A Wee Bit of Writing

I have decided to take a serious stab of putting together our family story in somewhat of a memoir form. We are going into our 70th year of owning and operating a family pizza chain that was started by my grandfather. There is a lot of family history and family dynamics as a result of this business. My job as “the writer” is to make sense of the family and record our history for future generations.

I am currently taking an online memoir writing course and reading up on the discipline. So far it is an interesting course and I have already learned a lot, but I am know where ready to start putting it all together. It is all still swimming around in my head. There is a story to tell, a story that needs to be told and a history to preserve.

Before my Dad passed away in 2010, he started recording his version of the going ons of the family and the business with the hopes of putting together a book. In his honor, I want to finish what he started so long ago. I have started once again listening to these recordings. To hear his voice again; the joy, the laughter and his undying faith is a gift that I treasure. Of course there were tears, but also smiles in hearing him and remembering him. I sure do miss him. Time may dull the pain of losing him, but it never fully goes away.

I am not sure why now. I just feel strongly that it is time, it is something that I have been thinking about for a long while. I am excited by the prospect and the process of writing this story. I am sure it will drudge up a lot of memories, both good and not so good. There are very people left on this earth who can help tell the story from the beginning and I need to tap into that for an accurate account of things.

As I progress, I may share some of the writings of this book here on my blog for my very small audience. I am not looking to do a widely published memoir, but more of family legacy book to be shared and passed down to future generations and of course to share with those who were impacted and lived the business.

A little bit of Fall

The leaves are starting to turn and the weather is getting cooler. It is October. Every early October for the last 5 years I have had my niece, Caroline, while her parents travel. Those 6 days were busy, full of adventures and exhausting. I love having this little girl, she is sweet with a little bit of sassy. She is a very well adjusted 6 year old. This year she seemed to miss her mom just a little bit more. FaceTime was a life line. a couple of temper tantrums that I found myself having little tolerance for, Steve was actually the voice of reason on most accounts. All in all we had a lot of fun. We visited the pumpkin patch, went to a festival, visited Kirsten and went to the park in Cincinnati and went to a class to make kitty cat caramel apples. She also had school (with couple of days off) and soccer practice. I was fully aware of my age as she is the energizer bunny. I love fall as the temperatures cool down, football, fires and pumpkins!

Right on the cusp of fall we had our 8th annual family foundation golf outing. The outing was a great success with proceeds going to 4 Paws for Ability, service dogs for vets and those with disabilities. it was so much fun and dogs from the program joined in the activities. My girls and Patrick were home for a long weekend. It is the first time they have all been home for the outing in many years. It was so wonderful. I loved having my family under one roof, if only for a couple days. Pat played golf with Steve, while the girls and I helped run things. Steve got a hole in one on the course at the prize hole – it was very exciting, and a great win! When all was said and done I had full house withdrawals. Even after all these years of having an empty nest it is still hard to let them go. Both Allie and Kirsten are doing well in life and are successful well adjusted adults. I am very proud of both of them.

My volunteer gig also had their fundraiser and I was on the event committee. That too was a great success. That night I got a text from Steve to come pick him up. He was at a local nice restaurant. I asked him if he was drunk, and he said yes. I could not get a hold of him and was getting quite angry. He finally called and was on his way home, driven by one of the patrons he struck up a conversation with. I got home and he was crashed, totally incomprehensible. He kept saying something is wrong, I wanted to take him to the ER but he could not get up off the couch so I had to call the squad, He was in bad shape. Turns out he had less than 2 drinks. Something fishy was going on. The ER doc. chalked him up to a common drunk when in reality it is obvious that something was put in his drink. The man who befriended him at the bar and drove him home said he was fine and normal and a second later was totally loopy. The family dr. agreed with the assumption that something was awry and that something had to have been put in his drink. The dr. is having all sorts of tests being done to rule out anything else. His alcohol level was 212 – so clearly it was the drink. The ER doc did not do a urine test which would have immediately told the tale. So now we are left with a mystery. It was scary and he is now doing fine. It is sad to think that someone would do that, especially at a nice upscale bar / restaurant – but is scary that it can happen anywhere.

So – so far this little bit of fall has been busy, fun and kind of crazy. Not to mention the scare of alcohol poisoning. Next stop, a visit to our condo in Florida and halloween.

Busy is Better

It is only mid-August but it feels like summer is coming to a quick end. Fall is right around the corner. The neighborhood kids start school tomorrow which means more traffic and school buses!

I have been busy and some days it is hard to get everything done, other days there is not enough to keep me going. Being busy is good for me. If I am too idle, I get up in my head and start thinking and analyzing life. Busy is definitely better. I am happy. I am grateful that I no longer have to work. I have time for friends, volunteering, AA, workouts and whatever else comes along.

The engagement party was a success. A lot of fun with family, soon to be family and some friends. During their weekend visit, Allie and Pat visited a few wedding venues here and Bingo ….. they found the perfect spot in Mt. Adams, Cincinnati. It is a beautiful old monastery that has been converted into a wedding venue. We couldn’t be more excited. The only downside is nothing was available in 2023 so the wedding is May 25, 2024. A Saturday over Memorial Weekend. It seems so far down the road. It does give us a lot of extra time to plan, save money and for the MOB to lose some more weight. Gotta look at the bright side!

The results from the breast reduction are good. I am all healed up. I still have some follow up appointments with my surgeon, but they are now few and far between. I have decided since she also has a staff that does cosmetic skin enhancements, I am going to have my first facial peel on my next visit. It is time for some old lady skin care. I am back full force at the gym with my trainer. My diet is ok. I am not exactly on the plan perfectly for the program I am doing, but I am eating way better than I have in the past so I guess that is a win. I have my body scan this week to check my measurements, I am not looking forward to it. I feel like I have had little or no change in the last 6 weeks. I have less than 2 years to get into wedding shape. I also want to be healthy. My glucose readings have been higher. I talked to my family doc and she did not like the numbers. I unfortunately had to go on a low dose of diabetes medication. I am not happy about this revelation, I am starting to feel my age and I don’t like it. My achy joints and arthritis are probably side effects from the Ulcerative Colitis. It sucks!

I have started back to my volunteer gig. I joined up again with the event committee. We are planning our big bunco fundraiser for 10/1. Looking forward to working on this event. It was super fun and profitable when we did it before Covid. My sponsor and I are hosting a going away party for a dear friend who is moving. I offered up my home for this. It is next week. 40+ have been invited, 25 have responded that they are coming – I have no idea how many people will end up at my house. Luckily our new outdoor space: patio, pavilion and landscaping will be almost complete. Just waiting on the granite countertops. I just need to chill about this gathering as it is stressing me out. We are also in the midst of planning our family foundation annual golf outing which takes place 9/19. It is not my year to be in charge so I am just doing what I can to help. A lot of event planning is currently happening and keeping me on my toes.

With fall coming, I am excited that football is starting back up. I love my Cincinnati Bengals. I am looking forward to having friends over on our new patio to watch games and hang out. Summer seems to have gone by really fast. They say the older you get the faster time goes by and boy is that true!

So for the life and times of me ….. I am just busy.

The Engagement and other Life Events

I haven’t written in long while, I am just out here trying to live life on life’s terms ….. which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes it is a downright battle, but let us not go there right now.

Allie and Patrick finally got engaged. The official engagement date was 5/21, so it has definitely been a minute or two. With all her snooping, she was still surprised. It was sweet, They were at a park in Dallas with the dog – they were going to go on a picnic but forgot the blanket so they just walked around and he popped the question. He had a party with friends planned for after the proposal and even had her bestie fly in from Chicago to complete the surprise. We are truly excited to welcome Pat and his family into ours. We have no wedding plans as of yet. There is still the decision as to where the wedding will be …. Dallas or Dayton/Cincinnati. We have said our peace and given our thoughts, but it is their wedding and they must decide. We have an engagement party planned for a couple of weeks from now here as they will be in Ohio for a wedding. It is just family and very few special friends. I will update after their visit.

With it being summer and the 4th of July holiday there have been a lot of drinking events, but I am holding my own. There are moments when I wish I could drink ….. take part in the jello shots. It is such a drinking culture that sometimes it is difficult not to feel left out. I love my sober life and my sober friends – but ………..

Ok so the really big news, because we all knew that Allie and Pat were going to get engaged, that was just a matter of timing …… I finally got a breast reduction. it has been 8 weeks since the surgery and I am doing great. The wounds are almost healed and I am finally able to do things around the house and in life in general. It was a rough go not being able to carry, lift or push anything. There was pain, but it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. I only took 2, well maybe 3 Percocet …… 2 that were desperately needed and 1 , well, not so much.. I just survived on Tylenol and Motrin for several weeks. The wounds were gross and took a lot of cream and gauze. The surgeon took out a total of 6.75 lbs of breast. I am getting used to my new size ….. now it is time to get rid of the love handles and old lady belly. I found it interesting and refreshing that the anesthesiologists asked if I wanted a different cocktail that wasn’t (addictive type) narcotics. My sober friends and I joke that anesthesia for a very few short seconds is the best, but anyway I did tell him to give me whatever would best and I could deal with it. I got 20 pain pills with this surgery. I still had my 18 from my kidney stone. Good news, I finally emptied my drawer of all the pain meds and handed them over to Steve to get rid of or hide, not sure which he did. I did say hide don’t pitch, but you never know. The pills after all this time were “talking” to me and I was really struggling. Taking that extra Percocet when I wasn’t sure if I really needed it scared me enough to take action, I have been seeing my surgeon every couple of weeks for post op. I am thinking only a few more visits and I will be good to go.

With the breast surgery my diet went to shit. I have been on a new program (that I paid a pretty penny for) it has a lot of accountability and pretty straight forward and kinda strict guidelines. I was all in before the surgery and losing weight but since surgery I have not been able to get in the right frame of mind to go all in. I am eating better, but half-assing the program. I am pretty discouraged with it right now and I hate going for my check ins because I am running out of excuses as to why my weight is staying constantly the same. It is rough. I want to eat and I want to drink like a normal person – ugh!

Well, that is the Life and Times of Me for the last couple of months. I am at a crossroads trying to figure out what my life is for and what I should be doing with it. Stay tuned, I may or may not ever figure it out.

30 Years ❤️

4/25/92, 30 years ago, I married my best friend and soulmate. It hasn’t always been easy and we have definitely had some challenging times together, but I wouldn’t change a thing. All those things; good and bad have made us love each other more. Despite the challenges we have had a good life together these past 30 years, I am blessed and grateful.

We have two wonderful daughters who are doing amazing. I think they might have been a little traumatized, but my life altering colon surgery and a little miffed by my spaced out persona during my addiction (but I never failed to support them, cheer them on and volunteer … I was a very functional spaced out mom). Allie starts a new job next week and turns 27. She never did really go into teaching. The pandemic had a lot to do with that. She is in sales and has been kicking ass! Kirsten is working in a lab duing quality control and such. She is interviewing and has a 4th conversation with the company this week. It is more of an environmental science job that she will be well suited for. Both girls live away from home and are functioning adults. I am very proud of both of my girls and the family that Steve and I created.

It is hard to fathom that it has been 30 years since our wedding day. I remember a time when I thought we would never be together. I was young and in love and so desperate to marry the love of my life. 30 years ago it finally happened! Through sickness and in health we have weathered the storm. I am one lucky girl!

Covid Christmas

Day 11 in quarantine ….. day 4 of Covid for me.

The kids are all headed back home and to work. Steve is back to work, and here I sit …. me and Ollie, the dog.

Covid went through the whole family …. Pat, Steve, Allie and then me. Kirsten is the only one to get through the holiday unscathed. She stayed away for awhile, but gave up and just came home, but so far she has been ok, fingers crossed!

It was a long 11 days with all of us at home, plus an extra dog. The mess was piling up, the Christmas decorations were becoming annoying and we were all getting bored with each other. I have to say, I was ready to get my house back … but at the same time I loved having everyone under one roof. I have mixed emotions as I sit home alone in the quiet of the house. I have started the cleaning process and putting things away – including Christmas, but my energy is low. I am still feeling the effects of the virus.

I can not say that Christmas was ruined. We were all stuck together at home. No running around, just us at home. I did have some fun excursions planned that didn’t happen, but we watched movies, played euchre and various games. Watched marathons of Netflix and enjoyed each other’s’ company. Stuck at home with all of us together doesn’t usually happen. I am grateful for the special stuck at home together time we had. It did suck with us being sick, but it was mild cases and only lasted a few days …. I think mine is lasting the longest!

I will miss my kids, but it is different now that they are adults and have their own lives to live. Steve and I, too, are in a different phase of life …. empty nest. We are all on our own journeys and must part ways. But not for long. We will all hopefully meet up in Florida in February for Pat’s moms birthday celebration.

It is not what I had planned, but sometimes what you don’t plan is better! Now if I can just make it a few more days to feeling better and getting out of quarantine and joining the world again ….. all will be good.

Christmas 2020 Style

It has been a different sort of Christmas season. No large family gathering this holiday. I am spending the day with my family: husband, daughters and Allie’s boyfriend …. and the pups. Playing games, watching movies and doing family zoom calls. We will eat our traditional Italian dinner tonight with all the family, but separately in our own homes.

It is a low stress Christmas which is kind of nice.

One of my brothers is just getting over covid – his family seems to be ok, but they have not been tested. Allie and Pat were exposed by his sister on Sunday. They tested negative with the rapid test, but are waiting results from the regular covid test. So we just stay home and wait. I am sure they will be fine, but we want to be safe and not pass it on.

I am staying away from the AA club which is hard since I plan the Christmas (alcathon) meetings. But I am sure they can run fine without me. It is just a control thing.

We need to go make gift drop offs the the brothers and families. Not sure when we will get the gifts over to Steve’s mom. She has a lot of health issues and doesn’t really want to see anyone, but from a distance …. and it is too cold outside.

Despite the issues 2020 has brought to us all, I still have gratitude …. a lot of gratitude. I have everything I need and my loving family is healthy. There have been challenges to overcome, but that doesn’t diminish my blessings.

2020 has definitely not been the year we all expected it to be when it started back in January, but we are surviving …. together!

Grandpa’s Tradition

Every year, a few days before Christmas, my family gathers to make our traditional holiday dinner …. beef braciole and Meatballs. My Italian father started this tradition many years ago when my adult daughters were very young. It was all about the kids helping with the preparations. My Dad loved spending time with his grandkids.

Thanks to Covid, this years braciole making looks a little different. Each family is making their own braciole and meatballs instead of gathering as an extended family. Unfortunately we won’t all be gathering for the Christmas holiday this year. We will be getting together in smaller family groups.

My beloved Dad passed away 10 years ago. The grandkids (5 girls at the time) were all fairly young. That first Christmas after his death, it was the girls who insisted on continuing Grandpa’s Tradition. Making beef braciole and meatballs is still a family tradition and it has withstood the test of time. It is a special time for my family to gather to honor and remember Dad/Grandpa. There is another grand-daughter in the mix, who is now 4 and never got to meet her Grandpa Vic. She no doubt knows though, how much he meant to our family.

Even though Covid this year may have changed Grandpa’s Tradition a little bit. We all hope to be back together as an extended family next year to once again continue on the tradition.

Old Friend New

Way back in the 8th grade a new girl moved into my classroom and we became life long friends, until we weren’t.

Even though we went to different high schools we remained the best of friends. We went to the same college and joined the same sorority. We fought a lot like girls will do. Sometimes we would go weeks without speaking, but always made up, until we didn’t.

As young adults we hung out. We went on many vacations together before during and after kids. My husband and I are the godparents to all 3 of her girls, they are the godparents to mine. Our children are close in age and were the best of friends until things changed.

We worked in the same business for awhile and shared a lot of friends and activities.

We were always there for each other or as I look back, I was mostly there for her. I saw her through her postpartum depression. I was very close to her Mom and I was there when she was dying. I often kept my friends kids and cared for them as if they were my own. I really loved these people.

When I was really sick with my ulcerative colitis and surgery was looming, I was in dire straights. We had a big fight over something silly but supposedly all about me and that is when I had had enough. I needed a friend and she couldn’t be the person I needed. Our friendship became toxic and just like that we were no longer friends.

About 20 years went by.

We would occasionally run into each other around town, it was bound to happen when you have people, places and things in common. By a force greater than both of us we even ran into each other on the streets in Barcelona Spain. Talk about a strange coincidence. We would always be cordial, but there was nothing more. I kept holding on to that resentment.

As I look back, I am sad that I missed her kids, my godchildren, growing up. That we denied our girls their friendship. They are all young adults now.

This friend reached out to me years ago to get together for lunch to talk and catch up and at the time I was just not in a good place and could not handle it, so I did not do it. She reached out again last week and today we had lunch.

I was stressed a little about what may transpire, but it was actually a really nice 2 hour lunch. We talked about a lot of things; kids, families, common friends, sorority sisters old times and life in general. Of course we did not cover everything ….. as I am not sure where this reconnection is going. She has no idea what I have been through with my alcohol and pill addiction or my involvement in the recovery world. I don’t feel comfortable enough to share those secrets. But maybe they aren’t secrets. What about if there is a next time and we go out for drinks and dinner, then what? I know I am getting ahead of myself as we have made no plans for another get back together. It is the age old question on whether or not to disclose addiction issues.

She will never be my best friend again, but we don’t have to be enemies. Hopefully we can start anew and renew our friendship and move on from here. Her mom, I know is smiling from heaven she always was rooting for us.

Let’s just live and let live

Virtual Graduation

 

BCD29C23-E1FE-461E-A9FD-B2A2F76FC11F.JPGThis was supposed to be the postponed date for my daughters college graduation. Again we were supposed to be in Chicago this weekend celebrating this occasion with family and friends.   With the number of COVID cases rising it too, along with everything else was canceled.

It was a nice uneventful online ceremony.   The usual speakers.   The highlight was Loyola’s 101 year old Sister Jean speaking to the graduates.   She is an icon at Loyola, in Chicago and in the world of college basketball.  There were break out sessions for the different colleges at the university,   The whole thing took about an hour.

The graduates received a special graduation package to open during the ceremony.   It was a nice touch for an unprecedented situation.

I guess I shouldn’t complain, we had front row seats in the comfort of our own home.  I missed though all the pomp and circumstances and the celebrating as I am sure all the graduates did as well.

Kirsten and her friends have taken this all in stride.   It is not the graduation anyone wanted or planned.   Entering the next chapter has not been easy for these graduates.  Jobs are difficult to find in the midst of this pandemic.   In time I am sure everything will work out we just have to have a little more patience with the world right now.

Times are not ideal for many, I know a lot of people are struggling right now and have way bigger problems than a college graduation ceremony.  It puts things in perspective when you take the time to think of others who may not be as fortunate as we are at this time.

I know Kirsten will find the perfect job in God’s perfect timing.  She has a lot to offer and wants to save the world we live in for future generations.    I have faith that she can do it!

Go forth and set the world on fire Kirsten and fellow Ramblers!  Loyola University Chicago, Class of 2020.