Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary…

Tomorrow it will be thirty years since my husband and I exchanged wedding vows. He took off a few days in case I wanted to celebrate, but honestly in the middle of packing, I can’t think about taking a little trip away. I am too overwhelmed and it’s a sin really, because 30 years is a long time and deserves to be celebrated right. Instead of packing clothes to go away, we are packing boxes and throwing out as many things as I can part with.

One of those things I was prepared to add to the trash was my wedding gown. After we got back from our honeymoon, I took my wedding gown to the dry cleaners to have it cleaned and preserved in a special keepsake box. I forgot about the keepsake box because they had put it inside another regular box. The box has been sitting in my basement for 25 years, on top of a wardrobe closet, collecting dust. I was not looking forward to taking it down and disposing of it. But, this morning I bit the bullet and had my husband bring it down for me. I cleaned of the dust off the outer box and then looked inside to find the gown carefully laid out in a gold keepsake box. Maybe I had never seen it before or saw it just the one time when I picked it up. So I told my husband I would save it and get rid of the outer box.

Now for some reason unbeknownst to me, my older daughter has been trying to subtly tell me I should keep my wedding dress. For the past couple of weeks or longer, I have been talking about dumping it and she suggested I have it “framed.” I looked at some pictures online of framed wedding dresses and they are huge. Where would I ever put something like that anyway? I told myself I will never be wearing this dress again. My daughters certainly won’t be wearing it. What is the point of holding on to this 30 year old dress? The only thing I envisioned was that one day my girls would be going through my things to dispose of them and then they would have to agonize about what to do with this dress. The dress would be an albatross around their necks. When I had gotten it preserved, I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought if I had a daughter she might want to wear it? Maybe she would want to open the box and see it up close? That was then, this is now. So because it was so nicely packaged, and because my daughter seemed more concerned about parting with it than I was, I decided to hold on to it and told her so. I asked her why she wanted me to keep it, but she doesn’t know. Then she says, maybe we can find a more “compact” way of keeping it. I had to laugh to myself wondering why my wedding gown seem so important to her. Maybe in time she will figure out why.

My husband was totally understanding about my feelings. My nerves are on edge and I am tired. I am not in a celebrating state of mind, body or spirit, in spite of the huge milestone we are about to hit. So he suggested that we go to dinner tomorrow and celebrate in the fall after we are all settled in our new home. That sounds a lot more appealing to me. For now we will focus on this move that I have been putting on hold until the girls graduated college and my husband was able to retire. I have waited a long time for this and it’s long overdue. I feel like this is my time and our time to do the things we have put off because other things took priority. I hope it all turns out the way we envision it will.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

One Last Letter to Marie...

Perhaps writing all those blogs in February created more healing or maybe it's just time working it's magic. Whatever the case, I woke up this morning and wrote this last letter to Marie. I wanted to share it with those of you who accompanied me on this journey and had so many kind words to say.

Dear Marie,

I hope things are going well for you and your family. I have a few things to say and will try to keep it short. 

We will be moving to a new home next month. The girls have both graduated and are working and I couldn't be prouder of them. Jim has taken an early retirement and completed his Master's Degree in history. We are at the end of what I like to call Act II of our lives and, next month, the curtain will go up on Act III. We have been going through 25 years of accumulated things and memories in the process of packing. We have been discussing how we want to spend our time, how to simplify our lives, and just enjoy each day. To that end, we have decided we would like to forgive the remainder of your loan, so you can stop making any further payments and consider it paid in full. 

I would like you to know that I have no regrets concerning our friendship. When I met you and got to know you, my only intention was to make a positive difference in your life and the lives of your children. I am glad I was in a position to be able to help you then. I wanted you to get your degree and have a career and a better life. It was a proud moment for me to watch you graduate after so many years of hard work. I've always wanted you to be happy and that has never changed. If I had to do it all over again, I would, without hesitation. When I look back now, I remember the good times, the laughter and how we supported and encouraged each other through the worst of times. I'm sure you do too.

Last year I went to see the play Wicked, it's a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. In the play, the good witch, Glinda, and the wicked witch, Elphaba, become best friends. However, in the end they have to part ways and they sing the song "For Good." I'm not sure if you've ever heard it, but it's very touching. And so, in closing, I will share with you the link to the song and it's message: "because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Hope you have a very enjoyable summer. Be well and all the best to you always.

Love, Nina

Thursday, June 20, 2013

RIP James Gandolfini aka Tony Soprano

I never heard of James Gandolfini before the HBO series, the Sopranos. We don’t even have HBO so I might never have watched the series. But, the reviews of the series were so great that we decided to rent season one and see if we would like it. I loved it. After that we patiently waited and bought every season at Christmas-time and watched a Sopranos marathon. The truth is I could not wait to watch all of it, so we went through a season in about four days, watching three episodes a day. I loved it so much that I didn’t fast forward through the opening theme song or the clips from the previous show, even though I had just watched it.

“I woke up this morning and got yourself a gun” is playing over and over in my head now as I am still in shock over the sudden passing of James Gandolfini, who will forever be known as Tony Soprano, to me. I never knew it was an Alabama 3 song, I just assumed it was written for the series. It was perfect. And, James Gandolfini was the perfect crime boss, Tony Soprano

I ended up watching the entire series several times. So much happens that you miss and the good thing about my bad memory is that a lot of it seem brand new. It was so easy to get sucked into the drama of the show and the characters. The writing was phenomenal as was the acting. If you loved the Godfather, you should love the series. Some might think that the show glorifies the mafia lifestyle, but in actuality, it doesn’t. Sure they make big money committing crimes and live lavishly, but there is a price to be paid. The “made men” always cheat on their wives. That is a given, and the wives have to live with that fact. Tony had several mistresses during the series. Carmela knew about some of them and hated it. But Tony would just answer, you knew who I was when you married me. And the mistresses (goomadas) were the ones taken to parties and lavished with gifts and apartments, while the wives stayed home taking care of the kids and the house.

The Mafia is made up of different crime “families,” headed by bosses like Tony Soprano, who compete with each other for money making operations. Agreements and deals often go wrong between them and people get “whacked.” Tony had his share of near death experiences and, like a faithful and loyal mafia wife, Carmela was right there worrying about him and nursing him back to health. Worrying is a way of life. You have to worry about getting killed, you have to worry about the Feds closing in on you, you have to worry about “rats” giving law enforcement evidence to save their own skin. Soon, as a viewer, you start to worry about all the mafia characters getting hurt. You have compassion for poor Tony because of the tremendous stress he is under every day. And we wind up rooting for the “bad” guys, even against law enforcement.

As I watched the show, I don’t know how many times I was concerned for Tony (and James Gandolfini) because of his excess weight. He seemed to put on more weight over the course of the series. His breathing was often labored. My husband and I would comment about it, worrying he might have a heart attack one day. If you ever watched the show you may have noticed it too, it was pretty obvious. I didn’t think it was “acting” on James Gandolfini’s part. I often wondered why he didn’t lose some weight so he could at least breathe comfortably. I wondered why it was obvious to me, but not to the cast, crew, family and friends of James Gandolfini? I don’t know if he was under a doctor’s care, but he should have been. Maybe this heart attack could have been avoided. We will never know. It’s so sad to lose someone so young, who impacted so many lives. I read that James just had a baby daughter in October with his second wife. A baby girl who will never really know her father except for what she will be told and from watching his work. Unfortunately, the Sopranos has scenes and language which are not fit for young eyes and ears. It will be a long time before she will be able to view the show that made her father a household name. The other thing that makes this an even sadder event is that James was in Italy with his teenage son, Michael. The were having a “guy” trip together. It was Michael who found his father in distress and called the medics, who were unable to revive his father.

The rest of us who knew James Gandolfini even just through his role on the Sopranos, are greatly sadden by his passing. Who would have thought that Tony Soprano would have survived a mafia family all out war, but poor James Gandolfini would succumb to a heart attack?

Rest in peace James Gandolfini. You will be greatly missed.
Sopranos Theme Song

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Progress Report on Moving...

I’ve spent the passed few weeks packing all the things we do not use on a daily basis, throwing out things we “might need,” but never did, and ordering a lot of new things for the house. I have ordered new dinnerware, cookware, comforter sets and bedding, stainless steel garbage can, toaster, can opener and a million other things. This will save me from running around to different stores when I should be home unpacking. There is still a lot more packing to do and with every box I seal I get closer to getting out of here.

I have a lot of good memories of living in this house for 25 years. I may have stayed here indefinitely and remodeled the whole thing. My main reason for leaving are the neighbors across the street. An absentee landlord has been renting his property to inconsiderate tenants over and over again. There were a couple of peaceful years, but they never lasted. One year it got so bad I went to a Realtor in tears and told him he had to sell my house and get me out of there. We even had an open house, but no one came. What’s wrong with these neighbors?  It’s not just the fact they are loud, or blast their car radios any time of the day or night for hours, or argue and scream, or start celebrating the fourth of July in May. It’s not just that they drive the wrong way down our one way street or ride their motorcycles on the sidewalk. It’s not just that they congregate in front of their house with all their “friends,” or that other cars are constantly pulling up and double parking outside their residence. It’s all of it and it’s constant. It never ends. And, you can’t talk or reason with them or they will curse you out or even threaten you. If you try to reason with them, then you have to be worried about retaliation. One year my husband said something and two of our tires were slashed. He ended up having to park blocks away every day so they couldn’t find our car. We tried reporting this to the police. They told us to keep a log of when things happen so they can send a car around. That accomplished nothing. We went to the community board, who took our issues to the police, and that accomplished nothing. Some neighbors actually got the number of the landlord and called him repeatedly in recent years. That got some results. He must have threatened to evict them just to stop getting phone calls. However, they are still not the ideal neighbors. And, this is why I want to leave the place I have called home for the last 25 years. I want to live in peace. I want to be able to hear my television. I want to be able to concentrate when  read and write. I cannot get out of here fast enough. And when I am packing and exhausted and feel like stopping, they just keep reminding me of how much I need to get out of here.

Now my mind is swimming with all the things I have to do. I haven’t moved in a very long time. It’s overwhelming. Beside all the unpacking, I need to get two bedroom sets for the girls and a new living room. We’ll be going to look at furniture this weekend. I have to change our address on everything, and hope the Post Office does it’s part in forwarding our mail to our new address. I have to figure out where to place the furniture. The layout of the rooms is very different. I need to contact a moving company and a junk removal company as soon as I get a closing date. Then, I have seven days to move out, but I need to have the wood floors redone in the new house. I am worried there will not be enough time for that. Once we move in I will need a painter for all the rooms. The outside of the house needs a lot of work that I want to have done this fall. Believe it or not, I am trying to take one thing at a time, but I can’t stop my brain from working overtime. I know it will all get done eventually, it’s just that I have never been a patient person.

So far it looks like both closings will be scheduled for the 15th of July, or there about. Seven days later I should be moving in. My younger daughter took a week vacation around that time to help me with everything. Hopefully we can get all the essential things in place so we can carry on our normal routines. My goal is to be settled in by Thanksgiving. If I can accomplish that, I will have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Faith And Hope: A Conversation…

Before my husband and I had children, we discussed how we would raise them and the subject of religion came up. Neither of us went to church on Sundays or adhered to the rules very strictly. We didn’t go to confession, we ate meat on Fridays during Lent, and we didn’t get ashes on Ash Wednesday. But, we did obey the ten commandments and try to live good lives, as best as our imperfect selves would allow us. But when it came to our children, I wanted them to have a good religious upbringing and faith. I believed faith was important, and along with it comes the power of hope. How many times had faith and hope gotten me through life’s difficult moments? I wanted to be sure they had that in their lives. We did try to instill faith and religious beliefs in our children, but I will admit, we could have done a better job. They went for religious instruction from the ages of seven to thirteen, as the church required, and made all their sacraments (baptism, communion and confirmation). When my older daughter was sixteen, the pedophile priest scandal broke out. My younger daughter was about to receive confirmation in three months. I wasn’t a happy camper about this turn of events, but felt she should finished what she started in case she wanted to marry in the church in the future and needed it.

It was at this time that my older daughter informed us that she was an atheist. Frankly, I was stunned, but honestly thought this is just a phase she is going through and she will snap out of it. She explained to me all her reasons for not believing in God or any of the Bible “stories.” I told her she should keep an open mind and do research before she dropped her faith. She told me she had been researching and that she was going to continue, but she had pretty much made up her mind. I blame it on her high intelligence and science. Science has really pretty much done a number on religion. Religion was created by man centuries ago to explain things that were unexplainable at the time. However, science has managed to explain away almost everything and added to the scandals of the church, it makes it hard to believe in anything. I understood where she was coming from and still hoped she would manage to find her faith in tact in the end.

At about this same time, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer. I was devastated and scared. I called everyone I knew to tell them and to ask them to pray for me. The irony that my own daughter could not pray for me because she didn’t believe in God or heaven, saddened me. I felt if God was going to listen to anyone’s prayers in this matter, it would be hers, but none would be forthcoming. She was an atheist.

One day, while we were talking in her room, I told her that it bothered me that she did not believe in God. I explained how she wouldn’t get into heaven even though she is living life as a good person should. I asked her, “What will you do when the time comes and you find out there is a God and heaven waiting for you, but you can’t get in?” I told her, with tear filled eyes, that I had needed her prayers and was sad that she couldn’t offer any for me. And then she looked at me, tears streaming down her face, and she told me she felt bad for me. She told me she was afraid that when I died I would find out there was no God and no heaven and this was all there is. She said she was the one who felt sad for me because I would be very disappointed. I didn’t know which one of us to feel more sorry for. It really was a profound moment we shared. There was no way for me to change her beliefs. Her knowledge and experience lead her to this place. I felt partly responsible because I had not made religion a more important part of our lives. My parents never made religion a priority, but my brother and I grew up with out faith in tact. Who knows what would have happened or if it would have changed anything for her had we done things differently. It is what it is. I love my daughter and I always will.

It’s now ten years later and she is still an atheist. It doesn’t seem to bother her that she is missing a religious dimension to her life. I don’t know how she gets along without prayer or where she gets her hope from, if she has any. Maybe we need to have a new conversation so I can understand it better.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Packing/Hacking Continues….

I was in the mist of packing when  came down with what seemed to be a slight head cold. However, it wasn’t long before my nose was running like a faucet and eventually I developed a dry cough. I was able to deal with the headache and runny nose, but the dry, hacking cough almost killed me. It just kept getting worse, until I sprained every muscle in my upper body. It took a few days of Robitussin to loosen it all up, but the damn thing still wants to hang on. I eventually got a good night’s sleep the night before last. Then last night I get a call at 1 am from my brother. I just out of my skin because I know he is supposed to be sleeping and he gets up at 5 am. I answer, but there is no reply. I lay there awake wondering if I should call him back. What if he is sleeping? What if he needs help? What if he is sick? What if someone broke in despite his steel security door? While I am pondering every situation, the phone rings again. It’s my brother wanting to know what is wrong? It seems my older daughter didn’t want to lay awake all night worrying, so she took the bull by the horns and called him. He returned her call thinking there was a problem. We explained that his phone had called us ten minutes earlier and we were worried. With that, we all hung up and went back to sleep.

So this morning I concocted a theory about how such a thing could happen. He has one of those damn “smart” phones that will dial anyone you want if you say their name. Now I am thinking he called out my name in his sleep and that lead to the first call from him at 1 am. And, I am not a happy camper since I have been desperate for sleep for over a week. I write him an email. I tell him I thought you keep your cell phone off during the night? How could this happen? He tells me he left it on last night because he thought his office might call. He left the cell next to the cordless phone and his radio and that somehow the signals must have crossed and dialed me, since I was the last person he dialed. I ended by telling him to call anyone else before he goes to bed, in case that happens again, so it won’t call me. Reminds me of Gilda Radner’s saying “It’s always something, if it’s not one thing, it’s another…”

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way and the “mystery” is allegedly solved, I will get back to packing again today. The house is full of boxes…empty boxes, full boxes and boxes from UPS with the new things I am ordering so I won’t have to run from store to store after we move in. Today I have in mind to pack my curio. It’s full of tiny porcelain animals that my mother bought for me at a store located directly across the street from Radio City, in Manhattan. Why did she go there? There’s a story for that…

Every year my mother liked to take us to see the Easter show at Radio City Music Hall. They would run a popular movie first. One day she took us to see the Unsinkable Molly Brown, starring Debbie Reynolds. The line was very long when we got there. We got on line and waited, but we didn’t make it in for the first show and she wasn’t going to stand outside for three more hours for the second show. So we meandered across the street to pass a little time before heading home. In the window of one little store were some shiny, miniature porcelain animals. I fell in love with them. There were little families of Chihuahuas, Siamese cats, lions and tigers and bears (oh my). My mother could see that I really wanted them, so she said to me I could pick out any two sets I wanted and she would buy them for me. I was torn. They were all so cute, but I eventually decided on the Chihuahuas and Cocker Spaniels.  I loved them. We went home with my new little treasures. For my birthday, my mother took me back to the store and let me pick out more animals. And, when Christmas rolled around, you can imagine my surprise, when I opened a few little boxes and there were more sets of animals in them. Eventually I had at least 20 to 30 different sets and no place to display them. So my mother went out and bought a corner curio with four shelves for me to showcase my little collection. And when I got married, she insisted I take the curio with me to our new home. These little animals and the curio have been with me for a very long time. A lot of memories come flooding back to me now. I remember how my mother loved the black panthers for some reason. It was always hard for me to pick a favorite set. I had a soft spot for the horses because the baby horse’s legs were so thin and fragile. The baby chicks that went with the rooster and hen, were just yellow little dots.

So today, I will dismantled the collection, wash everything and carefully pack them all away. I’ll think about my mother and of all the times she went out of her way to make me happy.

P. S. Here is a website with typical little animals like the ones I have...good thing this wasn't around back then LOL Porcelain Animals of all kinds