulsively I act rather than sit back and wait for problems to resolve themselves. Most people I speak to appear to have an easier time doing that. They just ignore problems or put them aside. I have a tendency to face them head on. I often find myself analysing things that happen and believe they happen for a reason. My problem comes when I get this urge to seek the reason they happen. I can’t explain why. I can’t understand why. All I know is that I either experience anger or sadness from problems. The logic is there and the understanding of that logic is known to me, yet I cannot stop myself from trying to right what I perceive as the wrong. My perception, logic tells me, is not the perception of others, but my instinct tells me the complete opposite of my logic. It is like a complete ball of confusion that consumes me until peace resumes within myself. I really want to be different. I don’t want to experience life like this anymore. I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything is fine and that life is what it is. All I can do is hope that feeling will come sooner than later and this blog, this great form of expression will lead me to that sense of peace once again.

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

Poetry II- Love

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.  

~Kathy Napoli

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The Passage

  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  

hearts

DOUBT

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

Darkness came whilst the doubt sauntered in

Now the light of self has broken the spell

As once again we create what once was known

A short stay of doubt lingers awhile

~Kathy Napoli

“Reeling”

Hazy and Floating

No thoughts or ideas

Through stairwells of drifting

No focus to grasp

The heart rejects the pleading

And the mind continues reeling

Fate is still fleeting

No more standing the pain

Deep in the soul as if fleeing

Yet knowing full well it remains

And the mind continues reeling

Lost and Alone

The search never-ending

No promise of love

Hope lingers everlasting

While reality surrounds

And the mind continues reeling

~Kathy Napoli

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

K