Saturday, December 31, 2016
Friday, December 30, 2016
DAD SAYS GOODBYE
It was 1956, and Mom was busy making her great turkey dinner on a sunny Thanksgiving Day! I got my coffee and breakfast, a light one, after all, there was Mom's Italian sausage stuffing that was better than the turkey itself.
But oddly, something was amiss! Where was Dad? It was late in the morning and he was usually up by then and having his own coffee with a cigarette.
We lived in a small ranch house at the time. My Mother's youngest sister was coming for the holiday, and as usual, the two families would spend the holiday together. But where was Dad?
The table was being set, the turkey roasting away and Mom in her uniform of the day, an apron over her dress, quietly cooked the masterpiece. But where was Dad?
I got the gallon of homemade wine out, and placed it on the table, just like Dad wanted. We placed cloth napkins around the plates, but where was Dad?
Suddenly from out of the bedroom, we could all hear: "Lena!" It was Dad!
Mom went into the bedroom and spoke with Dad. Mom came out and called my aunt. Dad's sister: Angie. Meanwhile, we were called into the bedroom to say our last goodbyes to Dad. He was dying, and it was time to say: "Goodbye."
Dad didn't say much, just looked at us with a dogged face and cough. I was near tears, water was welling up in my eyes, and I couldn't see anything, let alone Dad. Suddenly there was a commotion at the door and my Aunt Angie appeared. She suggested before we buried Dad, to call the doctor. Mom was strangely quiet all this time, like she knew something, but would go along with Dad.
I wondered: "Would God take Dad on Thanksgiving Day? With a turkey and Italian stuffing in the over? My God! The turkey wasn't even cooked through yet!"
The doctor spoke to Mom on the phone, and after a brief conversation with Aunt Angie, my aunt went: "Ooh Fah! Tony, all you have is the flu!"
We all laughed at the sight of us all standing over Dad, wringing hands and all.
For years after that incident, every time Dad had a sniffle and complained, Mom would say: "What babies, you men are! Try having a baby. Get sick and the whole world has to stop!
Since that day, when I get sick, I go to my bedroom and close the door, I love my mother, but even at this late stage in life, I don't want her haunting me!
Thursday, December 29, 2016
I’M STILL SWEATING!
Many years ago, when I worked for a living, I was always off-season, kind of like a ballplayer who plays in the summer and it is winter. Marketing plans were constantly being set up for six months down the road. Sitting in my short sleeves, in my air-conditioned office, people were asking me to get into the holiday spirit!
Try setting up a scene for Christmas with a photographer who walks around in sandals and shorts while you try to make it cold looking. Thinking of products like blankets or boots or even heavy overcoats becomes a monumental task, almost repulsive.
To get around these problems, I would go back to my childhood and think about the Christmas or two I spent in Brooklyn and how magical it seemed. The thought of the smell of a new tree with its natural pine scent, the big fat tree lights strung around the tree and even the tinsel and Christmas balls hung so gaily and with thought.
There was the Nativity scene placed under the tree, a very beautiful one with life-like figures and the manger made in Italy, the pray my Mom would place behind the nativity, framed and put there year after year. This was the start of my creativity: these memories were the catalyst that brought me beyond the blank page! My family in a sense was helping me design for the holidays in the middle of July!
I have come to appreciate the cold weather, the lack of humidity and the uncomfortable feeling of the summer heat. I love the winter, find it always helpful in doing anything creative. I usually paint, draw, cook and write my best in the winter, and I think it stems from my issues of winter in July, and the idea that I am no longer there.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
WELL, HOW DO YOU DO???
I was on the line Monday to purchase a pocket calendar for 2017, and as I stood on line, there was a lady and behind her a couple about my age waiting behind me. Standing there I just looked about at the different displays not looking to overhear anyone's conversation. However, the conversation going on behind me was one of particular interest as I caught snippets of it. Using words like Somers Street and Eastern Parkway, Rockaway Avenue and Stone Avenue all got my attention. These were the streets I lived around while growing up in Brooklyn as a youngster.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
IT’S A NEW HOUSE
Being it is only TLW (The Little Woman) and me left in the house, life has changed, indeed. The morning after Christmas is not what it used to be, no more wrappings flooding the floor, no more toys scattered about and it is safe to walk about with bare feet.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Sunday, December 25, 2016
MY CHRISTMAS WISH
If Santa Claus were real under my tree these questions I would leave.
Could we send the old men who declare war on each other, instead of the young?
Is there a way to rescue the children of the World from war, hunger, sickness, and fear?
Can we in some way release our obligations to religious sects and instead worship the same God?
Should we not pray for the release of demons that plague those of us who suffer from mental and physical disabilities, giving them back their lives?
Of course, there is no Santa Clause, only self-righteousness of our beliefs in God, the need to bomb each other because of it, to subjugate children to our mindlessness, orphan children when our madness does stop, and our indifference to those who live in homes and institutions, many abandoned by their families, forgotten by society and dying alone.
And the old men who declare war on each other, can we save our young to build the World, not destroy it because the old men have no future, let the old go and fight and preserve the lives of not only the young warriors but their families too.
Merry Christmas, from a dreamer.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY
Having an older sister who would get everything because she was so good, and I would be shamed because I got nothing, ate away at me for the few hours before the arrival of Santa. Not being a worrier as I got into trouble, or trouble found me, was not to be worried about until the time came.
If I slipped during the 24th of December, Mom would say: "OHHHH, Santa is commmminnnng, just wait, WAIT until you get coal or NOTHING for Christmas!" These crushing words would cause me to freeze in my tracks, throw myself down at Mom's feet, holding onto her ankles and begging for her intervention. She was always ‘Iffy' and would say she would look to see how the rest of the day went.
Dad never had much to say, Mom never gave him a chance to. As far as he was concerned, he was a disinterested party. All Dad had to do was show up when he was needed, usually at Mom's bidding.
But Christmas would come the next morning! The anticipation was growing as the closer I got to the dining room where the tree would stand, next to a fireplace. There under the tree was my sister's gifts… right next to mine!
Talk to you Monday!
HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY HANUKA!
Friday, December 23, 2016
CHIVALRY IS DEAD
And Merry Christmas to you too!
Thursday, December 22, 2016
SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD!
The night before I leave is like when I worked and it was Sunday night, dreading that I had to work the next morning. Sleeping was troublesome and suddenly it was morning, I didn't want to get out of the warm bed in a perfect spot, and so that will be the case this time out of Burbank. I will say goodbye like a big boy and not cry or ask for my mommy.
The palm trees and sunny boulevards of Burbank with their fantastic and multiple restaurants will be behind me, gone until I return again.
When I do return, I will see once again a marked change in La Principessa, growth, and awareness, and of course, she will give grandpa new orders to follow. When she says: "NO grandpa!" no it is! "March like this, Grandpa!" march it is!
I will sing a new song that she taught me in the car, or maybe the other, but she is always singing in my heart, where she stays forever.
But there is one other lesson I have learned, and that is that a house is but a place, a home is where two hearts reside, and there will be my TLW (The Little Woman)!
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
In the early years of marriage and right up to 1990, Dad's last year alive for Christmas, we spent Christmas Eve in my parent's basement enjoying a seven-course fish dinner, the tradition handed down by Grandma, Dad's mother. The dinner table seated about 25 and was a pool table covered with two 4' x 8' plywood boards to protect the table top.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
MARCHING IN STEP
Friday morning, we decided that La Principessa (My beautiful Granddaughter) before pre-school would be treated to some Krispy Crème donuts.
Walking into a Krispy Crème early morning is a treat, they give you a sample donut, fresh as fresh could be, and I must tell you it is delicious. The variety of donuts, with the seasonal themes alone, are fantastic, but biting into one fresh out of the donut maker-INSANELY delicious.
La Principessa selected her donut, as Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa watched, the little lady took us to the table where we enjoyed the minutes of pure pleasure, just watching her eat, and make observations.
We decided to purchase a box of goodness to take home for La Principessa's mommy and Uncle Mike who was still asleep. Carrying the box of donuts as we crossed the parking lot, La Principessa barked out her orders: "March" and started to march with military precision and ordered all to march along with her! Carrying a flat box, a coffee cup, and her knapsack, I fell in step with everyone else, as our little leader barked out the cadence. An old man crossing our path took one look at us and laughed at me as I comically marched with the donut box and other goods in hand!
But once again she worked her magic in the car, as she started to sing:
"No, Abby, No Abby, NO, NO, NO!" that quickly became a group participation sung by Daddy, Grandma and ultimately me. Each of us contributed an order to Abby who is a rambunctious beautiful collie who lives with La Principessa and her family!
No, Abby, No Abby, NO, NO, NO!
Sit, Abby, Sit Abby, Sit, Shit, Sit!
Down, Abby, Down, Abby, Down, Down, Down!
Good Abby, Good Abby, Good, Good, Good!
You can even march to this!
Monday, December 19, 2016
EL PUEBLO DE LOS ANGELES
When you hear those famous words: "go back to your country" keep this in mind, we all as ancestors came from somewhere else. The single example found in this great country of ours is in the state of California and the city of Los Angeles.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
TAPING OF THE BIG BANG THEORY
Seeing these wonderful actors at work makes me wonder, do creative people really consider themselves professional actors or rather artists and lovers of their craft?
You see them one at a time, engrossed in their dialogue as they practice their scripts to themselves, the introductions from the comic genius that works the crowds between takes is amusing and helps the four hours it takes to tape a half-hour show. As many as 5 takes can occur to make the scenes as funny and convincing as possible, and this show is not your run of the mill comedy. It incorporates many dramatic and poignant scenes during the season as well.
What amazes me is the number of people that it takes to produce this half hour, the week of creative ideas and then writing the script, the polishing and re-writing, the wardrobe people, makeup artist and sound and visual planning and rehearsal that goes into the production, the walk through of the scenes, all comes together in the final four hours of the show, the final ingredient, the audience reactions.
As we sit there as parents, we are not only proud of our son, but that he is part of this wonderful experience, that he is our son and helps do something so successful boggles our mind. I think sometimes I'm too enthusiastic about this all, but I just can't help it. I think of my Dad, his name was Anthony too, and he would have been crazy proud of his grandson, and excited everything he saw his grandson's name in the credits, they are his, too!
Saturday, December 17, 2016
MEETING SANTA WITH A SONG IN MY HEART!
Friday, December 16, 2016
SOME THINGS I REMEMBER
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
THE JOY IN SADNESS
Every year at this time I am asked to play Santa, a job which pays very well in joy and satisfaction. Those that visit Santa are adults with disabilities ranging from mental to physical and usually both. They still believe in Santa, and as Santa, I can peek into their world of courage, pain and sometimes disappointment.
There is usually a long line of people waiting for a chance to talk to Jolly Old Saint Nick. They believe, they come and they are eager to speak with him. Santa likes to compliment them on how they look, a red sweater, and a string of blinking lights around their neck, a smile, and greeting: “HI, Santa!” Some can walk on their own, some need walkers or wheelchairs, but they come, Santa is a ray of joy, hope, and a person that they trust, he is Santa.
Some of these wonderful individuals have no family, maybe were abandoned because of their disability, some their parents have passed, and now the Agency is their Mom. There are those who have parents that still live, but barely, and the infirmed are weighing on the minds of their children. They ask Santa to make them better, an impossible trick by any means.
“Santa, can you make my mom better?”
“I will ask God to help us.” That is all I can muster, not only is my heart broken, but I need to stand my ground as Jolly Old St. Nick.
By the end of the night, facing countless flashes of the camera, the heat that builds in the suit, the pain or arthritis that takes over from sitting too long in one way, in one spot I take off the suit and am me again, and I think of those poor souls, all fighting their own battle in life, all having fears about themselves and the world they inherited and I get angry. I see beautiful faces, faces that were once touched by the lips of God and I want to cry about how damaged they have become. I see elderly ladies losing all their hair, their faces distorted and their bodies crippled and I want to go hide from the shame I have when I complain. I guess I could say: Thank you, God, for it is not I. But then I think: why them? What is their crime?
Christmas is supposedly about family, about Jesus, about love, peace, and joy, as we spend our times together while many of us in this world are abandoned, their investment in the “Holidays” is a void that can’t be explained, that can’t be measured in joy or pleasure or shopping for gifts. Many of us will close our awareness to the plight of many of these brothers and sisters, and forget them.
Once we invited my daughter Ellen’s housemates to our house for Christmas dinner. There were seven and along with my daughter who sat at the dining room table as a family. They all had one thing in common, they loved each other, why? Because there was only peace and joy emanating from them.
In ten days we will celebrate another Christmas season. We will bake, cook and plan for gift giving, yet we will not accept the greatest gift of all, those who have nothing, need to be appreciated as fellow brothers and sisters, a chance for us who have to give to those who have not, even if it is only as a candle in the wind.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
JOHN GLENN AND BEYOND
Funny how fast life passes us by.
Monday, December 12, 2016
WHAT TIME IS MASS?
Years ago, Dad told me a story that happened to him. It was a Sunday afternoon and Dad was going to the candy store to purchase a Sunday newspaper. As he reached down to the pile of newspapers, he sees the pastor of the local Catholic Church, a bastion for Italian Americans who built the first Italian-American church, built by Italians and with marble and stone from Italy called: Our Lady of Loretta Church on Sackman Place in Brooklyn.
The priest, who happens to be an active fundraiser, is also a very good friend of my grandmother, who happens to organize all the trips for the church to raise money. Trips to Italy and bus rides to upstate in New York, are Grandma's trademark.
"Good morning Tony!" says the good father.
"Good morning, Father!" says Dad.
"Did you go to Mass this morning, Tony?"
"Yes Father," says Dad. "%:30 this morning.
"Tell me, how is your mother?"
"She's fine Father," says Dad.
And your Dad, he is doing well, too?"
He's fine Father"
"And you two sisters, are they well?"
"Oh yes Father, they are doing very well."
"And tell me Tony, what about your brother, is he doing well?"
"Oh yes Father, he is doing very well."
"Well, Tony, glad to hear all that, have a great Sunday afternoon, and by the way, there is no 5;30 Mass!"
Sunday, December 11, 2016
MAKING A DATE
On January 12th, I will report to Good Samaritan Hospital and they will cut my throat, something that will make many people jealous. According to the good doctor, they make an incision, divert the artery through a shunt so I don't have a stroke and at the same time keep the blood flowing.
Once they cut, there is a chance that my face will be numb on the area of the incision, and perhaps for life, as they will be affecting nerve endings. I can't drive for a week and the scar may not be bad since the neck area heals well. I might even be able to go home after the operation.
So, I can't cry for my mommy, and most importantly; it won't affect my appetite!
There is also the procedures I have to go through, two weeks before the operation I need to call about scheduling pre-testing at the hospital, I need to get medical clearance from my PCP, who will tell me what medications that I take and can't and also my cardiologist needs to know.
If I don't live through it all, I died trying to un-carotid my carotid artery!
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Recently I accompanied TLW (The Little Woman) to the hospital to have a cyst removed from her cheek, just over her left jaw bone, a procedure that requires a surgeon or do-it-yourself surgery kit. We opted for the surgeon, a very happy and corny man. We’ll call him Dr. Ono, who stands just over 4’6” and is wearing platform shoes.
TLW described her first visit to the good doctor as an almost homecoming. Dr. Ono met with her in his office and explained the procedure and as she departed, he hugged her goodbye. Nice way to have confidence in your surgeon.
The hospital was St. Catherine of Sienna in Smithtown, NY. At one time, it was Saint John’s Episcopal Hospital, but there weren’t enough sick Episcopalians doctoring so they sold it to the Catholics, who it seems are always ailing about something or another.
We arrive at the prescribed time of 6:45 AM, where we were immediately set into motion, that is, she was escorted to a bed while I was told to sit and wait, something I’ve had to do all my life one way or another.
The joy of waiting is not something you take for granted, especially when your doctor is not expected at the hospital until 8:00 AM and you are not the first patient on the schedule. Give a medical schedule maker a little power and they will keep you in their power with waiting and rules. You must have rules: “NO EATING FROM TUESDAY THE WEEK BEFORE THE PROCEDURE, NO MEDICATIONS 5 MONTHS PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE AND OF COURSE, NO JEWELRY ON THE DAY OF THE PROCEDURE!”
The real fun of the ‘procedure’ of course is the uncertainty, as they call me in to sit with TLW. She is a trooper, a great example of a good patient in her rubber bonnet and funny socks, sitting there waiting for me with a smile on her face. I find her surgical section bed along with a long line of beds with patients. No one under the age of 60 is allowed in this area and even the nurses and aids are all over the minimum age. This is important as one can then complain and they will give you the standard reply: “Are you telling me! Let me tell you…”
By 8:00 AM I’m starting to think about food, lots of it, and I know where there is some, but won’t (out of loyalty) go and eat while TLW has to suffer, but boy, once they take her away for the procedure, off I will go for a cup of coffee.
Someone comes to push TLW to the operating room, and healthy as he is, I almost want to help him push. We arrive in the pre-operative room where we will be interviewed by the total population of Smithtown asking the same questions we already answered ten times since we got here, and of course, the very same questions we answered on countless forms prior to arriving here in pre-operative visits to the doctor’s weeks before. I guess the ink they use is only good for a short while.
Everything was going fine until the esteemed Dr. Ono arrived, who looked at her cheek, marked it, (He hates to make mistakes) and told me there should be no hickeys on that side of her face for a while. I asked about the other side and said: “Why not?”
Friday, December 09, 2016
FINISHING OFF 2016 WITH A SLICE!
Yes, it wasn't enough that my daughter Ellen needed surgery, that my #1 Son needed surgery, and now we just finished TLW (The Little Woman) with some surgery, I go tomorrow to see the surgeon who will tell me I need some surgery! The only one missing is #2 Son (Thank God) and we would have the Round-Robbin of surgery for 2016!
I remember so long ago when we were all young and there was nothing to think about. Surgery was the last thing on our minds, and now that occupies our thinking. I have spent countless hours in hospitals this year and have covered both the East and West coast in doing so.
Most of the surgery done on us so far have been very important, the broken bones in my daughter's right lower leg, the fibula was snapped somehow and we don't know how.
Then there was the open-heart surgery for #1 son, a triple bypass out in LA.
Today we removed a cyst from TLW's neck or lower jaw.
Tomorrow I go to see my surgeon, he will tell me I need an operation on my carotid artery, that is 90% blocked, and am in danger of a stroke. (By the time you read this I will have been there to see him.) Can I possibly have a better year for my family? I really don't mind my surgery but that of my wife and kids is another story.
Wish me luck, I'm not ready to die yet.
Thursday, December 08, 2016
THERE'S THAT FIRST TIME!
The old adage: "There's a first time for everything", has reared its ugly head.
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
A SIGN OF THE TIMES
|crunched-up gathering of one or both hands,|
The hands have a power by the movement Italians impose on them from a prayerful wave to a crunched-up gathering of one or both hands, we do need to be understood. The beauty of the Italian communicant is he or she can raise the level of the voice or the position of the hand to convey once or more than once the same message.
Grandma was a hand user to the nth power, and often under the flurry of words came the flow of movements. You never saw her mouth move because her hands were in the way! You got the message, she didn't have to point. The thing is when she spoke, her hands flashed from all the rings she was wearing, it is amazing she got them high when she was raising her voice from the weight of the jewelry!
Grandpa, on the other hand, was a quiet man, never raised his voice or hands above his hips. One hand motion lasted the whole sentence while Grandma needed many motions to complete a sentence.
We had a cousin Mauro who was deaf, and we always spoke to him in sign language, that is with our hands very high in the air.
English sign language is very different from Italian, there are more symbols to spell out although there aren't as many letters.
When we all got together on the holidays, Grandma's kitchen was crowded with women that let it all loose, hands flying everywhere, the air vibrated so much you needed a sweater! The din alone from Aunt Tessie telling a story and asking for confirmation from Uncle Joe added to the noise level, causing the National Seismograph Association to report of tremors in the heart of Brooklyn!
If you broke a hand or had it in a cast, what could you say? One aunt was very quiet, and everyone thought she was angry, turns out she was just sitting on her hands.