DelBloggolo

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SHE MAKES MY HEART SING!


SHE MAKES MY HEART SING!

Being a grandpa is a special reward for having children, it is the topping on the ice cream, the cherry on the cake! My little granddaughter, La Princepessa (Darby Shea) is the apple of my eye.

It is funny how love can transform from one thing to another, yet the process of loving for me is still the same. When I was a little boy in grade school, I had a girlfriend and when I saw her my breathing was hurried, then as I got older there were other girls who did that to me until even when I got married, it was the process of love taking over my heart and soul.

Suddenly there is another girl in my life, and that heartbeat is still getting messed up. When we first met, I was over-awed and when I left her I was miserable, wanting to turn around and go back to see her again and again. She is enchanting and I tell everyone I know about her, then I show off her picture. Just look at her picture and tell me I’m nuts.

La Princepessa
Soon I will visit her again. Soon I will get more pictures and have them for when I miss her everyday, as I imagine what she will do with the world she has to work with and mold, but be forewarned, the world is a better place because of her.

But just look at her picture, beautiful, no?

Oh! I almost forget, she has a set of beautiful parents, too!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

WHERE DOES THE TIME FLY?

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Here I am sitting in a hotel room in Albany New York, waiting to go to dinner and a meeting. It has been 20 some-odd years since I made my first trip up here, and I wonder where the time went?

Capitol Building
In that time, a lot of things have happened, some of them bad but most of them good. Albany is not what I call a very hip or sophisticated town, although it is almost there. Don’t forget that compared to Washington D.C., it is small in comparison and interest. The downtown area is very interesting with its Old Dutch names and flavor, but it is a quiet local history.

My very first trip I drove up by myself, feeling very lost and uncertain. I got lost finding the hotel and when I did, I was almost late for the dinner, a formal affair with a cocktail hour. I remember the weather getting dark as a light sprinkle of snow came down, adding to my misery. Among the attendees were people I did not know, didn’t know where they came from, and desperately looked for my fellow board members from Suffolk, talk about feeling insignificant!

Since that historical trip so many years ago, I have grown familiar with the area, the attendees and my co-board of governors from Long Island and my agency in particular have made me feel at ease.

But what is happening is the amount of fun that drives my fellow agency board members to Albany and the trip back. It is always highlighted by a stop off at Arthur Avenue in The Bronx in Little Italy, to reward ourselves for a job well down.

Last year I sat next to two Jews, one spilled water on me in a bar and the other in a restaurant! Here two Jews baptized me in the space of 24 hours!

One of the gentleman, and I won’t mention his name, but his initials are Ken Walker’s has forgotten his keys in Albany, going all the way home to discover he could not drive home from the Park & Ride on the LIE! The next time out he forgot his cell phone! I wonder if one day he doesn’t show up but his keys and phone do?

Monday, April 28, 2014

THURSDAY NIGHT MANIA


It is a Thursday evening, and I am sitting in my chair watching a re-run of The Big Bang Theory, as the clock inches quickly toward 8:00 PM.

The visages of the supper I prepared are settling in as I sip the remnants of a Jack Daniels Manhattan, life is good. I drop a stupid comment or two on Facebook and precisely at 8:00 PM I take the remote and plug in CBS, where a familiar introduction appears.

Incredible talented people all!
I try to follow the intro as it is fast with quick movement on the screen, documenting in visuals all the years of life on Earth flashing by. I try to keep up but can’t, besides, I’m too excited about the show, The Big Bang Theory’s latest offering.

I pay very close attention to the credits, I won’t move my head, ignore any conversation and focus, focus, and focus. Soon they start to roll, in white knockout type against the moving visuals of funny. The introduce the actors and producers, the crew of technical support and then:

Anthony Del Broccolo appears:

Me: “OOOOOOOOH! There it is! It’s him!!!” I turn to my wife and say: “That’s MY SON’S Name!”

Of course she has to interrupt me and say: “OUR SON!”

A bossy broad if ever there was one!

But every time I view his name on the screen, I think of my Dad and how thrilled he would have been to not only see his namesake do so well, but the kick he would have gotten out of seeing his name on the credits. Take a bow, Dad.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

THINGS THEY ARE A-CHANGING!


MR. TV
Dad was a TV watcher, loved to sit in front of the set and indulge in some Dodger and later Mets TV. This was his hobby, more than anything else this is what he did in his free time.

In 1949, he decided to get a TV for the apartment on Hull Street and it was a big event in my house for my older sister (much older) Tessie and me. I remember it like it was yesterday, as he took the big box into the ‘parlor’ and set it on a table in the corner next to the couch.

It was about 5:30 pm and my sister and I watched as Dad wired the set from behind, then went out on the roof and set up an aerial for the reception. That first program we watched was Kukla, Fran and Ollie, a puppet show that introduced me to the world of entertainment.

In the black and white days of TV, everyday there was a little problem, the picture would skip, jump, turn to snow and/or continuously run. This made for unhappy viewing, and if the wind got a good hold on your aerial, snow was on the screen. Poor Dad would have to go onto the roof and adjust the aerial and fix the picture.

NOT FROM DAD'S PERSONAL COLLECTION
One of the biggest problems was when the vacuum tubes would blow. You had to look at all the tubes and pull out the dead one to replace it and have the TV up and running. By then, if the TV was down, it was a crisis, of major proportions, with Mom upset and worried about Dad getting angry, who was swearing in Italian while my older sister (much older) Tessie would cover her ears and I tried to emulate the curse words. Finally, Dad had the brilliant idea of collecting from the set old tubes that still worked but were near the end and replacing them before they died. Soon he had a collection of tubes that he guarded with his life. Once the TV died, he extracted all the tubes and bought a new set holding onto the old box of tubes for the next crisis!

WHERE'S THE REMOTE?
About 20 years later Dad bought a color console by Magnavox. This was a piece of furniture that Dad proudly set as the centerpiece of the house, consisting of a radio on one side, a record player on the other and in the center was the TV. Suddenly Dad was high-tech, but there was one problem, it came with a remote. Amazed I said: “Dad, it has a remote!”
“What’s that?”
“You know, so you can sit in your chair and change the channel!”
“Ah, it doesn’t work, I tried it and nothing happens!”

Turns out it was high-techer than I thought: little did we know that it needed batteries! How did we finally figure it out? Well the TV died one day and Dad calls me over to help him move it out. I happen to come across the remote and noticed it had a plastic door cut into it, and started to laugh myself silly. Dad was not amused.

Today, there are no tubes, no wires that run up to the roof and thank God no more ugly antennae to ruin the lovely view of the roof lines in the hood. Recently I bought two new flat screen TV’s for Mom’s house which took very little to hook up and except for the programming with the cable box, it was all done indoors and not on the roof!

BEFORE

AFTER
But if you look around you, there is the coffee pods to replace making whole pots of coffee, cars with backup screens, GPS equipped and sensors that tell you if you are about to hit something. You can now buy movies for your computer or the big screen TV, hand held computers and let’s not even mention the smart phones, that have more technology and memory than the first computers.

Yes, things they ARE a-changing!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS

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April 23, and as I sit in my den, the sky is overcast with rain falling, and in spite of the grayness, I am feeling the sun on my face. Today is a special day, a day I try very hard to celebrate every year at this time. The day I refer to is ‘Staff Appreciation Day.” Today, the AHRC Suffolk Chapter will thank the many dedicated staff that has stayed with the agency in terms of longevity, some for over 30 years!

TOGETHER THEY SPELL GOD
Going to the office on Tuesdays, as a member of the board of directors, I sign checks and say hello to some wonderful people. How could I know they are so wonderful? Because, like a fireman, or policeman, doctor or nurse, these wonderful individuals dedicate themselves to making life beautiful, and when I see them, I see the sun shining, and a fresh new spring day.

Proof of God's existence
Many of us go to church, and hope that we can be with God, but I figured out long ago that God lives within each of us, and as well as among us. He is what we are; he is the curiosity, the love, the rabbi, the sick and the poor as well as the rich. We often bare witness or hear accounts of affliction and horror, of tragedy and sorrow and ask: “Why does God make this happen?” I know I have often asked that question myself, then it dawned on me one day. I have strayed away from God, by going to church for one hour when someone bleeds in a gutter. When I leave the brick and mortar of the church building, my devotion kind of gets lost for the rest of the week, the bleeding in the gutter continues.

Where the 'Beautiful' people gather
I envy anyone who can work to help his/her fellow mankind: I know THAT is the most important work you can do on this earth.  I wish I had chosen a career path that was more focused on helping humanity, and doing the things that God needs done. If God controlled everything that happened in this temporary life, he would not need us, would not give us life and we would not be of any use to ourselves or anyone else. But what about the question of why God lets things happen?

Lisa Bochner -a loving and talented administrator and CFO
There is not enough GOOD to describe Bill Leonardi, CEO
Once when I was a little boy, I fell and tripped over a cellar door that was raising from the pavement. It was an automatic type that accepted deliveries of heavy packages, and I got entangled as the door was closing in on my legs. Suddenly, from nowhere, a hand reached out and pulled me free! The person was a man named Henry, who was developmentally disabled. He saved me, and I realized, here was a man disabled who was indeed doing God’s work!

My daughter, her face shows me that God does exist!
God doesn’t let anything happen. But God reacts to what does happen, and I wonder everyday, what will I do to help God today? HE is in the face and hearts of every staff person who I will see today, and they each individually receive recognition for their dedication, and love; helping the less fortunate live a beautiful life!

Thank you AHRC Suffolk.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

OH HOW I MISS YOU TONIGHT!

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Oh! How I miss you tonight
Miss you while lights are low
Oh! How I need you tonight
More than you'll ever know
Each moment though we're apart
You're never out of my heart
But I'd rather be lonely and wait for you only
Dear one, how I miss you tonight
Miss you while lights are low
More than you'll ever know
Each moment though we're apart
You're never out of my heart
But I'd rather be lonely and wait for you only
Dear one, how I miss you tonight.

No, I’m not crazy or pining for love, just hearing this song in my head, over and over.

It seems when I drive at night I have trouble finding streets or exits. I can see well enough, I can negotiate the road well, but darn it, I keep missing the streets and exits. One would think with a GPS I’d do well, but the GPS is tricky, it looks like I turn when I turn too soon! And to add confusion to an already hopelessly confused person, the GPS will deliberately confuse me when I’m told to turn.
Mine isn't this new, and hates me

GPS: “Turn right on Fifth Street then turn left” the voice in the box commands, so I follow. What the voice doesn’t tell you is: “Turn left at the second corner”!

As I make my turn too soon, the GPS (A woman) immediately starts to yell: “Recalculating, recalculating!” Shut up.

Now I’m no dummy, I know things. Never argue with a woman when she’s wrong, Never feed stray in-laws or cats, and wear everything around your neck so you can find it. But the GPS has a habit of taking advantage of my senility and incompetence behind the guidance it pours forth.

You must ask yourself: “Dummy, why do you use it if it confuses you?”


I’d be all alone without it!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT


It seems every year about this time and a little earlier in the spring I go out for the first time and start working on my lawn. I think I’m crazy.

I have the front and back yards cleaned and the same lawn service puts down some fertilizer and then I like to take over for a while. I put down grass seed and any lime or other products I deem necessary and begin the hard work or getting a decent lawn.

This means paying close attention to certain troublesome spots that require more concern than others. After all, a lawn should look consistently good or bad, depending on the results you wish to achieve.

This is a time consuming process and does cost money. It means that once the project of prepping the lawn is started I need to stay on top of it. I pour more money into reseeding a second time and even more fertilizer, not to mention the water or sprinkling systematic plan for the rest of the summer and fall.

Once I am finished with getting the lawn started and on its way, something happens to me. That first lawn cutting begins from the lawn company, and I think, all that money, all that time, all that work, just so some guy can come and cut the grass? Seems a little silly to me, that time could be better spent napping, writing or eating! I pay all that money and effort for someone to come and cut the grass! Is there not a better payoff than that?

As I look around the neighborhood and see the other lawn warriors doing the same things I do, I wonder, did society somehow along the way lose its way? This is everyone’s priority? If you drive up and down the streets of America, you will see the silent challenges of the lawn warriors and their competition, their neighbors, and yet there is no first prize, there is no singling out or mention of who did the best job, no single accolade for all the fuss.

So what is the return? Well you say you have pride in your home, so you want to make it look nice, with cement blocks and statues, exotically trimmed bushes and trees, and the look of a major league baseball infield. But what do you have?

A SORE BACK!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I CAN HEAR HER VOICE!


I visited Mom on the 19th, a Saturday and sat to talk with her. As she lies in the bed, I see someone who has no more control over her life, no more physical control, and her power to see things are in the order she wants them also diminished. She can’t feed herself, choose when to eat or when to sleep, and every order she now gives her children is based on her faith that her children will follow through.

Once she ruled the house with an iron hand, one filled with authority and one filled with determination, things that she always had but doesn’t anymore. Her children try to keep up a charade of obedience where and when we can, and when we can’t: we tell her we did since she can’t follow up.

Sitting in the chair and watching her is difficult, since Mom is not Mom anymore. We still love her but she is not the willful lady we once loved anymore. I look up at the walls and see all the pictures she has, some of it my art: paintings, woodcarvings and pottery I have done over the years, things like needle points her sister Marie gave her and some things such as religious articles that are scattered around the room that she choose that all speak about who she is. There is the pictures of herself as a child, her mother, and sisters, her children and it all tells a story of what once was, no longer an ongoing story, but one where they will soon run the credits.

I wish I could hear her voice strong once more, see her kneading the dough for pasta on a Sunday morning, the aroma of her sauce as it permeates throughout the house. I wish I could gather once more and sit with my sisters and my Dad and laugh and joke about our lives again, maybe one last Christmas Eve dinner with a large gathering of my sisters families and mine, the sound of Christmas music and Dad in his flannel shirt and his look of content on his face. I wish I could shout out more kudos for Mom over the masterpiece of a dinner she prepared or dessert she created.

In our lifetime, we all make mistakes: we all say things that we don’t really mean but we say them. I have and other have said them to me, but that is forgotten over a short period of time, fortunately we don’t carry them to an extreme, we all laugh at ourselves in the end. So there are no regrets, just wishes, just time to forgive and forget, and the wishes take up the time.

Because of Mom, we have kept the faith and stayed the course, we have been able to help each other, cooperate and be supportive of each other, for that we are all happy and have no regrets.

She has said to me today that she knows there is nothing left for her to do, the show is over and it is time for us to look ahead. She also stated that she is dealing with God’s will and that is all she can do.

Now time is running out, we as a family will divide into nuclear entities of our own, once Mom is gone.  But still I wish…

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PARDON MY POLISH


When we went on our honeymoon many moons ago, one of the places we visited was London, England.

‘How many miles to London town?
Four-score and ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes and back again!’

London was one of the most cosmopolitan cities there was back then. Much of the world’s finances pointed to her, as did fashion and diplomacy, a thriving center for travel and theater, and I wanted to see it, feel it and even smell it.

The people of London were extremely friendly and courteous, helpful and an inviting people of great substance, I still love London. Aside from Big Ben and the Royal Family, the English have one other thing that America doesn’t have… an accent! Yes, they speak the language with an accent! Amazing.

The first week upon our return to America and our new lives as man and boss, we seemed to have a slight accent that we both noticed! I guess when in London do as the Londoners. Which brings me to Anna.

Anna is a lovely Polish woman who cares for Mom 24/7, and does it very well, with much forethought and consideration, she is a good woman and the family loves her. Anna has of course an accent, and it is affecting me!

When I have a conversation with Anna it goes something like this:

Anna: “Joe, listen: I give Mamma medicine now, ok?”

Me: “OK, I go in living room, you call when done?”

Anna: “Joe, listen: my husband bring Babka, You try?”

Me: “I try”
  
So I am easily swayed or a wonderful linguist! I like Anna’s way of speaking, she forewarns me she is going to speak by starting every sentence with 'Listen" and it saves time and is quick and to the point. You could say I speak Polish.

As an aside: I think they need a proof-reader in the Polish press, the typos in their reading material are alarming!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

THEY STILL READ THOSE THINGS, DON’T THEY?


 
When I used to work for a living and had to go out into the cruel, cruel world, I would get dressed in the morning and head downstairs for my coffee and watch the news. That would start my day, watching the news and reading the newspaper as I did so. I would be interested in what the sports news and the business world were reporting, the two big items in the paper and the local and world news on the TV.
 
If I weren’t taking a train, I’d drive with the radio on for entertainment to kill the hour or so until I got to the office, listening to the likes of: ‘Imus in the Morning’ or a sports show where I could yell at the radio at some boneheaded idea.

I think he died but forgot to lie down!
This morning I noticed that we have the news on the TV going, and newspapers, (2) scattered on the coffee table, but the laptop computer or I-pad is in use! My culture is changing: the way we get our information is changing and is now more immediate. You all know the benefits of having a computer available to you, so you can understand how better informed we all are.

So really, what do I need with TV and the newspapers?

More than worthy of TV! La Principessa!
Aside from my attempt at Facetime on the TV through my I-pad with La Principessa Darby Shea, who needs TV? Newspapers? I don’t send expensive Waterford glasses through the mail at all, so I don’t need newspapers to wrap them.

So what happens when my newspapers are not delivered on time? I get on that phone and call those @#$%^%# and give them a piece of my mind, or what’s left of it. Suddenly my day seems empty, my sense of security is gone like my weekly allowance! No reception for my TV!!!! Well, those poor bastards at Cablevision will be getting a call from DelBloggolo for sure. Actually Cablevision has been terrific: they never screw up.

I guess I’m a creature of habit after all: my sisters would say just a ‘creature.”



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Sunday, April 20, 2014

EASTER


Many years ago, when the Italian American influence was at its peak in the universe of my childhood, Easter had a special meaning. It was a day that the Italians celebrate more than Christmas; ‘Pasqua’ the day of the risen Christ was the holiest of holy days.

Grandma Frances was the center of the universe, and all her children and grandchildren gathered at her house to celebrate. They came from Patchogue and Coney Island, and of course from Brooklyn, to gather around in a large kitchen where two tables were placed head to head and filled with the sounds of Italian, pasta and of course: cannoli.

In those wonderful golden days things were a little different. Who came with left over palm for grandma from the Sunday before? Who had a box of Italian pastries in their hand and who wasn’t dressed with either a shirt and tie or a dress for the occasion? I guess we respected each other, showing that the occasion and the people were note worthy and honored: we were family.

At Grandma’s house was a long hallway that ran alongside the length of the apartment on the bottom floor. In this hallway all her grandchildren would hangout, sit and talk or play, and listen to the raised voices and echoes of Italian words and laughter, the aroma of the pasta sauce and sweets from the bakery as they waffled through the hallway, an enticing aromatic calling, reminding us that the best was yet to come.

I remember the weather being warm, sunny and the glow of spring hung in the air as we approached grandma’s house, in the shadow of the overhead el that ended just a short distance from her front door. There once was an ice-cream parlor that sat next door to Grandma, and going in there and ordering a cone.

But most of all, I remember my cousins, as we gathered for the first time in a long time, it was a treat and always fun to see my cousin Victor who made me laugh always, his sister Marie whom he teased, a beautiful girl. There was Ann Louise and Angelo, two good kids and that always seemed to fill the room with sunshine, and there was my cousin Joe and his sister Fran, to round out the conclave of cousins. The last two, Joe and Fran were almost brother and sister since their father: my dad’s brother married my mother’s sister!

And so I will pack away those memories, put them in a mental safe and open them when the day seems long or the trip too tiring. 

Today I will gather with my older sister (much older) Tessie at Mom’s house, perhaps for one more Easter at Mom’s home while she is still here with us. I know she can’t really participate, but she is excited that we are doing this, and so we will.

HAVE A HAPPY EASTER!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

I KNOW I’M GETTING OLD WHEN…


Every morning when I get up and shower, I go downstairs and follow a routine. At my age I need a routine and try to stick with it. Change the water in my Keurig Coffee maker and adding a fresh pod, sorting my pills so I don’t die, and try to recall who that was in the mirror when I went to the bathroom.

My pills are sorted in a pill container that is divided into 7 days, starting with Sunday and ending the week on Saturday, this I like because it doesn’t confuse me, and I can repeat to myself what day it is.

One morning last week I got up and did the usual and came to the pills, the ritual where I separate the am from pm intake for old people. I take them out of the pill box, put 3½ pills into a small metal container for the afternoon and the balance in a small plastic clear container that I take with me into the den with a cup of coffee. This goes on every morning, rain or shine.

In the course of the pill assignments, I was distracted by a case of cola that was sitting precariously on the counter and decided to fix it, which I did then took the pill container and my coffee and went into the den, sat down and noticed something strange! There were NO pills in the container. This spooked me and so I high-tailed my way back to the kitchen and sure enough, NO pills in sight either.

WHAT THE HELL DID I DO WITH THE PILLS?????

I try to reconstruct the simple events and still can’t seem to figure it out. I tell someone about it and get some help. Did I take them already? Did I put them in the garbage? Did I maybe do some kind of machination that makes a hand filled with pills make the pills disappear?

We shake the soda and discover them in the bottom of the cola carton?

Pray for me.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

ANNA

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Somewhere in this crazy heartless world is a woman who has become very dear to the hearts of my family, her name is Anna, and she is part of the coalition of Polish women who from the parish of St. Isidore in Riverhead NY works day and night to make my mother’s last days of life comfortable.

Anna is a lovely Polish lady who came to America and brought her heart and soul with her.

When Anna first came to the facility where my mother was staying to meet her, there was an instant connection, a drawing of two souls for the first time that seemed to connect instantly. The look of acceptance in my mother’s eyes was evident as she gazed for the first time on Anna.

There must be something special about people who do what Anna does for a living, a need within their hearts that must be utilized to do what they do. In the course of one evening, mom was in need of Anna, as she suffered through colitis 9 times and each time Anna responded immediately.

When Anna talks to mom, it is with a soft calming voice, reassuring and sweet, stroking mom’s arm and hair, always with her heart. But there is another side of Anna, a side filled with laughter and amusement, of joy for life and friendship, she is the heart and soul of this difficult time for my family, and we love her. Anna may not know it herself, but she is on a mission for God Himself, doing the good that is unheralded and yet longed for.

Polish people are on the whole: good decent people. They are the butt of too many unfortunate jokes and have been abused for far too long by the countries that surround her. Yet they proved to be one of the bravest people during the Second World War, have shown America that her heart may come from Poland, and that family life is the most important thing.

Thanks Anna, America loves you!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

TEE BALL


As a young father many years ago, I took #1 Son to the local little league and enrolled him in tee ball, for those kids too young yet to play Little League baseball.

Don't let the hat fool you
I was eager and all excited and #1 Son was more eager to play than any of these overpriced, and pampered babies that play for obscene amounts if money, but probably would have to check the spelling of their name by looking in their wallets.

As young as 2 years old we practiced baseball with a whiffle ball, I would pitch him underhanded and he would swing away, sending the ball off as he ran the imaginary bases. By three he was assuming the batting habits of ballplayers he saw on the TV and even pitched on occasion, kicking his leg straight up and throwing, as it bounced a few feet in from of me. Watching him was fun and I wish we could still do this again like it was in the old days.

Could go to his right and had range
So one Saturday morning we drove down to the local ball field behind a school and signed up got a hat and started the process of organized play in Little League. Daddies and Mommies from all over the neighborhood gathered on that sunny field to root on our kids.

The ball was placed on a batting tee and each kid was to take a swing or two. You could tell which child had the influence of his father by the approached the kid took, how they held the bat and which way they were standing. One little kid stood at the plate, facing where the catcher would be, his back to the tee and one when it was his turn faced toward first base. As each batter took his licks at the tee, the other kids would be out in the field ready to ‘catch’ the ball. IF by chance the ball WAS hit, all the kids from the infield, outfield and points east, west, south and north, including the parking lot and the batter would all charge the ball, which made the scene look like a pileup of football players rather than baseball players!

The slick 2nd baseman from Bradford Street along with most of the rest had the most serious of looks while some held onto the belief that this was all a mystery. Fathers would shout out advice and take it as a personal affront if their child made a little mistake, thus revealing the failings of the father.  

But the slick 2nd baseman from Bradford Street showed the world that he was ready, if not for Little League play and aspirations so high, at least for the New York Mets!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THAT RIDE


Yesterday, April 7th, I took the longest ride for a short trip. I sat in the ambulance with mom as we left the nursing facility and headed to fulfill her wish to die at home. As I looked at the frail crumpled figure of someone who once was so strong, I couldn’t help but think about all those years she accompanied me to moments in my life, but the biggest moment was when she took me home from the Swedish Hospital in Brooklyn, for our first ride. How filled with hope was she for the future? How happy was she to have a first son? How content was she to hold another child in her arms? Here we were once again, but this time for her last ride.

As the ambulance made its way toward her residence, her home and her life, she had this far away stare in her face, so distant so focused on something, that I was prompted to ask by her looks if she was OK, she didn’t answer me, she didn’t blink her eye. It was her final journey. I stood down in respect for her.

I have tried to prepare myself for what is the inevitable, what is for sure, what none of us can avoid, but I cannot imagine that. Believe me I am not a momma’s boy, but she is my mother for all my years so far, it is kind of hard to not recognize the truth, all my years she was there, just a phone call away sometimes, just a sweet memory always there for me.

Somewhere in this world, maybe in a dark little corner, one of us is mourning the passing of their mom. Someone sobs so deeply that it would shake our hearts and make us invertebrate, like jelly in as we witness the truth we will or have witnessed already. I will savor the final days of her life, like the proverbial fine wine, and as the line decreases along the glass, I will take a longer taste and savor it with each sip.

A debate rages in my mind, a debate so blasphemous that it defies explanation. I hope she can get better but I now she won’t, I want her to live, but I don’t wish for her to suffer. I want her to live and I want her to die.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ONE LAST RIDE


Last Monday April 7th was a day to remember.

It started the Friday before, when Joanne, a staff member of the nursing home my mom was living in gave my sister a manila folder filled with papers for the coming release of mom on Monday, April 7th. In it was a phone number for an ambulette service to transport mom to her home. Mom was not making any more progress and all her therapy was over, she was unhappy and missing her home, and wanted desperately to go home to die. Joanne decided to help us make all the arrangements for mom to go home and fulfill her wish.

One Saturday, the next day, my sister called me and asked me to see if I could find the folder, since she didn’t have it. Being at mom’s house waiting for a delivery of a hospital bed, I was but a few minutes from the nursing home. I sneak into mom’s room while she is asleep and look in all the drawers and closet in her room and can’t find the folder. I leave without waking mom and call my sister and tell her I can’t find it, even after asking at the nurse’s station.

Ambulette
The rest of Saturday was spent calling ambulette companies to see if they had scheduled anybody with my mother’s name to be transported on the 7th. No one had, and so I figured I better ask some questions. The one company name we could remember as the one we were told would transport her was very cooperative and answered my questions. It came down to this: an ambulette only transports people in a wheel chair, not flat like an ambulance, they also do not carry people up steps. Had we ordered an ambulette, they would have put mom in a chair, in great pain she would have been jostled all the way home, and left her at the foot of the steps for my sister and I to find a way to get up her up the steps and into her bedroom.

Ambulance
Monday morning Joanne comes into mom’s room and asks if we are all set. I say we are except for transportation, and that we need an ambulance, not an ambulette. Joanne asks me who says? I state that she can’t sit in a wheelchair, and since she can’t walk, how can we carry her up the three steps she has? Joanne goes out of the room embarrassed stating it will be very expensive for an ambulance and asks the nurses if it is true mom can’t sit in a wheelchair, they confirm my opinion and off she goes to find an ambulance, coming back after a few minutes with the news that an ambulance would come in around noon, and that Medicare would pay for it! Had we NOT lost the folder we would have been sitting there at the foot of the front steps with mom in severe pain from the ride in a wheelchair and us unable to move her into her own home! The ambulance crew put her in a gurney and transported her up the steps and placed her in her bed.

Tomorrow: The long ride.






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Monday, April 14, 2014

GOING HOME

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we all worked so hard for her wishes
Mom has been longing for her home, her house, actually her heart and soul. When she went into the nursing home, she at first wanted to go home and mentioned to me that she knew we were putting her in it to die. She said she would never see her home again. Of course this was very hard on me, as I realized all too well we were waiting for her to die, And all too well she knew she was waiting to die, but wanted to do it in her heart, in her soul in her home. But the nursing home was the only thing that was best for her.

Cruelty comes in many forms. Cruelty comes intentionally and unintentionally. It can even come out of necessity, but the pain it inflicts is even crueler. Mom pines for her familiar comforts of her home, where she raised her children, loved my Dad and witnessed all the joys we as her children brought her, and now it is all taken away.

But suddenly the real world of cruelty reared its ugly head and became beautiful like a phoenix rising from the ashes of its self-destruction. The wonderful folks of Medicare decided that Mom could no longer receive physical therapy; she was no longer a candidate for rehabilitation. Because of this ruling by the state, we decided that we no longer needed the high cost of a rehab center: we would seek other means for her to die in dignity.

What better way to die than in your own home, among the many souvenirs of your life, pictures of your grandchildren that adorn your walls, the echoes of children’s laughter from years gone by, the moments of triumph and despair, the glories of yesteryear?

And so we sought out an answer and found one, in the coalition of Polish and Russian woman, a dedicated group through the auspices of St. Isadore Roman Catholic Church in Riverhead. A band of Russian and Polish immigrants dedicated to the transition of life to death, with dignity. They would stay with her 24/7, giving her the joy of living out her life in dignity, family and serenity.

I think that I wish to die with my wife in my eyes, with my children knowing that I loved them all the same, then I die happily, just like mom knows her children rallied to her wishes out of love and concern for her happiness. There is no greater love than a mother’s love for her children, and we as her children recognize this and not only love her, but each other, and all the beautiful nieces and nephews that grace our family tree, and all the golden beauty of our grand nieces and nephews that we so love, all because of one woman, Mom.

When I told Mom that she was finally coming home, a sweet little frail woman glowed in happiness and surprise, of disbelief and in gratitude to God. Her children had come through for her just as she did, time after time throughout her parental life. When we say goodbye, it will be with both tears of sorry mixed with tears of joy.

Thanks Mom, we love you!




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Sunday, April 13, 2014

IT ALL MAKES PERFECT NONSENSE

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We have decided to bring mom home from the nursing home and have her finish up her days in her own home. She has expressed this to us numerous times and we have decided that if this is what she wants we should try to make it happen for her.

When she went into the nursing facility, we thought she would never leave again, so we prepared for the event as best we could. In looking over her finances, I decided to cancel her phone and Cable service at her home since she would not be there. Now that we have reversed the decision I had to restore everything back to its original state.  Off to the cable company I go to put back her cable and this time, instead of a separate carrier, I would combine her phone with the cable bill.

Makes sense, no?

Apparently not!

I got to the Cablevision store and see Betsi (spelling correct), and we begin the discussion of restoration and the glories of combining it with a phone.

I tell Betsi (spelling correct), what I want, and she tells me I can’t reinstate the cablevision!

“Why not?” I inquire.

Because: I’m not my mother. (Maybe if I hit her with a wooden spoon I would be?)”My mother is paralyzed on one side, she can’t walk, or move her hand to sign, I tell Betsi (spelling correct), but old Betsi (spelling still correct), won’t budge.

Trying to salvage my temper, I ask to speak with her supervisor. Out comes Betsi’s (spelling correct), supervisor. “Can I help you sir?”

Yes, I want to create an account for my mother and Betsi (spelling correct), says I can’t because I’m not my mother. Obviously, Betsi (spelling correct) has met my mother and I’m no mother!

Betsi, (spelling correct), sitting off to the side listens and then states that she told me what company policy is. But her supervisor takes my side and says the man needs the service, so what can we do? I pipe up that I am a customer and that should be good enough for the cable company. Then Betsi’s (spelling correct), supervisor’s eyes light up and says: ”You could open the account in your own name, and I happily thank her.

Now, about combining phone with cable I ask.
  
I can’t. In my mother’s area, they won’t sell me a phone service with cable service. But would I be interested in a triple play? Unless she is talking about the Mets hitting into one, I’m not interested. Mom doesn’t use a computer, so why pay for Internet service? Poor Betsi (spelling correct) gets a look of doom, like here comes another nut case customer like it’s her fault that I can’t get what I want.

“Betsi? Can I get the phone service separately? Can it be a separate entity?”

“You’d be better off using another carrier, it would be cheaper.” Says Betsi (spelling correct), 

WOW! They turn away customers they are so big!

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

MUSINGS IN THE AIR.

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As a frequent flyer lately, I have begun to take mental notes about the art of flying. The habits of people and the things they do simply astound me to some degree. Of course if you know me, you know my opinions are usually worthless and of no value, so I will of course pass them on to you.

For instance, the people that pay all that extra money to the robber barons who run the airlines, or should I say the flying robber barons? They board first, get to sit up front and have more leg room and more seat room for their butts, all for a price. You get on and think, hmmmm… they are flying first class, yet they don’t look so first class. Maybe what is needed in first class is the look of distinction and importance. I think the men should be wearing a tux and the women formal gowns, that is first
class.

Did you ever notice when boarding a plane they have zones: zone one and zone 2 and of course what I call:’spaced out.” These are the morons that have seating assignments yet must rush the airline clerk at the entrance checking the tickets. I could tell them that if you are the first on the plane, the seat is still the same as if you got on last. AND, you will arrive at the same time!

One of my favorite things to watch are the people as they board the plane in that long hallway they make you go through. They sat for two hours in the waiting area, talking to their cell phones, and once the boarding process starts, they start to take things out of their luggage, transferring it and as they do, they hold up the whole process.

Getting in the plane has proved exciting, especially when people start to franticly look for empty overhead bins to put their carry-on luggage. Not only do they look scared, desperate and totally worried, they hold up the line some more. In their panic they slam the compartment doors shut more than once, once to close it, once because the bag is not fitting, once because a strap is hanging out and once with emphasis because they are stupid.

They it never fails, I get on a cramped plane and the seating is meant for the flight of undernourished runners, not normal fat people, and what does Jimmy sitting in front of me always do? Jimmy pushes his headrest back, taking away vital breathing room, causing me to suck air out of the overhead air duct. You know how those taste?

Why oh why do they bother with the beverage cart? It seems everyone wants to look cool with a water bottle in one hand, a cell phone in another and their carry on in still another. All for the flight attendant to struggle with a heavy metal cart, pouring drinks like  a waitress while taking orders from a dumb-ass who should be flying in baggage compartment #2. Oh, I forgot, they do it to serve a ½ ounce bag of peanuts,


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