joannebest











 

 

bestfamilyI was barely 5 years old the day I met my baby brother for the first time. Excited beyond belief at the thought of no longer being the youngest, I was going to have a tiny little brother to fuss over. I was sure life was going to be wonderful and I was going to be the best big sister that ever existed.

I remember every detail of that day, the clothes I wore, the constant trips to the window impatiently waiting for Dad’s Rambler to pull into the driveway bringing my Mom and new little brother home. After what seemed like forever, they finally got home and I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me. In a portent of things to come, I grabbed onto the porch railing, my soft little hand landing squarely on a very angry bee who decided it was more important to sting me rather than welcome the new arrival to the Best Family. In retrospect, I should have realized what life with Tommy would become.

Never boring.

It wasn’t long after his arrival that the two of us contacted a nasty case of chicken pox, our poor Mom spent half the time applying calamine lotion and the rest of the time trying to convince us to not scratch, not an easy feat when you’re dealing with a newborn baby and a 5 year old, but we made it through unscathed.

Living in Newark raising 3 young children didn’t last long as our Parents decided it was time to move to the suburbs, and before we knew it, we were living in Sayreville NJ, a 4 bedroom house giving each of us kids our very own bedroom. There was a 5 year age difference between the 3 of us, so in a way, Donald was almost a generation older than Tommy. Being in the middle, as well as being the only girl-child, it fell to me to keep an eye on Tommy.

Believe me, it sounds a lot easier than it was. Tommy had a lust for life and a fearless nature from the day he was born and he never lost that. Nothing scared him, nothing kept him from living life to the fullest on his own terms.

I have so many memories of growing up with Tommy I could easily fill a book long enough to rival War and Peace, but I would like to share just a few.

As most of you know, Tommy loved music and was a drummer in a few bands, most notably, Genocide. His obsession with drums began before he could even talk. We had an ongoing feud when we were kids that could be broken down into 2 sentences: Tommy complaining to our Mom about my neverending singing. “Ma! Make her stop singing!” he would say constantly, to which I would reply, “Ma! Make him stop playing drums!” It didn’t take long for us to realize this was a battle neither of us would ever win as he grew up to be a drummer in a band and I became a singer in another band . Tommy never needed a drum set back then and he didn’t need drumsticks, he would use anything he could get his hands on, including his fingers to bang away on any and every thing in his sight. One 4th of July he marched around the house using a garbage can lid and a red magic marker as a makeshift drum set. In true Tommy fashion, the marker exploded, covering Tommy from head to toe in what looked like blood but turned out to be magic marker.

When I was around 17 years old and heavily obsessed with the Punk scene, I got it in my mind that Tommy should have a drum set. I brokered a deal with one of my President Park Punk friends and lo and behold, at the age of 12, Tommy got his first drum set. Now although our musical tastes were similar, we had to keep it on the down-low. It wasn’t cool for a brother and sister to share too much at that age, but when he didn’t know I was in the house, I caught him switching his Iron Maiden and ACDC albums to my “borrowed” Ramones and Dead Boys albums. I never let on that I knew, but I was secretly pleased that we were becoming closer, at least when we were out of the public eye.

Fast forward a few years and before I knew it, somehow Tommy’s friends and my friends became one and the same for the most part. We drifted apart a bit after Tommy got married and had 3 children, but I was so proud of him whenever I saw him with his children. He lived and breathed for Tommy, Danny and Alexa. There was nothing more important to him than his children, he loved them with every ounce of his being and in fact the last words Tommy said to me was this : “If anything happens to me, please make sure my kids are taken care of.” I didn’t think much of this and in fact asked him why he was talking like that. I knew he was having problems with his heart but I also knew that there was nothing that could take him down. Not Tommy. He was, as our Dad used to say “Strong like bull”, he lived through war and made it back, there was no way any kind of illness would defeat him. He lived through a nasty divorce which I won’t describe out of respect for his children, but I will say that after his divorce, he had the most difficult years of his entire life.

He lost his home and Family in one fell swoop without warning and moved back home with our Parents. After a week of so he broke his leg yet it didn’t stop him. Very soon thereafter Hurricane Irene did a number on our Family home and by the Grace of God, Tommy, hearing a loud boom ran downstairs, broken leg and all, called 911 and got our Mom and Dad out of the house before the entire house collapsed. I shudder to think what would have happened to them if Tommy hadn’t been there that night.

As soon as the State of Emergency was lifted, Mom, Dad, and Tommy moved in with my husband Mike and me and my sister-in-law Pat. It was a full house, with 6 adults, 2 dogs, and 3 cats, but we made it work. After Mom and Dad found an apartment to live in until the house was repaired, Tommy continued to live with us for nearly a year. When Christmas rolled around, Tommy was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to give anyone any gifts. Every penny he had went to his children yet still he worried about us. As long as I live I will never ever forget that Christmas morning. Santa, in his infinite wisdom, delivered a stack of gifts from Tommy to all of us. Now I’m the first one to admit we tend to go overboard when it comes to Christmas morning, we always feel a childlike joy when it comes to giving to others and that year was no different. We spent hours unwrapping gifts, and as the morning progressed I noticed Tommy would get up periodically and leave the room. It wasn’t until a few days later when the two of us were alone in the house that Tommy told me that this particular Christmas was the best Christmas he celebrated in his entire life. Never in his life, he said, had he received so many gifts as he did that year. He also filled me in on a little secret I wasn’t aware of, Christmas day, my husband Mike took Tommy aside privately and gave him a Christmas card containing quite a few hundred dollar bills. Tommy tried to give it back but we have a rule, no such thing as take-backs when it comes to gifts. That was the first time in my life I ever saw my 6’3″ baby brother cry tears of happiness, love, and acceptance.

I’ve written a lot of words here in an attempt to give you a little insight into the Tommy you may not have known. He was a gentle giant, a big guy with a heart of gold, he would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He was a quiet hero, helping anyone, whether he knew them or not. One day, Tommy and his Family were driving back from a day trip and saw a terrible accident on the Garden State Parkway, a van full of people had crashed, rolling over trapping everyone inside. Without a thought for his own safety, Tommy literally crawled through broken glass and got every single person out of that van, covering them up with his own jacket and sweaters and anything else he could find. He even crawled back in one more time when one of the passengers realized his medication was in the front seat of the van. By the time the EMT’s and Police arrived on the scene, everyone was safely out of the vehicle, Tommy told the Police what happened and like a true Angel, Tommy disappeared, never getting credit nor wanting credit. Because that is who Tommy was. And that is who Tommy always will be, an unsung hero who will live on through his children, and a never to be forgotten baby brother, living on in my heart for the rest of my days.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Advertisements


bowie rip 1.11.16
“Oh no love, you’re not alone”
I’m finding it hard to string a sentence together right now, unexpectedly choked up about someone I never met and I know I’m not alone.
Rock stars come and go, they influence us, they encourage us, they lift us up when we’re down and make us cry when we need an excuse to reveal our emotions. They can define us, give us something to cling to when we are lost and broken, give us something to hold on to when we are frozen and can’t take one more step forward.
David Bowie captured everything we freaks suffered every day and welcomed us, encouraged us, gave us a place to drift to when we were overwhelmed and alone.
He wrapped his words around us and let us know we weren’t alone, influenced generations, kicked opened closet doors and told us, “it ain’t easy” but it’s worth it, we can let our freak-flag fly high and proud, and it was alright, we could all be rock and roll stars.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey wasn’t always easy if you didn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of a blue-collar town but David Bowie gave us a glimpse into what life could be like if we just stayed true to ourselves and didn’t worry about the whisperings behind closed living-room curtains when we walked down the street.
He showed us we were all limitless, we really could touch the stars if we just reached out and shrugged off the mud slung our way. He gave us courage, strength when we needed it most, there at the tip of our fingers and the drop of a needle on vinyl.
Inspiration to become ourselves.
Nearly every band I’ve loved has, at one time or another, done their own version of a David Bowie song, including my own band. Standing onstage singing a Bowie song was a rite of passage in my circle of friends, a sign to everyone that yes, I’m a freak too, just like you, and isn’t it grand?
No-one but his closest friends and family knew he had cancer, so the world woke up to a gut-punch this morning. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was awakened by a text or phone call from a dear friend telling me the terrible news that Ziggy Stardust was no longer with us here on earth.
Rest in peace Mr. Bowie, you are now a true star, a starman waiting in the sky, making the Heavens glow brighter, a celebration of music left behind in your wake.
And all the children will continue to boogie, for you taught us all, we are not alone.
Watch me now….



{December 24, 2015}   Harder Than They Told Me

christmaswou4
well it’s Christmas Eve
but I don’t feel Christmas in my heart
oh it’s Christmas Eve and I don’t feel a thing
yeah it’s Christmas Eve
and memories keep running through my mind
yeah it’s Christmas Eve and you aren’t coming back

they told me it gets easier as the years crawl by
they said there’d come a time
when I would smile
they told me I would feel your warmth
your love surrounding me
but all I feel are teardrops in my eyes

nothing is the same since you’ve been gone
no matter how I try to get along
nothing much makes sense to me
I’m not the girl I used to be
another Christmas Eve again without you here
christmaswou3

christmaswou

for all those alone at Christmas, even if you’re surrounded by people, and for those alone wishing desperately that they weren’t… for all of us who suffered loss of any kind…. sometimes, it’s more raw than you expected and…. well, as alone as we feel, remember, we aren’t alone, even when it seems like it, but sometimes we need to wallow… shutting up now to watch Christmas movies set unrealistic expectations so we can all feel worse about our lives 😛

Merry Christmas my lovelies, you keep me writing, and while I’ve been MIA lately, I’m dipping my toes in and New Year Resolutions and all {happy dance} so try and enjoy, and I will too, a New Year and new beginnings my friends, yes?
oh, one more thing, this is being written as song lyrics and I just spit these words out a little while ago and didn’t want to forget, keep you updated on the outcome of these words 🙂

All the love from me to you ❤



{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



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



{October 16, 2015}   Waning

waning moon

like the moon
like the tide
i come and go,
sometimes,
i disappear for eons,
sometimes,
i pop back up again
as if i was never gone,
even when i seem changed
still i remain me,
facets filtered through prisms,
masks of me
shuffled like a deck of cards,
it’s a crapshoot,
never knowing which me is in control,
i wonder where i have been and
i wonder what did i find, if anything,
though i knew all along
there is nothing for me,
not here, not there,
not along the trash filled streets of my own personal apocalypse,
when the tide pulls away,
i wonder,
will it take me with it,
or leave me to drown in the new normal of my orphan existence,
for now
i am alone

waning moon1



{October 11, 2015}   Is This Hell?

hell2

I ate my anger last night,
as if the instigators of my fury would disappear
swallow by swallow, bite by bite,
me furiously chewing without pleasure,
like an alcoholic slamming down drink after drink
until they don’t consider themselves drunk,
but they consider you the cause of every wrong thing in the world,

Carmelo bars, caramel wrapped lovingly in chocolate followed by another bar,
piece after piece popped in a mouthful of sand where everything tastes like the desert,
eating without thought, without taste or pleasure, mindless zombie chomping on chocolate flesh,
Kisses, the chocolate ones, I grab that tag and yank, exposed chocolate in the palm of my handy waiting to melt in my mouth, not in my hands, call my name seductive,
no melt danger there when you eat so fast you don’t taste a thing,
stress eating they call it, but I just call it stupid, a lack of control on my part,
because I hurt no one but me and my favorite skinny jeans

I smoked too many cigarettes again,
after promising myself and my doctor I would quit,
I did quit once, for maybe a year but then my life fell apart so I grabbed onto the nearest mentholated excuse
and drew that acrid smoke into my lungs like it was clean healthy air,
knowing in my mind that just because I roll my own cigarettes doesn’t make it less hazardous to my health
the cost may be less for a carton of machine-rolled than a carton of store bought cigarettes
yet the cost to my health is beyond my means,
all the psychological games I play in my mind to stop me from smoking disappear along with the menthol smoke
and I feel disgust as I look at the wreckage I’ve left in my wake,
empty candy wrappers and an overflowing ashtray adds to my self-loathing
and I wonder when I lost control of my self

infighting and passive aggressive words thrown at me,
and how do you defend yourself against imagined sins when your accuser throws back another shot
as the mental flogging goes on and on and on,
only to be forgotten in the light of day as my self esteem shrinks till my heart is shriveled and Grinch-like
and I flinch at the slightest side-look, waiting for another shoe to drop
knowing all the while I am shoeless, guilty of nothing other than
someone else’s paranoia,
imagined sins and baseless accusations, all courtesy of Mr. Daniels, but you can call him Jack,
he comes with a title you see, but I only know him as the Court Jester
because it’s all a joke you know, those words weren’t meant I’m told, where is my sense of humor and
why don’t I have a drink and calm down

why don’t I have a drink and calm down for
nothing matters you see,
the rollercoaster ride continues and I’m not buckled in,
I twist and turn and morph into a dumpster,
come one, come all, give me your tired, your weary, your problems
bigger than mine, for I am Jan Brady and the middle child gets all the garbage
while trying to keep the boat afloat,
all those years of taking care reduced to ashes
as the trophy boys hold their hands open, waiting for their due
and me?
I just want my Mother.
I want that unconditional love but it is gone for all time and
I must carry on, carry them, carry the guilt for nothing until I wonder,
is this Hell?

What have I done with my life and where did I leave myself?
Because I am gone, I look in a mirror and wonder who is in there, peering back at me,
eyes so sad I could cry from the mere sight of me,
stability ripped away like a rug yanked from beneath me
metaphorically battered and interior bruising,
my previous protectors an illusion shattered,
my desire to sleep forever whispers in my ear like a song stuck in your head
an effort to shake it away, and so much easier to continue wearing my mask…

Don’t let them in, don’t let them too close,
the knife you feel in your back is real, but ignore the blood as you slowly bleed out
play the game and you lose, don’t play along and still, you lose it all,
alone, lost, afraid, a path of darkness ahead and darker still in my rearview mirror
Is anything real? Did I imagine all the good that has left me standing alone,
fighting for nothing
fearing everything
I am swept into a corner and still I wonder,
is this Hell?

depression3



{October 3, 2015}   Now I Am An Orphan

bestfanilyMom, Dad, Tommy and me. I assume my older brother took this picture.

Now I am an orphan.
As anyone who has ever glanced at my blog knows, I’m one of those daughters who needs her Parents in her life. Mommy’s girl, Daddy’s girl, whatever the kids are calling it these days, that’s me.
Always and without fail, my Parents have been my rock.
When I lost my Mom 2 years, 5 months and 14 days ago, my world was upended and nothing was ever completely right again. She was my best friend, my keeper of secrets and knew me better than anyone in the world. To this day I find myself reaching for the phone to call her.
So I carried on the best I could because someone had to take care of my Dad, who else but the middle girl-child would take on the task?
In my brother Tom’s defense, he did what he could to help out, but lets face it, a man born in 1927 is more likely to expect a woman’s help than accept a man’s help. Male pride runs deep, especially when you’re an ex-Navy man. Showing weakness to your son is not acceptable to some people, and my Dad was certainly one of those people.
My older brother, well, he’ll get a post of his own once the estate is settled. I don’t know if he just finds me beneath him because I never went to college and instead pursued my dreams; singing songs I wrote in my own band and working towards becoming a real writer to name a few, but the point is I followed my heart and not my bank account. Lets put it this way: when I mentioned to my older brother as we sat around my Mom’s Thanksgiving table maybe 8 years ago, that I didn’t realize he was on Facebook and I’d send him a friend request he gave me a song and dance answer that translated into a big fat no you will not be my FB friend. I only use it for business, he told me. Oddly enough, I found this was a lie and all my relatives, including my younger brother, were all on his ‘friends’ list.
A virtual slap in the face. But more about that another time.

My Father was stubborn, grouchy, and refused to let me move in with him to make his life a little easier. Instead, I spent a lot of time in my car, driving 20 minutes each way at the drop of a hat. Doctor appointments? I took him to all of them and Dad was the kind of senior citizen who liked to make doctor appointments the way people make plans to go to lunch, they were social engagements to him more than necessary appointments but I understood and played the game.
My daily phone calls with my Mom now turned into many, many phone calls from Dad, a few times a day is one thing but he’d call to tell me there was a John Wayne movie on, or to let me know what the song of the day was. See, he’d walk every morning down at the waterfront and that was part of his shtick, every morning he’d sing a different song as he walked, like the Pied Piper, little kids would follow him asking “what’s the song of the day Charlie?” He’d talk to their parents and ask if it was okay to give them a piece of candy or a lollipop, and whenever it was vacation time, a group of teenagers would talk to him and tell him they were watching out for him.
He was loved by strangers, openly showing affection, but he had a hard time doing the same for his immediate family.

Here’s the thing; my Father was, for all intents and purposes, an orphan. He never knew his own Father and his Mother died before he was 5 years old. He was raised by his maiden Aunt, who we all referred to as our Grandmother.
My Dad used to roller skate all the time when he was a kid, and one night, when he and his posse came out of the rink, they heard the news, Pearl Harbor was bombed. Right then and there my Dad decided he was going to enlist in the Navy. He had some hoops to jump through because he was only 17 years old but he did it, he went to boot camp in Buffalo NY and that young boy became a man quickly as he boarded a ship and soon found himself a part of the Normandy Beach Invasion on D-Day. He’s told me a lot of stories from back then but one in particular sticks out in my mind. He was on LST 279, a torpedo missed his ship by 20 feet but that’s not the story I’m referring to; the ships were at the mercy of the tides, they were unable to move when the tide was low and sometimes little French children would walk out to the ships and wave to the sailors on the ship. One day, when they were serving lemon meringue pie, something my Dad hated, he took a pie and put it in his helmet to lower it down to the kids in the surf. On the way down, the helmet did a 360 and through the grace of God, or maybe just pure luck, as the helmet flipped the pie slipped out and somehow managed to land right-side up inside the helmet, undamaged. Dad told me those kids were so thrilled to have a pie to eat they were scooping it out of the pie tin with their fingers until they got every drop.

A week ago today, on September 26th, 2015, my Dad passed away in the same hospital my Mom did, although I talked to him every day and saw him a few times a week, he gave no indication of any problems, although I felt a chill when he told me he wanted to die but didn’t want to kill himself. He missed my Mom. He wanted to be with her. We had this conversation Tuesday night and Wednesday I went to pick him up for his doctor appointment. I walked in the house and found him on the floor, unable to move. I called 911 and spent the next few days at the hospital with my younger brother.
The first thing my Dad said when he was stable was “Her name is Alice Bridget Carey”, my Mom’s maiden name. I felt like he was letting his higher power know he was looking for his wife. The last thing he said to me was “I love you”.
And I know he did.

I made a conscious decision around 10 years ago that I would spend as much time as I could with my Parents. I knew how lucky I was to have both my Parents alive and I wanted no regrets when they were gone. I didn’t want to say ‘I should have spent more time with them’.
There are a lot of relatives who didn’t like my Father. After my Mom died, not one relative ever made any effort to contact my Father in any way. This made me so sad, because even if he was a grouchy old man, he was my Father, he was my Mother’s husband. He was Family but he was written off.
But not by me.

I love you Dad, and I always will. Rest In Peace, I will never forget you.

bestparents Mom and Dad in Branch Brook Park, Newark NJ



{September 11, 2015}   I Can Never Forget

9 11abb

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is having a hard time getting through another September 11th. I tried desperately to write today but found myself staring at a near blank page and clicking back and forth between writing and looking at Facebook.

Basically wasting time.

I can’t even muster up the ability to write about that day in 2001 from my perspective, but it nags at me, to post something. I can’t ignore the day without acknowledging it some way,  yet I can’t write anything today, the words are stuck in my heart because my head is filled with all the what-ifs, all the lives that were touched that day, and how there was a ripple effect that day. You didn’t have to live in New York or New Jersey or Pennsylvania or Washington DC or Boston, it doesn’t matter where you lived, the World changed that day and Innocence became a memory the instant that first plane hit the first Tower.

I dug out some of my blank books, the books I use to keep track of rehearsals and write lyrics. I also tend to doodle when there’s lead singer down time, and it just so happened we had rehearsal on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. I wanted to cancel but in the end we decided to go to the studio and try to not think for two hours. We had a gig coming up where we had to add a few cover songs to usual original set so I had a bit of doodle time while the musicians musicianed other people’s songs.

So I decided to take a few photographs of my doodles, and the lyrics to a song I wrote that night called “Lay Me Down”, just my feelings about that day jotted down quickly in a blank book as the horrifying terrible smell was everywhere and the smoke continued to take over the sky no matter where you turned.

This year was worse for me. Don’t know why, it just was.

So I shall share some pages from journals written and doodled on Tuesday, September 11th,2001 at Stage Right Studios while our Innocence disappeared slowly, nearly unnoticed, like that tragic scent and the never-ending smoke. I never claimed to be an artist, but I just needed to share this, and hope to sleep tonight nightmare-less, unlike last night when I had one of those same nightmares where I’m lost in New York City alone in the dark.

If you click on this photo you can see a scribbled NYC skyline, the one I saw every single day.

911a

If you click on this you can see my mental me unravel a bit, writing down words to songs my Mom sang to me when I would cry and she’d sing “Why oh why oh why oh, did I ever leave Ohio?” Neither one of us ever went to Ohio but it became our code song, kind of like clicking your ruby slippers three times or Calgon, take me away type stuff.

Just me then? [shrugs]

 

911b

These are the lyrics to Lay Me Down, the song I wrote that night, the song sitting in another studio waiting for me to finish some vocals and a few other touchups. If you click on the photo I was surprised to find the words legible. Um, just me then? Either way, I believe I may have posted them previously, if not, perhaps I will.  Right this moment, this is all I can do.

I’ll get back to my WIP tomorrow after Dad Duty. How do you make an almost 89 year old ex Navy Man who was actually there on D Day let you help him? He doesn’t want my help, he wants my Mom back and so do I but that isn’t possible. So I shall visit and clean and do laundry and go food shopping, shout louder than I sing so he can hear me, and bite my tongue near in half at the way he talks to me and the fight he gives me about cleaning. He can do it himself you know. That translates into what I call Covert Cleaning. I’m getting better at it. Oh, my point, I will have to remember to post my lyrics if I already haven’t. I think I may have but my head is telling me to watch Anthony Stewart Head in Dominion then sleep. Without lost in NYC dreams please.

911d

Well would you look at that! Over 700 words, much more than I thought I had in me.

I have to thank Kate Richards and Nina Cooper, their collective words to me on Facebook healed me enough to post this. Thank you both, you are truly amazing women I am extremely Blessed to know in any capacity, this virtual world we gather in really does make miles disappear. For that I am very grateful ❤



{May 15, 2015}   The First Time I Saw Jesus

grotto4
I was eight years old the first time I saw Jesus.
Near the ponds, where I would ice skate whenever they froze solid enough to hold my skinny frame, there was a grove of birch trees set back a bit from the thick cluster of pine surrounding everything , as far as my young eyes could see.
He didn’t speak, at least not out loud. I don’t remember what He said inside my mind because that’s where I heard Him, that’s what it was, a mindmeld. If anyone could mindmeld, surely He could.
I only remember peace. Silent calming peace amidst the wind gusts and stinging hail mixed with small tiny snowflakes blowing sideways. My cheeks were red from the cold, my toes frozen inside my rubber boots and the thermos of hot chocolate my Mom made for me did nothing to warm my mitten-clad hands.
He did though. He glowed, surrounded by bright fluffy white clouds and I felt like I was in a grotto, straight from the pages of one of my books from Catholic School.
The wind stilled, that I remember, but the rest of it remains a dreamlike memory of an eight year old girl seeing Jesus for the first time.
I never told anyone for surely they wouldn’t believe me.
~
I was nine years old the first time I heard Angels sing.
It was the day Bobby Kennedy died. Too young to really understand death except to know it was bad and sad. It was my Godmother’s birthday, how could the day turn into a day of sadness?
It was hot that day and my bedroom was upstairs, an attic converted into two bedrooms, back when air conditioning was for the wealthy, not the middle class.
I lay on my bed, a big box fan aimed at me, too hot to even turn the pages of the book I was reading when I heard the Angels sing.
The sound was glorious, Heavenly, sweeter than the Church Choir I sang with every Sunday. But somehow I knew nobody else could hear it except me. I also knew, believed with all my heart, that the Angels were rejoicing as they escorted Bobby Kennedy to Heaven.
I listened to that unearthly sound and told no-one. Surely they would think I was crazy.
~
I was sixteen years old the first time a vampire snuck into my room.
Some friends and I were vampire hunting. We’d found a business card, slightly crumbled and worn from too many dirty footsteps walking over it as it lay on the ground, partially covered and unnoticed. A corner stuck out, catching my eye and I crouched down to slip it from the dirt. Brushing it off against my already dirty jeans I struggled to read the worn out words imprinted on the card in red. My friends gathered around me as we struggled to see what was left on the card. “Vampire” and “Club” were all we could make out, along with a partial address. Mustering up our courage, we climbed back into the old worn out van we’d been cruising around town in and drove up and down the street listed on the card. The house number wasn’t readable but the neighborhood was beautifully frightening, full of old rundown Victorian houses. Most seemed abandoned and we saw no signs indicating Vampires so we called it a night.
As I hopped out of the van, the streetlight in front of my house popped, making the dark seem darker. We laughed nervously, joking that a vampire must have followed us home to warn us away. I slipped quietly into the house, the sound of my Parents snoring assuring me my missed curfew would go unnoticed, just like the business card we found.
Sleep came quick that night, followed by the vampire. It was summertime, steamy, my skin too clammy for even a sheet. The thought of sleeping naked tempted me but I could imagine, with my luck, the house burning down and me running outside bare-assed.
I fell asleep to the sound of thunder as a summer storm blew in. The white cotton curtains rippled in the breeze and a particularly bright lightening bolt illuminated my bedroom. That’s when I saw him standing at the window. The curtains billowed around him as his eyes pierced mine, beckoning me to come to him.
I found myself sitting on my wicker chair, the loose white cotton shirt I slept in had slipped down leaving my shoulders exposed, showing the silver cross I always wore. I felt no panic, no worry, just a sense of peace as he gently lifted the cross over my head, dropping it on the floor next to me while he stroked my hair, pushing it back before his mouth came down to my neck.
The following morning I awoke in my bed, drained, fatigued, the memory of a vampire in my room vivid, clear, and undeniably real. I checked my neck for any sign of vampire fangs but there was nothing. Although I did notice my cross was no longer around my neck but puddled on the floor next to the white wicker chair I’d been sitting on.

I told no one for surely they would tell me I was only dreaming. The fatigue I felt, the cross on the floor, they told me it was true but I kept quiet.
~
I was eighteen the first time I saw a flying saucer.
Four of us were driving home from a Patti Smith concert in Manhattan, it was New Years Eve but we were all stone cold sober. The roads were empty as it neared the midnight hour and as we drove over the Edison Bridge we saw it. Rising from the Raritan Bay, a round object, approximately the size of a station wagon flew slowly out of the water, red and white lights caused the water dripping from the object to look like falling flames.
We were young and fearless, opening the windows and shouting “take us with you!” as we laughed but we knew what we saw. It was real and seemed to follow us. We drove through Sayreville and parked the car near Major’s Pond, the object still hovering over us.
I don’t remember anything else, just the four of us standing outside the car watching an Unidentified Flying Object rising higher and higher until it disappeared. None of us remember exiting the car, none of us remember how long we stood there, and none of us, to this day, talk about it.
Surely no one would believe us, we were just kids, crazy punk rockers. They would think we must have been drinking or doing drugs, neither of which was true. Yet we knew we wouldn’t be believed and to my knowledge, I’m the only one willing to discuss it.
~
I was in my forties the second time I saw another UFO, this time though, it wasn’t just me and a handful of friends who saw it, but the whole town, including a priest, some policeman, as well as hundreds of cars filled with people who pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike to watch the majestic sight slowly moving in formation, low to the ground.
It was silent as it flew overhead, no crickets chirping, no buzzing of the usually ever-present mosquitos, none of the usual summer night sounds and all plane traffic was non-existent, an unusual occurrence in itself as I live a few miles away from Newark International Airport.
We stood outside on the pool deck, watching the slow glide until it reached a certain point, where it slowly disappeared, what looked like a falling trail of glitter fading as it left our field of vision.
Although we did tell other people about it, and watched and read news stories about it, there were still some doubters who surely thought we were crazy.
~
It was just a few years later the first time I saw a ghost.
In Cape May, known as one of the most haunted towns in New Jersey, my Mother and I were on one of our many Mother/Daughter getaways when it happened.
My memory is unclear and hazy, but my Mother woke up when she heard me talking to someone. “Don’t you see them?” I asked her. I pointed at them, two little children, a boy and a girl, both of them beckoning to me, encouraging me to follow them. Mom had heard me open the door and got up, pulling me back into the room when she found me leaning over the third story railing trying to reach them, to touch them, to follow them. She put me back to bed, as she did when I was a child and we talked about it in the morning over pancakes at Uncle Bills Pancake House. She saw nothing, but she believed me, she believed I saw two ghosts even though she didn’t see them herself.
But I told nobody else, surely they would insist I was in a dream-state, or I was sleepwalking, or it was just my overactive imagination.
~
The last time I saw my Mother she was in the ICU and it was her eighty-forth Birthday. We celebrated in her room with an imaginary candle in her lemon-ice. She told me about the dream she’d had, where she walked into a room and saw my Grandmother and two of her sisters, all deceased. One of her sisters asked her “what are you doing here? you don’t belong here yet”. My heart sank when she described her dream and we laughed it off, “yeah, that sounds like Aunt Jeananne” I said, “she’s just telling you it’s not your time yet.”
The hospital released her the next day, sending her to a rehabilitation center for her broken shoulder.
The following morning I was woken up from a deep sleep when the phone rang. It was a few minutes after five in the morning and they called to tell me my Mother was gone. I argued they were wrong, mistaken, my Mother wouldn’t leave me without saying goodbye.
Unfortunately, I was wrong and she did leave me without saying goodbye.
~
I like to think that day was the first time my Mother saw Jesus.
I like to think she watches over me, sees how much I miss her, how difficult it is for me to move on without her in my life.
I like to think the next time I see Jesus, He will be standing with my Mother, welcoming me home because home is where the heart is and my heart is always with my Mother.
And I don’t care what anyone thinks, because surely I will see her again, and all of this, this life I walk through each day yearning for invisibles will fade away as I move on to something bigger, something better, something understandable that will allow me to forget the forgettable, and instead, finally, I will be able to breathe easy once again.
meeting in heaven2



et cetera