Sunday, September 8, 2013

It's time

It's time...

Readers, I abandoned you.  I have many reasons.  Too many to list.  So many that they would make your head swim.

As many of you who used to follow this blog knew, my uncle and godfather had a health crisis two years ago and my sister and I took on him and all his medical care.  For the last two years, we battled doctors, hospitals, dialysis and death, tooth and nail.

Last week, it all came to a head.  And Death won.

I cannot describe what is was like to watch him come to terms with his own mortality, when he had managed to escape it REPEATEDLY over the course of 35 years.  His biggest victory was 19 years ago, when after being told that he had 6 months to live if he didn't get a liver transplant, he managed to squeeze out almost 2 years AND receive one of the first liver transplants the University of Miami ever completed.

As I watched him listen to Pavarotti in his last few hours last Sunday, he smiled with pleasure.  He lived a good life; filled with adventure and excitement.  He got to say goodbye, he got to tell people how much he loved them, he had my grandparents come and escort him to Heaven's gates.  He turned in his 80 year old body battered and bruised.  He truly put it through hell as he sucked the marrow that life gave him.

For me, it has been hard.  Even though my sister and I did all that we could, we couldn't keep him healthy enough to creak out another 5 years.  We have been second guessing ourselves for the last week, wondering what we could have done differently.  Even though we lost our dad eleven years ago and should know that there is no negotiating with God's will, it doesn't make it any easier the second time around.

My uncle kept his life very compartmentalized.  It was easy for him to do it.  As a single man with no responsibilities, he pretty much answered to no one and did as he pleased.  It was hard for him to give up that independence two years ago, when we took over his affairs and clucked at the amount of Coke he consumed and how many ramen noodles he had stashed under his kitchen sink.  We reprimanded him on the effects of too much sodium, too much soda, on his dialysis and failing kidneys.  He would smile, tell us he would stop, and continue to do whatever he pleased.

We met some of his closest friends the day before he died.  They flew cross country to be with him in his final hours.  They stood shoulder to shoulder with my sister and I as he breathed his last.  They came back to his apartment and told us which of his paintings should get us the most money.  They told us of the man they knew, one who once decided that for a whole year, they should always have a bottle of champagne whenever they got together.   The man who traveled to all the corners of the Earth and never gave a rat's ass about what other people thought.

Today, I picked up his ashes.  We will be having a funeral Mass and interment sometime this week.  As I peered into the cardboard box that held his ashes and saw the toe tag that undoubtedly hung from his foot, I wondered what he would make of being contained in such a plain box when he had such a colorful life.  I wonder how my mother and my aunt, his sister will hold themselves together later this week, when they will see what is left of someone they loved so much.

I find myself being stoic at times, afraid of unleashing the sadness that is welling up in me.  My oldest son seems to sense that underneath all that strength, there is a very sad little girl who misses the uncle who would show up with extravagant, unpractical gifts and would disappear for month, years at a time.  My boys and husband are cautious around me, afraid that I will break.  And that worries me.  And it makes me very sad.

It has been a hard year.  My mother continues to deteriorate.  Yesterday, my sister and I went to get her a wig, as the chemotherapy has ravaged her head.  All this in preparation for a funeral.  Now, her head looks better, but her body continues to turn on her, robbing her of movement, denying her comfort.  I wonder how much this will break her spirit when she watches the urn that holds her favorite brother go into a wall, near her husband, near where she one day will be.

When we were leaving yesterday, my nieces spotted a small little store that had just the kind of impractical, extravagant items that my uncle would have been drawn to.  I saw a pink kitty umbrella that had caught my oldest niece's eye.  My younger niece found a mermaid one. 

And I did as my uncle would have wanted.  I bought them those umbrellas and smiled.  Because I knew that somewhere in the clouds, surrounded by beautiful things and clutching a champagne bottle in each hand, singing along with Luciano, he was nodding in agreement.  But I won't disappear for months, years.  I will surround myself with the joy that these two girls and my three sons give me, and hope that I get to say goodbye, listening to beautiful music, surrounded by love.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy (birthday)

Marking another trip around the sun:
looking back on the lessons learned,
looking forward to new dreams, experiences.
Wondering what the next trip around
will bring as I mark my
thirty ninth year on this Earth.

Friday, June 1, 2012


July 2002:  Matthew, age twenty months.

 Beyond anything the human mind comprehends,
Further than any great distance covered,
I awake each morning: rise, prepare
for another exhausting day of mothering.
June 2004:  Andrew, age fourteen months. 
And yet, without reservations, without hesitation,
I would (and) do it all,
again and again; day in, out
for all the millions of reasons
every other mother does what's necessary.

October 2008:  Joshua, age eighteen months. 
Our relentless love for our children,
and the light in their eyes,
as they experience a precious moment.
That light goes against all reason...

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Thursday, May 24, 2012


If you are a parent, there is nothing carefree about this stretch of road...

The action of driving: impending dread
(for oh-so-many reasons in South Florida!)
and what will bring our family
to the brink of bankruptcy when
we have three additional males insured
under our policy.  God help us.
But only if the grocery bills
don’t drive us there first. Seriously.  

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Thursday, May 17, 2012


June 2009: Daddy and the boys in Naples, Florida

Almost twelve years (yikes!) into motherhood,
I am growing in this role.
I no longer quiver when faced
with a bleeding (or vomiting) child.
I no longer tremble when challenged
by hungry, filthy, bored , warring boys
that seem to gain monstrous strength
with each and every passing  second.
No.  I have grown in mothering
just as my boys flourish with
each passing milestone,  every grown inch,
each hard won, exhausting, monumental,  accomplishment.
I stand in wide mouthed awe,
amazed that, in spite of myself,
their growth leaves me behind, small;
but oh, so very much beloved!
And someday, rather soon, I suppose,
they will tower over me: souvenir
of time's passage; my own growth.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012


Sunscreen, towels, chairs and gossip rags.
Toys, food, drinks, umbrella and kids.
Sunny days, rainy afternoons, hazy laziness.
Hoping the calendar brings summer soon...

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Permission slips signed. One field trip.   
Distant destination: Orlando. Parental nerves frayed.
One new, fully charged cell phone.
Just what the anxious mother ordered
as Matthew goes on his own,
for the very, very first time.
So she doesn't go completely crazy,
letting her baby test his wings.

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