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

 

 

 

 

Dear Political Representatives

Today September 11, 2014 a day to remember our fallen, our injured, our heartbreak seems to be the most poignant day for me to write this blog post. On that beautiful September morning with the sun shining brightly our country was attacked by an enemy.  Their purpose was to hurt our financial and military centers and in doing so they killed, hurt and forever injured people and destroyed buildings.  They will never succeed though, not as long as we remember that September morning.

Most of us were preparing to begin our day when the phones started ringing and the radios and televisions were turned on.  The shock of what was occurring sent daggers of pain through our bodies into our hearts.  Here we sat a country at peace being attacked by an enemy filled with hate for what we stand for and how we live. Many of us worried about our friends and family who might be in the vicinity of that attack.  Then that day, the days and weeks that followed turned into more pain and more resolve to unite and make our country whole again.  That is the feeling that remains with most of us to this day.  No one wants war, no one wants to live more in peace that the American people.  We strife for that every single day. Most of us choose to love instead of to hate.

If, through life experiences, I have learned anything it is to stop expecting others to feel as I do.  I have finally arrived at a place in life where I can love without expecting anything in return.  I would like nothing more than to know the people who hate us and to show them that we are all the same…humans.  However, the reality is that those who hate us will continue to hate us and I am fine with that as long as their hate stays within the boundaries of their own territories.  If they would allow me to love them and trust them and accept their viewpoints, I could do that without hesitation.  As an individual, I can do my part on a daily basis, being one with my fellow-man, but on a grand scale will this really work?  The political climate as of late has me questioning that possibility.  I am consistently getting emails from organizations such as MoveOn, Change.org, etc.  that rejoice at the deal currently being offered to the Iranians. Everyday I read in the newspaper or online how another political representative has decided to vote in favor of this deal.  The reasoning it appears is to avoid a war.  Avoid a war?  Only our President can declare war with the backing of our Senators and Congressmen, so if it isn’t declared by them, than there is no war to worry about.  This deal, from what I have read of it, offers many concessions to those who call themselves “our enemy”.  I can accept that if only the exposed truth is that we are laying flowers of peace at their feet in order that they leave us alone and at peace within our own country.  However, the realist in me doesn’t see that.  The constant reports through Media is that the terrorists groups within the country of Iran never stop hating us, no matter how many concessions, gifts and or investments we make in their country.  Their religious beliefs seem to dictate their actions.  No matter how much our instincts are to help the abused, to rescue the weak and poor, those that choose to hate instead of love will continue to do so.  Nothing convinced me more than the video I saw portraying an interview with a leader of Iran.  That recent video, taped in 2015 was undeniable.  The hate for America and Americans is stronger than ever before, yet we are at peace here.  We are attempting to offer this country a choice to stop hating and to accept.  Do you truly trust people who continue to terrorize others as a people who are willing to abide by that offer?  After September 11, 2001, I have lost trust in that belief.  No matter how hard I try, the reality of their actions and words cause me continued pain.  They have convinced me, a common American citizen, that I can never trust them no matter how much I want to.  I cannot expect them to feel as I do just because I care about them unconditionally.

To convince me this deal is a good one and will bring everlasting peace to all nations, I would need to see that our own political representatives are free from financial gains from this deal.  I would need to see that the trust we are giving to the Iranian militants and religious factions is truly accepted by them as an olive branch. I, for one, have a hard time believing that I will not be hurt again by the actions of those who choose to hate us no matter how much love I have for my fellow human beings.  Why don’t most of you have that same distrust?  What proof do you need other than the daily actions of the terrorists within that country?  As an American, I have too much pride probably in my country, but I won’t excuse that.  I love America and what it stands for.  I still believe with all my heart that we are the best chance of refuge for the tired, the poor, the sick and the persecuted.  I face the reality that we are imperfect and have made many mistakes as we grow from a teenage country into a full-fledged adult country, after all we are pretty young in comparison to the countries around the world and their histories.  Just like I made allowances for my own, and just as I have learned from my mistakes, so do I have faith that my country will as well.  So I guess what I am asking you as my representatives is to take a long hard look at this deal and make sure it is not another mistake we may make because we are trying to make “our enemy our friend”, instead of accepting that our enemy may not want to be our friend nor expecting them to want to be our friend.  And if you find that this deal isn’t truly the one that will be fair to both America and Iran, if you have the slightest doubt at all, please don’t force us into it.  To do that would be no better than when a war was forced upon us because of the actions of those who hate us and the proof of that can be found in the memory of September 11, 2001 when America was at peace and the sun was shining.

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

K

Mother’s Day 2014

https://knap53.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/29-smile-a-little-smile-for-me-new-stereo-version.m4a

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MommyandmeMammaplus   joan 1doriscopy Barbara   LilBarbara

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!

IMG_0862 PS:  Song in this blog is dedicated to my Mom, who loved this song and often said she wished she was named Rosemary.

And that is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn

K

Down Memory Lane

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.”

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