This is the last picture, the last time we saw him, on Thanksgiving, in my kitchen, going home, hands always behind his back, always.
Words, thoughts, experiences, rolling around in my head every waking moment.
Writing for me has always been a sort of release, an outlet to the thoughts that swirl in my heart.
This is hard, harder than I've ever thought possible.
I want to honor my Dad, remember him, bless him, thank him. I want to write about him, tell his story.
It is too fresh, too close, too near to losing him. The words are there but not in complete sentences or thoughts.
" May you live every day of your life. "
I just read this and immediately thought of my Dad.
He lived every single day, with joy, with enthusiasm, with laughter, with purpose, with a kind, loving, giving spirit.
He taught me so much about life and people and goals, about kindness and how to treat others. He was a giving person, always sharing, always present, always there. His story is one I know in my heart. It is one of courage and strength and determination.
He faced all odds yet came out on top, smiling.
Born in 1926, two month premature in a tiny village in Abruzzi Italy, he was born in a farmhouse with no heat or running water, in January, on a cold blustery winter day. His grandfather Sabatino raced down the mountainside to get a priest to bless this little baby not expected to make it through the night.
My father was a fighter from day one.
He made many connections in Italy, these connections still exists today.
Relatives, friends, neighbors call to express sorrow yet share stories of how kind and strong he was.
They tell me my Father was an example of a man with an adventurous spirit, someone they still look up to today.
His dream was to come to the United States.
I asked him once when he had that dream, he told me always.
He made that dream come true.
In 1953 he came to this country after working in the steel mills in France for three years to save for his passage.
He came to New York, not knowing the language, he came to this country with determination, and a dream. He married my mom in an arranged marriage. They will be married 58 years on January 31st 2012.
He came here with a sense of adventure, a determination, a sense of humor, a strong work ethic, a gentleness to treat everyone, no matter who they were with respect.
He always always gave more than he had. To the church, to the homeless on Race street when we would go to Chinatown. He would eat Chinese food but was always looking for the bread! A true Italian!
He shared his wealth of barbering by becoming a teacher and taught all of us, his four kids how to cut hair. We all worked in his barber shop, we worked as a family, came home and had dinner as a family.
He did this by taking us to "old age homes" a term we used in the 70's. We went with our scissors and straight razors and gave haircuts to everyone on Sunday mornings. We made rosaries by the dozens and he sent them to poor countries. He went to church everyday of his life until the onset of Alzheimer's made him slower and more fragile.
He had a ready smile, always, no matter what.
He patted my mom on the backside up until the very end. His love for her was timeless.
I am remembering his life, in the early morning hours, at night time as I try to fall asleep with tears in my eyes. I am remembering his goodness, his wit, his sayings, his stories.
I will keep him with me always.
I can describe my Dad in so many ways. He was a special man. A true and good soul, a gentleman, a scholar, an inventor, he invented the flat top comb in the 50's and became Flattop champion in Hairstyling shows in New York.
We traveled together, going to Italy.
One year Clint and I and my mom and Dad went to Abruzzi and visited the old farmhouse where he was born, we drove through the countryside and visited all his childhood friends and family.
They didn't know we were coming and I still remember the shouts of joy as they saw my Father approaching. One man threw his hat in the air and put his arms around my father in unadulterated delight to see him again.
All made feasts and invited everyone, we ate like kings, each family and friend trying to out do the other and show Armando how much they loved and missed him. I saw respect and love in their faces as they talked to my Father, I realized how much he meant to so many people.
I may be rambling but these thoughts are swirling around in my head, big tears are falling upon this story.
My dad lived his life with grace, with love, with respect, with kindness, with a yearning for knowledge and a sense of humor, a big smile and a big heart.
We are all close, my family is close, I saw my Mom and Dad almost everyday. They live a half a block from me. I am lucky, I am blessed to have him, to know him, to learn from him, to be in his presence.
We are all mourning, each of us. Tomorrow is his funeral. We will honor him and remember him and know that he is always there for us, no matter what. I will miss talking to him, asking his advice, laughing with him, I will miss his sparkle, his exuberance, his zest for life.
I love you Pop. You did live every day of your life.
You left us in a gentle way, with grace and dignity and we will miss you.
In my early morning writings, in my notes of thanks for small and unexpected gifts, in my thoughts on life and what I have, for all the love and support I feel from so many people in my life. For my family, for my clients who have become friends with me through this journey.
I appreciate so much in my life.
When you are feeling blue or down and out, sometimes it is hard to realize what gifts your life holds on a daily basis.
Each morning as I write I realize just how blessed I am. I have so much love and support and sweetness around me, from the cards and notes to flowers and unexpected acts of kindness I am surrounded by love. Each and everyone following this journey with me help me to be strong and know it is OK. I appreciate life, I appreciate the support and love, I appreciate what I have and the strength I have in handling it all.
Appreciation, a big step in getting better. Appreciation, a way to reconcile the good with the bad, appreciation, allowing me to know that I am not alone, that I will bounce back, that I will be OK, that I have love and support surrounding me, prayers coming my way, encouragement surrounding me.
I appreciate it all.
Each and every morning I say a prayer of thanks for this day, this new beginning, this fresh start to get stronger, to feel better, to know I am on the mend.
Appreciate what you have, look at your life and see how you are blessed, concentrate on the goodness surrounding you each and every day, the miracle of life and Friends and family. The strength that laughter can bring.
This Thanksgiving is a perfect time to take a minute and give thanks for all the little things that you have in your life, daily gifts that we sometimes don't acknowledge.
Each day is a gift and each connection we have with a person is a tiny miracle. I am blessed, I am lucky, and I appreciate my life and all who are part of it.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
It isn't about the best and most delicious dinner, it is about the people we share the table with.
Love to you and everyone in your life.
What I am going through is so much more than just Cancer. It affects me not only physically but mentally, financially, emotionally, right down into my soul. There are fears and lots of tears. I feel I am recovering slowly from this operation, whether it be from the anesthesia or the drugs or the trauma that my body went through, I am not sure. I just know I am not myself. It is hard to heal physically when the emotional side is down in the dumps.
This rainy day is perfect for spending in bed but it hurts to lay down so I am here at my computer working and writing. Trying to pick myself up and dust myself off and start all over again.
I was writing this morning and a phrase that I was using before this operation came to mind. The Doctor said to me before we went into the operating room "see you on the other side".
I am thinking, will I get to the other side of this or am I still in it? I want to move forward, move ahead, move past this. I want to be on the other side. I want to be myself again. My happy, positive self.
Seems the mountain is high this time. My body is a package, not only the physical but the mental, the emotional all wrapped into one, each healing at a different pace.
I desperately want to put this behind me, I am still scheduled for the testing to see what they got and what they didn't, so it still seems like this is hanging over my head.
Clint, in trying to help me said, we only have now, we are in a holding pattern, nothing more to do right now, he is right. I need to listen to my heart and to my own words too. Just enjoy this moment in time. Take each day as a gift.
We are so lucky, we get a new fresh start every morning, every day, to make it better, to change, to rest, to heal. Each day is a gift.
I will be back to me, I know I will. I am a strong women, a tough cookie as Clint says. This will pass and it will be OK. I know it will.
I am surrounded by love and support and and I truly have so much in my life.
So I am concentrating on my blessings, which are many and getting better and being me again.
I believe that every single thing we do, happen upon or go through each day happens for a reason. It is a lesson, is part of something bigger.
This past week and and half has been a tough time for me. I was blindsided. Not because I wasn't prepared but only because sometimes I think myself to be invincible, maybe that is not the right word but I went into this strong, healthy and happy and just expected to be bouncing around here in a few days time.
As I lay in my bed trying to get my mind around the fact that it was hard to laugh, though I didn't really feel like laughing but even taking a breath was difficult. I couldn't move easily, get in and out of bed, even staying in bed was hard. I thought to myself~"how can I make myself better? what can I do to speed this up, to make me feel normal again?"
The answer that came to me was to breath, deeply.
Your breath is a powerful force in your body that you can somewhat control. While I was in the recovery room right after the procedure I kept waking to a beeping sound. Now that seems funny because all you hear in the hospital is machines beeping for this or that, but every time this beeping happened a nurse would stick her head around the corner and tell me to breath. It seems that because of the pain my breath was shallow and this machine was a reminder to take a deep breath. I never thought in my whole life that I would need a machine to tell me to breath. I LOVE to breath!
When I came home there was no machine beeping to tell me to breath, so I decided to do it myself. I know the breathe heals, my friend Sarah always tells me to take a breath down to my toes. This was not easy. It was very painful. My rib cage was sore, all the organs on the right side of my body were inflamed by the microwave procedure, so taking a deep breath brought tears to my eyes.
As I lay there trying to breath healing light and energy into my body, I thought that the hardest and most painful thing I was doing~breathing, was the thing that was going to help me the most.
A light went off in my head. This is like life! some of the hardest experiences we go through in life, the most painful, the most challenging, are the experiences that help us to grow the most. That make us a better person, that prepare us for something down the road. A lesson, that once learned, will make another experience easier, another time in our life more seamless. Every single thing we do prepares us for another.
So here I am, making a conscious effort to breath deeply, each day getting a little better, a little easier and knowing I will be all right.
Don't take your breath for granted. Feel the breath enter your body and go all the way down to your toes, let it out slowly and know that it is your companion, in times of fear and stress, it will help you get through most anything life can serve up.
I can honestly say I didn't see this coming. The pain, the reaction from the pain medication, the inability to move, cough, breath.
I was optimistic. Maybe too much so. I went into this feeling good, feeling healthy, feeling energetic, thinking I was going to get out of bed and be myself in two days time.
NO, that didn't happen.
I am just now, one week later starting to feel human, starting to think that yes, I will get over this, be able to take a deep breath, walk steadily, cough even laugh without too much pain.
The Doctor told me it was painful, I had no idea.
I have to say that I knew where about in my body my liver was but now I know EXACTLY where it is and how it feels.
It feels like Sponge Bob Square Pants, every time I take a breath.
Full of holes and squishy, my whole right, side front and back is sore to the touch. My rib cage is sore. They went in through the rib cage, wiggling those needles through all my organs to get to my liver, the second biggest organ of the body.
Laparoscopic Microwave Ablation of Liver Mets reads the Short procedure discharge papers.
Yes, they sent me home that night a little after 8PM after several injections of Fentanyl, morphine and anti nausea drugs that did little to ease the pain.
My day started early with us leaving the house before 6:30AM or so. They were late, I was scheduled for a 9:45 operation. At 11:30 I was still in holding area number one along with about 40 other people. The nurse told Clint they typically do around 99 patients a day on that floor alone. No hand holding there.
When, after IV's were place in both hands, I have a permanent port in my left shoulder so now I had three ways they can get the drugs in, I went into the operating room around noon or after.
I was really not too coherent until yesterday. I do remember pain, I do remember taking meds prescribed for the pain and believe it or not I remember having a cocktail with the Queen of England and getting Elizabeth Taylor a drink. So you can see where I was~in la la land.
The surgeon told us he thought the procedure went well, although they did not get all the cancer, nor did they even look at the other lesions I had on my liver. I have more tests scheduled in a few weeks to see what, if anything is left.
What they did was go into my right side, through my rib cage with long big needles that they heated to a high intensity and microwaved my liver.
Now those of you who know me and come to class know that I don't even own a microwave!!! I never ever cook with a microwave. I guess this was revenge of the Microwaves! Still have my sense of humor even though I can't laugh.
The Doctor told me before this operation, 5 days to recover, after this operation he told me 10 days recovery. I am getting better, I am off the pain medicine taking only Tylenol not because it hurts less but because I do not want the side effects from those pain meds. NO MORE PILLS! I woke up saying about 3 days ago.
This is the first day my fingers would work in conjunction with my brain, so it took me a while to post this blog.
Thank you for all your support and prayers, love and cards.
I am on the mend, and now I know exactly where my Liver is!
I am an optimistic and happy person.. I would rather see life as exciting and challenging and enjoy every minute than dwell on the negative .. I love to cook and have my family around .. big family dinners and celebrations are always held in my home.. I have a huge table 10 feet long ..filled with food and family.. I have learned many of my mom's old recipes and try to recreate many of the dishes I grew up with .. I am teaching my grandsons to cook .. they love it! I have a wonderful,happy, loving relationship with my husband. He supports me in everything I do and is my biggest fan and taste tester.. he loves all things Italian too!
I love to cook, write, eat and laugh .. I wrote a cookbook in 2004.. the title? LIVE,LAUGH,COOK! what else!