Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Story of The Three (now Four) Coats Part Two

*The Story of the Three  Four Coats - Part Two

That day, the day I returned my Blue Duck Genuine Shearling and Fox Fur coat to Nordstroms, I still wasn't one hundred percent convinced that I should return the coat.   My plan was to look through the coat department one more time to see if I could possibly find another coat that made me smile as much as the Blue Duck did.  In fact,  we didn't even bring the coat into the store with us, but left it in the car.
As Ross and I were looking through the racks, I happened upon this beauty, a long Mackage  Down Coat with Genuine Fox and Rabbit Fur in black.   I tried it on and it   made   me   smile.  I know I'm so fickle.
The salesperson on the floor that day was an attractive middle aged woman who spoke with a Russian accent.   She  told me that this Mackage was meant for me.   She said, "Dahling, this coat is you."
"Funny," I thought to myself,  "that salesperson from the other day told me the same thing about the Blue Duck."
Anyway, perhaps it was the Russian accent, or maybe it was the way Ross nodded admiringly at me, but, once again I believed that this coat, this Mackage Down Coat with the Genuine Fox and Rabbit fur in Black, this coat was really the one.
As I twirled in front of the mirror,  I bashfully confessed to Natasha I actually had a coat out in the car that I needed to return.
"No problem," she said.
Ross brought the Blue Duck in, still tucked in it's luxurious Nordstrom's garment bag.  When Natasha unzipped the bag and saw the Buck Duck, she said, "Dahling, a shearling?"
"Ugh, my deah, trust me, you do not want a shearling."
"You wear it once in the rain, and it spots."
"Believe me, I know.  I had one.  Spots, spots, all over spots.  And you can never, never get them out!"
"No, my deah, you do not want a shearling."
Natasha told me that she would have never sold me that shearling, never!
"It's just not you, honey."
I noticed that the Mackage also came in a tanish color called "desert".  I thought I would like to try it on.  Natasha insisted though, that: "Dahling, with your coloring?
"No, absolutely not.  It would wash you out."
I shuddered.  She was right.  I definitely wouldn't want that washed out look.
Oh yes, as an aside here, something happened, that I thought was a little strange.  When it came time to ring up the sale, Natasha asked me if I would do her a favor.   She told me that her hand was injured and it was very difficult for her to work the cash register/computer.  She asked me if I would.  So I stepped behind the counter and processed the sale myself.  Crazy, huh?
So, anyway,  the Blue Duck went back on the rack, the black Mackage was zipped into the luxurious Nordstrom's garment bag and came home with me.
And so for the next week, it stayed in it's luxurious Nordstrom's garment bag, with the tags intact, while I tried to decide if the coat was really me, "dahling".
To Be Continued...

*To find part one of this story click here.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.
Here are the past few entries from Anna's diary:
Sun.  December 22, 1929
Went to Grandma M's for dinner.  In afternoon drove grandpa to Montclair to visit Mr. Lucas. Drove him home and came then to our own house.  Bed.
Mon. December 23, 1929
Went down town to do last minute shopping.  Supper at 360.  Isabella Long and Ted came home to stay with Junior.  Jean and I went out to buy our tree.  Junior so happy. 
Tues.  December 24, 1929
Christmas Eve.  Home until 6:30.  Then went to 360 for little while.  Home early.  Junior to bed.  Waiting for Santa to come.  Edythe, Peg, Rob and Ted helped trim tree and get out toys.
Wed. December 25, 1929
Christmas Day.  Dinner at 360.  Turkey.  Then exchanged our little gifts.  Went to Mrs. Naps in the evening.  Grandpa M. there.  Had been all afternoon. 
Thurs. December 26, 1929
No entry

Here are a few entries from Lynda Grace's diary, if Lynda Grace had a diary, that is:
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Made gravy with meatballs and also a marinara for Anne.  Made lasagna.  I haven't been able to do that  for a while because it was Joe's favorite.  But Bella and Ryan were wishing for it, and, well how could I not? Dinner was set for 2:00.
Anne came early and went for a 7 mile run on the Barnegat Trail.  
Jen, Derek, Bella and Ryan came at 2:00.  We sat down at the table all together.  
After dinner, it was time to open presents.  The kids were very excited. 
Sunday, December 23, 2012.  
Ross and I vegged in front of the TV.  I knitted, he read and we watched a marathon of MI5 episodes.
Monday, December 24, 2012.
Christmas Eve.  A sad, sad day for me.  I cried for most of it.  Received phone calls from Jen and Jimmy. That always makes me feel better. 
Tuesday, December 25, 2012.
Christmas dinner at Jen and Derek's.  Ross, and I,  Ken, Jimmy, Anne and Domani, all there. 
They did a nice job.  Ham, sweet potatoes, potato salad and best of all Jen's cookies.
More presents.  
Stopped in at Elaine and Al's afterward, had dinner with them.  While there, Kenny and Ty rang me up on Facetime.  They showed me all the toys Santa brought them. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Obviously Plastic White Tree

I had a restless night and I am awake and up before the tree this morning.  The tree is on a timer and lights itself (well sorta) at 5:30.
The Tree
True to form and duly documented in my last post, I swore I wasn’t going to put up a tree this year. No,  there would most definitely NOT be a tree this year, especially not this year.
True to form, a few days ago, I started to have twinges of maybe, possibly, entertaining the idea of "putting up a tree".  But, I decided if I were to put up a tree, it would either have to be a real tree, or I would go totally artificial and buy an obviously plastic white one.
The thought of the scent of a real tree was enticing.  The thought of dropping needles and eventually having to dispose of a real tree was not.
I decided to go for the "obviously not real because it is obviously plastic" white one.

This morning, as I sit in a corner of the room, too far away to particularly notice each of the sentimental and nostalgic hand mades, I don't think of Christmas pasts.
The soft pink and pale blue lights don't frantically twinkle on this tree.  Instead, they calm me with their steadiness.
After a restless night of worries and scary dreams, I welcome the numbing chill of this obviously plastic white tree.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.

I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.
Wed. December 11, 1929
Home in Morning.  Brought baby to 360.  Went to card party at Washington given by St James guild.  Mrs. B, C and W and myself.  Shopped a little afterwards.
Thurs. December 12, 1929
Charlotte here to wash.  brought Junior to dentist.  While taking his nap went to St. James hospital to see Jean S. little son.  Then after supper to wake of Vincent D. 
Friday, December 13, 1929
Stayed in bed quit late.  Came in at quarter to eight from "Wake." Jean home from work.  Went to 360 for supper.  Met Flo downtown and Jean and peg after school.
Sat. December 14, 1929
Went to Arlington to see Chrysler car.  Would not meet my price.  Met Jean for lunch at Kresges.  Then met Rae at 2:30 for bridge.
Sun. December 15, 1929
Dinner at Naps.  Met Professor who just came back from abroad.  Stopped at Louisa's with picture.  Lena still stays pretty sick.  Home early.  Junior in bed.  Peg came to see Jean.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Changing My Mood by the Grace of Joe's Embrace

On Saturday, I re-arranged the furniture in our living/televiewing/fireplace-watching/knitting nook/magazine-reading/dog-begging-to-be-put-up-on-the-sofa/obsessive-iPhone-addiction-abuse/and-even-occasional-conversational space.  I have to admit before I discovered HGTV I would have just called it the living room.  Now, that I am designer savvy, I know that the area is not only a room. It is a space, as in blank canvas, perhaps?
Anyway, my re-arranging the space is not big news.  I do it quite often, actually.  It gives me a new perspective.  You know, sitting in a different area of the space means I can see things from a different angle.
I have been spending a lot of time in that space lately.  I and the space needed a freshening up, so to speak.
Since my Mom passed away, I have not been in the mood to do the "decorating".  By decorating, I mean as in "Christmas tree type" decorating.
For the last three years, I have made the statement that, "This year, I'm not gonna put up the tree.  I just don't feel like it."
But then, something happens. I don't know what, how or why, but I find that I have this compulsion to put up that tree.  Really, it is beyond my control.  One day, some time after I have made the "I'm not gonna do it" statement,  I find myself in the garage, climbing the ladder and getting down the decorations.  Last year I fell off the ladder.  By the way, that hurt.  I got right back up there, though.  Now that's robotic, JT.  (Ref: Graciewildes post "On Being a Robot")
Then, to top it off, my mood changes.  "I'm not in the mood" suddenly changes to "aww, I remember this ornament that the kids gave me."  I hate when that happens!  I want to, so desperately want to, stay in the "I'm not gonna put up the tree" mood.   I do not want to be transformed into a "sitting in the pre-dawn, watching the twinkling lights on that tree" mood.
I put up the tree last year.  I mean, two weeks after Joe passed away, it was Christmas and I had the tree up.  Except for falling off the ladder, I don't remember any of it, really. It truly was a blur.
So, here it is again, two weeks before Christmas and  I'm not gonna put up the tree.  I just don't feel like it. 
Last night was a special night.  We attended a memorial candle lighting service.  With Anne on one side of me and Ross on the other, the grace of Joe's memory became a comforting embrace holding the three of us together.
This morning, with the images of our emotional and poignant evening from last night still fresh and lingering, I have a new perspective.  It's a re-arranging.   I see things now from a different angle.
This is why I may have to do just a little more re-arranging, and empty out that corner. You know the one. It's where I usually put up that tree.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the past few entries from Anna's diary:
Wed. December 4, 1929
Home all day.  Left about five to go see Mrs. Naps for a while.  Then stopped to see the C's.  Very glad to see Junior.  Stayed until ten.  Then home.  Jean in school tonight.
Thurs. December 5, 1929
home all day.  Rosalie came after school.  Jean brought home a pumpkin pie.  After supper Rosalie and I went to Mt. Prospect.  Jean here studying.  Junior in bed asleep.
Friday December 6, 1929
Had a lady do some cleaning for me today.  Have a bad cold and don't feel so extra.  Attended the Montessori Card party at Elks.  Had a table, Mrs. Miller, Mullins and Witt.  I won prizes.
Sat. December 7, 1929
Home all day.  Ordered turkey for tomorrow.  Dressed it today and partly cooked it.  Rosalie came over.  Ted came at night.  Both stayed all night.
Sun.  December 8, 1929
Had the girls over for dinner.  Turkey Dinner.  Parents in Brooklyn to see Louis's new daughter. Helen and Ray came over for supper.  Hot turkey sandwiches.  All feeling full of pep and loads of fun. 
Mon. December 9, 1929
Home.  Went to see Dr. Murray this afternoon.  Having sinus trouble and a bad cold.  Junior was examined also. He was fine.  Had a long chat with Mrs. Mullin.
Tues. December 10, 1929
Home all day long.  Cold a little better.  Belleville club me at Helen's house.  Her table looked lovely.  All green and red for Xmas.  Meet here next time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In Memory of My Son Joey - This Day, This Fifth December Day

I knew his life before anyone else.  Almost from the first minute, you know?  Those who argue about when life actually begins, should ask a mother who has life inside of her, because we know, almost from the very first minute.  I knew.
Those months, counted in threes, are a most special time, you know.
Before it was evident to anyone else, I would find myself placing my hand on my flat stomach and I could feel the warmth of him.
Before it was evident to anyone else, I felt his life, quiet fluttering butterfly feelings.
When it became evident to the rest, only I could feel his heaviness, one arm under, one on top, soothing him as he turned and kicked.
He came quietly into the world.  Not in the middle of the night, but at a most considerate 2:00 p.m. time of the day and my arms were his first cradle.
The memories of the time of only he and me are vividly clear, while at the same time gently calming.
Then the memories of the days after he wriggled out of my arms and climbed down from my lap are fleeting.   They seem to be hidden from me, only coaxed out by old photos and videos or by hearing stories from others.  I suppose the passing of time and  the stuff of life have cluttered up those spaces in my mind.
I knew him though, I knew him so well.  Because he and I we had a bond, you see, as only a mother and son can.
Today, as I recall that day, that December fifth day of only one short year ago,  I am overwhelmed with painful and sad memories but they are painful only because they are of that day.

This poignant passage from "The Testament of Mary" reveal my feelings so well, on this December day, this fifth day:

“He lifted his head for a moment and his eyes caught mine.” He was the boy I had given birth to and he was more defenseless now than he had been then. And in those days after he was born, when I held him and watched him, my thoughts included the thought that I would have someone now to watch over me when I was dying…I would have cried out as I cried out that day and the cry would have come from a part of me that is the core of me. The rest of me is merely flesh and blood and bone.”

Yes, the core of me is where he lives and I will never say good-bye.

I wrote the following piece once year ago.  This is my Joey.

Who was this mysterious man who was known to us as Joseph, Joe, Joey, Bro, Uncle Joe, or Hon?
From the time he was a little boy, I figured out how to "read" Joe.  I learned what each subtle body movement meant.  His facial expressions were actually quite loud.  Sometimes his eyes alone would tell a whole story.
His teachers would say to me,
"Joseph is a good student, but he is so quiet."
As he got older and moved on to adulthood, I lost touch with little things about Joe. What music he liked, what clothes he chose to wear, what songs he liked to play on his guitar, where he was on the weekend or who he spent his evenings with.
I never lost touch, though, with the silent communication we shared.  His eyes, his smile, or a little shrug of his shoulders, each meant something particularly special to me.
Because he was so quiet, very often Joe would get teased :
"Keep it down, Joe, you're talking so much that none of us can get a word in edgewise."
Joe would turn red, but he would always smile.
It seemed as though some people would be uncomfortable around him. "He doesn't talk much", they would say.
Many of the people in his life knew only small bits and tiny pieces of him.
He is so quiet they would say.
What is he thinking?  How does he feel?
He is so quiet.
Oh yes, we all knew that Joe was a Mets fan.   I know that when everyone in the stands was yelling "Lets Go Mets, Lets Go Mets," Joe was quietly yelling it too. 
His laugh may have been quiet, but his sense of humor was obvious.  I'm sure if you listened closely you would know that inside he was laughing loudly at a silly Conan skit. 
What was there about "Unca" Joe that Bella, Kenny, Ryan and Tyler could hear that perhaps others couldn't?  I'm sure they never said, "but he is so quiet."
I suppose there may have been some little specific things that I didn't know about Joe.
But when I reflect on my son I understand that I knew the most important things about him.   
I knew what a gentle person he was. I understood his off kilter sense of humor.  I knew that he loved little children and puppies and that they loved him.
I knew that he would always go back for seconds when I served my "famous" lasagna. 
I knew that Domani was the light of his life.
I knew that he was a good father.  
I knew that it was meant to be for he and Anne to find each other again.
I knew that he loved his wife. 
I knew that he was strong and that his strength ran deep.
During the last weeks of his life I knew that there were times when he must have been very frightened; but he never gave up the fight.
I knew that he would never willingly leave his family.  
Just few days ago he smiled and said to me "we still have time."
He knew I loved him.   
The last time he "spoke" to me he mouthed the words "I love you." 
Quiet people are sometimes misunderstood.   
Take the time to get to know a quiet person.  
After all you might be lucky enough to discover the treasures of their mind, heart and soul, just like my strong,  lovable, wonderful "quiet" Joe.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Top Best Things About Being Married to Ross

At 3:30 yesterday morning, I asked Ross this question:
"What am I going to do?"
His response was "whaa?" "huh?" "whas a matter?"
Yea, he was sound asleep.
The best thing about being married to Ross is that no matter what he is doing, 99.9% of the time he will immediately stop, or in this case jolt out of a sound sleep, and give me his undivided attention.
Actually tied for the best thing about being married to Ross is that he listens, giving my question or statement thoughtful consideration.  His brow furrows and I can almost hear the wheels turning as he ponders what I have said.  Of course I realize that part of the pondering he does may have to do with stalling for time as he attempts to assess my mood.
Ross and I have been married 11 years.  Early on in our relationship he revealed to me that he has been gifted with "the force".  He reassures me that he only uses "the force" when all other humanly efforts have failed.
By now, I probably should not be surprised that even if I pose a quite cryptic question or make a seemingly ambiguous statement,  99.9% of the time, with perhaps a minimum number of clues or a few follow up questions, he is able to piece my sometimes jig sawed words together to solve the puzzle. But  I am still in awe of how eerily telepathic his responses are.
Actually, topping the tied for two best things about being married to Ross is that he knows when no words are needed, just big, tight, secure, "I got ya", hugs.
Oh, one more thing, a little while into our relationship, Ross revealed his "dancing" name to me.  Sorry but I promised not to tell.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.
Here are the entries from the past two days from Anna's diary:
Mon. December 2, 1929
Went to N.Y. to get coat out of storage with Mary & Rose.  Went to New Paramount. Very stormy out and lots of snow.  Came home about 7:30 and rushed to pick up girls for card party at Elks by Mrs. Albano.
Tues. December 3, 1929
Home all day.  Tired from rushing last night. Slippery and nasty out doors.  Junior had to stay in all day and made him cross.  Baked a lovely cake to amuse him a bit. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Who Is My Ghost Writer?

I wish to mind meander here a little...

I am struggling with grief loneliness.  I understand, believe me I get it, no one can actually feel my pain.  
For instance when I watch a video of someone sky diving, I might suck in breaths of fear, feel tinges of exhilaration and a sense of relief when the parachuter lands safely, but unless I actually jump from the plane, I know that I will have never get the full impact of the experience.  

I can gather together with others who have had losses almost exactly like mine and I may have the ability to empathize with them more than someone who has not suffered such a loss.  But, their tears are agonizingly and privately  their own, just as mine are.

Today, my mind is weary and my limbs seem too heavy to move.  I speak a mute's language of shrugs and sighs. The pain just above my right eye is relentless, and my heart is writhing.  

I imagine being somewhere else.  Strangely, it is not basking in the yellow warmth of a sandy beach, but instead I picture shivering in the white cold of a snowy mountain.

My scattered thoughts lead me to my mother's death bed.  She was unresponsive at that point.  She had not seen my brother for a long time.  She spent her whole life wanting him to be okay.  Although he was not able to be by her side, he called and we placed the phone up to her ear.   He told her he was doing well and that she need not worry about him because he was okay.  It is what she longed to hear.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I went in to check on her.  I stroked her hair and told her that she was a good mother, she was loved by all of us and most importantly, Adam was okay.  
She passed a few hours later.

As I think and write about this, I realize that there is never really an end to life's story.  Our life is not a sit-com TV show or a novel that gets wrapped up tight.   Life is more like a short story, a very short story.

My mother died thinking that her son was going to be okay.  He was not and still isn't.  But we gave her the ending that she would have wanted.

How silly to think that we are the creator's of our own story.  

My story had a predictable beginning, and a relatively uneventful middle. I spent hours developing and nurturing my beloved characters as I helped them grow and evolve.  How foolish of me to think that  I had the plot all figured out and I could end my story with "And they all lived happily every after".

Actually, the epiphany of accepting that my story is being written by a ghost writer is somewhat of a relief.  I can relinquish control to her, for she writes a most suspenseful story which will keep me guessing right up until the...

As I willingly and gratefully share my thoughts, I remember and appreciate those everyday hugs and "I love you's", the hours of almost daily telephone support chats, the continued "thinking of you" notes I receive in the mail, the "just when I need it most, "checking in" and Skype sessions, and of course the supportive comments from my very kind readers.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the past few days from Anna's diary:

Friday November 29, 1929
Junior and Vera are invited to Doris C's party in Arlington.  Children had a nice time.  On way home stopped for alcohol in the car.  Very cold out.  Both Vera and Marie came home with me. 
Sat. November 30, 1929
Stayed in bed all morning.  Vera and Marie here with Junior.  Jean home at one.  Got lunch for us.  Mary came over about four and Isabelle and Ted.  All stayed for supper.  Tom did not come.
Sun.  December 1, 1929
Home all day long.  Raining out.  Jean studying. I read a book.  Junior took a long nap.  About six o'clock we took him to Mt. Prospect with us.  Quite good but tired towards the end.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

I wait,
hoping that she will stay at rest tonight.
It should be that way,
for the fifth day sky was brilliantly blue and
the evening sun softly pink.

I wait,
hoping that she will comfort and sooth.
It should be that way,
for the fifth night sky screams hot white flashes and
midnight growls under violent black clouds.

I wait
hoping that she will awaken tomorrow.
It should be that way,
for these fifth days give way to moldy green sunrise bruises and
sixth days filled with blood red memories.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the past two days from Anna's diary:
Wed. November 27, 1929
Home all day.  Made sauce for tomorrow to bring to Grandma M's.  [Hey, I made sauce/gravy too, Anna]
Thurs. November 28, 1929
Thanksgiving Day.  Had dinner at Grandma M's.  All grandchildren there.  Elsie, May and myself.  Brought Vera home with me to stay week-end.  Getting quite cold out.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Most Memorable Saturday Thanksgiving Day In The Year of Twenty-Twelve

For the record

Our Saturday Thanksgiving of the year Twenty-twelve.

It is important for me, that's right for me to record this day for a few reasons.  First, I never got around to taking any photos that day.  Second,  I am getting older and the memories are fading faster than I would like to admit.  And third,  perhaps, just perhaps, Lynda Grace, my great-great-great granddaughter will want to know how I spent my Saturday Thanksgiving so long ago in 2012.

Lately, I haven't felt much like cooking.  Okay truth be told, I never was into it, cooking that is.  But I do have a couple of specialities that my kids seem to like a lot.   One of them is my gravy and meatballs. Or for those whose heritage is not from a particular region of Italy, it is probably more commonly known as sauce or to be more specific pasta sauce.

The kids also seem to like my lasagna a lot.
It was Joe's favorite, maybe his most favorite.
This year I just couldn't bring myself to make the lasagna, because I just couldn't.

I did make my own gravy and meatballs, but Ross and I decided to let Louie Bruno make the rest.

So I told the kids to come around 2:00.  Figuring they wouldn't get here at exactly that time, I asked Louie to bring the baked ziti and eggplant parmesan at 2:30.  Additionally, I wanted the dishes to be hot so that we could serve the food right away.

Jen, Derek, Bella and Ryan along with Anne and Domani, got here a little after 2:00.  They and we were hungry.

Louie Bruno, however, got held up on another delivery and by the time he got to our house it was 3:30 and by then the food had cooled down a bit.  Louie set the warming trays up and we waited for another hour for the dishes to heat back up to serving temperature.
Also, poor Louie, forgot the three loaves of Italian bread we ordered and he had to go back to the shop to get them.    I felt bad about asking him to do that, but hey, you gotta have the bread, ya know what I mean.

While we were waiting for the food to heat up, I did what I like to do best.  Sit back and watch my grandkids.

Of course they each have their own uniqueness.
Bella, my Bella, is well, my sweet Bella.  I know she will always be as sweet, but  I want her to stay eight years old for just a little while longer.  She brought her photo album from the November family cruise vacation.  We sat together as she showed me each picture accompanied by a running commentary.

The first thing five year old Ryan did when he came in was head for the sunroom/playroom.  With his shy little Ryan face, he asked me if he could go play in the room.
It amazes me that the kids look into that toy chest, which has the same set of toys, and still get excited with what they "find."

Domani is Joe's son and he is two.  He entertained us immensely with this gravely, growly Darth Vader voice.

Once the food was "ready, come and get it", the hustle and bustle of who is sitting where, and who wants what began.
It was worth the wait.  My gravy and meatballs were excellent. (Forgive the little self indulgent back patting here.) Louie's ziti and eggplant were outstanding.

Dessert was provided by Jen.  Her world famous chocolate chip cookies and soon to be just as famous delicious pumpkin cheese cake, which, according to Derek he helped make.  "Hey I went out got the stuff", he rightfully crowed.

Anne shared a few poignant letters she recently found from Joe.  They were especially endearing because they so typically showed Joe's sense of humor.  

Jimmy, my youngest son, didn't make our Saturday Thanksgiving.  He is having a tough time of it. He is apart from his two kids and I know how hard that is.  I wish he would let us in, though, because we all care so much.   

I especially missed my youngest son because, you see for me, it wasn't just another day.  It was our Saturday Thanksgiving day and I needed a hug as only he can give.  I have a feeling he could have used one too.  

And last but by no means least, I have to mention Ross.  Having family around means so much to him.  He never had children of his own. He's had too many sad losses recently also. 
His holiday memories are filled with loving parents, whom he lost at a much too young age, two kid sisters, and a houseful of company, who were always so warmly welcomed by his mother and father.     

So maybe neither one of us felt much like "celebrating" on our Saturday Thanksgiving this year, but as I reflect back on it, while we were in the midst of it, it really was a memorable celebration.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here is today's entry from Anna's diary:
Tues.  November 26, 1929
Downtown with Junior.  Went in new shoe store "Golden Rule" to see Rose R.  Asked about family.  She expects to be married in April sometime.  Club at Helen C. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rambling on About Over the River and Down the Garden State Parkway

Due to blended and extended families, joyous welcomes and painfully sad goodbyes,  Thanksgiving day for us has radically changed and has evolved into Thanksgiving weekend.   In fact it would be safe to say that for each one of the Thanksgiving day Thursdays, during the past dozen years, we have not eaten at the same table nor have we broken bread with the same people.

One thing that seems to be constant though is the round robin discussion, via telephone (actually that has evolved now into text messaging) that takes place a few weeks before that fourth Thursday in November.   The question:  "So what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?"

I have many nostalgic memories of "Over the River and Through the Woods..." but they are long ago sense memories which come flashing back to me in the form of snippet slide show images.

When I was a young kid, our "Over the River" was the Garden State Parkway. The day, that very particular fourth Thursday, was spent with both Mom and Dad's family.  It would be an early dinner with one and a later dinner with the other.  My mother and father would never have been able to bargain with either side for the compromise to have Thanksgiving on Friday, Saturday or Sunday instead of that very special Thursday.   Perhaps that was because celebrating Thanksgiving day, that very particular fourth Thursday in November day, was the epitome of being an American to my Italian immigrant grandparents.

My snippet sense memories of those times are of the Italian version of an American holiday.  Course after course of antipasto, raviolis or lasagna, turkey with all of the trimmings, fruit and nuts, and dessert were served on long tables for the adults and overflow tables for the kids by grandmothers who never seemed to sit down to eat with us.

After I married and had children of my own, my grandparents were no longer with us. "Over the River" then was Route 1 to my parent's house and my husband's parent's house.    That particular day, that very special fourth Thursday in November was spent with both sets of my children's grandparents.  It would be an early dinner with one and a later dinner with the other.

My snippet sense memories of those times were the carried on traditional Italian version of lasagna and turkey, hustle and bustle, loud, everyone talking at once, chatter at my parent's and then, the much appreicated relief of quiet and delicious food, served at a small kitchen table at my husband's parents.

With the passing of my then husband's parents and of my father, the evolution of that particular Thursday, that fourth Thursday in November continued.   For me, particularly, the passing of my father changed the way I felt about Thanksgiving.

My snippet sense memory of that time is the painful image of watching my father unable to eat one bite of the full Thanksgiving dinner that my aunts brought down to us.  He died ten days later on December 2, 1990.

In the years after my father's death, that Thursday, that particular Thursday, that fourth Thursday in November, was spent with my mother one way or the other. "Over the River" changed over the years from an hour down route 539, to around the corner from us, and eventually and finally to our house.

The sense memories from the earlier years after my father's passing are still filled, though, with mom cooking, the hustle and bustle of my brother's and sisters and our kids all gathered together, lasagna and turkey and pumpkin pie.

About a dozen years ago the changes came fast and furious.  In the span of a few years, four divorces in the family,  our children becoming adults with kids of their own, my brother's mental illness and drug addiction becoming more serious and dangerous split the family into far too many shattered pieces.

That's when that Thanksgiving day, that very special particular fourth Thursday in November  suddenly became someday during the weekend of that fourth week in November and the question became, "So what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?"

I still have flashing images of Thanksgiving day from the past 12 years, but they are images of dinners eaten without my children.  "We have to see what Dad is doing, we'll let you know" became the standard answer to "So what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?"  For most of those 12 years I probably couldn't tell you where or with whom Ross and I spent that Thanksgiving day, that special particular Thursday, that fourth Thursday in November.   Thanksgiving days, though,  were still always spent with my mother...until on November 24, 2009, two days before Thanksgiving day, that particular fourth Thursday in November, when my mother took her last breath.

I have a clear memory of a day, a few weeks earlier, when I promised her that "Of course we were going to make Thanksgiving dinner."   And "Yes, she would be able to celebrate that day, that special Thursday, that particular fourth Thursday in November with us".

Last year, was my son's last Thanksgiving.

I have a vivid memory of that day.  I talked to him on the phone.  He told me that he had a few bites of turkey.  And yes, even though I knew better, I remember feeling a sense of hope that maybe he was getting his appetite back and that if he could only manage to eat a little more each day,  he would get stronger and be able to continue his treatment, and he would be able to...

On December 5, 2011, eleven days after that Thanksgiving day, that particular Thursday, that fourth Thursday in November my son Joseph passed away.

For the record, this year, this fourth Thursday in November of twenty-twleve, after the usual round robin discussion of "So what are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?" we gratefully accepted my sister's invitation to join her and Al for dinner.

Dinner was set for 3:00.  "Over the River" was to be a 50 minute drive down the familiar route 539 to their house.

I spent all morning thinking about Joe, and my mother.  I wondered who I should be thanking for this day, this day without them.   I struggled with the anticipation of "putting on a happy face", making small talk, and pretending that this day was a happy day.  After all isn't that the greeting? "Happy Thanksgiving".

At 2:00, the time we should have been in the car, already on the way, I was still in my robe and pj's curled up in a ball, crying on the sofa.   Ross asked me if I need more time and I nodded yes.

I did manage to get myself together, and even though we arrived an hour late, Elaine and Al, were gracious.  I'm afraid I wasn't very good company, but I want to record this day, here, so that I will remember who we spent Thanksgiving with, this particular Thursday, this fourth Thursday in November of twenty-twelve.

There was turkey, and home made corn bread stuffing, roasted potatoes and string beans with almonds, home baked bread, and oops the "forgot to put out" home made cranberry sauce (I bet it was delicious).
My brother Ray, and Patty and Patty's ninety-something year old mother came for the desserts of home made apple and pumpkin pie.

So, during the past dozen years, as has become the new norm, Ross and I would have to wait until the Saturday after that particular Thursday, that fourth Thursday in November to have our Thanksgiving.  The one that actually means the most to me because it is the one when the kids come to our house for the hustle and bustle of the new traditional Italian gravy and meatballs, baked ziti and eggplant parmesan Saturday Thanksgiving day.

I have much more to say about this year's Saturday Thanksgiving in tomorrow's post.

As I think about that day, I am sadly astonished about the many changes surrounding our Saturday Thanksgiving that have occurred so recently.

Saturday Thanksgiving 2010

So maybe that's where the giving thanks part comes in, appreciation for what is.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Friday, November 22, 1929
Junior invited to a party.  Little Norma M's. Met Dr. Restina's wife and little girl Yovonne. Brought a little sweater to Norma.
Sat. November 23, 1929
Home all day.  Cleaned house thoroughly.  Jean home at one.  Listened to Harvard-Yale football game over radio.  Yale lost.  Ted came about four and expects Isabell Long.
Sun.  November 24, 1929
Home all day.  Raining.  Jean at 360 for dinner.  Isasbelle and Ted her overnight.  Left at noon.  Junior and I went to Elsie's.  Stayed until 9:30.  Dick reading.  Children playing.
Mon.  November 25, 1929
Home.  Rose came for lunch.  Rosale here.  Did not go to school.  After dinner played three handed bridge then Minnie came over and played four.  Left about 5:30.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Exhilarated By Her Energy, Humbled By Her Power and Astonished By Her Beauty.

Long Beach Island, in the County of Ocean in New Jersey, is a barrier island and summer beach resort area along the Atlantic Ocean coast.  Locally it is referred to as LBI or simply "The Island".
Geographically, it is about 18 miles long, including three miles of nature reserve located on the shorter tip.  The island is about a half-mile wide at its widest point in Ship Bottom and spans a fifth of a mile at its narrowest point in Harvey Cedars.
LBI may be world famous now.  But the world doesn't know our Island like we do.  The ugliness of the destruction that Super Storm Sandy has brought does not mar the beauty of my LBI.
Personally, LBI is rich with memories for me.
My family and I started to vacation there in the early to mid 1980's.   Our mantra was, "the sun always shines on LBI."
Well, metaphorically speaking, actually the sun always did shine on the Island, or at least on our family when we were on the Island.
It  would be the once-a-year time that our family would spend that many hours together under one roof.   True to form, when a varied group, such as we were, would cohabit,  each one of us at some time during our stay would have our little annoyances and brief,  (ahem, I'm sure mine was brief at least), of leave me alone grouchiness.  For the most part, though, my memories are of board games, jig saw puzzles, laughter, good food, and important, quiet, getting reacquainted beach time talks.
It's funny, you know, at the end of each week long stay I would say, "whelp, this is it.  I think next year we are going to find another spot to vacation"
But, sometime around January or February, we would get "The Island" bug and head on down to check out potential rentals.   Even in the dead of winter, when the island was pretty desolate, as soon as we got near the bridge, and saw the Shack, I would start to feel the excitement of the anticipation of our next summer vacation on LBI.
When our "Saturday to Saturday" share came,  we packed up all of our belongings, or so it seemed and began the family caravan two hour car ride to go "down the shore".
Once we got settled into our rental,  we had our rituals.  Our must do's.
These included the kick-off trip to the Acme, where everyone wound up on Saturday to get the essentials and groceries for the week.  It was always a mob scene with shopping carts blocking the narrow aisles, and shouts of  "We need eggs, milk, bread...and don't forget to get the hot-dogs for lunch".
Next it had to be visits to the used book shop, Hands Department store and Marvels for the best fried chicken, potato salad and Island famous donuts.
There would have to be at least one breakfast at the "Chicken or the Egg" or as it is more commonly known the "Chegg".   When the craving for a "slice" hit, there was the walk-up, take-out Panzone's Pizza window.
Of course the main attractions were the beautiful beaches of the Island and, for the kids, Fantasy Island Amusements.
LBI continues to hold precious memories for me.  When Ross and I retired, we moved to a town not too far from the bridge, which takes us, at least a couple of times a week, in all seasons and in all kinds of weather over to the Island.
Every one of Bella's nine summers included stays at Grandma and Pop-pop's and visits to the Island.
Now she visits with her brother, Ryan. 


When he was still able, Joe came down to visit with his son for Domani's first visit to the beach.  This is for me a most precious memory.

The last time I saw my two grandsons, way too long ago, they were giggling uncontrollably as they chased each other on the sand.

Two days ago, Ross and I were able to go over the bridge to the Island for the first time since Sandy.
What we saw was indescribably and heart wrenchingly sad.  What we found, though, was the determination, and hope of the Island people.

As we began to climb the mound of sand, my anticipation was heightened by the roaring sound.  I felt as though I couldn't get there fast enough.  It seemed that I had been away from her for so long.

When I got to the top and looked down upon her, I was not disappointed.
For it's really Her Majesty who is my temptress.
Her energy is pure exhilaration, her power is  humbling and her beauty is astonishing.

As it always has been, it continues to be a constant I rely on.  

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Sun. November 17, 1929
Home all day.  Bill & Rosalie here last night.  Slept.  Left about 12 to go home.  Junior took long nap.  Dressed and went over to see Uncle Dick and Family.  Came home to find Jean & Rosalie here.
Mon.  November 18, 1929
Rosalie home.  Went to Bams. Met Edythe for lunch.  Shopped.  Home early.  We all went to Aunt Mary.  Mrs. B. there.  Had a light supper.  Drove Mary and children to her mother's. Then home.  Baby tired, bed early.
Tues. November 19, 1929
Club girls met at 5:30.  Dinner at Eldorado, on Boradway.  Then to the Music Box to see "Little Show.  An intimate Revue.  Put her to take screens down.  Ted and Isabelle stayed overnight & also Rose. 
Wed. November 20, 1929
Baby at 360.  Went to visit Lorrine.  Lena not there.  Her father took her to Boston to the grave of an old priest where miracles are being performed.  A very sick girl. Hope she survives the trip.  Visited Maggie.

Thurs. November 21, 1929
Home all day.  Charlotte here washing.  Feel quite upset and blue about Lena.  No school for Jean tonight so felt better after she came home for supper.