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

 

 

 

 

It Takes A “Special” Man To Be A Dad!

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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.

That is 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

Who doesn’t love ice cream?

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!

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

K

Where My Heart Is

Where My Heart Is

 

BROOKLYN

BROOKLYN, OH BROOKLYN

From the Verrazano to the Brooklyn Bridge

Through the Ridge and up the Slope

Diverse personalities in every nook

Streets of Brooklyn are “off the hook”

From Coney Island to the Navy Yard

Local churches, restaurants and museums

Amazing all people from every scene,

So enticing on the movie screens

Schools,sports and entertainment abound

The people of Brooklyn create and astound

Showing the world its undying glory

Brooklyn, oh Brooklyn, you are my life’s story

Leaving your streets to explore other places

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

~Kathy Napoli

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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.

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

K

BEING A NONNA

I’ve been an aunt ever since I can remember. Having thirty-three nieces and nephews and not counting the grands, my husband’s side and the people they married, one would think I’ve seen it all.  I am also a mother of two and a mother-in-law of one.  Everyone I ever knew who became a grandparent would tell me how it is such a different experience, indescribable.  I think I now understand what they meant because in October of 2011 I became the Nonna of the most amazing little girl ever.

She is the apple of my eye, the beat of my heart, my pride and joy.  I adore her and everything about her.  Her little mind is truly a sponge and she absorbs something new every single day.  Ever since she was an itty bitty newborn her alertness was apparent to everyone who spent time with her.

Everyday when I think of her my heart swells and a smile comes to my mouth.  It’s automatic! I can’t help it.  I just want to be around her all the time, but of course in today’s world that isn’t possible.  My children live far away from me…in another borough ….that ‘s far for me!  Stop laughing at me now.  It’s been years since I’ve been passed Jersey and Brooklyn is still my home, at least for the time being.  And besides where else could a better place be for a Nonna like me?

Being a Nonna is somewhat challenging, especially now that my body movements are extremely limited.  It means learning the modern methods, watching my p’s and q’s, resisting the urge to tell my granddaughter’s parents that it isn’t the way we did things!  It’s also exciting, wonderful, loving and exhilarating! I like being a Nonna.  At first, I thought it would make me feel old and past my prime.  I worried that I would be left in a corner to just watch and stay quiet, but that, thank goodness, is not the way it is at all.  Whenever I’m around her I feel young, and vibrant and happy.  When she first said Nonna, when her little arms hug me, when she throws me kisses, says I love you….I feel a bit of what paradise must be like. Of course, she has her moments and gets fresh or mischievous, it’s natural. It doesn’t seem to bother me though as it did with my own children, for some reason it just goes right over my head.

My one regret is that I’m unable to run after her now, or give her a pony ride on my back, or go on a slide with her, or dance with her the way I used to with her father and uncle. I wish those things were possible, but they aren’t, so I find other ways to bond with this truly amazing, smart little person.

I’ve always loved to shop for others and buy gifts.  I’ve been told it’s my biggest fault.  Now no one can stop me, I love getting little gifts for her and buying clothes for her and watching her as she figures out what to do with them. At times my jaw drops in amazement as I watch her beautiful face thinking and her curiosity as it rivals those of a genius. Her Nonno and I are in awe at her genuine process of thinking at such a young age.

Being a Nonna is the best thing that has ever happened to me besides becoming a mom.  I wouldn’t trade being a Nonna for all the riches in the world because I am the wealthiest woman in the world ….I am a Nonna!

That’s the way I see it, here in my Brooklyn homeland!

K

Nonna's Girl