Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas wish for you

As I read through my past blogs, I see a theme, a thread of survival. These thoughts are one of optimism, gratitude, of going on despite what is swirling around me.

I take heart knowing that in the midst of Cancer, chemo, radiation and operation, I still manage to get myself back to a place where I can look around and be grateful for all that is in my life.
I can look on the positive, I can see the sun despite the clouds, I can see a rainbow when there is pouring rain.

These past few weeks I thought it would just take me longer than before, after all~ it is piling up, although I don't like to lump problems or issues into one big pile. I like to think that each is separate, each different, that the world is not crashing down around me.

The loss of my father hit me hard, immediately and profoundly.

I know he was 85, I know he was slowing down considerably, I know when I brought him to his doctor visits, he had some minor issues that we could not get a hold of, I know he was tired, I could see it in his face.
I know he lived a good, happy full life, I know he died peacefully.

These things I know but they do not erase the longing or the missing him. Nothing prepares you for losing a parent. Someone said it so right, you just want them here~all the time no matter what.
Grief is personnel, I am finding out, some scream and cry, some mourn silently, others stay busy keep the demons at bay.
I am choosing to remember, to go through pictures, to talk to family in Italy who respected him so much. I talk to my Dad daily, I blow kisses to his pictures hanging around my home, pictures of him as a 18 year old young man, not yet in this country, standing besides a borrowed bicycle, of him on his wedding day, so handsome, eyes alight with joy, of him with his brothers, all four, he was the oldest and last to pass. I find comfort in this, in keeping him alive in my heart and in my memories.

Some say I will dream of him and I think I did last night but this morning there was just a presence, not anything that I remembered. It is OK. I know he is here with me, for me, guiding me along the way.

So we go through this Christmas with heavy hearts, knowing full well that here on Christmas Eve there will be an empty spot at the table and an empty spot in our hearts.

I do have grand kids, so Christmas will go on and that is a good thing. They somehow make you forget everything and concentrate on the moment.

So in this moment my Christmas wish to you is a Blessed, Happy, Healthy, Loving Christmas, filled with family and those who are dear to you. Give thanks for what you have, it is more than enough.

Take a look around you, forget the presents, and the pile of gifts. It is the people in your life that makes everything worthwhile. Each and every moment is special with those you love. Whether they are here or not.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In the Midst of Heart Ache

This is so much harder than I thought possible.

These past few days have been filled with a listlessness, a sad countenance, a sad heart.

I see my Dad in every corner of the house.
I sit in my office and look at his pictures, the cross that was on his casket, the wallet that he carried everywhere, the belt he always wore. My office is filled with bits and pieces of him, tucked on every shelf, propped against the wall, filling my home with his memories.

Through the busy~ness of this season, I cry unexpectedly, I feel lethargic, I have no appetite.
I didn't expect this, couldn't predict this grief, this missing him, his presence and wit, his smiling face and wisdom. Nothing prepares you for this void.

I try to think he is here with me, his memories will keep me warm and safe but at the dinner table the other night, as we celebrated my son Dominick birthday, there was a void, an emptiness. It was all I could do to bear it, I was near tears the whole time, watching my mom get her plate and sit next to an empty chair, she always prepared a plate for my dad first.  We all tried to get through that dinner without breaking down, and to tell you the truth I couldn't wait for everyone to leave, so I could cry in the solitude of my room.

After all the preparations for the funeral are over, as we continue our life, that is when it hits, he is not coming back, he is not here any more, I can't ask him a question about Italy, ask his advice on business, joke with him, talk to him, he is not here.

This is what grief is all about, the mourning, the sadness, the realization that someone is passed from your life, ready or not, they are gone.

The holiday will be hard, we are all trying to keep my mom busy, through our own grief and tears.
The past few days I felt I could not get out of bed, I didn't want to, I found a great fatigue washing over me, making me listless and lethargic, no ambition, no energy, no emotions other than sorrow.

I woke up today, this early morning and tried to get my head on straight, to tell myself that I can do this, I can move forward, through the pain, through the missing him, through the sorrow.
I tried to tell myself he is here, with me always, the memories, are here, he is watching over me.
This is what will get me through.

One day at a time, one moment at a time. I am blessed to have him as a father, I am blessed by so much in my life.

I can do this, a little at a time.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Amidst the busy~ness of these past few weeks, preparing for my Dad's funeral, meeting the obligations of holiday parties, teaching cooking classes and trying to keep my head on straight, I have been dutiful in scheduling my PT/CT scan and MRI, making and keeping doctors appointments.

My liver surgery was November 3rd, it took almost a month for me to get my energy back and start to feel like myself again. All the while knowing I would have to take these tests and find out what just exactly was left inside my body, what is growing and what is shrinking.

This is a stressful time as you can imagine but dealing with so much else put it in the background of my mind. I thought to myself "It is what it is" no use worrying, no use fretting, I will handle what comes my way, with strength and grace and the guidance of Pop up in heaven.
I have a feeling now of being watched over, knowing that it will be all right~no matter what it is.

We traveled down to Jeff to see the oncologist first, my favorite of all my doctors. His calm and reassuring demeanor is comforting to me. He doesn't stir up fear and anxiety, I feel trust and a knowledge that we can take care of anything that comes my way. He knows me, what I do for my living, how important family and cooking and work is to me, he takes these into consideration when making decisions on my health.

It seems and this was confirmed by the surgeon as well that, I "Burn Well" which means that where they went in to microwave the tumor the spot is clear and clean. There remains a ring of suspicious "Lighting up" around that lesion still, along with that are other spots, some new, some there from the last scan.
There is a "new"spot on the other side of my liver now that has to be addressed.
I swear I must have mushroom soil in my liver, these damn things are prolific! (maybe weed killer would work!)

I took this all as good news, really.

The Cancer did not spread to another organ, it is staying in the liver. I can deal with that. The liver regenerates. OK, if I have to have this, just stay in the liver, we will take this on~ one spot at a time.
They are suggesting implanting radio active seeds to shut off the blood supply to that area. Along with that maybe more "burns" to get rid of those other spots.

They have a plan, the doctors are calm and confident. Two very important traits you want in a doctor.
Believe it or not I am optimistic, I feel strong again and I feel I can take this on.

They don't want to do anything for at least 6 to 8 weeks so I have a bit of a vacation from doctors and Cancer until after the holidays, thank goodness!

So while I really wanted to hear" it's all gone"this news is OK too.

One day at a time, one step at a time, one spot at a time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This word has been rolling around in my mind for a few days now.

In these past two weeks, each day has been full.
Full of tears and full of remembrances, full of love and full with the support of family and friends.
I find myself enveloped in the embrace of love and gratitude.

I wake up thinking how very lucky I am. To have grown up in the circle of my loving and caring and yes, funny family.
To share so many happy times and memories. To now be surrounded by such love and support. I am lucky, I am blessed.

I feel the connections with others. This is what life is all about.
Not possessions, or the biggest house, best car, not things but people. That is what makes my life so magical. The connections I have with others.

The hugs I get. Oh, the hugs! When someone hugs me it is like being embraced with an Aura of love. It breaths strength into my body, it allows me to know I am not alone.
So many hugs these past days, big hugs, strong hugs, loving hugs. I am so grateful for the embrace of so many people.

This is what life is about, the people in your life, the connections, the threads that bind us together. The relationships, both life long and passing.

My life is filed with the richness of friendship and family. As I look around and go through my day, I feel blessed in so many ways. My Dad had a saying "Bread on the Water". What you give comes back to you.
I am living that saying now. The connections I made with everyone during my life have come full circle. I feel the love and the warmth surrounding me at each turn. I am lifted up, I am consoled, I am supported and loved and I am thankful. I see kindness and sweetness in the faces of my clients, my friends, this wonderful outpouring of support.

This holiday season is hectic but stop and take the time to look at the faces of people you meet. It is the people who are important, not the things. Make a connection, give someone a smile, practice random acts of kindness and you will feel blessed.
Giving is not about shopping, a kind word, a good deed, a helpful hand, an embrace, a thoughtful gesture, that is what giving is all about. Your love and kindness to others will come back to you tenfold.

Bread on the water.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A tribute to my Mom

             November 13, 2011 my birthday dinner, my family together

Yesterday was a day filled with tears and smiles as we celebrated my Dad's life.

It was a day filled with both sadness and gratitude.

As I stood in the church next to my Mom, friends, family and neighbors from a life lived well filed by.
My Dad knew a lot of people. His barber shop has been around for 50 years. He was a star in the Tanning business with his unusual and fun ads in the local papers. Many people came to share their thoughts and express their regrets.

In the past few days my daughter, Tina, went through all the family pictures putting together 10 posters of memories. It was both difficult and wonderful she said, to spend time with grand pop through the years of pictures. She did a wonderful job, capturing his exuberance and zest for life.

My son, Dominick wrote his Eulogy. Standing up in church among family and friends, telling the story of my father's life and the effect his actions and deeds had on us. It was a wonderful tribute to a life well lived.

Each remembering my Dad in their own way. I realized that this is what life is all about. To be surrounded by people you love, to share the daily joys and sorrows. To celebrate all the good in life.

As I stood by my mom's side, this diminutive tiny lady, who made her life with a stranger, really.
She loved and supported him in every endeavor. She took loving care of him until the very end.
She cooked a wonderful meal for him every single day, even when his interest in food and eating became less, there was a wonderful meal at lunch time, table set with a table cloth, basket of bread, glass of wine, a meal prepared with love.
She sang to him every morning at breakfast, she made sure all his cloths matched, she loved him to the very end.

As we made arrangements for his funeral, she stood strong, with tears in her eyes as she picked out his suit, chose a beautiful prayer for the Holy card. Ordered lush deep red velvet roses for the flowers surrounding him in church.
Every last detail taken care of with love and strength.
My father was lucky and he knew that.

My Mom told me that on Thanksgiving Day night, after they left my house, as he was going up to bed for the last time, he turned to her and said "Ma, you take too good care of me"
He called her Ma, her called her Mother Goose, he spoke to her with love and respect all his life.
They had a wonderful, caring, special relationship.

As I looked down on my tiny mom, she is only 4 foot 8, I saw a strong women, a women I love and respect, a women I learned so much from.

I talked to her last night as we went over the events of the day.
"Mom, you should be proud, you took such good care of Pop, up until the very end."

As the service came to an end and we said our last goodbyes, my mom put her hand on my Dad and told him she loved him and that he left her too soon, with tears in our eyes we said our last goodbyes.

This is a tribute to my Mother, a strong, smart, fun women, a perfect partner to my Dad.

I love you Mom and I know Pop did too.