DelBloggolo

Friday, June 30, 2017

IS THIS HUMANE?

Many years ago, when my first child Ellen was born, I was very proud of her. She was beautiful, a little pink bundle that bore her Mom's first name and my last name. It is a moment of joy but also of the truth. It made me imagine what she would grow to be, what her role in life would become, and also who she would marry. But in all those emotions there was one other thing that occurred to me, I had to provide for her future. I needed to really step up and be a father in practice as well as the name!

The first year of her life was normal and we watched her development as any new parent would all her numbers seemed within the average range including her response to us, she laughed appropriately and likewise cried. Then the following year came crashing down, and with that came the tears and agony of her arresting development. We entered a world of the unknown, uncertainty and as a father who never faced such unimaginable reality, I leaned heavily on my wife. She did the research and the doctor visits, as we were told that our little girl would never be normal, she was brain-damaged from birth, it was against all of our hopes.

Fast forward to today. Ellen lives a comfortable life, she lives with her peers and although she loves us as much as we love her, she is happy to go home to AHRC Suffolk's Intermediate Care Facility in Wading River. She goes to a program 5-days a week, and on weekends goes out into the community or comes home to dinner on Sundays. She has transportation to and from her residence, where she has her own room, lovingly decorated with family pictures and things she enjoys in life. She is happy. All her comfort, medical care, and education come from the auspices of the Medicare/Medicaid offices and AHRC Suffolk Chapter. It is a wonderful gift to the people who suffer from disabilities and their parents and siblings, it is the hand of God reaching down to us through our governments, both the Federal and State. There are regulations in place for their safety and fiscal protection. What Ellen and her peers, family, and friends can't do, we the people do for them.

There is a realization now that is rearing its ugly heart, it comes in the form of one Mitch McConnell and a bunch of his icky ilk with an assist by Donald Trump, President of these great United States. It is an attempt at bringing more profits to big business and doing so by taking Medicaid away from people with disabilities. It is a criminal endeavor, it is ugliness for all its worth, it is the true face of the Devil himself. Taking away Medicaid that helps the individual and giving the savings they accrue from Medicaid to Big Business.

All of us will at some point be faced with the need for services of the kind that Medicare/Medicaid provides, either through our loved ones in nursing homes, hospitals or places where Ellen lives. What will become of these institutions? Many if not all of the homes and agencies like Ellen's will be forced to close down, and the burden will shift to the families, to parents that are so old they can't even get out of their homes! And what happens when the parents die? Who will care for Ellen, who will give her medications? Who will see that she eats slowly and doesn't choke? Who will amuse her, she that she isn't in pain? Mitch McConnell?

If we support this type of legislation, we are punishing people who can't help themselves, who can't fight for themselves and will die from the ugly future the likes of McConnell and his icky ilk will provide for them, all in the name of profits for Big Business.

God help us all, I wonder who is next?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

LAST STOP, PATCHOGUE!

Since Patchogue was my childhood retreat, there are memories everywhere I go in Patchogue today. From Main Street to Norton Street, from South Ocean Avenue to the Carvel store on Montauk Highway, it seems every inch of Patchogue will jettison thoughts of the past.

I recall those high school and college days, working in Rollic at the corner of Grove Avenue and East Main Street, across from the Hills supermarket and the movie theater, the luncheonette and the barber shop, all filled with characters that entertained me and made me feel right at home, special days that highlighted each day.

Once we went crabbing off a pier in Patchogue, and Dad had his technique. As the sun was setting we stood at the edge of the pier, a net attached to a long pole, and a flashlight to attract the crabs, and as the crab followed the light to the net, we had crabs, a simple operation that Dad understood. Then suddenly, a large crab surfaced and Dad got real excited, leaning over the edge in his excitement. Suddenly he saw the crab and started going: "OOH, OOH, OOH!" and leaned too far, right into the drink!

My uncle Joe worked for the LIRR in Patchogue, and often because I loved trains would take me with him on the job on my summer vacation. I would sit in one of the cars and he would have a crew who swept, and cleaned, and filled the water tank and add additional cone-shaped paper drinking cups to the dispenser. Many times, the train was reorganized as the moved it about to relocate the iron monster of a steam engine. One day as I sat in one of the cars alone for the first time, the train started to move and I got frightened thinking it was going to another station and I would be lost forever, or worst, going back to Brooklyn! I was about 7-years old. The train then stopped and a few moments later along with a lot of noise, I notice the engine speed by and as I did I hear this voice shout out: "LAST STOP, PATCHOGUE!" It was my uncle, laughing at me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

CALLING MARIO, THE PLUMBER!

At a recent plumbers reunion.

Like me, my house is getting older. It seems there are little patches and fixes needed to keep us afloat. Keeping afloat means the plumbing needs to be maintained.

Our downstairs bathroom sink has sprung a leak, as well as our kitchen sink, of course. TLW (The Little Woman) reported the bad news along with her arthritis and uncomfortableness with the weather to me. I usually take each complaint and file them under missing reports and hope that they will go away. Not a chance.

"I think we have a leak under the kitchen sink!" she tells me.

My first reaction is now I have to go all the way upstairs to wash my hands. Since the toilet sink is leaking I have been using the kitchen sink to wash my hands.

Now TLW and I are tough old birds, we resist all costs if possible, but once in a while, we have to give in and pay the man to do the job. Recently we had a new air-conditioner installed in our bedroom and that meant hiring the store to install it since it meant widening the hole in the wall. If they make these things any bigger we will need to take out the window and the whole bedroom wall will be one giant air conditioner!

"Joe! Put your hand under the sink and feel around the pipe, it is wet! This is bad news; it means I have to cancel the rest of my very important nap and attend to something less important. I venture over to the kitchen, put my hand on the pipe, and dammit, she's right. This means probably tomorrow's nap time will have to be overtime to make up for the lost time. (Mom always said: "If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing right. Don't ask your father.") Mom was another nap-buster.

"Well, I think with maybe some plumber's putty we can fix it, I can do it myself.) Brave words.
"OK, I'll go out and get some!" says TLW.

I go back to business while she is out getting the putty when I was about to close a deal with Kim Bassinger when TLW interrupted the proceedings and handed me the putty.

Lifting myself reluctantly from my creative position I head for the sink. "I also got this fiberglass tape you can use if you need." She so states.

"OK, what I'll do is after I apply the putty I'll use the tape."
"Good idea!" (I have the full backing of TLW!)

I putty where she pointed to and then I take out the tape. There are instructions on how to use it and I take the time to read them. Simply stated: "Apply the tape over the area, hold in place and stretch until you come over to where you started." Simple, understandable and soon to be troublesome. As I start to apply the tape, I get instructions on how to apply the tape, step-by-step, and although it is annoying me, I ignore the annoyance and get to business. I finish the task and go back to reading the inside posted messages on my eyelids.

"Joe! I think we put it in the wrong area!"
"You sure? That is where you told me!"
"She shakes her head ‘yes'.

I go back and re-putty the area where I think the leak is and we fix it.

"Now, do you think you can fix the bathroom?"
This little project I know I can't because it requires ripping out the sink and dismantling the plumbing, something I am no longer in a mood to do and has discussed it with TLW. Of course, she asks and I must then try, after all, I am a loving husband. I fail.
"Let me try" she insists. "I'm left-handed, maybe I can get in there and do it. She tries.
"We have a name for a plumber?" she inquires.
"Yes, Mario."






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

HELEN

Sometimes in the course of my day, if I listen carefully, I hear the sound of children laughing. I hear their innocence in their tone, and the joy of youth becomes very real.

Helen was Mom, a loving mother, with old fashion values and a heart bigger than any wide opened space. She was a teacher, a parent, a mother-in-law. When you saw Helen, you saw all there was, never trying to impress. Impress was not in her vocabulary. She had a child-like laughter that always made you smile.

Helen loved her grandchildren. When they showed up at her little bit of heaven, they took over the house. Her local grandchildren loved her like a mother: those from out of town did the same. She loved them all alike without prejudice, without qualification. Sometimes, if I listen carefully, I hear Helen. Helen is my Mother-in-law. She was a gentle soul. Filled with the spirit of child-like gentleness and innocence. No, she wasn’t a simple-minded person, but a simple soul, one who loved children. I can vividly recall her giving to her grandchildren. She was a model grandmother, filled with happiness and giving. She gave the gift of laughter to her children and grandchildren. She got down on the floor and played at a child’s level because she knew her sophistication was no match for children.

She had 4 wonderful children, but you would think her in-law children were hers too.

TLW (The Little Woman) has told me stories how she would give her pots and pans to her children, and let them play in the mud. If you went into the family library, it was not uncommon to find pictures cut from books so her children could do a school report! Mary Margaret McBride’s cookbook was nothing but words, no longer pictures!

Often when I would show up, and there were grandchildren present, the living room was converted into a campground, with make-shift tents erected with the help of furniture and blankets! The kids, all interacting with each other, would enjoy the time and would squeal with delight when Grandma Manning or Helen came by.

She wasn’t a great cook, but she wasn’t bad, just didn’t get into it like some women do. But she cooked from her heart: every spoonful was a ladle of love. She loved her Jim, a shoe salesman that built a wonderful family, a sense of respect for the world, and never allowed his kids to fight. On that shoe salesman’s salary, he sent four children to parochial elementary and high schools! He loved his TV, especially the news programs and so enjoyed the Watergate hearings.

But Helen enjoyed all of life. You could find her singing out loud, or telling stories about her childhood, Picture a tree if you will, the trunk is a person (Helen), the branches: times of her life, and the leaves, stories, many stories that sometimes never always got fully told because Helen went off on another leaf or even branch. Sometimes she would get back to the original story and everything was back tied in a neat bow!

She was a better person than I can ever be; she gave of herself, she sang, told childhood stories, and played with her children. Her stories were often amusing, sometimes bitter, sometimes deviating from her original train of thought. But she took the time to tell them, and that made people happy.

There was the little-known fact that she loved Superman comics, her father had a Pontiac (She pronounced it “PONT ti ac” and he would never allow someone to pass him on the road. She once got an obscene call, and before the caller could get started, she befriended him! Once she made a small infraction on the road, not fully stopping at a stop sign. She pulled into her driveway, as a policeman pulled up behind her. Her opening remark to him was: “And how are you, officer?”

Her kindness was quickly forcing me out of my home. It seemed every time my kids saw her, she took them to a store and bought them a toy! It got so bad: I had to ask TLW to ask her mother to stop.

When she visited, she wasn’t a Mother-in-law, but a person who was genuinely happy to see you. She never took sides, but always listened to what you had to say. She was my best audience. I could tell her a joke and she laughed. Tell her the joke a second time, and she laughed twice as hard.

When the family got together, she would listen, often adding to the conversation, and laugh, while everyone would get the giggles from it.

When her sister Mary visited with her husband Uncle Eddy, Helen would keep the wine line flowing, and Uncle Eddy would get redder than a beet but was always fun and a gentleman.

Today is Helen’s anniversary. She is missed every day of the year. Often, after she passed, TLW would want to call her because of something that happened, and then sadly would realize, she is no longer a part of us on earth.

I think Helen lives on strongly, without a doubt, and will continue to.

It is the anniversary of her death, Helen has been gone 30 years now, but it is funny how we miss her. We will never hear her laugh again, but in our hearts, it rings true and loud.

Thanks, Helen, I know God must be having a cup of tea with you about now.

God, bless you Helen, or can I say ‘Ma’?

Monday, June 26, 2017

ZIO FELICE


He stood at 4' 4" tall, weighed about 120 pounds, and sported a long handlebar mustache going by the name of Zio Felice or in English, Uncle Felix.

During the depression and afterward, during the war, Zio Felice worked as a gang foreman on a construction crew, building large multi-storied complexes out of brick and concrete.

My Uncle Joe, his nephew went to work under him after he finished high school and was told to haul wheel barrels of concrete up a plank, and dump it, go down and do it again and again. My uncle Joe's hands were bleeding and raw from the hard work. This was before lunch. He goes to Zio Felice and says, "Look at my hands!" Zio Felice looks at the and says, "Go behind the building, and urinate on them." This hardened the hands and after a while, he never had problems with bleeding again! He also gave up finger foods!

Uncle Felix fathered 16 children; each and every one of them feared the little Caesar, as he commanded the respect that went beyond the call of duty for any child.

There is a story that went around the family that when he came to America, while on the boat as it sailed; was told that there was no macaroni in America. This made him highly agitated, and he wanted to go back to Italy. He wore a black suit, with a gray fedora and brown shoes. As he stood on the stern of the ‘Joe Garibaldi', right out of Napoli, he asked if they had macaroni in America once again. When they told him; "No" he jumped overboard. His wife, Rose, a sweet young thing leaned over the railing and yelled: "Ritornare a bordo, lei l'idioto!" (Roughly translated: "we were only kidding!")

When he landed in America and fathered all those children he insisted that they have macaroni every day! All his children had to be at the dinner table waiting for him, standing at their plates until he came home and sat down. Once Zio Felice sat down, everyone else could.

One of his sons wanted to become a priest and Zio Felice would not hear of it, and forbade him from doing so. His son then joined the U.S. Army during World War II and was killed in action at Anzio Beach, very near the birthplace of Zio Felice!

Zio Felice was also the older brother of my Grandmother Francesca. Zio Felice was the father figure to my Dad, since his real Dad had died during the Great World War while in the U.S. Army, where he contracted the Spanish Influenza and died in a hospital during the cold of winter, where he tried to jump out a window to go home to visit his three children.

Many years later on a Saturday morning when I was about 12 years old, my Dad said to me: "I have to take your Mother somewhere. I expect Zio Felice to come with Grandma and your Aunt to see our house for the first time. If he comes while I'm away, show him around." Sure enough, the entourage arrives with a flourish, as the little giant steps from the car and I greet him. I immediately escort him and those that follow to the house, through all the rooms, and finally take him back outside to the front of the house at his request. "Tella me, awhata you doer over here?" "What do you mean?" say I. He points to a spot off center of the lawn, about halfway toward the street, and says to me: Wella over here a you puta the bricks ina a nicea big circle an in the middle a here you puta the flaga pole." "Ona the bottom ofa the flaga pole you puta the flowersa, a nicer colors. "THENA" pointing his finger for emphasis, "You puta the picture ofa Garibaldi."

He died in the early 1970's, at the tender age of 93. I guess he should have taken better care of himself.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE MASTERS OF LAUGH


Growing up, we were poor. No one owned a car but Dad and Mom didn't drive. Dad's job sustained us from one week to the next, and when I reached the age of 16, I got my working papers and a job, contributing all but $5 to the family purse. It wasn't required, I just did it because I knew I should. It helped a lot.

Although there was plenty of food in the house, we ate the old-fashioned Depression-era dishes that sustained my grandparents and their children. When we ate, we were all around the table at the same time, if you were missing it meant you were away or too sick to come to the table.

Our shoes were repaired at a shoemaker and our clothing was repaired and let out by Mom. When we finally outgrew our clothing, off to Picken Avenue we went to get new ones at a good price. We ate everything that was put on our plates and never wasted. If we didn't like something that Mom made, we couldn't leave the table until it was finished! In spite of the poverty ways, we were sent to parochial school at great sacrifice, having to pay for tuition and books, and dressed like everyone else. Strick discipline was the norm, and our lives centered around the church.

With all the hardships, along with never going away on vacation or to a restaurant, there was one unifying force that kept us together and sane, and that was the insanity of laughter, the cure-all of our drab lives. Dad had a great sense of humor, based mostly on our economic conditions that ruled our family, and Mom, well she laughed all the time. Just say something funny and she laughed out loud, a good strong laugh that became her trademark.

There were times that Dad pulled things on me when I was least expecting them. One night I was watching a horror movie on TV and was really into it. Something was about to happen as I lay on the floor in front of the TV, as was my habit. The music was building up to that tension-filled moment when out of nowhere comes this hand in front of my face and a YAHHHHH! To scare the living bejesus out of me! After the heart attack I had, I thought how wonderful it was that Dad did that. The moment stayed with me for years until I could get my revenge, and revenge I got! It was my graduation party from high school, and we had a lawn party going on. Relatives and friends came from all over, and in the midst of all the talking and chatter, was Dad asleep on a lounge chair. I looked around and there sat in the hot sun was a hose connected to an outdoor spigot, Perfect. I got the nozzle of the hose and gently slipped it into Dad's side pocket, and turn on the water at a drizzle, A combination of the water and it being warm made Dad jump up and race into the house thinking he had an accident! There were other things I did too numerous and often to relate here, but we always had a good laugh.

Then there is Mom, who once asked me to think of something to do to Dad to get him back for some reason. My little sister had a doll, one that repeated whatever you said, and the voice was creepy. I took the mechanism out f the doll and taped it under his chair, and while doing it, Mom is hysterical laughing!

We waited for Dad to come home from work.

We were all quiet as Dad came into the kitchen. That should have been a warning, He sits down and we wait for him to say something and finally, he does. As he talks the rigged chair is activated, causing him to jump a mile high. Mom was beside herself in hysterics.

Love is a familiar thing, to sustain it you need good food and good laughter.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

AM I BLESSED?


Many years ago, back in 1981, we faced what every parent dreads might happen and did to us. Our second son, Joseph died. It is a decision out of a nightmare that God made and continues to live a little in your mind, long after it occurred, so I thought.

It is the time that you stop believing in God and his love, instead, he becomes your enemy, and you vow never to speak to him again. How could he take the life of a 21-month old? How could he deprive his parents the opportunity to love him and receive his love, too?

Nothing in this world prepares you for it and nothing in this world keeps you from remembering it. It is all consuming.

I remember when we learned that my daughter was going to be a disabled child, and we realized that we needed to pull ourselves together, not cry about it and instead help her. The ‘perfect child' had left the room forever. When certain dates came up in regard to my son, we think of him, cast ourselves into a private hell and cry. But when it comes to my daughter, she is living testimony to what could have been and isn't: we mourn her every day. How strange to mourn one who lives and not mourns one who is gone!

But in all this, I learned long ago that it is not God who allows anything, it is life, and life is what he gave us, to live and die and everything in between is up to us. None of us is ‘Blessed' none of us are better than anyone else. To say someone is blessed is to say God didn't bless the poor, didn't bless the hungry and the sick, but he blessed you because you have healthy children or a big house and even a fancy car.

The blessing I receive are the memories of my children, the love of my family and my love for them. These blessings are everyone's blessing and should be accounted for.



Friday, June 23, 2017

MA, YOU WERE RIGHT!

Helen knew!
Way back in 1969, America landed a man on the moon, and ever since, things have not been right, according to Helen Manning. Now my Mother-in-law, a pious and yet fun woman, used to say whenever we had storms and the weather was consistently bad, that landing a man on the moon was the direct cause of these things happening. Man set foot on the moon's surface and that somehow upset the world karma, creating a new order of things. She may have had something there.

I can think of all the monumental things that have changed the world since that faith-filled day in July 1969. Since then the New York Mets won a World Series, I got married and the Soviet Union came apart, and then there are the results of the last Presidential election, a non-politician won and a woman ran for the President! Monumental stuff if you ask me. Just think how hard it would have been if Hilary did win the election, it would have been awkward to call her Mr. President, causing her to go out and get a new wardrobe, ditching the pants suits.

This past six months it seems that every other day we are getting rain, and lots of it, and winds that accompany the rain and sometimes a little lightning is thrown in for good measure. This past week there were temperatures so high in the west that they called it a heat dome, 118 in Los Angeles alone! Some temperatures reached the 120's! This may put an end to the argument that changing climatic conditions are a hoax, that indeed we need to start thinking about our atmosphere!

Growing up in Brooklyn, we lived in a top-floor flat, the roof was flat and the sun heated up the apartment and on one side was an alley with a couple of windows. There was no such thing as air-conditioning and when we had sweltering nights, we laid on the bare linoleum floor for some relief, with a fan over us. That apartment had no heat in the winter either, and all we had was a coal stove that sat in the kitchen, heating all the rooms that followed the kitchen as it was a railroad flat.

Every extended forecast has rain in it, from scattered showers to weather alerts. And oh! How the weathermen on TV get orgasms as they report the weather, I think the guy at night on CBS almost loses his breath in the excitement, like a little schoolgirl opening up her birthday present. There has not been a sustainable group of consecutive days where the weather has been consistent enough to swim in your pool.

Ma, you are right!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I FEEL LIKE A TRIPLE A BATTERY


Since I belong to the AHRC Suffolk Board of Directors, every year or two it seems, I have to be reinstalled. Yes, in order for the chapter to run properly, they reinstall you and hope that this time it works.

I am very close to thirty years on the Board and there are some who are on it longer than that. One of the things I learned is that your agenda is wide, varied and ever changing. For instance, when I first joined, they had this elaborate dinner at a catering hall, then we switched to our General-Purpose Room with fried chicken, we are now down to cookies.

The ‘ceremony is solemn, we invite a judge or politician if they are out on bail and they officiate the installation. Each Board Member’s name o called out and the officiator mentions the various services and given a long skinny candle that is lit for you. For instance:

“Joe Del Bloggolo, as a member of the first to the Buffet committee, chair of the Complain about the Coffee Committee, and the lost notes committee, your candle is dedicated to complaining about the State of New York’s budget priorities.” Then you stand there and wait for the other members of the Board to be sworn in or sworn at, depending on their mood.

But then there is the Fashion Show! Every year our participants dressed in donations of the latest women’s styles and escorted by a tuxedoed gentleman walk down the runway. It’s a shining moment in their lives and sparks loud laughter as they dance and perform as they model. Once a year they get all the attention of over 400 people.

I have a feeling that even if I weren’t installed, they would manage to get me working anyway.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I REALLY GET ANNOYED!


The other day I went to the big giant COSTCO. Why? Because I'm a good loving husband who does what he is told. In a very sweet voice she asked me: "Joe, will you do me a favor and go to COSTCO for me today?" It was really just another very nice way of asking me to go to Hell.

One of the things about the place is the parking. The spaces are too thin and the lot is always crowded with mostly old people who don't look when they pull out of the space. In backing out, they do it ever so slowly, making me wonder if I could sell before and after photographs, it takes that long.

If you wish to take your life into your own hands, try moving to or from your car. Dare a crazed driver while he/she hunts down space, preferably next to the entrance. They WILL mow you down and take a whole line of shopping carts with you.

Once you enter the building you need to do some serious negotiating to get past the crowd of bottle returnees, cart selectors and patrons at the liquor outlet. Then you pass the sentry, you know, that guy that is supposed to check your membership card.

Once inside, you immediately fall behind someone who stops, and just looks around, causing you to stop short and strain your hips and knee caps to avoid hitting them in the ass.

Then there is the family who shops together, side by friggin' side, casually strolling like it is a day around the lake. If you get lucky and manage to get to an aisle for something you need, there is always someone standing there, declaring their right to stand there and does not move, just looks and stands, reading the fine print.

It doesn't take long to find the suicide driver, pushing his basket at warp speed, heading for the milk section this time, and as he enters leaves his cart in the way and goes to the milk containers and reads all the dates stamp, and finding the latest dates on the containers tries to figure out which one was filled last that day.

Now, these places have samples. Yes, people go there to eat and eat for free. They camp out where the sample table is set up and hand out a sample to each and every member of their family, including borders if there renting. This, of course, causes crowding and bunching of people, all either trying to get by or having dinner.

Once you get by the maze of people, there is the check out that needs to be reckoned with. The lines seem to form with split ends that somehow merge into other lines. People confuse things by not moving up or just standing by, making you think they are on a line. Finding the line that moves well, or has the least amount of customers is not going to happen.

Once you reach the line to checkout, your wagon goes one way and you the other as they take your membership card. The picture on my card is of Fidel Castro, but by now, nothing matters except your credit card or money.

There is one more daunting task left, finding a box to carry out your stuff, hopefully with 4 sides and not the customary three-sided box.

AS you carry your box out, you stop at the exit to give the new sentry at Check-Point Charlie your receipt to check the items on the paper with the items in the three-sided box. They wave their eyes over everything and concentrate on marking the paper. And then you try to move to your car, and what happens, another numbskull stops in front of you for no apparent reason causing my tongue to swell, making me want to drop the box I'm carrying right on his/her head.

I hate Costco.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

AGING


I was on Facebook the other day and they posted a web page that compared famous beauties from the 1970's and how they look then and now.

Many of these women looked beautiful, maybe as good looking as they did back in the 1970's, and some of course looked like they were competing in the Ms. Sun-dried tomato pageant.

Diane Keaton

Paula Prentise
Funny how no one gives a damned about what men look like as they age, I never see comparisons. But women, with the extent and investment of the cosmetic industry, have put themselves through these comparisons, as unfair as they are.

Have you ever gone to a wake (never any results) and look at the body while walking away thinking: He/she "looks pretty good!" "Death agrees with him/her!" "I wonder who did her hair?" Of course, we know the person is dead, don't we?

There was one comparison of Olivia Newton-John where her latest photo made her look like Olivier Newton Jack. But why put these comparisons together in the first place? What does it prove anyway? We get older, we naturally gain weight and our faces seem kinder, or we get older, fight it and we have enough wrinkles to enter a Grand Canyon pageant. Being skinny in your old age is healthier, it just makes you look like you have one foot in the coffin.

I have plans for myself, I want to be buried in an upright position, the coffin to go feet first and painted on the box: THIS END UP!

My funeral should take the word FUN in Funeral and use it. For instance: Instead of rows of chairs, one after the other, how about ‘Wake in the Round'? The chairs, are arranged in a circular layout around the coffin? And the coffin, that sits on a pedestal as it rotates around, giving everyone a view. I would like a bag of free popcorn given to each attendee, and as I lay there, my mouth opened, you can try to toss the popcorn into it.

When they come up to the coffin and kneel, I should pop up, and when they stand again, I fall back to my rest-in-peace position. I would like a business card planted in my suit hanky pocket that says: "I HATE WHEN THIS HAPPENS!"



Monday, June 19, 2017

LOVE


WHEN LIFE IS SPECIAL

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres."
-Anonymous

Dear Ellen,
Give me a flower, every time I think of you, and we will walk through that garden for an eternity. And each time you think you need me, I will hold that dear to my heart, because I know you love me in spite of my inadequacies.
I love you,
Joe

For over 46 years we have shared the best of times and the worst of times. We have dreamt and watched some of those dreams shattered, and some grow beyond our wildest expectations! In it all, we have managed to live our lives for one another. That is the key I think, to live for that other person you committed to for the rest of their life. What could be better than that? It is to hold hands forever, to anticipate a sweet kiss!

We have shared the greatest gifts of love, our children, and our commitment to them says: I love you because we had these children out of love and a willingness to want to be together forever. It is a way to celebrate the future.

It is very little in life I need, I have it all, it is not money or a fancy car or even a big house, but that something special, being at home anywhere in the world she is. Home is where the heart resides, and that is in her being, her presence, and her love.

There are many women in this world who are beautiful and filled with love. All too often they will be hurt, and that is sad, because a woman is capable of great things, and the greatest is love. To betray a woman is to damn one's own truth and sincerity. To abuse, someone who is capable of loving you makes you less than a human, let alone a man. When you betray you cheat yourself, you have stopped loving and have stopped respecting the one who is devoted to you! How sad.

And so, I look forward to the coming years, whatever moments we have left together because they will be better than the ones past because love grows and becomes deeper. There are many husbands out there I am sure that feel the same way I do: I don't think I'm special in that regard, but I have to tell her every once-in-a-while that I DO love her, and will tomorrow too. My wife doesn't need to be told, I love her, she deserves it. Yesterday was a celebration of present love and tomorrow a pleasant dream of more.

We will share quiet dinners together, vacations and times alone, just the two of us, and we need not talk, just to be there will suffice.

I hope all you who read this have good feelings of love as I do, love has made me happy and grateful, and may yesterday's expressions of love fill all of your tomorrows.

Today is our 46th wedding anniversary, it is a most special day in my life and has been since 1972.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TOOTSIE, I WILL AWAYS LOVE YOU!
Joe









Sunday, June 18, 2017

FATHER'S DAY

It's another year and here we are once again, it is Father's Day, that day when we honor our fathers. Here I am, an old man remembering and missing his old man.

My Dad was a special man, he didn't do anything that shook the world, he just helped make it better, and in doing so, he taught me that helping others was what it is all about.

We did so many things together, working or enjoying sports or just seeing each other. I loved his sense of humor and his reactions to the things I did to tease him, all in love. Many a time I can remember him helping people who had very little, people who were being beaten up by society and the bad luck that sometimes comes with life. I remember one year there was a woman who worked out on the floor at Rollic Inc., where he worked. She was a widow, with a child and she was dirt poor. I recall he and I going to this women's house with paint brushes and paint, and painting her house. Dad bought the paint and rollers along with the brushes and a helper (me) as we repainted the whole place for free. He never took money, he was never in it for the money, only the feeling of doing something good for someone else.

Dad was not a rich man, he couldn't fund my education or buy me a car, he just didn't have it. But with the sense of common decency he funded my heart and soul, teaching me that we do help where we can, and whether people appreciate it or not, it is the act of love that matters most. He didn't go to church because he didn't need to, he was too busy helping others to go himself.

I can honestly say he never hated anyone, was always friendly and giving off the sense that you could be comfortable with him, he held no grudges and when people wronged him, he just moved on. He was good in his heart and soul, and a wonderful example for his grandchildren.

I know I will never be the father or even grandfather he was, he knew what made people happy, because when he entered a room, the atmosphere was suddenly charged with happy people, he loved being a grandpa and bragged about all his grandkids. His family was his whole life, the joy of gatherings and breaking bread, or short visits and trips to ballgames made him happy: the more the merrier.

Dad was a traditionalist, always getting into trouble without trying, it WAS a tradition. Once he went to visit a museum, and on the wall was an oil painting, and with #1 son, he began to give my son an art lesson, touching the surface of the painting, causing the docent to yell at him. "OOOPS!" was his word.

Then there was the time when #1 Son, Dad, and I visited Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame. We entered a restaurant one night and were told to wait where we were. The waitress was a large blond woman of girth and height with braided hair. She walked away and behind us was half a restaurant that was dark. This got Dad's curiosity and started to roam with me cautioning him about it when suddenly Big Hilda caught him and yelled at him. Once again, "OOOPS!" was his word.

I miss him, every day I think about what he might think of this or that in my life. It is a little darker now, but I know somehow, he knows about all there is that goes on right now. Somehow, he knows.

Happy Father's Day, everyone!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

ITS WHAT WE HAVE BECOME?

June 14, 2017, will be one of the nation's darkest days. Once again, someone took up arms and tried to alter history in his own sick way. This time it comes from the left, many times from the right. Left or right, it is sick, sad and a commentary on our society. A congressman lies in a hospital in critical condition.

In Arlington, Va., early in the morning someone decided to make political changes, choosing to eliminate as many Republicans as possible with a gun! Although Republicans are in turmoil right now on the national political landscape, and people are getting angry on both sides, taking a gun and killing a fellow human being is not the way to change things, especially in a country that has all the mechanisms of making a change. We can't be so singular of mind that we become the only authority of what is right or wrong for this country.

Hours later, in San Francisco, a UPS site became the center of mayhem and murder. What a wonderful way to finish a bad day. Three innocent people were shot, and along with the gunman, died. This news is being overshadowed by the events in Arlington along with the now ongoing investigation of collusion with the Trump campaign team and the Russians.

I don't remember so much turmoil in one day, all of it so dark and sad, so heavy on our collective souls, filled with foreboding and disgust for the American people. What I wouldn't give for some sanity, some reasoning, less excitement by the press in its eagerness to break a story, and more of the sanity of our system of checks and balances, designed to keep us civilized as a nation of reason, and freedom.

But what has come from all this? Has any good come from tragedy? If anything, it unites the country in spite of differences, can come together in protest of the extreme ugliness of a few.

Way back in the 1960's, there was a rash of assassination attempts successfully executed. JFK, RFK, MLK, and so long the years since with the mindless victims in schools and offices until yesterday, I wonder if this is the beginning of a different violence or the ending of a more lucid one?

Friday, June 16, 2017

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER.

It was 1962, and I found a job on a farm, weeding and picking strawberries.  Not being a strawberry eater, this was an interesting job, pull them out of the ground and put them in a bushel and be paid. Nice simple job.

Then things got complicated. I tried one, it was delicious! I had to try another. Still delicious! One strawberry led to another and before you knew it, I was losing money.

But pick and eat I did, frantically making up for my loss, as I mowed down each of the long rows of strawberries, and making the Mancuso Farm profitable on my 10 cents a row labor. In 1962, 10 cents a row was good money if you weren't raising a family.

The next day was school and off I went. About mid-morning I went to study hall, where I was supposed to study. I studied a few young ladies when suddenly I was feeling kind of funny, almost faint. I report to Mr. Hanscomb, who sent me to the nurse's office and from their home.

Arriving home I found my mother busy spring cleaning, the windows wide open and the smell of pine in my nose. Having a bout of the shivers, I went to bed and then the fun began.

Laying on my bed, I noticed a red pimple that itched. Doing what any young all-American would do, I scratched it. Then another appeared, then two then three then all over my body! I figured I needed to find the mosquito before I died.

That afternoon found me in the doctor's office, where I was diagnosed with the hives. And where did I contact the hives??? Well, the good doctor suggested maybe it was something I ate, like strawberries.

The rumors circulated around the school that I had a blood disease, a rare one. Fortunately, no one arranged for a funeral Mass.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

STEPPING RIGHT INTO IT


It's been a few weeks and many meals since I was last there. Along the way, I caught an infection in my chest that has made me cough, sometimes uncontrollably in bouts and fits, making that lovely sound of bringing up the ‘you know what'. I stopped going because I didn't want to break out in one of the fits and embarrass myself.

As I awoke from a good night's slumber, I donned the gym gear and set off to the gym. There were no more excuses, the chest infection is gone for the most part and so I did what I had to do. I parked in the parking lot in hopes that the place had closed down since I was last there, but doggone it, people dressed like me were going and coming, once again, I had no choice.

Once I entered the building, it all comes back to me, rushing my mind like a dreaded visit to the dentist office. The people scattered about, all sweating and straining and not having a particularly good time of it. I head for the theater where a movie is playing, (The Longest Yard), how appropriate, and I mount the apparatus to begin my workout.

As I work out, it seems like weeks since I got on it yet there seems like an eternity when I will be finished! The struggle goes on as Burt Reynolds, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock play football from prison. My task is greater than theirs.

After a layoff, I decided I would go a little easy on myself and do only 20 minutes on the torture apparatus to give my body a chance to ease back into something I hate, but do as a form of punishment and discipline. Once you retire, you need some form of discipline to manage your day or the time gets away from you.

Part of the ‘fun' of going to a gym is to watch other people torture themselves, at various levels. You have the self-haters like myself who do it just to have some unhappiness in my life, there are others who do it for a fashion statement, usually young women in spandex wearing timers and calorie counters or step monitors or all of the above. There are the older folks who wear anything they can find, women in their late 50's working hard and seeing little results, and of course the old men who don't really work out, just congregate around the equipment and shoot the breeze. Most conversations are about food and medical networks, prescriptions and doctor visits.

And so I will continue this method of torture until I confess or die, whichever comes first to save myself, for what I have no idea.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A GOOD DAY FOR THE UNWASHED, BUT NOT THE UNMARKED


A few days ago, I was heading home from the wonderful celebration for my brother-in-law Dr. Kevin Manning's retirement. I drive a nice car, it gets me there and back and saves me money in the process. It is described as pearl in color, but I opt for the color ‘unwashed'. This is not my fault, it is the fault of the birds that live over my car in my driveway and the fact that it gets dirty by itself.

Being how we had to go to Maryland (Hunt Valley) AKA Baltimore, we had to journey through Maryland, Delaware and the dreaded New Jersey. New Jersey is where the Japanese came in the 1930's to study the Kamikaze method of glorious suicide by observing the drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike! They could still learn more!


Back in 2014, coming home from Cape May, New Jersey, as I was tooling down the Garden State Parkway, this blue car came speeding up behind me and tailgated me. I was in the extreme left lane and doing about 70 mph. The car would not back off and I wasn't moving over. He flashed his lights a few times, and nope, I wasn't moving so he tried again. After a few miles of this he decided to go around me and as he did, gave me a dirty look under his blue policeman's cap.

Then once again as I was driving through Maryland, another car came speeding up behind me and tailgating. This time I was once again in the passing lane but in heavy traffic. It took me back to that time in the Garden State. Looking in the rear-view mirror, the moron looked like he was enjoying riding so close, making me madder than I usually am. I WAS NOT BUDGING! Go around me stupid, I'm not changing lanes, there's an 18-wheeler next to me and no room to move. This went on for a while when he finally realized, I would NOT be intimidated by this moron. He decides to pass me, looking at me with his blue hat and unmarked police car.

Once more we go at it, this time in New Jersey, on the famous Kamikaze Boulevard, AKA NJ Turnpike. I drive and sure enough, a white vehicle that looks like a pickup truck speeds up and tailgates me. Once again, I refuse to move, I'm doing the legal speed limit and will not move. I take offense when someone tailgates me and then tells me he is going through, move over. NOT A CHANCE, MORON!

After 5 minutes of weak intimidation, he like the others goes around, and I give him a big smile. As he passes me I can read on the back of the vehicle that is was a police SUV.

I don't understand how these so-called men of the law can put people in danger playing bumper cars. The men in blue need to take a self-check about their power. I truly appreciate their being between me and danger, but please don't endanger me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END…


Today I am sitting in Hunt's Valley, Md., waiting to go to breakfast. I am on a trip that I am happy to make and proud to be part of. My brother-in-law Kevin, is being honored for his wonderful service as President of Stevenson University.

Dedication is borne of necessity, it is the by-product of belief in oneself and the willingness to fulfill our dreams. Without dedication and self-discipline, we can't succeed. To endure a journey with love, and dedication to a dream is the most fulfilling thing I can imagine, I lived it myself and remember my years of hard work. Yet today, it stands out as the ultimate triumph for one man who took to task what he wanted out of life, something that seems so unachievable and delivered. His dream was to someday be a President of a college. That was the simple part, that is where he began, and along the way, despite constant turns off the path finally reached his goal and rested for but a brief moment and thought: This is not far enough.

Once he was on the mountain, as they say, he looked around and saw other mountains, mountains larger and more challenging, and continued to climb until he achieved what no one expected, but everyone benefitted from. Taking a small commuter college and turning it into a very prominent and respected university, he can today, walk away and say I did my best, I did it out of love for my profession, and although the burdens of these great achievements lean harder on me as I get older, I can now rest in the knowledge that I truly did my job and pass the challenges on to someone else.

From the Stevenson University website:
Kevin J. Manning, Ph.D., now in his 16th year as president of Stevenson University, was selected for the position after an extensive national search that involved the Board, students, faculty, and staff of Maryland's third-largest independent university. The institution changed its name to Stevenson University in June 2008.

Dr. Manning has more than 40 years of experience in higher education. Before coming to Stevenson, he was Vice President for Development and College Relations at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania. Prior to Immaculata University, Dr. Manning held key administrative positions at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and at Washington University in St. Louis.

But this I only the surface of the real story.




Monday, June 12, 2017

ONCE AGAIN

It was the early morning of June 12, 1991, deep asleep in bed after a dinner held the night before for the agency board, my air conditioner was going full blast from the heat of the night. At my front door in the early dawn was my brother-in-law knocking to tell me the news, the news that was never related to us, as he gave up. Finally, one of us was awake and the phone rang telling me that Dad had died and to go quickly to my parent's house.
The news was grim but expected. Dad had died!

When I got there, he lay in the hallway outside the bathroom, and everyone was waiting for me to finally show up to say goodbye before calling the coroner. I kissed him on his forehead and bid him farewell, a piece of me was going with him.

Today is the twelfth of June, Dad's anniversary of his death, and if you read yesterday's blog, you know the Eleventh of June was Mom's anniversary! To me it means something that I can't put my finger on, yet recognize the oddity of it all.

Dad was never good with remembering dates of any significance. More often than not Dad would forget a birthday or anniversary and it was Mom's he forgot. He was not a hand-holder although he did show affection to Mom, he signed his birthday and anniversary cards: "From, Tony." We used to tease him about it all. But when he did remember, Mom got a boxed card, it came in a box in the mail, Lacey and large, maybe 8x10 inches in size.

He also loved to whistle and sometimes croon in the car, he was a happy sort, always with a get rich scheme formulating in his mind, one that he inevitably dragged me into. His favorite holiday? Christmas Eve and the dinner Mom or Grandma made the famous seven fish. One other passion he had was his job, he loved his job and responsibility that went with it.

He is missed, every day I think of him. I wonder what he would have thought about the Internet, GPS and all the modern advances that life offers. I wish he had lived long enough to have met my granddaughter Darby Shea, his great-granddaughter. I think the fuss would have been astounding! I wish he could have seen his name on the TV screen in the credits, the same name I gave his grandson and namesake, my granddaughter's father. I wish he had met my daughter-in-law, he would have loved her and been very proud that she was a member of the family, a choice his grandson made.

And of course, there was his other Grandson, who recently finished college and has the future in his hands, to mold anyway he wants. Dad would have been proud indeed. He wanted us all to have a piece of higher education, and Mike would have completed the dream.

Life is indeed filled with ‘what if's', sprinkled throughout our lives, but we can't dwell on ‘what if's' only on what was and what is.

I miss you, Dad,
Love, your only son.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

OLYMPIA


She always dreaded being called Olympia, her given name since she was a little girl, yet everyone who knew her called her Olympia from the day my Dad died and she started a joy-filled life of volunteering for Brookhaven Memoria Hospital.

Helping others became her life's work or passion. She applied her many skills charitably towards the hospital in raising money and having a life in her community. She made friends, many who went out of their way to help her, who deemed it necessary to help a little old lady give of herself.

Sometimes her children would have difficulty booking time with her as her social life expanded. Many a lunch offered by me was turned down because she had made other commitments.

Then one day the ordinary results of living for 96 years took hold, she started the final process of life-death. As she slowly started to break down physically, she continued to uphold her spirits, basking in a visit from a child time to time and silently realizing the time, her time, was up. She didn't protest. As she slowly deteriorated, her life now restricted to her bed requested that she have a TV in her room so she could hear her daily Mass, it was very important to her. Under the objections of many who felt the TV couldn't be put in that room for reasons, I don't understand, my wife and I put the TV in, got a box for it, and installed it one Sunday morning. We also, to ensure continuity from the hospice lady who lived with her, put a TV in the living room, once again requiring a new box. It was her money, and why shouldn't she spend it on herself? She was still alive and when the money was all gone, we would apply for Medicaid to help her in her final hours.

As the days came to an end, I did all I could to make her comfortable, executing my job that was given to me as Power of Attorney to master her finances and have it all ready to hand over to an executrix of her estate.

In that final hour, while she was still somewhat conscious, I sat next to her and leaned into her ear and told her I loved her, and although she did not respond, I knew I had done what I should have done all my life, I told her and demonstrated that love.

Today she is gone three years, yet she is with me stronger than ever, she goes everywhere I go, and often I think of how happy she is knowing she no longer suffers from the ugliness and injustice of the world.

As I stood at the entrance of her house that day, as she was leaving for the last time from her beloved home, I felt the finality of what happens in life, as we pass, we leave all and the things we held dear behind.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

MENTAL HEALTH DAYS


There was a guy I knew way back when, and his outlook on life was one of life should be cheap but good. He always favored the good times and he made you feel at home. He was a man of great intellectual ability and a great heart, his name was John.

John was many things to me, but most of all he was like a brother, and in his final days I tried to stay as close to him as possible. My decision was not one of his needing me, but the opposite, I needed him. I even shared his final hours with him holding his hand as he lay on his deathbed.

John was perhaps a man with a real moral compass, he chose not to make enemies and put up with a lot of people who could annoy him. Many a summer night, being a Mets fan, after the game was over, my TV screen would come alive with ‘Caller ID'. On the screen was his name and phone number and I would hear these words: "Joe, your Mets stink!" then he would hang up. We NEVER argued over that.

He worked for Big Blue, the computer giant AKA: IBM and his job was to go from one company to another and fix their computers. Dressed in a nice suit with wing-tipped shoes as a corporate identity, a customized briefcase filled with tools and meters, off he went about his business. It was from that experience he drew philosophies about life that he shared with me.

One day I was about to hitch a ride with him to school, and it was a beautiful sunny day and he suggested we take a "Mental Health Day". Not sure I knew what he meant, he explained it to me. You see, in the business world and everyday life, it is incumbent upon one to take an unscheduled day off, to rest one's brain from the vigor of life's challenges. This meant to call in sick, the boss need not know what was it you were treating.

When I graduated from college I carried that tradition to my own career and every time I did it, I naturally thought of my good friend, John.

Now, after all these years retired, I have many ‘Mental Health Days' I'm still using.