Posts Tagged ‘family’

Split

An entire year. Not one blog post ~

Apparently my blog and I have split.

What a year of distractions (work, Facebook, work, tasks, work, TV, work)

And I allowed them to control me, I have to admit.

 

I actually avoided even opening my blog.

My heart, which reading through my past posts,

Always had so much to say,

But now it has somehow fallen silent ~ a quiet ghost.

 

Is my heart no longer moved?

Is it a numb, unfeeling imbecile?

Certainly the murderous rage from the anesthetized continues.

Have I become apathetic, the attacks that are now so predictable?

 

Perhaps it’s a little bit of guilt

For a life overflowing with blessings,

A year filled with love, family health, and happiness.

To write of it a blow ~ a slap in the face to a world marred by weapons.

 

Whatever the cause,

Whatever the major inducement,

I must no longer allow my heart and mind to be muted.

A resolution made for my own well-being and improvement.

 

Happy New Year ~ 2016

Wendy Giglio Fiore – January 3, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pleasing the Father

The piece I wrote the night before my father’s funeral. Interesting to see my frame mind. It’s so hard to believe it has been 8 years.

It is impossible to please all the world…and one’s father.”

                                                                                                                        Jean de La Fontaine

 

Many children can agree with La Fontaine. Pleasing their father seems like an impossible task. I would not be one of those children. I am not sure what came first — the fact that I knew I pleased my father or that I aimed to please him.

My earliest recollection of this Tony/Wendy dynamic was Dad having his friends over, perhaps the tennis team from MxCC, and they all took turns whipping a baseball at me.

“Just throw it!” he yelled. “She’ll catch anything.”

Now, in my six-year-old brain (or whatever young age I was at the time), it seemed as though those men whipped those balls at me. My father would tell the story that, yes, they were real baseballs. However, the possibility remains that they only tossed them at me, perhaps tennis balls, and that Dad exaggerated his pleasure at my “talent.” One of the many unanswered questions I’m left with, albeit a bit unimportant.

Tony Giglio…a difficult man. He had no patience whatsoever. As a child and even a young adult, I found this very intimidating. He would snap and bark and growl. Tough as nails and unsatisfied with everything, except me so it seemed. But even this admiration could only go so far and had many limits. If I interrupted at the wrong time, if I asked for a ride to a friend’s house when he didn’t want to drive, if I complained that he made me miss my piano lessons because he was at the Elk’s, if I came in to cuddle with my mother after a nightmare…anything could set him off. I learned to avoid sending him off his teetering edge whenever necessary.

Even with this behavior, we grew close. I chose to help him in the yard whenever he needed it. I loved driving the tractor, using the chainsaw or ax, shoveling, hauling, painting, or whatever task the season demanded. I remember doing these chores from a very young age. I don’t remember how we worked. Did we chat? Perhaps we sang songs or did I prattle on while he just, “Um-hmmed” me, or maybe he initiated conversations as well. I wish for a crystal ball to eavesdrop on those times.

I know that I chose to spend time doing these jobs not only because they interested me much more than any inside chore, but also because he accepted me. I was a strange child for the times. Tomboys were not quite as popular as they are now. From a preschool age I wanted to be a boy. No…I believed I would turn into a boy (at the magic age of twelve no less!) Clearly this would cause my mother a great deal of stress. Not my dad. He would let me help him, act like a boy, work along side him with my shirt off, not saying a word.

And when my mother would come screaming out of the house that I was in fact NOT a boy, scrambling to get my shirt on me, he would calm her saying, “It’s no big deal, Audrey.”

Another way my father proved to be a total anomaly. Fits of rage over the tiniest thing, yet completely calm over something else that should have caused a parent a great deal of concern in 1970.

As I grew older, our relationship changed and I realized how much he looked up to me, and the patience that I had; the control I took over my life and happiness. His admiration grew. I made choices in my life that would make it better. I played high school and college sports traveling all over, while he followed all over the state and country, at times the only fan in the stands as we played in faraway places. I went for degree after degree, certification after certification. I did these things for myself…or so I thought.

I kept my perfect “Al-Anon” boundaries in place, separating myself from him as much as I deemed safe. I had made a conscious choice to disconnect myself from such a powerful influence. As much as I loved this man, I could never have a man like him for a husband. Having dated only three boys in my young adult life, I realized they all could have changed their names to “Tony Giglio” with so many similarities in their addictive (and not always kind) qualities. I had no choice but to set boundaries and maintain a safe distance, managing that “loving detachment” in order to maintain a relationship with my father.

I had never regretted that willful decision…until now. While I still don’t want his abusive and addictive traits in my husband, I want more time with him as a father. In separating, I focused on his negative points and I have missed the good ones: His sense of humor, his approval, his devotion to my sports, his love for my children, his love of reading and writing. I had forgotten the tender times: The money he gave me after my dog died unexpectedly so I could buy another one, the notes he would leave for me at airport terminals if he left one of my tournaments earlier than I did. How my teammates would love looking for the notes, wishing their fathers had even called to find out how the games had gone, let alone flown out to see them and then leave little love notes at the airport. The constant invites to ski, every winter weekend filled with an excursion. I feel lost as the skiing season approaches and I have to head down a slope without him, something I cannot remember doing.

I hate hindsight. It’s always late. We can see things that should have been obvious from the start. I see that my degrees were done in part for him…because of him. He directed me in my route to my masters, finding a school and program for me. I can see how doing well in school, while never really talked about in our house was simply expected. Even with his absence in that household as I grew up, I understood that I would do well in school.

So here I am with my perfect hindsight vision, longing to tell him things, to ask him questions, but it’s too late. I will continue to strive for the best in my life and my children’s lives, but I have learned that above all else, I am my father’s daughter, a fact that I never like admitting even when people would ask,

“Are you Tony Giglio’s daughter?”

I will embrace that now and the heritage that he has left me. I will always love white lilies and will make sure my children do as well, understanding their significance in our lives. I will always make sure that they know about the Island de Giglio. They will ALWAYS love the Red Sox. And I will work to accept them for who they are and what they want out of life, pushing them to strive for excellence …always.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.

Your Pumpkin

W. Fiore 2007

Longing

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I saw a couple on the bike path, clearly enjoying their vacation on Sanibel. Picking up one of the free Sanibel papers that outlines everything from events to real-estate, all while talking to some loved one on the phone. No need to wait to fill them in on every fun fact of their vacation. Their beloved practically right there with them, sharing in the vacation.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

I think about the letters written during the Civil War, the longing that radiated through the writing. With no way to see their dear ones, impossible to hear a sweet voice or speak to those far away, soldiers and families alike relied on maybe one faded photograph and memories. Parents sent children away during times of war, never knowing if they would see them again, all in the hopes they could save the lives of their precious babies.

Today we are so fortunate. We have FaceTime, Skype, and countless other means of immediate “connectedness,” even if someone’s in outer space. We are so blessed.

But lately, part of me wishes for the need of those letters, for that longing to come through in some way.

It’s what I’m feeling lately for all of my friends, family, and all my connections in New England. I’m longing to see them, to hear them, to visit with them and tell them every little fun fact, and hear each and every one of theirs…to be part of their lives once again.

Sullivan Ballou’s letter home to his beloved wife, Sarah

July the 14th, 1861

Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours – always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

W. Fiore 2014

True Companion(s)

A piece written for my honey many years ago.  Found it cleaning up my computer.  🙂

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Ralph Waldo Emerson writes on friendship:

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.”

My best friend? That’s a toss up. One candidate — my husband. Standing 6’4” and over 200 pounds, David is a gentle giant. I always said that in the nine years that I have lived life with him he never made me cry. Well, now to date, one might say that he has brought on two of the worst crying episodes of my entire life.

In the middle of my Christmas break, he pulls me into him and whispers, “I have some bad news.” David, always so calm, happy and full of jokes now holds me very tight, not letting me go. “There was a fire in Chester,” he pauses … only slightly … “Lewis didn’t make it.”

I try to push away from him, looking up at him strangely. “That’s not funny, David,” still attempting to move away from this terribly morose sense of humor he has suddenly developed.

He only pulls me into him again, “Lewis didn’t make it.” My sixth grader who needed the most in every way imaginable had died in a fire after returning into his tiny, dilapidated house in a vain attempt to save his grandmother. I had known this child since he was four; the town’s trouble maker. He had attached himself to me long ago, calling me at home two or three times a week. His mother no longer really around, he had made me his surrogate mother. I gave all that I could to him with all that I had. I cried. I sobbed. For days. For weeks.

My grief turned private. Life had to continue. The grief counselors had long disappeared. The students moved on. They had their tests and assignments, their reading and writing, their relationships and responsibilities. I had to move on as well. And although I feared I would never again want to love so deeply for fear of feeling such hurt again, their smiling faces and hearts that greeted me every morning never allowed me to retreat into such a protective world. I wondered briefly if I would regret that.

I got on with life. Through it all I turned to whom I loved the most, the other candidates for my best friends, the ones who greeted me at my car door every day with smiles on their faces, smiles throughout their whole bodies, just waiting for me to come home — my dogs. My two beautiful Samoyeds, Maggie and Chez, with their upturned mouths creating that classic Sammy smile, balls of happy white fluff, just dancing to see me. Much to the chagrin of David, my dogs always received the first hello from me. My response to his protests remained a constant over the years, “Well, maybe if you came running to the driveway at the distant sound of my approaching car, bouncing, whining, dancing, I just might greet you first.” David’s not quite the dog person that I am. He never accepted this as an adequate response, nor did he ever demand a change.

After one particularly busy “end of the year” kind of week, I rushed home after our field trip to New York City at 9:30 in the evening, looking forward to walking the dogs, a favorite activity that I had not done in a couple of days. As I rounded the corner I saw David sitting on the deck with my father, my mother, my sister, and my friend, Cindy. Not always the closest of families, I became slightly apprehensive, especially when David came off the deck to greet me, the dogs’ activity that he never did. Either bad news loomed or I was addicted to something!

He hugged me, pulling me in closely, tightly and whispered, “I have some bad news.”  Again? “Maggie died today.” Why does he keep doing this to me? I pulled away from him, looking for her. I find only Chez looking quiet and dismayed under the deck. The tears come as the reality of his words hit like a deadly blow. I cry. I weep.  I sob. I shake — over a dog.

A dog that pushed the behavioral limits in every moment of the day. A dog that heard after every exasperated repeated command, a huge sigh and, “You’re lucky I love you, Maggie,” as she would lick my face in happy disobedience. A dog that baffled every Invisible Fence employee as to how she could have escaped with such a high voltage battery. A dog. I missed a day of school, a very rare occurrence…for a dog. What was wrong with me? I never considered myself one of those Beverly Hills, obsessive dog lovers. I never bought bows or ribbons, special foods, expensive treats, brought them to groomers. I only loved and cared for them. Loved and cared so deeply that without the support of my husband and father would have fallen to the sidewalk, the sidewalk where Maggie would dance and shake at the mere sight of me. I was distraught. I was heartbroken. I was sorrow. All over a dog. I did not want to be this grown woman weeping for her dog’s life cut so short, missing a day of work over an obstinate mule disguised in white fur and a smile, losing sleep due to a void left by a dog who demanded love and attention and who returned in unconditionally. I felt like a fool. Until I received a gift. As if from the woman herself, Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant.

She writes:

“…so sometimes an angel will walk a dog back to Earth for a little visit and quietly, invisibly, the dog will sniff about his old backyard, will investigate the cat next door, will follow the child to school, will sit on the front porch and wait for the mail. When he is satisfied that all is well, the dog will return to Heaven with the angel. It is where dogs belong, near God who made them. Angel dogs.”

Maggie was no angel, but I did love that dog. And if Cynthia Rylant understood then I was not a fool. So I thought.

In reviewing the course of my life, I realized that my dogs and my students always received the best of me, 100% of me. My stepson, whom I have raised since birth, has received a mother’s love from me, the most that I have to offer. Wilson Rawls wrote in his incredible book for dog lovers, Where the Red Fern Grows:

“Men, people have been trying to understand dogs ever since the beginning of time. One never knows what they’ll do. You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don’t. I may be wrong, but I call it love—the deepest kind of love.”

God reminds us of this commandment to love one another in John 15:13.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  Maggie certainly didn’t lay down her life for me and I doubt that she ever would have, but I do know of someone who loves me as God commands it. Someone who despite his many and varied complaints about Maggie over the years forfeited his coveted morning cup of coffee to put his lips to Maggie’s muzzle, (who as a Samoyed never smelled but who had breath that could kill a small elephant), in futile and vain attempt at CPR to save her life — save her for the woman that he loves. My best friend. David. My true companion for now and for years to come. David who deserves to receive the most I can give, even more than to my dogs and to my students. David who knows that even though I will say I won’t love my students that much this year, won’t be mad when I do.

Ekatarina Gordyeva wrote in her book My Serge that you can’t wait to tell the people in your life that you love them. Don’t think that you’ll have tomorrow because you may not. And although I regret all the walks I didn’t have time for with Maggie, and all that I couldn’t do to save Lewis while he was alive, their deaths have taught me that time is short. Life is short. You can love many people and beings all at the same time. As Anne Shirley states, “Kindred spirits aren’t as rare as I once imagined.” I have learned to find and appreciate my kindred spirits along the way. However, what I have learned above all else is … Dogs may be man’s best friend, but true companions are human, and I am so thankful that I learned who mine is.

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Little Dippers

You fight and it tears my soul.

Shared blood

Shared cells

Yet you hate the commonality.

You feel trapped in those cells

Tearing at the walls that encase you to each other.

Where will it end?

When will it end?

How does the hate begin?

It will end in separation

Division that will never unify.

If it doesn’t end now

It never will.

We show love

We show kindness

We show compassion

We show understanding

We show acceptance

How does the hate begin?

You dip into each others bucket

Bucket dippers trying to fill your own buckets

From wells that will run dry with severance.

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Wendy Fiore – 4/2011