joannebest











{November 6, 2015}   Letting Go, Slowly

dadmomDad and Mom pre-marriage
bestparentsMom and Dad in Branch Brook Park, Newark NJ

I have two choices.
I can either continue to wallow in grief and despair or I can move on and try something else like, say, living my life before I myself drop dead.
I’m starting to lean towards the second, more alive version of me.
Don’t get me wrong, my heart is killing me, I could easily curl up into a ball and cry for a few years, but I’m starting to make even my own self sick with the Poor Me Parade banging ’round my head.

I cast thee out! Be gone unclean spirit! Away with you Evil Monster of Unending Grief! Enough!

Okay, so I’m not making light of death and grief, and with all these major life changes happening one after another in the course of three or so years, well, the burden is decidedly weighty.
But.
I have to let it go.
Not the love, not the memories, but the sadness.
It’s not healthy and I can imagine my Mom’s face, giving me the patented Carey-Look-Of-Disapproval, a Medusa-like look capable of stopping you in your tracks and possibly turning you to stone.
“Joanne Bridget,” I can imagine her saying, “don’t you dare stop living just because I’m not right there with you. I’m in your heart, now stop grieving and start doing. And don’t even think for a minute I’m not watching over you, get your ass moving, keep writing, and for the love of God, get yourself back down to Cape May and enjoy yourself. Live. For me. For you. You’ll see me again one day and FYI, they have wooden spoons up here in Heaven, don’t make me have to use it on you missy. Now go and live your dreams and for God’s sake, stop feeling guilty, you are my daughter, act like it before I send your Father down there to ground you!”

I’ve been grounded enough times to know I better start living and stop, well, not.

My brothers and I have mended fences and are once again we three instead of strangers.
The last few days were spent talking together, the way we used to once upon a time.
We shared memories and some family secrets were revealed, things that made our past a little more understandable. Looking back on things from an adult perspective instead of the eyes of a broken child. None of us were ever really broken, we were just kids raised by Parents who did the best they could and I can honestly say they did a damn good job.
I wouldn’t trade either of my Parents for anyone in the world. They made me who I am, they made me me and it’s long past time I live up to myself.

I will never completely stop grieving, I will never not miss them like crazy, but it’s time to move on and live again. For Mom, for Dad, and for the three of us, two brothers and a sister, a small, but loving Family.
We will never forget you Mom and Dad, but we will love you forever and honor your memory by remaining your children, forever.

bestfamily1Mom, Dad, and baby brother Tommy

bestfamily2Brother Donald, me, Mom with brother Tommy in her belly

bestfanilyMom, Tommy, me, Dad, Donald took the picture
3ofusDonald, Tommy, me in the Poconos

bestfamilyThe three of us, once upon a time

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kindness of strangers

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers”

A few mornings ago, I woke up sobbing. And I’m not ashamed to admit my weakness.
I am beyond overwhelmed and I am guilty of intentionally adding more to my burden-filled plate. I am also guilty of misdirected anger and extreme disappointment while trying to mask my feelings.

I miss my Mom and I miss my Dad and this whole dissolving of the estate also know as ripping my heart out and tearing it into three equal portions, is slowly killing me.
Or a reasonable facsimile thereof…
It freezes my usually warm heart knowing that we are already showing the house to realtors when my Dad died a month today, and it hurts me to the core seeing our childhood reduced to nothing more than a dollar amount.
From the age of 5, when we moved from Newark NJ to Sayreville NJ, up until this very day, that home has been the ‘no place like home’ security blanket that always made me feel safe, no matter where I was.
Now it’s all about numbers and “get rid of this” and “curb appeal” and “throw away all this stuff” aka get a dumpster and discard every bit of memory and character left in your heart, um, I mean house.

Let me be clear, I am the least money-hungry person you may or may not ever meet in your life.

To me, money is a necessary evil we need to survive.
I am simple to please, a roof over my head, a cup of tea, a couple of cats, a million books and a place to write are enough to keep me happy and thriving. Okay, maybe an occasional Carmello bar thrown in there once in awhile doesn’t hurt.

But.

I’m grieving.

And I can count the number of family members who care that my Father died on one hand.
If you have no respect for the death of my Father, that’s your business and also your right. But don’t you think you should have a little bit of respect for me, a grieving Daughter who loved BOTH of her Parents unconditionally?

And did it ever cross your mind that perhaps taking joy from the fact that my Father died and being vocal about it might just hurt me a little bit? Did any of the guilty parties ever think that perhaps, upon hearing the news of my Father’s death, telling his adult children you would get up and do a jig if you were physically capable of doing so is beyond disrespectful? Never mind how much it hurt to hear something like that from someone you have loved and looked up to since the day you were born.
I’m not naming names and I’m not pointing fingers, it’s more like a wave in your general direction. I do this out of respect for family ties, which have been reduced from a capital F ‘Family’ to just plain small letter ‘family’ even though whoever it is I’m referring to will most likely never see these words.

Since this is more of an update/babble, there is no order to my thoughts, no beginning, middle, or end.
There is no message, no point, no lessons to be taught or learned, more of just a purge of stuff that has been weaving through my brain, not all of it of course, because when it comes down to it, I’m more of a ‘don’t say anything if you can’t say anything nice’ kinda girl, and at this moment in time, I can’t think of anything nice to say upon hearing all the negativity toward my Father.

I guess some people think they are perfect and have decided slamming a man who, along with my Mother, practically raised them during their childhood, for reasons.

I have a lot of anger issues.
Not one sympathy card or phone call from anyone on my Mom’s side of the family*, while my Dad’s side, consisting of 3 cousins, have been more supportive than everyone else put together.

My Mother would be so disappointed in the branch of her family tree.

Things have settled down between my two brothers and I, after a long face to face talk, we’ve come to terms for the most part, so at least I feel a bit better knowing that we three are on the same page.

So while I am still an emotional wreck, at least I am an emotional wreck with two brothers who love me as I love them.

I have discovered that it’s really true, blood doesn’t make family, but loving and caring friends can become more of a Family than blood relatives.

And while it is very comforting to know that I do have a support system, it saddens me to know how the people you expected to be there for you are nowhere to be found.

I will end this now, because I’m verging on whining, but one last thing: I have met some of the best friends I could ever hope for as a result of writing, it doesn’t matter that I have never met a lot of them in person, they have still showed me more love and concern than I’ve received from blood ties.
So dear friends, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, you, and you, and you too, my writerly-friends, have made a tragic time in my life a little bit easier, just by being there for me when I needed someone more than ever.
I thank you and I love you with a love usually reserved for family, because you are now my Family.
This fact alone has made it easier to sleep at night.

*a few of my cousins commented on my Facebook status when I posted that my Dad had passed.

family4



{March 21, 2015}   Enough Is Enough ~ A Semi-Rant

writer1

I’ve run out of excuses.
Yeah, I know, legitimate or not, excuses are just that, excuses. And they’re getting me nowhere fast.
I mean really, I’m resorting to clichés on top of it all. What’s up with that?

I am like the moon.

Not only do I go through phases but I’m also rather loony on occasion. See previous moon comparison, I’m a damn Cancer with an emotional rollercoaster attached to my feet and the very few who know me well enough know I hate the whole moon comparison. It’s a joke actually, only not so much with the funny these days.
I’m scatterbrained beyond belief lately and my brain has more holes in it than Alpine Lace Swiss Cheese. You know, the really tiny holes that lets the mustard seep out onto the bread making it soggy.

My brain is soggy.

My phone rings on an average day anywhere between 10 to 26 times, every single call from my Dad.
No rhyme nor reason, no certain time of the day or night, whenever the urge hits him, he calls me. Don’t get me wrong, I get it, he’s lonely since my Mom died and he’s a stubborn, rigid, sticks-to-his-ways 88 year old Navy Vet. He never knew his Father and doesn’t remember his Mother, she died when he was around 2 years old or so. He won’t really talk about his family or much of his childhood, although he frequently mentions that he was a twin but his twin brother died at birth. When he talks about it to me in the way he does, trying to make a joke out of everything, he tells me it’s his fault because he weighed more than his twin so he must have killed him.

I can’t imagine walking around with that thought in your head every day of your life.

He talks about how he was roller skating when Pearl Harbor was bombed and enlisted in the Navy the day he turned 17. He tells the same stories so many times I can repeat them myself. I don’t need more than one hand to count the amount of relatives who like him, but he’s my Father and that alone is reason enough to fall into his trap and pick up the phone every damn time.

My life would be so much easier if I could ignore him but I wasn’t raised that way. Plus I’m a Cancer and a middle child.

I have a memory of being taught to always hug and kiss my Parents when I left the house, and I never end/ended a phone conversation with either Mom or Dad without saying ‘I love you’. Although there was also a little bit of guilt manipulation when I neared my teenage years because what if something happened and we never saw each other again?
And they wondered why I cried until my Aunt Berta would call them to assure me they didn’t get in a car accident on the drive home when I’d sleep over my then-only girl cousin Chrissy’s house.

Huh, we’re all pretty much fucked up people, aren’t we?
Nah, we’re all just human I guess.

writing13

I don’t really have a point to this aimless babble, I think I’m tip-toeing my way back to writing consistently again. Publicly. Because I need something to shake me out of this endless winter – I mean really, a snowstorm on the first day of Spring?
Point: I should be writing. And not just about how I should be writing but really writing.
I have no one to blame but myself at this point, I need to establish a schedule and attempt to get my Dad to understand I can’t write when the phone keeps ringing .

writing12

C’mon me! Get your obsessive ass in gear and start re-obsessive writing!

Enough is enough.
NO MORE EXCUSES!

writingexcuse

This rant has been brought to you by Guilt-B-Gone.

guilty3



{August 2, 2014}   If I Wake Up Dead Tomorrow

dead2
if i wake up dead tomorrow
it might take awhile for anyone to notice,
my cats, well they would want me to feed then
although they do love me, this i know,
but sometimes i think, no, i know, they love me best,
selflessly,
even when they want their crunchies,
it gets hard sometimes, living up to my promise,
the one where censuring myself would never cross my mind,
but it’s begun,
little snarks here, direct accusations there,
it makes me wonder sometimes, who is more self-centered,
the reader or the writer?
we weave reality through fiction
and fiction through reality,
words flow, meaningful and meaningless,
as long as they flow it’s a gift
and oh we are blessed if we are gifted,
and we are all gifted, in our own ways,
but my gift it seems, doesn’t weigh too much, so,
usually,
i paint on my smile and lie through my teeth,
it’s not you it’s me and all that,
because it is me, mostly,
i was born on a Wednesday and nothing will keep the woe away,
you can preach to me till you’re blue in the face,
that is, when you find the time and i enter your mind, when you pencil me in,
yes, yes i get it, i get it all,
maybe that’s the problem,
i mean mine, not yours of course,
so if i wake up dead tomorrow
leave me be,
throw me in the ocean and weigh me down with bricks,
dress me in my favorites but please,
if you could, slip me a pen,
regardless of my surroundings, i always find something to write on,
if i wake up dead tomorrow i will carry on, wherever i wind up,
for i always do,
as you will, as you always do,
until then, i may whine, i may cry like the cancer-moon-girl i am, the lunatic howling at the moon
only my howls sound more like sobs,
but in the end i carry me with me,
i am now my hope,
the blood that courses through my veins belongs to me,
they’ve made that clear,
through actions and non-words my blood belongs to me alone,
and it will pump through this body
until that day,
when that tomorrow comes,
and i wake up dead
dead



{October 20, 2013}   Daily Prompt~ Home Sweet Home

home
It’s just brick and stone
concrete and steel
or something like that
a coat of paint and some shingle
whatever it was that held it together
held it together for the longest time
a lifetime at least
soaked into the walls
warm hands to heal you
a comfort to take you back to safety
memories seep into the ground down deep and low,
to wait like I wait
the house will fall,
it’s out of my hands now
the earth shook and the water rushed on through killing my youth
stepping on bumblebees in thick summer grass
holding buttercups under my chin
these thoughts still hold my fascination
the taste of frigid winter snow on my tongue
fingers frozen under icy mittens
the imprint of angels protective surrounded me
it’s fallen to me now to keep it going,
to rescue and rebuild
a rebirth of it all
an unexplainable irony flavors things
as it isn’t quiet clear
who’s saving who
home1
AUTHORS NOTE: after hurricane Irene took away my home sweet home my family was never the same, nothing was ever the same and never will be. I suck at linking videos but if you click on the link, you’ll see a video about the rebuilding of our home…I never saw this video until today and the interview with my Mom made me cry because I miss her so much… she did get her dream kitchen, but she died 5 months after moving back home. I love you always Mom, you, more than anything or anyone, were always my home.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO SEE MY FOLKS BEING INTERVIEWED ON WABC NEWS (i’m there too)
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=8824376&pid=882465
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/daily-prompt-home/



{June 5, 2013}   Long Way From Home

communion
Is it always this way?
Families.
Crumbling falling breaking down breaking apart going going gone.
It’s true, in most cases, the Mother is the heart of the Family.
Our heart is dead and every limb on our little Family tree is broken beyond repair now.
Infighting isn’t the correct word, it doesn’t explain the destruction and rapid decline of a Family now consisting of one Father, two Sons and one daughter.
We are all broken and at a time we should be pulling together we are instead pulling apart despite my best efforts to keep a broken Family as whole as we can be when the most important part of the puzzle is forever gone.
At a time when we should be close, my 86 year old Father has decided he needs no sons, no daughter, no Family and in fact is basically disowning us.
I say us but I’m the middle-child-only-daughter, and the truth is I can usually manage to get through to my Father. A little bit. Usually. Sometimes.
He hasn’t disowned me, yet, but the fact that he feels there is no problem with disowning his sons is killing me.
We are blood, we are bound together in this lifetime through our bloodline and no matter how nasty he can get I can’t help it, I still love my Father and, deservedly or not, I still respect the fact that he is My Father.
Maybe it’s the memories; me in my Communion Dress driving home from Nana’s house falling asleep on my Father’s lap as he sang “Daddy’s Little Girl” to me.
Walking down Third Street at the age of 4 on a full moon Halloween night, my hand clasped firmly in his as I safely strutted my gypsy-wear, trick-or-treating my way up and down the street. Tugging on his hand to hurry because, candy, and him pretending he couldn’t keep up with me while enjoying every moment.
Me being so sick his employer sent a holy-shit-your-kid’s-pretty-fucking-sick fruit basket to the house and all I cared about was the Mary Poppins doll Daddy bought me.
Walking down to the corner bar where my Dad worked a second job as a bartender on weekends, the only 8 year old sitting at the bar, swinging my feet drinking root beer and eating Slim Jims as my Dad got all the old records the jukebox man took out and handed them over to me.
Maybe I’m just a sentimental old fool, melancholy flowing through my veins as I watch my entire past implode.
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment as I continue to love my Father even when his face takes on that detached look as he tells me he doesn’t need any of us.
But maybe it’s also because I’m unfortunately an expert when it comes to Alzheimer’s and I’ve been watching his descent for years now, doing everything the law would allow to get control of it before it got control of him but there’s that whole doctor/patient thing so I only got so far, but nowhere near far enough. Now it’s advancing more rapidly.
My brothers (deal with it bro, this is my blog and nobody told you to read it) refuse to recognize the fact that my Father is grieving for my Mother, his wife of what would have been 65 years come August.
I love my brothers but we are different, they both married and had 3 children each, white picket fences and minivans, I married, but wrote songs and played shows, recorded cd’s and ooops I forgot to have kids. And I pass no judgment on them, I love and accept them as they are and only want the same in return.
But.
One of the side effect of me not having kids was the amount of time I spent with both my Parents together, me staying there night after night as they aged and broke bones and had eye surgeries and different cancer surgeries and treatments. Me going away with my Mom twice a year and talking, always talking as I thirsted for her stories. Me being there, being the one who watches and thinks and sees. And me who didn’t move right out at 18 never to return except for holiday visits for the most part.
There’s a reason they say a daughter’s a daughter for all of her life and a son is a son till he takes a wife.
In other words brothers mine, I think I know them a little better than you. It doesn’t matter how much of a mean son of a bitch he is, he’s our mean son of a bitch who gave us life, drove 80 miles a day round trip to work so he could pay for that house in the suburbs, those two weeks at the beach every fucking summer and the Pennsylvania trips we always took.
He bought all those presents under the tree and fed us and guess what?
We are not entitled to anything just because we were born.
And don’t even with the semantics, I know Mommy worked too but not until we were all in double digits, this isn’t about her, except for the fact that our Father, my Father, just lost his wife of 65 years, the woman he loved and lived his life with.
They were us once upon a time. Then they grew old.
But they were us, why can’t you see that we will be them one day? I don’t have kids, but brothers mine, can you even imagine, in your wildest of dreams, how you would feel to know you are losing your mind but are too proud and scared to admit it,and to know your sons have no use for you and your wife died; to be a control freak with no control over anything anymore.
Can you even imagine how that must feel?



{May 3, 2013}   Alone Again, Naturally

buffymeIs it always like this?
Death, I mean.
I hate that I’m so preoccupied with death these days. Yes I know, it’s only been 2 weeks to the day that my Mom died but I didn’t expect to wake up this morning to a cry-fest.
How long will this go on?
Usually, if I have a crisis of any kind I call my Mom*.
I can’t do that anymore and maybe it’s starting to sink in, this isn’t temporary, she’s not away on vacation, she’s gone. Forever.
And while I may sound selfish saying this, she left me here alone with my 2 brothers and my 86 year old Dad and it’s not anywhere near ok.
They don’t know me, not really.
My older brother is 5 years older than I am, my younger brother is 5 years younger than I am so I’m literally a textbook middle-child.
Older bro left for college when he was 18 and never moved home again- he married, has 3 amazing boys who’ve grown to become amazing young men. They live in a part of NJ where my sister-in-law would run into Heather Locklear at the local food store and BonJovi and Bruce Springsteen’s kids go to the same school as my nephew so all in all, they’ve done very well financially speaking.
Younger bro left home at 18 to join the Navy then after he got out he married and also had 3 children. They tried to live a life similar to my older brother, on the outside it seemed as if he achieved that goal but like a rotten apple, there were plenty of worms chomping away underneath until he found himself thrown out of his own house and served with divorce papers, including bogus made-up domestic violence charges. Long story short, he moved back home with my folks. Not a good situation at all.

So one night in August of 2011, New Jersey was hit by Hurricane Irene. I got a phone call at 1am from my brother telling me the house had collapsed. Nobody was hurt but the house was deemed uninhabitable and my Parents were now homeless. I wasn’t able to do anything until the following day when Governor Christie lifted to ban on driving. I gathered them up and brought them to stay with my husband and I. And my sister-in-law. And our 2 dogs and 4 cats. Did I mention how small our house is? Did I mention that my younger brother was part of the package and he’s 6’2″ on a short day?
So a lot happened, a lot had to be done but I was determined to get the house fixed so my Mom could go home. It was the only home they’d ever owned after a lifetime of living in Newark NJ and my Mom and I were equally attached emotionally to that house. To keep this from rivaling War and Peace as far as word count is concerned, they finally moved back home somewhere around 6 months ago, which somehow wound up being the same day Hurricane Sandy hit NJ.
Sandy left us alone except for power loss although my own house was without power for 18 days and we had 2 different families crashing with us because they had a lot of damage to their homes.

I’m babbling.
I lost my point.

I miss my Mom.

*There is someone else I can talk to, someone who fills that ‘Best Friend Who Isn’t My Mom’ sized hole in my heart but as my Irish luck would have it, vacations planned well ahead of time certainly can’t nor should be changed just because I’m a big fat crybaby. Besides, I’ve been a loner most of my life so I’ve got this being alone thing down pat.

I’m so very tired of being lonely.
I’m so very tired of crying.
I’m so very tired.



et cetera