12 Years Ago, Tonight

12  years ago, tonight at 10:20 pm my father passed away in a hospital in Connecticut. I was never a big fan of New Year’s Eve to begin with but since this happened, I roll into a little ball

English: Sculpture of a woman in fetal positio...

in my bed and cry on and off.

My dad used to buy me a candle every single year on my birthday, without fail, I’m sure my mom reminded him but it was a tradition. My mom, sister and I still have one or two of his well-worn, soft handkerchiefs that are like prized possessions. Our dad had a shelf where he had 13 types of small different after shave cologne which he would point out to us, often!

What’s worse, for my mom, is that January 1st is/was my parents’ wedding anniversary. We try to give each other support but in essence it’s really our own pain we need to get past. I’m the “crier” in the family or as my husband and son call me “the shrieker.” Good or bad and especially when surprised by something: a bug, a person, a loud noise, I have a natural instinct to be scared easily. My daughter is the same way. Sometimes we shriek at

the surprise of seeing each other.

She’s away on a trip and as much as I am happy she is having a fabulous time, part of me wishes she was home. But, as much as I am a mushy mess, my daughter keeps all her emotions inside, deep, down inside. My expectations of wanting her here are really quite different from what her being here would be like. She does not enjoy my massive display of emotions.

My son is definitely more like me, we understand each other. We can read each others feelings on the phone or the breath before we say “hello” on the telephone. I was like that with my dad. My sister and my mother are completely alike, full of false bravado and unaware of their feelings. Being without my dad for so many years has been a struggle.

The balance has been lost, the person who understood me most, is gone. I’m with two family members that don’t really get me at all, they just say I’m “too sensitive,” never realizing that sensitivity is a good thing and that they might be insensitive. What I’ve learned all these years is that people don’t change.

I will get through tonight, thankfully, NOT going out, eating my American cheese sandwich and drinking chocolate milk, my comfort food. Maybe I’ll have some baked Lays for the crunch factor. For dessert, I pre-ordered two of our favorite home-made jelly doughnuts

from a nearby bakery. My husband and I will toast each other with those doughnuts, in memory of my father. Growing up it was a tradition that we all had jelly doughnuts on New Year’s Eve together. I just found out my husband bought four jelly doughnuts and two black and white cookies, he’s definitely like my dad too.

As sad as I am to have lost him, I am trying (not very successfully) to focus on that deep relationship we had and how much he really did love me. I was his baby girl, he loved me plenty of that I am sure. It just doesn’t help to take away the pain. Nothing does.

 

 

*My dad took me to see Two By Two with Danny Kaye, for years after, with spoons and different glasses of water of varying heights, he would conduct and we would both clink all our glasses after the words “Two By Two.” The last time I tried to do that with him, he was very sick and didn’t want to do that. He had lost his joy and I knew that his end was near.

 

 

 

 

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So Raw, Doubled Down.

( I wrote this many days ago but was only able to publish it now.)

 

 

 

 

 

My dad has been dead for a very, long time. He died at the age of 79, he would have been 91 today. He didn’t die after a long illness though he had heart problems for many years. I’m not sure he was ever the same after he had quadruple by-pass surgery when it was a VERY new and rare procedure.

 

He did have the same doctor President Clinton had and I know my dad would have just loved that to pieces. I can see him in my mind saying “Well, the surgeon practiced on me.” That literally would have been a “my dad” kind of saying and he would often laugh at his own jokes. I realize I laugh at my own jokes with the same pleasure, I get the same rolling eyes from my kids that I used to give to my dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You would think that after such a long time the pain would have dulled, and for the most part it has. But, there are days, like today, that the searing pain is so overwhelming that it feels brand new. It’s as if someone had plunged their hands into a recently healed wound on the outside and ripped it open with callous hands, blood bursting everywhere, red, raw, and then pouring in lemon juice. THAT kind of pain. Car accident pain. Torture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You think you will never get away from the pain, your body, your tears, you are wracked in pain and overwhelming sadness and you feel it will never stop. It does, get better, but you will live with this experience for the rest of your life. When people tell you “time heals all wounds” I say, don’t believe them. Yes, it gets better, day-to-day, but no one can promise you that there won’t be significant days that you will feel your grief with the same intensity.

 

 

 

Every part of me feels breakable and I wait for time to be alone so I can cry in private. A lot of time has been spent in my car just sitting alone. I try to think back and wonder if I am always like this on his birthday but I am sure I have never been this bad. Do I say this every year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that my dad missing out on his grandson’s exciting news about getting into medical school is killing me. My father, my son and I are very close in temperament and for that I am incredibly grateful. In my heart, I am sure he knows, but others mock me and I get tired of defending my beliefs. I know, to me, what is true and that’s all that counts. But, I admit living with three atheists and non-believers sometimes gets to me. They may not believe in messages from the afterlife but I do.

I was always like my dad. He is the missing link in the family dynamics and it is a dire loss for me. My mother and my sister can’t possible understand it but how could they, they are exactly the same. My dad was the one who knew me best, knew what I thought and felt instantaneously. I always had support, I always had someone on my side, someone who understood me perfectly. That died 12 years ago.

 

I am going to buy a piece of cake tomorrow and eat it in his memory,

 

angel cake slice yummy

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got my sweet tooth from him that’s for sure. I am weepy now but I hope when I wake up tomorrow I will feel better.

 

Dad, I would do anything to hear your voice, to have you call me your little mouse, to have a hug only a daddy can give. I know you were suffering and yes, I was glad that you had no pain, you weren’t yourself for the last few years anyway.

 

But, selfishly, I remember my old dad, the way you were in my mind: kind and strong.  If you wanted raspberries that cost five dollars, when they were not in season you would buy them,  as I would, because money didn’t matter, “if you had to have them.”  You were the first foodie, you used to run on the beach in the sixties before “jogger” was even a word. You were so nurturing, optimistic, warm and kind. You live in my heart forever.

 

Happy Birthday Daddy. I miss you. I will always miss you. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much still.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Spirit Of Angels

Water Angel

Water Angel (Photo credit: Hance Gesell)

I Do believe in Angels and Spirits from Beyond. I DO get messages from my dad who has passed. I fully believe in this. It comforts me. My dad’s spirit fuels me. LOVE DOES NOT DIE. Believe in what you want, just don’t disrespect what I believe in.

I know you don’t believe in the things that I believe and I’m not arguing that you should convert. But, at least give me the courtesy of your respect to believe in what I believe without the shared glances and the roll of the eyes. I have never done that to you, not once.

I’m fine with agreeing to disagree but I have seen the judgment and the crazy swirl of the finger pointed behind my back and that I will not allow. I refuse to be disrespected in any way. Got that? Good. I suggest you remember it.

No one has the right to judge my belief systems. If you don’t want to believe in anything that is your personal choice but to have influenced the children with your strong, angry voice I find disconcerting, at the very least.

I  smiled privately at my two signs (heart and wings, pc) that I knew so well but of course I wouldn’t share that with you, I didn’t need to and I certainly don’t want you to make fun of me. You saw the license plate for yourself twice or three times by yourself. Were you just humoring me or was that just a coincidence too?

Vaffa Day - 8 settembre 2007

Vaffa Day – 8 settembre 2007 (Photo credit: ! . © Angela Lobefaro . !)

All that is important to me is that I believe and that what I believe in comforts me, it is the unwavering truth. Signs from my dad, from the deceased is comforting, incredibly comforting and while I know he cannot change things in my life, I know he his with me and loves me and will always support me. Always.

What could be more important than that?

I don’t care what you or they believe in but you won’t find me standing in judgment and voicing my own opinions.

Believe in what you like, take comfort in anything, but do not, ever, disrespect me AGAIN.

I have a voice. I have a STRONG voice,  I am using it. Now and forever.

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Restless Spirit I

Restless Spirit I (Photo credit: Bill Liao)

I know if you could help me in any way, you would. There is no doubt in my mind, not a second’s hesitation that your “hands are tied.” Did you think I ever doubted that? No, not once. I know you would move the stars and the earth and the moon and the seas to help make sense of my life, to our life, to guide us on an easy path.

But, that’s not your job, I understand, really I do. You sent me signs and I was so grateful: a bird, our numbers, songs: My Immortal,by Evanescence, Dance With My Father Again, by Luther Vandross.

You knew I was there at the hospital everyday, you and I were the ones that counted. She remembers the day before you died but you did that on purpose, you wanted to see me laughing at you sticking out your tongue, how we heard over the loudspeaker that my car was about to be towed.

I miss you, Daddy, but I know you are with me.

I believe.

 

/photo credit Bill Liao

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Just One More Hug

Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Screenshot from a public domain film The Littl...

Screenshot from a public domain film The Little Princess (1939) starring Shirley Temple and Richard Greene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday, he died eleven years ago. I guarantee you it will not be an easy day or night for any of us. I’m trying to use this day to remind me of what a wonderful father he was, how he loved birthdays and presents and food and more food and little presents that cost less than a few dollars which we called “shmonsas.”

I miss him, those feelings stab at my heart and reopen wounds I thought had healed. Apparently, there is no complete healing from death and pain.  Since we have talked about my dad lately I feel the pain, as if it was fresh, wounds ripped open, knives sharpened and stabbing pain. Tears are spilling down my eyes, in the catch of my voice.

Of all times, the day before his birthday I found myself making his favorite, home-made pea soup.  I hadn’t even realized that his birthday was coming up because I was focusing only on 11/11 my favorite day and time. That meant today was 11/12 and I realized my husband and I are having dinner with my mom on Wednesday, not even conscious that Wednesday, 11/13 was my dad’s birthday. The world works in strange ways, I still believe there is a reason for everything.

Every Saturday morning when I was a child, my dad and I would watch Shirley Temple movies together, just the two of us. He would take his finger and wipe his eyes quickly and I once asked him if he was crying. He told me he had allergies but soon enough I learned the truth. Every week, another Shirley Temple movie, The Little Princess, Curly Top etc. was on. Saturday mornings were very special for me and my dad.

When I was older we would get bagels which was not technically stealing since the store was not open and once he and I got off the tram in Austria to buy bratwurst thick with golden brown mustard and rolls and left my mother and sister on the tram-car (not realizing they had no idea where they were and that we were gone.) As sorry as we were, he and I still held unto our sides remembering my mother’s fuming face, nostrils flaring. Luckily, he was the one who got in trouble, not me.

We would all go to Pathmark grocery shopping while I still lived at home and we would put ridiculous sized items in the cart while the other person wasn’t looking, 5 gallons of pickles, 10 gallons of ketchup, we thought we were hilarious. Sometimes someone had opened up a bag of cookies (No, it was not us) but we would help ourselves to samples. Once when my mother was away ( working) we went to a Spanish restaurant and got a little tipsy on Sangria, toasting wall paper hangers that did not show up. My kids will be shocked to hear this!  Another time, I was driving home from my married life in Boston, pregnant with my first child and he had come down as a surprise to direct traffic wearing an orange helmet with a bright orange sign with my name and arrows so that I wouldn’t get lost. If I had one sentence to describe him, it would be that one. When there were mice crawling over my bed and feet in my apartment he would pick me up and bring me “home.” Nothing was too much.

My mom, my husband and I will eat dinner at a restaurant and try to celebrate his life instead of mourning it.  I thought I might want to put a candle on my dessert for him but I can’t kid myself, I’d burst into tears before it even came. I think I’ll just say my own few words, privately. He was a wonderful father to both my sister and me: nurturing, warm, supportive. I still miss his warm hugs the most, a true loss. Prone to educational talks that were a bit too lengthy what would I do now to hear one again. I could count on to him to at least understand my side even if we didn’t agree, it’s been so long, eleven years, that I can’t even remember what that feels like anymore. We were so similar, he and I, my mother and my sister, exactly alike.

He has sent me messages from the other side except for a brief interruption which was partially my fault but now those messages will be back. I am sure of it. In fact, I just found an angel that I completely forgot about and now she is hanging happily from my crisp, new bulletin board. There are no more words, except to say, Daddy, I love you, I miss you, I’ll always miss the dad that you were to me. I miss your bear hugs where I knew I felt so loved and safe. I miss you being in my corner supporting me. I will never stop missing that. Happy Birthday, Daddy. Love, from “The Little One.(8)”

The Scent Of His Cologne – REPOST

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. (Photo credit: Gwenaël Piaser)

IN MEMORY OF MY FATHER WHO DIED ON NEW YEAR’S EVE, 11 YEARS AGO

I was sitting on my bed today, legs crossed, listening to music when over my right shoulder I smelled a fragrance. I sniffed several times and looked to see if I had put perfume on an item of clothes that I was wearing but since I was still in my monkey night-shirt and bear sweats, it was not even a consideration. I looked around, in front of me and behind, saw nothing and then I knew….my father had sent me a message for Christmas from Heaven. I haven’t had a message from my father in such a long time and it felt so good. I could feel his presence to the right of my shoulder. My eyes filled up with tears and I whispered “Thank you, Daddy.”

My father, when he was alive, used to have a “shaving lotion” collection or as most American men would say after- shave cologne. Some dads played golf, others collected stamps, still others played tennis, our European dad collected after shave cologne. He had a shelf built especially for these different sized bottles and he would go to different countries to add to his “hobby.” I’m not totally sure but I think he never had more or less than thirteen which was his lucky number.

Signs from the other side don’t scare me, as they do my mother, they comfort me and I appreciate them. Christmas used to be my Dad’s favorite holiday; the last Christmas he was alive I sat next to him, eleven years ago, and held his very, soft, hand. It was a softness that I knew I could not replicate. I knew it would be his last Christmas. He died New Year’s Eve, one day before my parent’s wedding anniversary on January 1st.

I received a gift from him today, one that means more to me than any present I can unwrap on Christmas Day. I know that love never dies, I’ve written about that many times before. I also know that while the physical body is dead, the spiritual one lives forever and that I never stopped loving him and he will never stop loving me. But, every once in a while, it feels so wonderful, and special to have received the gift today that is more precious than any memory.

I love you, Daddy.

As we used to say “Thanks for stopping by.”

Mellow Yellow Monday – Grapefruits

This photograph shows two pink grapefruits (Ci...

This photograph shows two pink grapefruits (Citrus ×paradisi), one of the two cut in pieces. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my memory, I see my husband with our three-year old daughter on his lap, each morning sharing a grapefruit. A grapefruit? Yes, our daughter doesn’t eat simple things like bananas (she hates the texture) or applesauce. Grapefruits? She loves them when they are particularly tart and juicy and when her dad is cutting into the grapefruit and doing the work, one bite for her and one for him. Occasionally my brilliant husband will say “one for me and two for YOU” trying to give her as much Vitamin C as possible and it always worked. When I think of grapefruits I think of my daughter, young and blonde, sharing a grapefruit with her dad. As she got older, I introduced her to grapefruit “smiles” and orange “smiles.” She really liked those too and then I would serve her plates of grapefruit and orange smiles and we would put them in our mouths together and pretend we were monkeys. It was fourteen years ago, when we made monkey sounds and danced around the kitchen with our big, yellow, grapefruit smiles. Life was good.

Father’s Day Without Fathers

Potato Salad

For those of us whose fathers are deceased or for people who never knew their fathers at all, Father’s Day is tough. Just like Mother’s Day is for people who do not have a mother any longer or who did not know their mother. I am inundated with advertisements and gift suggestions to get my father: electronics, shavers, cologne, new tv sets, ties. I wish I could get my father a gift but I can’t, he is dead. People say “I lost my father ten years ago.” Lost somehow implies the possibility of him being found and unfortunately, we all know that is not true. I did not lose my father like a wallet or a cellphone, he died.

This isn’t a blog for ideas for gifts but rather a suggestion on what you might do to remember your father. Honor them, not with flowers or chocolates (unless your dad had a penchant for some special type of chocolate.) Honor them with your memories. I go to the cemetery around Father’s Day to pay my respects. to clean the gravestone, to rearrange the stones that adorn it, to talk to my dad. This year I went four weeks early because my mother was having a procedure done and I visited the cemetery at that time. It’s okay.  I gave thanks for him being there, in spirit, from signs and messages I received from him.  I knew he was watching, I knew he cared. I don’t doubt that for a second.

Make a collage if you like to do that, sit and sip your father’s favorite drink, eat food that you both used to love to eat; eat his favorite food (German potato salad) or something the two of you used to share. Share a memory with someone who cares or just tell it to yourself, or your sibling. Siblings add details to each other’s lives that perhaps one of you has forgotten. Talk to your dad, you can go to a quiet place or you can go to a favorite place that you used to go to with your dad,  it doesn’t matter. After you talk, listen. Be aware that you can get messages from those who have passed if your heart is open and YOU are open to receiving messages.

This year my son’s High School Graduation falls on Father’s Day. I couldn’t be happier. I know my dad will be there with his grandson that he adored. I know that he will be watching him cross the stage for his diploma. His spirit will be there with love and pride, of that I have no doubt. Love comes in many forms, in different ways; leave your mind and heart open and I guarantee, you will feel the love. It can be in a form of a soft breeze on your cheek, the shape of a heart in the clouds, a memory of a time that was special to you and your dad. Honor those who are no longer with you. Hold up a glass and make a toast to the past, to the person, to the memories that live in your heart.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.