2004. RIP Little Cousin
Today marks 16 years since you’ve been gone. I don’t even think you made it to 40 years old but the years you spent here on Earth were incredibly memorable to anyone you met.
2015: Today my mind is full of Joe Mullen (RIP 4.26.14) (and Jane Mullen (RIP 4.1.15) - and Mom (RIP 2.25.15)!!), but mostly Joe.
Being 5 1/2 years younger than Joe, I was really in his "charge" while growing up. Very similar to how I say that Jane was in my "charge" - she was 5 1/2 years younger than me. That's how it was growing up with lots of siblings. We all were responsible for taking care of each other daily, while our parents spent their time teaching us (by example) all how to live a good Christian life.
It was nice being in Joe's charge because he was like a friend magnet - and he made all his friends be in charge of me, too!! I had an entourage when I went to the playground. I never, ever, ever feared a thing in life because I was always protected and encouraged in everything I've ever done. You can't buy that kind of love. I've always been a lucky girl.
It was even luckier that I had the opportunity for the last 6 years to do some work with Joe - which meant many, many surprise visits from him where we would work for an hour or so - and share life stories with each other for the next three hours. That time was a priceless gift.
Well Joe, today I'm missing you big time! I am not missing having to wheel Jane into surgery and getting blood transfusions so we could make it through your wake - instead, I am in a quiet space and thinking about all of you up in heaven and praying that you will all continue to visit me and guide me through the rest of my time here. I still need your love and encouragement… all day, every day. You all took big pieces of my heart to heaven with you - but, there's still a lot of love in the rest of my heart - keep showing me how to use it best.
2016: I made a decision last night that I'm no longer going to expend energy on "angelversaries" - or whatever they're called. I mean, there are just too many significant losses for me to do that. Of course I'm thinking of my brother Joe today and I'm so sorry for all of us that he's gone... but, in reality, I feel his presence so often that I prefer to celebrate his life rather than the date that he left us.
So, I'll be looking forward to meeting his grandson in the very near future and will definitely raise a glass on his birthday in August to celebrate all the good years that I had with him. Amen
2019: They went all at once. It all happened so quick. There was no time to recover in between the hits. I was being delivered dire news during funeral services. Although I'm sad that Joe left us five years ago, he passed before the rest and for that I am grateful. I'm also grateful that Mom wasn't cognizant of the fate of her children.
I try to be good and keep the anniversary dates to myself, but, facebook memories won't let me forget. I was really, really good at hiding all the behind the scenes stuff that was going on while any one of them was alive. That was to protect them from enduring the emotional pain of knowing more and being helpless to change the outcomes.
I'm glad that I took the time to scan all of Mom's photos. I was able to put a smile on all their faces when I began sharing them. Janie never really knew how attractive she was - she was self-deprecating to a fault. Always talking about a forehead big enough to land a plane or her "dumbo ears" which her face gradually grew into..
But the glee and huge smile she got when people told her she looked like Mom was so genuine that it would burst my heart. Their memories will live on through me... true love never dies.
2020: Today marks the end of my first quarter. January through April 26th. I know for other people, January through March is the first quarter of each year but not for me. Every year since 2014, I am reminded that my brothers John and Michael both passed away in January. I'm reminded that Mom died in the month of February and my brother Joe and sister Jane both left this world in April.
Many call those death anniversaries "angelversaries" and today is my brother Joe's Angelversary. He passed in 2014 and was soon followed by our Mom, sister and brother. I vowed on one of Joe's first Angelversaries that I wasn't going to doing any big acknowledgment of those sad dates when all my family died. Instead, I do what I can just to get through the months with my sanity and on good days, my sense of humor.
I celebrate my family everyday. They may be gone from this earth but they're with me all the time.
The quarter is ended today. No parent or sibling Angelversaries until October now. In this sad time in history with the Covid virus making Angels out of so many of us, I feel bad that other people will now have Angelveraries on their calendars. "I'm sorry for your loss" gets really old after awhile.
2013: Hands. This was the last picture taken of Janie, Mom and I, the three of us commonly referred to as "Mom and her girls." I'm glad that I had the forethought to ask Janie to snap this picture. I had no idea that just two years later both Mom and Jane would be gone for good. All I knew at that moment was that all three of us had the same hands and I wanted a picture of it.
I remember showing this photo to my other half when I got home from this nursing home visit. His reply was pretty snide although I don't know if that was intentional. He asked how come it looks like Mom is the only one with a manicure.
So, I'll put this memory out there for the universe and hope that someone takes something away from it. When I look at these three hands, I don't see an unmanicured mess. I see three dainty, very small hands with tiny little nail beds, nonexistent cuticles and nails that grew long and hard. We all inherited Mom's hands.
I see the hands of two people who loved me and neither one of them ever cared if my nails were painted. I feel bad for people who are too shallow to understand what's really important in life.
2014: Bizarre Good-Byes - Joe visited me all the time. So did Michael but not as often as Joe because Michael, Janie and I had group meetings (fat food nights and blue screen watching) and social media. Joe found excuses to check in with me because I had computer skills that worked for him and his biggest client (friend). But that was just a benefit... he was always checking on my well being.
We'd spend hours talking, telling family stories. 1/2 hour work, 2 1/2 hours chatter. I loved it. The second he left I would discuss with Janie because he was such a keeper.
This one visit came while he was sick. I was downing on him for not visiting with Mom when she was really sick. My fault. He was too sick to come to my calls. That was a whole new grave feeling for me. But, he came over when he could.
The conversation between sister and older brother went like this: Joe, Janie is full of cancer.
He said: So am I. More than you want to know about. I don't think I can help.
Me: WTF Joe!! (Hugs, cries... the last ever) Is Mom going to outlast all her children? WTF, WTF, WTF!
We had our goodbyes. I knew I had to deal with the future without his help. I was glad that I and his friend Mark were on his stop and love list.
Sometimes a single picture can totally crack me up because it reminds me of the "lingo" that me, Michael and Janie had. Sometimes all we had to do was look at each other to burst out laughing for hours and other times we opened our mouths a bit and would be crying, laughing about a particular topic for months.
Me and Janie named these photos "guido zito ghetto garden" and I swear I can hear her laughing right now...
That's a whole lot of work for one tomato salad...
1966. My Three Amigos
I was in their "charge". My protectors. My three USMC, trained fighters. I was kind of partial to my middle brother. My youngest brother was only three years older than me and his teasing at times could be relentless.
My middle brother was five and a half years older than I and he was the one that was kind of stuck being most in charge of me. He didn't seem to mind me tagging along with him and his friends at the playground on the next block.
When my little sister was born, I was five and a half, and we were all in charge of her. And that is when I began to really live.
The one pictured is not from Janie. This is the one thing I asked to keep from all the beautiful possessions that have been uncovered from Hazel's house. There's a reason why it is important to me. I know it's blessed. It was the smallest crucifix of many that I found while cleaning and it's surely from one of her two Nun Aunts or Priest Uncle.
I've always like small, dainty, detailed crucifixes. So did my youngest sister Janie. As a matter of fact, when she was younger, in her teens and twenties, I used to hunt high and low everywhere I traveled in search of a dainty, gold crucifix to gift her for the next special occasion. She had a collection that she had dangling from on a charm holder from a long gold chain. That was style during the '80's.
I remember being with her one of those nights close to the time when she was going to pass away. She asked me, "What do you want? You can have everything." She followed that question by telling me that she knew I would be the most affected by her passing and she apologized for leaving me. Those comments were enough to break the strongest and coldest of hearts.
I told her I didn't want anything but her. She went on to tell me that I had to take her prized possession - her Christmas ornament collection. Although I told her that they are only important to her, that was a lie. Every piece of her is important to me.
While sitting there and sharing this morbid conversation, a thought dawned on me... "the crucifixes."
I said, "where are your crucifixes? I want those.' She hesitated when she broke the news that she had been keeping secret for the couple decades since she was out of college. The crucifixes were stolen from her dorm room at University of Rhode Island and she never had the courage to tell me because she knew it would break my heart. And it did break my heart but not nearly as bad as how broken I've felt since I lost her.
On this day - 6 years ago, 2013. My dude was being an insolent, ungrateful prick on the night that I had invited him to an open bar, buffet dinner with friends from the company I had been working with all year. I ended up taking him even though I considered other options. He looked very good in his suit with his french cuff links (a look he hadn't sported for quite some time) - but, a suit doesn't make up for ungrateful ignorance...
On this day - 5 years ago, 2014. My brother Joe had died and my sister Janie was undergoing treatment for Cervical Cancer. I was missing them and relishing on the simple pleasures that us three enjoyed most...