Reviewing backups, I find Mom’s last words to me

Mom called and left a message 3 days before she died. She said that the latest tests were good. That everything was alright. To say hello to everyone and God bless.

A lot of folks don’t get the chance to say good bye, or their loved ones leave with too much left unsaid. Unshared. Unclosed. I think its that way for all of us. There’s no way to share it all all of the time. Life just moves too fast and then its too late.

I think maybe I ‘tripped’ upon this file because of something Rose shared today. She’s missing her Mom especially right now.

I think I’m lucky to have that message. And to have the Mom I had. And to have the family I have in the here and now. I’m the luckiest bastard on the planet. And I know it.

To all those missing their Mom’s today – my heart’s with you.

Eventful Week Can’t Even Come Close…

Call this week eventful would be an understatement. Monday was the anniversary of Mom’s death. Wednesday night the Phillies win the World Series, yesterday my friends’s 2 month old son has a successful surgery to address an intestinal issue, and today it is Halloween (wait till you see Emma) and the Phillies parade (which we will hopefully get a chance to attend – we’re leaving now!), all the while, work continues hot and heavy.

And next week, with the election and me seeing a college admissions councilor looks to be almost at hectic.


Be seeing you, memento mori, happy Halloween.

It’s been a year since Mom passed away

The year has gone by so fast, and it still seems like yesterday. Maybe it always will. At least now, when I dream of Mom, I end up waking with a smile and a bounce to my step.


Hi Mom,

I’m doing good. Work is going well, Emma and Richelle are doing great. Dante and Katie say hi. So do Brendan and Matt. You should see their house. You’d be so proud. Al and family say hi too. My back is feeling a bit better. Just have to keep working at it. Anyways, I bet you’ve made some friends, and ruffled a few feathers here and there. That’s okay ya know. Not everyone will like you, even if you’d like that to be true. But ya know, those people that know you love you. I miss your giggles and wicked sense of humor. I swear I see it in Emma more every day. And I’ve been known to crack a goofy smile more myself these days. As for the world, Obama might win, and the Phillies are one game away from doing the same in the World Series. I can see you right now in some over sized Phillies jacket enjoying the show. I know you’d be calling me after every game if you could to share some joy. Ya know, you once told me that it was I who was the adult, and you who was the child, but in the end, that can’t be true, because even though you may not think so, it was you who taught me much.

Love you Mom,


Neil Diamond in the New York Times

Mom loved Neil Diamond and on some level, his music remains a part of my life.

NYTimes: Backstage With Neil Diamond, the Marathon Man of Pop

“I never expected that I would be doing this for as long as I’ve been doing it,” he said after his sold-out show at the XL Center here on Thursday, having changed out of his black silk stage costume and into jeans and a loose-fitting cotton shirt, his eyes hidden behind small round glasses.

“So looking back and seeing that it’s been over 40 years since the first hits makes you think, ‘Is there a time that you stop?’ ” he continued. “But I don’t think I’m ever going to stop. It’s the only challenge I have left in my life.”

Thanksgiving 2007

It’s been a challenging year. The herniated disk (I’m still suffering with it). The reenginerring and relaunch effort (we launched successfully and they promoted me the same day Mom was diagnosed with cancer). Handling various stability issues with Philly Future that nearly killed the site. Being with Mom as she ended up in the hospital more and more (look on the archives here – a pattern emerged from back in 2005). Learning to be a dad.

So while it’s been a struggle – I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and every day.

This is my last post on Mom for a while. I mentioned I would share some pictures and Richelle did prepare a terrific slideshow for her memorial service, but I think this recent one says it all.

I Fooled Myself

In the past, I fooled myself into thinking I could not miss what I did not have.

I grew up without a father.

Looking at many I grew up with, sometimes I thought I had it better. I had quite a few friends with dad issues that haunt them to this day.

But now, upon reflection, it feels like I’ve simultaneously lost a Mom and a Dad.

What a strange thing to write. I must be entering the so called ‘anger’ phase.

If only life were that sequential, I could expect the emotions to wash over me, to pass me by on my way towards ‘acceptance’.

But our lives aren’t really like that are they? They happen, in a cosmic kinda level, at something resembling all at once, and our minds attempt to give it order and structure, if there are such things, they are beyond our current understanding.

All I know is that Mom did exist, and she left a legacy in me, in her other sons. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I’m rambling on my blog. Not like me at all. I’m trying to reach for something in writing I can’t quite get to yet. And my guitar is failing me on some level.

So good night folks.

Halloween Pictures

It may have been the day before Mom’s funeral, but she wouldn’t have wanted us, especially Emma, from having some holiday fun. We may have been harried making arrangements for that Thursday, but we had a good time. I feel particularly blessed to live where we live – a true blue old fashioned Philly neighborhood. It’s a great place for Halloween.

Back to work

Getting back to work after Mom passing away is a weird and strange. I’m still busy reconciling everything in my head and heart.

Funerals absorb so much of your time that you don’t get a chance to think about things until after they pass.

I’ll share some pictures later, but one thing that became apparent from the slideshow that Richelle put together was that she was, most likely, happier now than she had ever been in her entire life.

Ya know, there are two stereotypes of old people who have had extreme levels of tragedy and struggle to deal with in their lives.

One, the wizened old soul who rose above such tribulations and became a font of information and history.

The other, the poisoned heart, who can no longer see the good in much anything, and rails against the unjust nature of our world – especially to him or herself.

Mom grew into someone resembling neither of these.

Instead, as she aged, she became more childlike with each passing day. When I say this I don’t mean unknowledgable – no I mean more aware of wonder. Of laughter. Of surprise. Of the importance of deep hugs and never staying angry and unreconciled. And of never saying goodbye, but of saying see you later and I love you.

It doesn’t seem fair that it took so long to get to this place, and then to have her snatched away.

But at least she did get to this place. That I was there to witness it. And I will be there to share it with my daughter (I hope).

Mom passed on Saturday at 3 in the afternoon

Mom was in the hospital with what was thought to be congenital heart failure. By Wednesday she was looking good, but the swelling in her right arm had not gone down. She and I talked about this latest trip to the hospital, just a few days after the last, but that everything should be alright. Her spirits were good.

On Friday I spoke to a doctor who told me it was a blood clot in her right arm that was the trouble. Blood thinners should help, but they wanted to be conservative since her platelets were low as a consequence of her chemo.

I called to check on Mom Saturday around 1 PM and heard that she was in ICU.

This was a shock. While she has issues she was dealing with, her Doctor sounded confident with me on Friday.

I ran to ICU and got there around 2PM.

It turns out, around 6AM Mom was having difficulty breathing, they did a CAT scan and found another blood clot, this one in her right lung. They asked her if it was okay to temporarily be intubated. Mom has been in this situation before, and so she said yes.

By the time I arrived, Mom was looking like she had on other ICU trips, drugged, but stable. I held her hand as the doctor on staff told me what they would like to proceed with. Mom became agitated, possibly hearing me and the doctor discuss these things, possibly just because she was snapping out of her medication. They gave her morphine (which they had done countless times before on other trips to ICU) and she calmed down. The doctor and I talked for around 2 more minutes before her stats went haywire and alarms started ringing. I remember one doctor asking this doctor if she needed help and she said yes, get everyone. Someone pulled me away and asked me to go to the waiting room.

I was there for 10-15 minutes when they called me. They told me there was no heart beat, that they were keeping her alive at that point with CPR. They asked if I wanted to be in the room with her.

Within seconds of my arriving one doctor said he felt a faint pulse and I grabbed mom’s feet and demanded to her that she stay. The staff worked for 15 or so more minutes, with me present, but she was gone.

A nurse told me it was like she had waited for me to arrive, and then decided to let go.

I’m coming out of the daze of the day and am waking up with a million questions and what-ifs. I don’t know how many of them are coming from my head, and how many from my heart.

Thank you everyone for your support, your thoughts and prayers.

Steve Olson: “love is the shell’s kryptonite”

Steve Olson, who recently stopped by to post a comment wrote about “the top causes that make my palms sweat, my heart bleed, and sends tears rolling down my cheeks” for the Caring, Compassion, Charity project.

It’s subject matter I can relate to on many levels – “Why You Should Never Give Up on a Troubled Youth”:

…When I was young, many people who claimed to be helping me, lied to me, abused me, marginalized me, and wrote me off as another statistic. I don’t claim to be special or unique in any way, I am one of millions.

I did not expect to live past 18. I lived through events that should have killed me. The fact that I am here writing this – alive and free – is a miracle. Some of my friends didn’t make it. And some that did are the walking wounded. Ghosts of what could have been.

I owe my life to a couple of inexplicable events and to those few people – and there were very few of them – who accepted me as I was.

As my mind’s eye gazes into the reflection of my past, I clearly see that every moment of every day is a priceless gift.

But the most valuable thing I’ve learned along the way is that there is only one cure for what is wrong with people and the cure is unconditional love and acceptance. It starts with unconditionally loving and accepting yourself as you are right now.

Sound hokey? Cliche? Is unconditional love and acceptance a tall order? Yes, but it’s worth the effort.

Read the whole post.

He finishes with asking me to do the same here. That’s a scary request. It’s one I got to think about. I’m not sure I have guts to let it all hang out out here. There are reasons why I start my online personal history in my late teens.

But for now, let me just say again how much I can relate to his post. I had thought at one time I was going to die by the time I was 18. Then I had thought it would be 25. Then 30. Like so many I was written off by some and let down by others who thought I never could amount to much.

I’m blessed to have found folks along the way who believed in me.