Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Six Years Ago Sometime in October

Six years ago sometime in October, someone had an idea that there should be a family photo.  There seemed to be a frantic urgency about it.    I don’t remember whose idea it was, but I do have memories of the assigned day.  Picture day.
We were to meet in the park.
The ground was covered with leaves that crackled and rustled as I scuffed through, kicking them aside, making a path for myself, waving to the others, hurrying to get to them.
The young kids were excited.  Why wouldn’t they be?   They were set free in a wide open space with bright Crayola colored things they could climb up,  hang upside down from, swing high and slide down.
They could use their outside voices to call to one another.   “Over here, come over here!  Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Pop-pop, look at me!”
The youngest one, honing his newly acquired walking upright skills,  was happily exploring,  one of us always close behind him, sometimes having a hard time keeping his pace.
I remember the photographer was late.
The daylight started to fade, bringing with it the end of day chill.
The adults were getting impatient.  I suppose at that point so were the kids.
Joe was tired, he said.  He was cold, I could see that. “Why don’t you sit in the car and rest?” we said.
The photographer sent a text apologizing, but promised she was on her way.
“Why don’t you go sit with Joe for a while,” Ross said.
Joe was listening to a game.  I don’t remember if it was end of season baseball or start of season football.
I remember thinking how the noise of the radio was drowned out by the silence inside of the car.   I can picture the two of us, sitting side by side, the windows rolled up.
I remember looking out of the front window, watching the others as if I were watching a movie, a movie with no sound. The kids were laughing and chasing each other. The adults were talking, or looking at their phones.  They would often turn their heads towards the parking lot as a car pulled in, hoping, I suppose that it would be the photographer.
Every once in a while, I would glance over at Joe.  He did look tired, so tired.
I still remember what we talked about.  So silly,  what I was telling him.  But, now that I think about it, it wasn’t silly at all.
It was family stuff.  I guess you could call it gossip.  It was the weather.  “It’s getting cold out, right?”
I wanted to tell him so many other things.  Things that were hard to say.  I guess too hard to say.
Today, for some reason the memory of that day came to mind.  The first thought as I roused out of sleep, in fact, was of that day.
I used to have regrets about that October family picture day.   For it was the last time the two of us were alone together.   Why didn’t I say those too hard to say things?  Why was I chatting about nonsensical things?
Today, as I write about that day, though, I began to realize what I was doing.  I wanted things to be normal, you know.  I wanted to talk about the weather, and family gossip, and whether his favorite team was going to pull this one out.  I wanted him to know that we would have more time, much more time to say the hard to say things.  No, we didn’t have to say those things on this day, this family picture day.
You might imagine that I would say to you something like, “Say the hard to say things because you never know if you will get another chance.”  But I’m not going to do that.  Simply because I feel that the people you love and those who love you, that sometimes it’s okay to just sit side by side and be.
As it turned out, Joe couldn’t wait any longer for the photographer.  He was tired, so tired.  Anne took him home and then came back for the family photo.
So even though you might not see Joe in that six years ago October family picture, I can see him clearly, so clearly, sitting side by side of each one of us.

 Six years ago today, on this fifth day of December, 2011, my son, Joe died of colon cancer.  He was 34 years old.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

At “The End” My Heart Will Be Whole

I think I am able to express myself more easily in the written word than I can orally.  When I am writing there are no uh’s or um’s.  Oh, don’t get me wrong there are plenty of pauses when I write.  But the reader doesn’t know how much time I may have spent staring out the window in between sentences.
Sometimes the speed of thought between brain and mouth can be unmanageable, especially during episodes of high emotion.  When I speak there is no auto correct, no backspace or delete key.
I remember as a kid arguing with my sister.  She would yell at me to “Take that back!”
But we quickly learn, there is no “taking back” of the spoken word.
When I write I can cryptically hide behind metaphors.  I can let those characters running around in my head laugh and cry, wander and wonder, be lonely and afraid.

I’ve always liked to tell stories to little kids.  I would tell tales to my little sisters and brothers or younger cousins,  then my own children and now my grandkids.  
Until recently, until I started my blog, actually, I had not thought about writing my stories.    
Now, I have a number of stories with great beginnings, but can’t seem to make them whole.  
I suppose it’s a combination of  a lack of discipline, perseverance, and mostly self confidence. 

I have no idea of being a famous writer or even getting published.   But at this point in my life, wouldn’t it be the grandest of finales to not only have a beginning, but a middle and a “The end". 

I can escape my reality with a story. 
In my story my spirit would soar.
I would breathlessly run up to the mountain top so that I could see the world.  I would throw my anger over the edge.
My tale would be filled with lavender and daffodil and aqua blue. 
At the end of my story my heart would be whole.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

If You Knew Joe

So, I’m thinking about what I have to do to get ready for my podcast today.
In case you are new to my blog, let me explain.  For the past six months, I have been doing a YouTube video podcast.   The main topics of the podcast are about knitting.
But, the name of my podcast is “Joey’s Scarf” in honor of my son, Joe, who passed away from colon cancer.
At the end of each podcast I take a few minutes to talk about Joe.  During the last few episodes I have even read some of my writings from this blog.
My objective with the “Joey” segment was to introduce the viewers of the podcast to Joe and quite frankly, also give me a forum to just be able talk about my Joe.
For the past six years readers of this blog and for the past six months viewers of my podcast have gotten to know Joe.
You know of his gentleness, his uniqueness, his deeply quiet and thoughtful personality.  You know that he loved all kinds of music, but in particular off the rails indie bands.
I’ve shared that he played the guitar, which he did, not usually for an audience, but strictly for the love of his music.
You all know that he was a loyal Mets fan, even during their darkest hours.
I’ve talked about how his work ethic made him a most valued employee and that he, his sister and I all worked together at the same company.
I talked about his love story, marriage, and birth of his most cherished little boy.
You know how much of a fighter he was.  How he fought so hard to stay here as long as he possibly could for Anne, the long love of his life and for his little baby boy, Domani the newest love of his life.
How, when he told us that even though his treatment wasn’t working anymore and he would be discontinuing the chemo, he held my hand while I cried and told me, “I still have more time.”
Yes, I’ve shared times of his life from the moment of his birth to the last days of his life.
I still may, from time to time talk about Joe.   And if I am having a sad day, I might share that with you, too.
I think I will continue to share my writings at the end of the podcast, but perhaps they will be on varied topics, I might even share some of my fiction because like my love of knitting, writing has helped me  through a most difficult time.
Most importantly, I know that if you knew Joe personally, you would have liked him.
And now you do, know Joe, quite personally.
So my Joe is now our Joe and that makes me smile.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dream On

I’ve been spending most of my spare time throughly engaged in my obsession.   Which for those of you who don’t know, is knitting, crocheting and buying yarn.
I have recently carried my obsession to a new level by starring in my own show on YouTube where I talk about what I have knitted or crocheted, (commonly known as a finished object or FO) what I am in the process of knitting or crocheting (this is referred to as a “work in progress or WIP) what new yarns I’ve purchased (or acquisitions) and what my plans are for this new yarn (future projects).
could try to describe the feeling I get when I am among mesmerizing hues and shades of  soft squishy yarn that I cannot stop myself from petting, smelling, and finally totally immerse my fingers into.
could go on and on about how yarn, knitting and crochet helps me deal with life things, how it satisfies, in the most gratifying way, a need to be creative and how when I have a FO to show off or give away, I visit a zen place that is equal to the “mountain top”.
I am not alone in my obsession.  There are many internet based groups available where literally millions of us gather to discuss all of it.
For those of you who are not obsessed, I hear you yawning, loud and clear.
I completely understand that if you are not part of the movement, you probably have stopped reading or perhaps you’ve skimmed through the “boring knitting/crochet/yarn” stuff.
The sad thing about my obsession, though, is that I have stopped writing.  I miss writing.  I miss it because I know it can also bring about a zen “mountain top" experience but perhaps in a different way.
When I write, I figure things out.   I go to places I would normally unconsciously avoid.  I create characters that are at times vaguely familiar, yet often obviously recognizable.
I miss playing with words and phrases.
I have gotten lazy and I feel my imagination is atrophying.
When I knit, I can multitask.  The repetitive motion is soothing, and I can mindlessly watch TV or listen to a book.
When I write I need to be still and quiet.  And even though there may be puppy and hubby distractions, I find I can completely immerse way down deep into an inner world of unexplored terrains.
I recently passed what I consider to be a milestone in life years.  It’s cliche to say, “It’s only a number.”  My body often reminds me that it’s the many minutes, days, weeks, months and yes, especially years stacking one on top of the other which define the strength and stability of that number.
It’s a number that makes me stop and wonder if there is enough time to continue to work on the stories I’ve started (WIP’s), finish the series (FO’s), and plan for future stories.
The thing that ties both of my obsessions together is belief that I will have given the best parts of me to those I most treasure.

For some reason this Aerosmith Song kept playing in my head while I was writing this piece.

Dream on.
Dream On Lyrics by Aerosmith

Sunday, April 9, 2017

That Old Gang of Mine #AtoZChallenge

Blogging from A to Z Challenge
April 2017
This month I will be participating in the “Blogging from A-Z Challenge” 
What is it?
Blogging every day.  It starts on April First with a topic themed on something beginning with the letter A, then every day in April, (with the exception of Sundays)  another topic continuing through the alphabet ending with, of course the letter Z.
I really don’t have a theme.  Some will be fiction.   Mostly whatever strikes my fancy.

That Old Gang of Mine

We all belong to one, don’t we?  As we move through life, we may move in and out of our old gangs and find new ones along the way.
When I was a kid my brother, sister, and I lived with our parents in a housing complex which was built specifically for returning WWII soldiers and their families.  The complex was referred to as “The Barracks”.   Even though I was very young, I think about 7 or 8 years old, I have strong memories of living in “The Barracks”.
The members of my gang were the kids from other ex-military families.
I don’t remember any of their names, but I do remember hanging out with them, playing tag and hide-and-seek around the culdesac.
When I was 9 we moved into a brand new house in a town about 30 miles south of where the barracks were.
There were many kids in the new neighborhood.
After all it was baby boom time.  Our family multiplied from 3 kids to eventually 6.
The Shebel’s across the street had 9 kids and two houses down lived the Creed's with 6 kids.  We all played in the street after school until 5:00 when the mother’s would yell for their kids to come home for supper.
As we became teenagers and our interests became less common and more individual, some of us separated from the neighborhood gang.
Personality types, social status, sports prowess, beauty, brains and the way you dressed now became the determining factor for which gang you would gravitate towards.
I’ve been in gangs where I worked,  gangs of stay at home Mom’s, and then “back to work” again gangs.  Right now I belong to the “active adult community” gang.
When I look back over my life, that’s a lot of gangs.

My forever gang,  the one which is and always has been consistent, loyal, and whose members I can always count on  is my “La Famiglia” gang.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fran, The Fingerless Gloves and The Fisherman Part III #AtoZChallenge

Blogging from A to Z Challenge
April 2017
This month I will be participating in the “Blogging from A-Z Challenge” 
What is it?
Blogging every day.  It starts on April First with a topic themed on something beginning with the letter A, then every day in April, (with the exception of Sundays)  another topic continuing through the alphabet ending with, of course the letter Z.
I really don’t have a theme.  Some will be fiction.   Mostly whatever strikes my fancy.

Another visit with Fran who first made two appearances as the F and K posts in last’s years AtoZ challenge.

April 7, 2016
Fran, The Fingerless Gloves and The Fisherman
On a chilly, early spring morning, Fran sat on a freshly painted, dark green bench and looked out at the ocean.  The bench was anchored onto a wooden deck set high up on the man-made dunes.   Normally she would have walked along the water, picking up shells, but the beach was terribly eroded from destructive winter storms and there was a ten-foot drop down onto the shoreline.
She closed her eyes and let the ocean breeze caress her face.
Her hands snuggled in the warmth of the wool of her well-worn fingerless gloves, her bare fingers wrapped around a white Styrofoam cup of steaming hot tea.
The gloves, cherry red when they were new, had now faded into a rusty shade of their former brightness.
She reflected on how much her life had changed since the day Gina gave her the gloves.
"Ah, Gina," she sighed and looked at her watch.
Fran finished the last of her tea.  She better hurry, she thought.  She did not want to be late.  Today was Gina's last day.  They were going to surprise her with a cake and presents.
Of course, Fran suspected that Gina wouldn't be all that surprised.  After 25 years at the halfway house, it was hard to pull the wool over her eyes.
She stood up and noticed a man coming down the beach.  He was bent over, carrying an army green tackle box and fishing pole in one hand and dragging along a large blue cooler with the other.
He spotted her and began to wave.
As she turned to leave, she carelessly waved back.
Fran began to walk down the wooden ramp when she thought she heard her name being called.
She stopped to listen.

Fran, The Fingerless Gloves and The Fisherman Part II - A to Z Challenge - The Letter K for Knitting
April 13, 2016
"Frankie, Frankie, wait!”
Startled, she froze.  There was only one person who ever called her Frankie. 
"Frankie, wait!"
She tried to reassure herself.  No, it couldn't be she thought.
Fran slowly turned around and saw the fisherman struggling to climb up the steep sand dune.
As he got closer, she squinted and raised her hand up to shade her eyes from the bright sun, trying to see if it
 was he.
But by then she already knew that it was.  It was Tom.  He was the only one who ever called her Frankie.
She wanted to run.  Run as fast as she could, down the planked path to the parking lot.
But she was frozen and like a deer caught in the headlights, she couldn't move.
Two years ago was the last time she had seen him.
As she waited for him to make his way towards her she thought about the day they first met.
January 14.   She would never forget it.
It had been a cold dank morning with a smoky gray snow sky.  She could still recall shivering as she waited outside of the rehab.  Gina was to pick her up to bring her to the halfway house.
When she and Gina got to the residential facility called “Gina’s Way”, Tom was the one who had greeted them at the front door.
Now as she reflected back on that day, she remembered that she had barely noticed him. 
She had been too nervous and afraid.  She didn't want to be left there. She didn't want Gina to leave.
"I'll come by tomorrow," promised Gina.
"Can't you stay?  Just a little longer?"  Fran begged.
"Listen, Fran, you're going to be fine.  I just know it."
"Besides, I have the group waiting for me.  You know we are going to be finishing up our gloves tonight," Gina said.
She shook her head back and forth, as if the movement would chase the memory from her mind.  
Slowly looking up she saw that Tom was now on the wooden deck at the top of the dunes, just a few yards from her.
Fran clutched her hands together; her bare fingers peeked out of the faded red fingerless gloves.
Gina had given the gloves to Fran.
"They're beautiful," exclaimed Fran.
 "I knit them just for you, Fran," said Gina.
"Do you think I can learn to do that?" asked Fran.
Gina assured Fran, “Of course you can,” she said.
At first, Fran could hardly keep her shaky hands still enough to hold onto the wooden needles.
But Gina would put her hands over Fran's to guide her through the stitches.
"First, make an X with the needles, like this," Gina said, demonstrating.
"You see, the needle in your right hand goes into the loop on the left needle.  That's it, place the right needle behind the left."
"No, no, it has to go behind the one in your left, like an X," Gina patiently explained.
"Here's an easy way to remember," said Gina.
In a sing-song voice, Gina chanted,
"In through the front door,
Run around the back,
Hop through the window,
Off jumps Jack."
"That's it!"  You've got it!" exclaimed Gina when Fran completed her first stitch.
She remembered the very first thing she made. It was a garter stitch scarf in scratchy blue wool.
By the time she finished it, the scarf was full of holes where she'd dropped stitches and one side was uneven.
Gina made a fuss over it, though, praising Fran for not giving up.
Finishing that scarf gave Fran hope that this time she might also be able to stick with the program.
Gina and knitting.  The were now the tightly interwoven threads of Fran's complex life.
"Hi, Frankie."
He stood in front of her.
She lifted her eyes to look up at him.
He was wearing the blue scarf.

Fran, The Fingerless Gloves and The Fisherman Part III - A to Z Challenge - The Letter F for Frankie
April 7, 2017
Her heart began to thump rapidly in her chest.  She grabbed onto the handrail to steady herself.  
Her mind was racing. Her emotions were like a ball in an arcade game ping ponging all over the place.
Anger hit the jackpot.  Bing, bing, bing!
Without thinking she reached up and punched him in the arm.
She stammered.  “How could you…where…why?”
She could not seem to organize her scattered thoughts into a coherent sentence.
“Frankie,” he said softly. 
He gently placed his hands on her arms pulling her towards him.
Fran wriggled out of his arms and pushed him away.
She felt a searing pain, deep in her being, as the wound she had so carefully tended to began to rip open.
“Please, Frankie,” he pleaded. 
“I’ve got to go!” Fran turned and ran down the ramp.
Tom stayed at the top of the deck.  He did not call after her.  He did not follow.
When Fran got to her car she turned, half expecting Tom to be right there. 
She knew she would have to face him sooner or later, but tonight belonged to Gina.
As she drove the 20 miles back to “Gina House”, she thought about the last night she and Tom spent together.   She was so happy.   She thought he was happy too.  
He told her he was.  
They had sat on the front porch of  “Gina House” and planned an early breakfast the next morning.  Then they were going to begin their apartment search. 
He told her he had some things to take care of so he would have to call it an early night.
“Don’t forget, Frankie, bright and early tomorrow.”
“Nine-thirty, right?”  She teased.
Fran giggled.
“Urgh!”  She growled out loud.
She didn’t want to think about those times.  She especially did not ant to think about that night, that last night.
It had taken Fran months to trust him.  But, slowly she began to open up to him.
He knew about her father and the hurt. 
It was after that time, the time she told him about her father that Tom began call her Frankie. 
“Fran is the little hurt girl”, he said.
“Frankie is my wonderfully strong woman.  That’s who you will always be to me,” he said.”
She even began to think of herself as Frankie. 
The day he left her, waiting for him on the front porch, she became Fran again, fragile as a hurt little girl.

I sure hope we don’t have to wait another whole year for Fran to make an appearance, right?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Essential #AtoZChallenge

Blogging from A to Z Challenge
April 2017
This month I will be participating in the “Blogging from A-Z Challenge” 
What is it?
Blogging every day.  It starts on April First with a topic themed on something beginning with the letter A, then every day in April, (with the exception of Sundays)  another topic continuing through the alphabet ending with, of course the letter Z.
I really don’t have a theme.  Some will be fiction.   Mostly whatever strikes my fancy.


  1. 1
    absolutely necessary; extremely important.

On September 11, 2001,  I was employed by the Wall Street Journal.  My position was not a glamorous one.  I wasn’t a reporter or an editor.  In fact I didn’t even work on Wall Street.  I was ensconced in a cubical on the basement level of a corporate center in Central New Jersey.
I worked in the IT department as an e-mail administrator.  Our group’s job was to maintain the inter-company email system.
Working as an IT support person meant carrying a Blackberry 24/7.  Yes, that’s what we carried back then.   My co-workers and I had a rotating on-call schedule.    By 2001, after 20 years of that grind, I was experiencing burn-out.
That day, the day of the attack, I remember watching the news on one of the break-room TV’s as the horror unfolded right in front of our eyes.
I remember being terrified.
I also remember the only thing I wanted to do that day was go home to be with my family.
The New York headquarters building for the Wall Street Journal was across the street from the World Trade Center.   The group of newspeople who managed to get out of the building and out of the city made their way down to Central New Jersey, where I worked.
It was pretty much chaos in our center as we scrambled to get the reporters up and running to be able to write their stories.  The newspaper had never missed a single day of publication.
A directive came down from the head of IT that no one was to leave.  We were to stay all night if necessary to support the reporter's technical needs.
Our group was considered essential.
Frankly, I remember thinking that getting the scoop on this story and making sure that the production of the paper was not to be interrupted, did not seem very important that day.   At least it wasn’t to me.
What was essential to me was to be home with Ross and to make sure my children were safe.
I stayed that night until the wee hours.
But that day was also the day I decided to retire.  I have never regretted my decision because since the day I am the one who decides what is essential for my life.