Awareness, Believe, Faith, God, Grace, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Love, Mindful, Moments, Peace, Relationships, Self Care, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Holding Patterns

“I am choosing to show up and nurture every part of me that needs love, healing and support.” ~ Alex Elle

I have always been a firm believer in the poem Reason, Season or A Lifetime and it was the Daily Encourager email about Holding Patterns, which ironically, I received on my birthday, that only reaffirmed my belief that things, circumstances or people often come into our lives for a reason, maybe for a season and sometimes for a lifetime. I now begin each day by reading the passage and saying the prayer at the end. I share it with you and may we all journey wisely and never lose our faith when we encounter a holding pattern season.

Namasté.

Holding Patterns

Many times, God will allow a painful situation or a painful circumstance in our life to “swallow us up.” This season in our spiritual growth is a “holding pattern”. We can’t move to the left or the right. All we can do is sit, like Jonah sat in the belly of that great fish, so God can have our undivided attention and speak to us.

God put Jonah in a “holding pattern” because He needed to speak to his heart. Jonah was all alone. There were no friends to call, no colleagues to drop by, no books to read, no food to eat, no interferences, and no interruptions. He had plenty of time to sit, think, meditate, and pray.

When we’re deep down in the midst of a difficult situation, God can talk to us. When He has our undivided attention, He can show us things about ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen.

A few of God’s holding patterns:

• When you are sick in your physical body and you have prayed but you are not yet healed, you are in a holding pattern.

• When you are having problems with your children and you have put them on the altar, but God has not delivered them yet, you are in a holding pattern.

• When you have been praying for a loved one to return to God, and they have not come back yet, you are in a holding pattern.

• When you are in a broken relationship and you have given it over to God, but it has not been restored yet, you are in a holding pattern.

• When the doors slam shut before you can even knock on them, you are in a holding pattern.

When we are deep in the belly of a difficult situation, there are no interruptions. God has our undivided attention. All we can do is sit, think, meditate, and pray. Like Jonah, we cannot run from God, because there are no mountains that are high enough, valleys that are low enough, rivers that are wide enough, rooms that are dark enough, or places that are hidden from Him.

We must remember to praise Him while we’re waiting, remember three things:

• The pattern has a purpose.

• The pattern has a plan.

• The pattern has a process.

So stop struggling and start listening, praying and trusting. He’ll keep you right where you are until you can clearly hear Him say, “I love you.”

Suggested Prayer: Father, forgive my unbelief. I know you love me and I will come to see the benefit of everything in my life, even this holding pattern, and the manifestation of my Good is assured through You. You have planned nothing for me but victories and I am ready to receive them regardless of how difficult the path.

“When you follow your heart, you follow God, and you’ll find your own path to your own deepest peace and happiness.” – R Hauser

Believe, Faith, Hope, Life, Love, Relationships, Thoughts, Truth

The Gifts From The Love I Lost

Who knew nearly a decade later the love you lost could possibly be your last sweet love and yet today, it’s still one that is so difficult to talk about without getting emotional, without your voice cracking and without stumbling over your words. Who knew the person, who some questioned as you possibly selling yourself short, would turn into that love you find yourself, regrettably, thinking you should of worked harder at mending and one you should have never walked away from. It’s in those quiet moments that the memories of that kind of love show up unannounced and there are times those memories come back with a haunting vengeance. There is no clear history button and there’s no shutting the emotion out. You start to pointlessly replay events in your head, ceaselessly analyzing, obsessively scrutinizing your actions and wallowing in some regret.

While I truly understand, I only have the power to change the present moment, I often think incessantly about the past and start wondering if I only had the awareness of being in the present moment back then, would it have turned out differently? It took me years to learn and I’m still learning the importance of being present to receive love, and to feel appreciation and gratitude. In those moments of reflection, I now realize so many opportunities were lost because I wasn’t living in the moment. I have learned that being present is about getting real and continually digging out the buried wounds that are hidden under layers of a very protective shell. With every life encounter, I am learning how to become still long enough to take a pause, to breathe and to ask myself an important question, “What is this life experience here to show me or to teach me?”

While I still have a lot to learn and a fair amount of life left to experience, today, this is what I know for sure…maybe it’s after a good cry and when you stop feeling sad that you’re able to see clearly as to what that relationship revealed to you and what it taught you. You’re able to see the relationship for want is was and as you walk away, you choose to remember the gifts the love you lost gave you. It’s the gifts of their good qualities, their good character and their vulnerable side that no one else knows or has had the privilege to witness or experience. It’s the gift of knowing you will love them always. It’s the gift of the positive influence and memory that they have left behind with those that you love. It’s those gifts that you choose to hold near and dear to your heart. It’s those gifts that you will always cherish with gratitude. It’s those gifts that keep you in that place of hope with believing that one day you will get to feel that love, again and it’s those gifts that you have learned from. But the true gift is knowing that “once love” gave you the ultimate gift of words…”you deserved better.”

So you see, it’s not about the love you lost, it’s about the love you shared and always be grateful for that love. And it’s that gift that I choose to always remember and cherish…we loved each other. ❤️

I wish you joy, peace, health, love and hope in 2018. Happy New Year!

Simply Deborah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhtFzdpudOk&feature=share

Believe, Compassion, Faith, Giving, Life, Life Experiences, Life Lessons, Relationships, Spiritual, Truth

Someone Like You

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love…and the greatest of these is love.” Corinthians 13:13

With my morning coffee, I read this short, yet meaningful, article about finding the Path to a Life of Love. The article challenges the scientific theory of love (the brain) versus the spiritual side of love (the soul). Of course, in reality…the brain is responsible for giving love its physical expression, and ultimately, love comes from the deepest part of our souls. It also references the old pop song, “Love the One You’re With” and while many of us follow a path outside ourselves to find love, the person we should give our love to and who, in return, we should return that love, clearly, is the person we are with every minute of the day, ourselves. Ahhhaa!

While the article guides you on a simplistic version of a suggested five step path…my thought, more than likely this would be difficult for most to do as we are not of a culture who is openly at ease with discussing matters of the deepest part of our heart and soul, especially when it comes to matters of love and life experiences. The steps lead you down a path from believing in love to not limiting love to a few and denying it to others to making the search for love an inward search to seeking people who value love as much as you do to believing that love is a powerful force.

My moment was in step four…seeking people who value love as much as you do. There is this old saying, “if you want to be wise, seek the company of wise people.” The writer states, maybe we should do the same when it comes to love and life…if we want to know about real human experiences, we should seek out those who have walked the path of real life and love experiences and who are willing to share them. He also states that in our society, most are embarrassed to talk personally about truth, compassion, faith and love and this inhibition is part of our own insecurities. Perhaps it’s time to allow our spirit to begin a journey that follows a path which leads us to finding that one person who is wise in ways of love, human experiences and who knows how to live life at a deeper level.

Maybe there is this repressed and deeper person inside many of us, who is just waiting to bust out and just maybe we haven’t allowed or believed in the deepest love of ourselves to be completely present, available and in the moment. Maybe when we do, we will be ready for that someone who is emotionally and spiritually available and someone who knows how to live life with a deeper understanding, with the ability to express themselves fully and someone who values all that life and love has to offer…someone like you…a deeper, loving person.

So on this beautiful Spring morning, while listening to one of my old favorites by Van Morrison…I open the windows to allow the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze cleanse the inside air and my soul, along with my spirit and as always…I remain hopeful and maybe the best is yet to come.

Namasté

Believe, Daughter, Dreams, Family, Father, Father's Day, Lessons Learned, Life, Relationships, Uncategorized

Dance With My Father Again

“It’s only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home — it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love.” ~ Margaret Truman

dad1

It’s has been many years since my Dad left us, and with each passing year, whether it is the anniversary of his death, his birthday, or Father’s Day, the pain of losing him may have somewhat lessened but as the years pass, and as I get older, I find I miss his presence more, and more. I miss his voice, his gentle hand, and kisses, his huge hugs, his smile, and his special laugh but what I miss the most is talking with him.

I didn’t always feel this way about my Dad. Growing up, there were many times I didn’t like him but I knew I always loved him. He was a man of few words but his presence was always known. He was a very strict father, who disciplined, and ruled with an iron hand, and I was the “rebel with a cause”, who was going to break his strict discipline beliefs, and during my teenage years, it was my mission in life. He most certainly knew I was going to be his challenge, and I most certainly gave him a run for his money.

I often think of the man he was, and I have come to terms with many things in my life, and I now have a much better understanding of his way of thinking, and disciplining. I wish I would have understood him sooner, as I believe we could have had a much closer relationship during the important years of our lives. If we did, we could have talked through many of our disagreements rather than battling it out.

Today, I understand that he didn’t know how to be any other way because it was what he had learned, and what we learn is what we pass on from generation to generation, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Until one day, someone steps up to the plate, and changes the cycle, and I think that was my mission. While his discipline tactics were not always the best, in his mind, he was protecting his daughters in the only way he knew how, and saw fit. He didn’t want his daughters to make the same mistakes he did but by sheltering us, he didn’t realize he wasn’t allowing his daughters to grow, and learn from their mistakes.

I can sit here, and dwell on all of the bad, the harsh discipline but what would any of that change. Really, nothing. Today, I remember the great things about a man I called Dad until he became a grandfather, and from then on he was only referred to as Poppy. The key thing to remember is how much he loved his daughters, his wife, his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and the things he taught all of us, and more importantly, me.

He was a thin, good looking young man, with a dream, when he left San German, Puerto Rico, to come to New York. I am not sure what he did between the years that he arrived in New York, and when he met my mother at the age of 27 but my good guess, he more than likely was a ladies man, an impeccable dresser, and he probably had an air about himself that appeared intimidating, and somewhat standoffish. That’s my take, and when he met, and married my mother, he took charge to provide for her, and even more so when their daughters came along.

He was a spray painter for many years, and worked for a marketing exhibit company, painting promotional exhibits for name brand products, and services, which were displayed at conventions but his dream was bigger. It was always to own a restaurant, and my mother, who was one of the most conservative people I knew when it came to money, along with being a realist, and nowhere near a risk taker stood by her husband, and supported his dream.

They opened a small luncheonette in Mount Vernon, right on the borderline to the Bronx, and he was in his glory, and stood proud the day the sign went up, and there it was, Dave’s Luncheonette. This happened so much later in their life together but to him it was the beginning of what was yet to come. Remember, he was a dreamer. They both worked very hard, and long hours. They were up at 5am, and at the luncheonette by 5:30am, and ready for their first customer strolling in for coffee, and breakfast at 6am. There were many times during my father’s bouts with his heart issues, and when he was hospitalized that my sister’s, and I had to step in, and open the store with our mother. Oh, those 5am mornings were killers for me. Opening those gates, bringing in the fresh bread, and newspapers that were waiting at the door. Putting on the pots of coffee, heating up the grills, and greeting customers with a smile at 6am. Really, it’s much too early for smiles. The days seemed endless, along with the end of day routine of cleaning the place, and preparing it for the next day. My parents did this for close to 20 years in Mount Vernon, and again, remember my father was the dreamer, and bigger was still his goal.

Over the years, the neighborhood started changing, and after the luncheonette was broken into several times, they moved onto my Dad’s next dream, Dobbs Ferry, and opened Dave’s Charcoal Corner. A bigger place with more counter seats, and probably five times more tables than the Mt Vernon place. Bigger but still only breakfast, and lunch. By now, I had a career in banking, children, and I stood back, at a distance, and watched how hard they worked in the later years of their life, and I only helped out when absolutely necessary. My Dad was the cook, and my mother was the brains behind the pricing, and how to make a profit. No one handled the cash register nor the checkbook but her. She served the food at the counter seats, while a waitress handled the tables, which more often than not were my sisters on the weekends, along with my daughter during her college years. Me, oh, I was known as the black sheep of their daughters. Very rarely to be seen at the restaurant but when I did not have a choice, I groaned, and moaned all the way through it, and went home smelling like a greasy hamburger.

My Dad became known for making the best home fries, omelets, burgers, pancakes, soups, and more. This was the happiest time of his life, and his personality could easily get him side tracked from the grill to have a conversation with any regular customer, which is when my mother would take over the grill with a huff. It was kind of comical, at times but as the years went by, the aging process, and my Dad’s health were catching up. He was slowing down, and while it was hard for him to accept, after a small grease fire, we knew it was time for them to sell the business, and retire. I truly believe he wished he had pursued his dream much earlier in life but he had a good run for nearly 30 years.

How ironic it is that history repeated itself. Who knew my passion in life would turn to cooking, and also, begin so much later in my life. During a visit with our family accountant, he said to me, “You should have taken over your parents restaurant.” I didn’t have a vision back then of cooking, I was working towards a career in banking, which turned out to be a successful one. I fought my father tooth, and nail to not have any part of the business. I had such a dislike for it, and maybe part of it was how hard they worked, the long hours, and while it was his dream, it wasn’t mine, and it certainly wasn’t my mother’s but she was committed to him, and doing whatever made him happy. I have no right to judge that kind of sacrifice, and my point to this story is about all of the valuable lessons I learned from a man, who I battled with for many years.

My regret is that he is not here today for me to tell him, face to face, how grateful I am for all of the life lessons, values, the unconditional love, and the importance of believing, and following your dreams that I learned from him. He taught me hard work is a given. He taught me how to love my children unconditional, and the importance of being there for them through the good, and the bad. He taught me that you never give up on your children. He taught me the importance of family. He taught me to be courteous. He taught me respect. He taught me the importance of being a lady. He taught me the importance of presenting, and representing yourself well, and with class. He taught me that sometimes silence is golden.

It took me many years to realize, and learn the most valuable lesson of all from my father, to grasp every moment because you never know when it can be taken away from you, in a minute, and without any notice. I am grateful that I got to dance my last dance with my Dad on my 45th birthday. It was in his hospital room, just a few weeks before he passed, and I still wish every day that I could dance with my father again, and to hear him whisper in my ear, “I love you, Debbie Ann.”

daddance

While the day of his passing will always be a blurry memory, it is the priceless memory of our life together that will be a vivid one for eternity. It’s an example of a great love, commitment, sacrifice, and no matter how many years that have passed, it doesn’t change the fact that even though my Poppy is not in front of my eyes any longer, his picture is in my heart, and my mind, and will remain unspoiled forever.

“It doesn’t matter who my father was, it matters who I remember he was.” ~ Anne Sexton

 

 
http://www.vevo.com/watch/luther-vandross/dance-with-my-father/USJRV0300079

Alzheimers, Bronx, Brothers, Dementia, Family, Harlem, Italian Traditions, Italy, Life, Mother, Mount Vernon, Naples, Relationships, Sarno, Sisters, Thoughts, Uncategorized

My Mother’s Story…A World of Silence

“My mom is a never-ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.” ~ Graycie Harmon

 mom80

 

Some time ago, I whispered in my mother’s ear, and I promised her that I would always be her voice, and today, three years after her passing, would be no different…especially with it being Mother’s Day. She lived in a world of silence for the last five years of her life, and her life was not without heartbreak or hardship, but yet through it all she fought for herself, her family, and faced every challenge with courage, poise, and grace. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and a great-grandmother. A constant guardian, and a woman who loved unconditionally, and for many years after my father’s passing, she fought a brave battle against an awful, devastating disease…Alzheimer’s. A disease that robbed her of her memory, stripped her of her dignity, along with taking away her smile, and laughter. As promised, I am here to tell a portion of her life story, and to be her voice but first a small disclaimer, for those that read this, who may dispute my version of my mother’s life, I ask, respectfully, to remember while reading this story…it’s my story, and more importantly, my mother’s.

Eighty eight years ago, my mother entered this world as Domenica, later to be known as Minnie. She was born, and raised in Harlem, New York on 116th Street by her Italian immigrant parents, and she was one of fourteen children, of which eight were from previous marriages of her fathers. Her mother, my grandmother was not my grandfather’s first wife but she was his last. His previous wives had passed away, and many of his children from his previous marriages remained in Italy, with the exception of three children from his second marriage, a son and a two daughters. They also lived in the same Harlem neighborhood. One half sister returned to Italy, and my grandmother treated the remaining two, as if they were her own, and they ate dinner with the family nearly every day.

My mother often spoke of her upbringing during the depression era, and the lifestyle during those trying times. She would tell stories of her father, and her family, which were verified by my uncle’s (her brothers) in consideration of writing this blog. My grandfather was a Blacksmith back in his small hometown of Sarno, which was outside of Naples, Italy, and when he came to this country he used the skills he learned from working with horses, and to fix the wagons, known as buggy’s. My grandfather also sold watermelons. He would rent a horse and buggy, and go to the blind uncles’ (my grandfather’s brother) store on 107th Street, to pick up the watermelons that were stored there. I always wondered why, besides the obvious, he was always referred to as the blind uncle versus his name, Dominick. Moving on…my grandfather then would proceed to steer the watermelon filled horse drawn buggy up from East Harlem to the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. This is where he would sell the watermelons through the streets, yelling, with what I am sure was with a definitive Italian accent, “get your watermelon here”, which back in the day was called “hawking”. He was once arrested for “hawking”, and was held at the 41st Precinct, known as Fort Apache, and was fined $2.00. During the off season, my grandfather used the horse and buggy to pick up junk, and was considered a junkman, which turned into a successful family junk, and demolition business that was eventually run by my mother’s brothers. She told stories of how all her siblings needed to help out with the family finances, and the meals she grew up on, were known as peasant food. Through all of that, and much more, the family was rich in history, traditions, and a strong family bond that spilled over into the many future generations to follow.

During 1944, at the age of eighteen, my mother, and her family moved to Mt Vernon, New York, and settled in their new home on South High St. Most, if not all of her brothers, and sisters had little to no education, and all of them went to work at a very young age. My mother first worked in a button factory, on 2nd Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Street, which is where she met my father (more on that later), and then she moved on to work for the Corn Exchange Bank. The bank merged with Chemical Bank in 1954, and ironically, 26 years later, I began a career with Chemical Bank, which lasted 26 years. My mother was extremely proud of her daughters’ career, and always said she wished she would have stayed in banking.

My mother was known for having a love for shoes, clothes, along with pocketbooks, and she always dressed well…I guess this apple didn’t fall far from that tree but she knew how to shop for bargains, and she knew how to save money…that’s where the apple did fall far from the tree. She was all of a size 2, and from many old pictures she always dressed nicely, and she was very slender. She traveled every day from Mt Vernon to Manhattan to go to work, and after she left for work, her younger sister was known to sneak into her closet, and she would wear my mother’s clothes, and shoes but she would make sure they were cleaned, pressed, and returned to their rightful place before my mother returned from work. During this era, it wasn’t unusual that most, if not all of your paycheck, went to straight to your parents, nor was it unusual for the oldest brother to take on the role of watching over the family, and to be the disciplinarian of the younger siblings or to be considered the bread winner of the family.

According to the standards of her era, my mother married late in life, at the age of twenty eight. When she met my father, while working in the button factory, he was a charming, and handsome Puerto Rican, and it goes without saying the 100% Italian family didn’t approve of the relationship nor the fact that he was married before, and had a child from his previous marriage. This was unheard of during this era to consider marrying a divorced man but my mother loved him, and her love persevered. There are several version of the story, and one thing I know for sure, at the end of the day, my grandfather approved of the marriage, my parents were married at St Mary’s Church, my grandfather walked her down the aisle, my parents had three daughters, and my mother loved my father unconditionally, and my father most certainly loved my mother. Of course, they had their ups and downs but what marriage doesn’t. They built a life together, and they were committed to their marriage for better or worse, and my mother always referred to the next generations divorce rate, as being an easy out. She said the new generation thought it was easier to give up on a marriage than it was to work on one. Today, my parents would have been married for 60 years, and they worked side by side in their luncheonette business for over 30 years.

They were married on January 30, 1954, and first lived in the Bronx on Wallace Ave, and ironically, when my older sister came into the world during February 1955, and then me, eleven months later, they moved to Wallace Ave in Mt Vernon. Eighteen months later, my younger sister was born, and yet another move, and for my mother it was back to South High Street, across the street from what was my grandparents’ house, into the 2nd floor apartment of my uncle’s three family home. Years later, my parents purchased the house from my uncle, who moved into a bigger home with his growing family, and this is where my parents remained for over 25 years.

My grandfather had passed days after my oldest sister’s second birthday, and I had just turned one, the previous month. My grandmother passed away when I was five years old, and I really have only a slight memory of her, however, I do remember my grandmother living with us for a short time. I have one vivid memory of her standing with one of those fancy brushes in her hand (the kind that were kept on a mirrored tray on top of the dresser) waiving it, and yelling at my sisters, and I, in Italian, of course, for jumping on her bed. After my grandfather died, she would live back, and forth between her children. She was diagnosed with hardening of the arteries, and more than likely today, she would have been diagnosed with dementia. While she lived with us, it was difficult for my mother to watch my grandmother, who would wonder off from time to time, and my mother had three small children but my mother loved her mother, and she did whatever she could to help her, and to keep her with us. My grandmother’s frequent wondering off days, and forgetfulness worsened over time, which required her to wear her name, and address on piece of paper, and pinned to her clothing. After some time, a family decision was made, and with the medical field not knowing what they know today about dementia, along with the care, and treatment required, my grandmother was institutionalized, at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, Queens Village, New York. It’s my understanding that it was a place that left you with the memory of it being dreary, dark, and a place someone would hope to never end up in. My grandmother died three months later. I have such a clear memory of my mother speaking so often about this time of her life, and she always said she could never be a part of that decision, and she believed her mother died of a broken heart from being left there all alone.

When I think back about my mother, and her thoughts about own her mother, I now understand the fear, and the panic that overcame her entire being every time she forgot where she put something…she always believed she was losing her mind, like she believed her mother did. Eventually, she resorted to keeping notes as frequent reminders of things to do, and where she put things.

Growing up, my memories of my mother are of a vibrant, hard working woman, loving, and caring mother, and when she became a grandmother, her grandchildren added a newness to her life. She was always doing something from cleaning to cooking, and taking care of the house, along with caring for her daughter’s and husband. For many years, she was a stay at home mom, and those curtains, and drapes were changed, and windows were washed every three months. She had a love for music, and once she joined the Columbia Record Club, she would wait with such anticipation to see what album would come each month. Music was always playing while she was cleaning, and she would sing along with her favorites, from Connie Francis to Frank Sinatra to Jerry Vale. She kept herself busy, and while she never learned how to drive, she walked everywhere or took a bus. Nothing stopped her. There were countless amount of days that she walked with her three daughter’s to go shopping on Fourth Avenue, and she always found a way to make the trip special by taking us to the Beehive for ice cream.

During the summers, she would pack up my sisters, and I, along with lunch, and her beach chair, and we would walk to the bus stop by the 11th Avenue park, and we would take the bus to Glen Island Beach. My mother loved the beach, and it’s probably where my love for the beach came from. Years later, she went back to work to help my father with the family finances, and I remember feeling sad that she was no longer there when I came home from school. Times were changing, and we were all feeling it.

Many years later, I think what kept her mind going, active, and alert for so long was that all of her energy, and efforts went into caring for my father in the last 10 years of his life. He suffered with heart disease, and diabetes, and eventually, kidney failure. He had open heart surgery back in 1994, which gave him a new lease on life for a number of years, and then he reverted back to his bad eating habits, he put some weight back on, and was now back to square one. My mother was relentless with taking care of him, and stood by his side every step of the way, and with every doctor appointment but he was stubborn, and she could only fight his ways of being, to an extent. It was during 1998 that he took a turn for the worse, and we weren’t sure he would make it after yet another angioplasty procedure. It took some time for him to recovery, and I remember on Father’s Day of that year, I found him in a fetal position in his bed, with silent tears rolling down his face. I laid next to him, and we spoke quietly, and he admitted he was scared, and wasn’t sure he was going to make it to his granddaughter’s wedding, which was the following month. Low and behold, the man recovered, yet again, and there he was dancing with me at his granddaughter’s wedding.

During 2000, six months after his great-granddaughter was born, he took a turn again but this time he never recovered, and he left us on January 23, 2001. My point to sharing my father’s health is that I believe this is when my mother’s life changed completely, after the loss of the love of her life, is when her memory spiraled, and eventually, she went rapidly downhill to being completely bedridden, never to see the outside world again. I truly believe taking care of him for so many years stimulated her brain, and kept her going, and after he was gone, there was nothing left for her that could keep her stimulated, and the sadness of losing the love of her life took control over her mind, and being. I often wondered if my grandmother’s rapid decline was also related to the loss of her true love, my grandfather.

It was like watching a movie that I had heard about my entire life, and history was repeating itself for my mother, as it did for my grandmother. She moved back, and forth between my two sisters, and occasionally, spent a weekend here, and there with me. At the time, my sisters lived minutes apart, they worked together, and were fortunate enough that they were able to take our mother to work with them. She would sometimes be picked up to attend activities at the senior center but she disliked it, and complained constantly about going. She lost interest in socializing with others, and especially, anyone she considered to be old. My mother was a woman of few words, and I am sure knowing what I know today, she was scared, and her rock was no longer here to help her with making decisions or to keep her safe. She did however, like being in the office with my sisters, and she would putter around the kitchen, and wait for the workers to come in at the end of the day, and make them coffee. I think she felt useful, and had a sense of purpose. She would sit with them, talk, and laugh, and occasionally play cards with a few of them. The atmosphere of the office was less intimidating to her versus a senior center, which I believe was a constant reminder to her of the aging process.

I most certainly believe she knew what was happening to her brain function, along with her memory, and things were happening to her stability but she didn’t have the ability to verbalize it, and I’m sure of it now, all the unknowns were frightening her. The times I spent alone with her, I could see the fear in her eyes, and the confusion but I did everything I could to make her feel comfortable, keep her spirits up, and gave her the space, grace and dignity she so rightfully deserved. In the beginning to mid stages of her dementia, it always amazed me how her long term memory was intact, and she could tell you anything from back in the day, and yet, her short term memory was non-existent. I think the hardest thing to witness was her unhappiness, sadness, her confusion, her depression, and the angry person she became. For me, at the end of the day, none of that matter, and my way of thanking her for all of those years she “justdid”, unconditionally, with every opportunity presented to me, I treated her like she was a Queen because in my mind, my mother was.

I owe a special debt of gratitude to my two sisters’. Our parents always stressed we could, and we should always rely on each other, and that has never been more true than during our mother’s illness. I lived in Connecticut during that time, and work was extremely demanding, along with not having the same flexibility that my sister’s did with their work. They took care of my mother 24/7, for a number of years, and then the day came when my mother was progressively getting worse, and life was changing, personally, for both of my sisters, and a decision was made that it was time to place her in a nursing home. I remember that day like it was yesterday, and again, in my mind, history was repeating itself, and all I could think of were my mother’s words about her own mother when the same decision was made for my grandmother. How could I do this, knowing how my mother felt, and I too found myself in a place where I wanted no part of that decision. I was crushed, for her, not for me. I was so angry with the decision, and yet, I had no viable solution that in my mind could save her or keep her out of a nursing home. In retrospect, it was the right decision but at the same, her being my mother, I always wished there was another option.

Over the four or so years of her being a nursing home, during each visit, I struggled to find a connection with a woman, who eventually, didn’t know my name anymore or who I was. I would say, “Hi, Mom.” Sometimes she looked at me with a blank or confused stare, as if she was thinking should I say hello back or if she was trying to figure out who I was. I would say, “How are you doing?” and there would be an occasional hello, I’m okay or just silence or a rare, “Shut up!” I would sometimes laugh, and say, “It’s me, Deborah Ann” and sometimes she would reply, “Really?” She sometimes mumbled, and I didn’t get what she said, and it just broke my heart. With every visit, on my drive back to Connecticut, more often than not, I would cry all the way home, talking or yelling at God, and asking him, why? Why wasn’t he taking her, and she didn’t deserve to live a life like this. I was told many times, she wasn’t ready, and after years of watching her go slowly, I finally came to terms with believing she worked so hard all of her life, and she was tired, and she was just resting until she was ready to go home.  

However, my sister’s dealt with our mother in a way I really couldn’t. They talked to her, she mumbled, they mumbled back. She growled, they growled back. She would refuse to do something, and they would say okay fine just sit there. It didn’t matter to them that she didn’t remember things. She was treated with such love, and acceptance. They took her everywhere. They fed her, they changed her, and they bathed her. My sisters stepped up, and stepped in. What mattered was that she was comforted by the warmth of their human connection. These are just some of the gifts they gave our mother. I was in awe of them, and they have given our family a whole new kind of role model to emulate in every part of our lives. I love, and admire them both, and I am forever grateful for what they gave our mother.

When our mother passed, I again was my mother’s voice, and I thanked my sister’s for taking such good care of her, for being her strength, and her courage when she was weak, and for loving her unconditionally. Our mother rests peacefully now, and is back in the arms of the love of her life, my Dad. Not sure I have done her a justice with celebrating her life but this Mother’s Day seemed like a perfect time to tell a portion of her life story. There is never a day that my mother doesn’t pass through my thoughts, and I am sure she is looking down upon her family, smiling with happiness, and with a tremendous amount of unconditional love, and pride. For me, I am so proud to call Domenica Squillante Lugo, my mother. She will always be my hero, my mother, and a woman, who silently had incredible strength, courage, perseverance, devotion, commitment, and an enormous amount of unconditional love for her family.

My Mother’s Day message to my mother…while it has been a long time since I have seen your beautiful smile or smelled your beautiful perfume or received your hugs and kisses…thank you for passing on all your love, wisdom, strength, and courage, which have made me the woman I am today. With this message, I send you this song, which was always one of your favorites, and I can still hear your sweet voice singing the words. I love you, miss you but I find comfort in knowing you are at peace, with your true love, and always remember…I will be your whisper, and I will always be your voice.

 

Dating, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Distant Dreamer

After being single for many years since my divorce, I believe the years of dating, along with several long-term relationships in between, have all provided me with some fond memories, some heartaches, a wealth of knowledge and some regrets but very few. As you get older, the dynamics change completely in the dating arena. Who would ever believe that grown adults still play games, especially at my age, and the competition is fierce. A lot of men in their 50’s and 60’s are still looking for their Twinkie and some desperate women make the dating scene more difficult and challenging than it needs to be. There have been many clowns who have crossed my path, some moved on rather quickly and others stayed longer than necessary. Today, my famous words are, “I am done with the clowns and the circus is closed.” I sometimes think I am just not good at this dating thing nor do I have the patience for the nonsense or the time for playing games. Not at this time of my life and now I open myself up to a new world, fully exposed but still filled with hope and yes, I am a distant dreamer.

Not being a bar stool girl, I turned to online dating for a period of time. Oh, yes, I did. Every online dating site provides you with the hope and the fairy tale story of a lasting relationship that could potentially turn into a longer lasting relationship to possibly marriage. Some promise more dates, more relationships and more marriages than any other dating site. Others proclaim they deliver more than just dates that their patented compatibility matching system narrows the field from thousands of single men or women, to match you with a highly select group of compatible singles and they claim it to be a scientific predictor for long-term relationship success. Really? I will not argue the fact that many have found love in cyberspace but for me, it has been a ride, an adventure and a novel in the making. I consider myself to be a fairly stable, intelligent woman with style and grace and yet, sometimes still a little naïve and stupid because I believe in love, after love.

Before I considered online dating, there was a lot of fear that came with taking it into consideration. I thought about my past experiences with men and the variation of characters. What could be left for me to meet? With my luck, potentially a mass murderer! But I jumped into the pool, treading water lightly, with little to no expectations (well, I thought I had none) and a lot of careful thinking, along with a little creativity and wit that went into writing my profile. However, every word of it was honest, as were the pictures and it gave an accurate description as to what kind of man and relationship I was looking for. Really, how much more unromantic could it possibly get? But I took the plunge.

I have joked many times with friends about having 12,000 hits to my profile and less than a handful of potential suitors have gotten past a wink. The stories are endless. Some are extremely hilarious. Others are out right unbelievable and bizarre. Stuff you just can’t make up. The experience left me with a lot of questions, somewhat discouraged and disheartened. Are there any gentleman left in this world? Why is everyone on the hunt? Where in my profile did it say I was easy and desperate? I came to the conclusion, most men and women included, just look at the pictures and the art of reading is a thing of the past because clearly if a man had read my entire profile, he would have completely understood what I was looking for. Unless he was a complete illiterate.

Maybe I trust and believe in honest, kind and loving qualities in people. Maybe I believe in integrity. Maybe I believe in romance. Maybe I believe in true love. Maybe I believe you truly can find your soul mate. Maybe I expect too much but I settled too many times in my lifetime and the settling days are over. I am no Twinkie, and if you’re looking for one, you’re searching in the wrong kitchen cabinet.

I am fairly attractive. I hold my own but at this stage of my life, it is utterly amazing to me how many men in my age range are looking for the much younger woman. I get the reason, I am not completely stupid. Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis or they want that eye candy on their arm. Maybe it’s an ego thing that they still have the it factor but fella’s after you move out of the bedroom and the effects of the blue pill have worn off, what do you really have in common with the Twinkie? Outside of sex and what size your wallet is, what can you possibly be talking about? Is it anywhere near an intelligent conversation? Don’t get me wrong, I believe true love can happen regardless of an age difference. I have witnessed it happen with many people who are close to me but it’s a rarity and when it does happen, it’s a special bond, love and complete connection.

If you’re committed to bachelorhood or being a bachelorette, then marriage or a true long-lasting relationship are not for you. When things and life are centered on you and only you, you are incapable of being a unit of two. Honestly, that’s okay if it works for you but say that in your profile. Be clear and upfront. Set the ground rules and the expectations from the start, than no one can say you weren’t honest or that you misrepresented your intentions.

I believe most woman want to see a man making an effort and well written and good grammar are important when you e-mail. Make it clear that you read and thought about her profile. If you don’t show her she is worth your time, she most certainly won’t think you are worth hers. And once you move into meeting each other, pick up the phone…what’s with all of the texting? Have people forgotten the art of conversation? My take on all the texting, anyone who uses texting as the only means of communication, leads me to believe that they have something to hide or its pure laziness or they may have social skill issues. For me, I want to hear your voice. Wow, what a concept…connecting vocally and ladies, this works in reverse too.

I remember a time when one profile stood out. It was written with such refreshing honesty and the context was an extremely bold move on his part. It also helped that he most certainly had the it factor, along with intelligence, a great sense of humor, athletic build, retired twice over and a good grasp on the reality of life. While his profile made for some good reading, most would probably have thought he was a bizarre and insane man but he was honest, clear and concise as to what type of relationship he was looking for. While I found his story to be amusing and intriguing, it most certainly wasn’t anything I was looking for and while I didn’t completely understand his wants and desires, I respectfully, declined his intentions and moved on.

Have we become that shallow of a world that it’s all about looks, shape, size and how many digits are in your net worth or what type of car you drive or how big your house is? Also, when did relationships become more like a business deal? I admit to overlooking one or two or many of those 12,000 viewers purely based on looks but for me you most certainly needed to have teeth. You shouldn’t be wearing overall’s or be topless on the beach or a boat with your unattractive gut hanging out for the world to see, holding a drink, and surrounded by bathing beauties. You get my point!

Now if you add distance to the mix, I have yet to meet someone where distance is not an issue. I do believe if you’re not willing to put the work into getting to know each other or into finding a true, loving, equal and caring relationship than you shouldn’t be on a dating site, unless you are extremely clear that you’re looking for a non-committed relationship and good luck with that. I am not saying my thought process is the right process, however, I do believe dating and expectations are a personal choice and you should follow your heart, your gut and not sell yourself short.

I left the online dating world believing it to be the new bar scene. My intention is not to generalize the whole process and I am just speaking from my own prospective and experience. I met some jerks and some very nice men. It takes a date or two or more to figure out if you’re both on the same life path. Some will fill a temporary need, some will be great company, some will move on and some will become great friends. And maybe someone will become a lifetime.

Lastly, there is that chance you will meet someone and everything just hums. And wham, in the end, timing is everything and you both are on different life paths. The hard ones to let go of and get past are the ones that say, “only if we had met years ago.” We are all human. We all have feelings, wants and needs but the day that serious conversation happens, sometimes they include specific words that never leave your mind, like, “people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”

Sometimes that person can be in your life for more than a season and for more than a reason but will never be for a lifetime and yet, my heart remains receptive, my mind is open and I still believe…my lifetime will come.

Reason, Season, or a Lifetime

reason

                People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty; to provide you with guidance and support; to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered, and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships, and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. ~ Unknown