Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Forty Nine

I so vividly remember this one night when Lily was a baby. Well, it was more like the wee hours of the morning. She nursed. I changed her. She fussed. She nursed. She cried. She didn't want to go back to sleep. We rocked. I hummed. She snuggled in and the chair rocked back and forth.

Back and forth.

She had these gigantic eyes and was looking up at me. I did some math. When this baby is 16 i'm going to be 49 years old. I wondered who she would be. Who I would be. It seemed so far away on a night when the minutes of listening to a fussy baby seemed to last for hours.

Here it is.
Here we are.
This is nothing like I thought it would be.
It's better.

I've spent most of today driving Lily back and forth to work. I'd rather have my toes in the sand at the beach but this part of us will be over soon and I might miss it. Car talk is precious and productive. Seeing her safely from point a to b eases my mind. I'll do the beach another day.

This coming year, the steps we are taking away from each other are going to get bigger and bigger. No more of this baby stuff. Senior pictures, SAT's, the last first day of school, more college visits, applications to college, going to college. Someone, please please please slow this train down.

I really don't mind getting older. I swear. I do however mind the increasing speed at which it seems to be happening. I do mind that I need 4 different pairs of eye glasses to get thru the day. I do mind these single rogue hairs that occasionally pop up on my face over night. What in the hell is that? Dear God, I usually appreciate your sense of humor but now would not be a good time for my dominant, hairy Italian gene to show up. I have a new middle aged my kid is growing up part of life to create. I would prefer it if I took this task on without a mustache. Please. I ask for so little.

These things have happened since my last trip around the sun:

I put the finishing touches on my kitchen update. The last set of shelves I installed went up without me crying and calling the power drill truly horrible swear words. Some of the cabinet doors are maybe not so straight. The dog chewed one corner of the trim. If you squint and tilt your head a little bit, it looks pretty good. I am ok with perfectly imperfect.

I somehow fell more in love with the dog. Jazzy is going to be 3 soon. He loves us deeply and is the most loyal companion. I do wish he would stop humping the cat.

I am two blueberry bushes closer to having an edible yard and two minutes away from declaring a full out back yard war on a bunny and a woodchuck. The dirty ratfinks keep eating my spinach and lettuce. My tactics will be way less scary than an
intercontinental ballistic missile. I'm thinking pepper spray or maybe i'll grow them their own decoy pot of lettuce or offer a desirable relocation plan. Funny thing, they haven't eaten the kale.

"See Mom? Even they hate kale."
                                           Lily Henson

My porch is full plants and soft places to sit and watch people go by. I love it.

This house is really coming together. This life is really coming together.

Here it is.
Forty nine.
Happy Birthday to Me.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dutch Baby

This Dutch Baby sets the tone for today.
Slow it down.
Make breakfast.
Linger over one more cup of coffee.
Pick up a pen and piece of paper.
Write something.
Knit a few rows.
Stay in pajamas and watch the snow fall
from my fluffy chair named Pearl.
#lilysfavorites #sundaymornings #nantucketbreakfastinNY

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Today, for the first time since September 25th, I took 3 steps without the aid of a walker, crutches or cane. I could see myself in the mirror gracelessly moving forward with the stiffness of Frankenstein. I didn't mind how clumsy it looked. I did it. I walked and my leg didn't buckle beneath me.

I fell off of a horse. I'd like to tell a tale of great athleticism that led up to falling off like I was jumping a 3ft stone wall but that is not at all what happened. The horse spooked, not horribly, just a wee shiver and quick scoot to the left and we parted ways. I landed and twisted enough to break my leg into a lot of little pieces at the tibial plateau.

Up until that moment I was feeling so good. The sun was shining. The farm was quiet. I felt a confident, solid sense of rhythm that didn't happen often when I rode. I had a goal. I wanted to be good enough to fox hunt on my 50th birthday. It is a few years away and seemed reasonable to assume that by then I would stop flailing about in the saddle and could safely handle myself in the 3rd flight. Oh how quickly a moment can change things. My whole life was turned upside down and came to a temporary screeching halt.

I spent 10 days in the hospital. I had 2 surgeries and ingested more narcotics that I ever imaged my body could handle. Morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl. None of it ever completely took the pain away.

The months at home afterwards were spent in an overstuffed recliner that I have affectionately nicknamed Pearl.

I knit 3 scarves, one hat and 3/4 of one sock.

I watched 7 years of Gillmore Girls episodes with Lily. Twice.

I watched several PBS series in their entirety and every Werner Herzog documentary that has been made. His voice and 2 Percocet were the perfect combination to lull me to sleep. I miss them both a little bit.

My friends, co-workers, neighbors and family brought meals, movies and pie. Lily's life continued on as normal as possible because of their generosity and kindness.

I haven't been able to find the right words to describe how incredible my people are. My parents and sister were at the hospital before the ambulance arrived and never left. My Mom slept next to me every night in a recliner that may have left her with a permanent kink in her neck. She held my hand. That was often more comforting than the pain medication. Between them, I was never alone. I truly believe that their presence and care played the biggest role in my healing. They lifted me up when everything felt heavy, dark and impossible.

I have been able to count on Joe for anything and everything. Turns out he is the best ex-husband a girl could ask for. He continues to take care of the house, dog and kid while I get my sea legs back. He locks the door on the way out. I never have to pick up his socks or put the toilet seat down. I have the very best of him.

I have a new plan for what I want to be doing on my 50th birthday. It does not involve riding on the back a large animal.

Hopefully, this next time, I won't be so breakable.

Monday, September 5, 2016


Your suitcase in hand,
we walked the length of the driveway in silence.

It felt wrong to speak when the neighborhood
was still dark and asleep.
What was there to say anyway?
Good morning?
It wasn't morning yet.

We kissed good-bye
thru the open car window.

My fuzzy blue robe was wet from
leaning against the morning dew on the door.

If I knew that was going to be my last kiss
I would have lingered a moment longer.
Maybe brushed my teeth and combed
thru the knots in my hair.

I smiled, waved and mouthed "see you soon"
when you drove away.

I never saw you again.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


You have arrived again.
Always catching me by surprise.
The air smells different.
The floor is cold.
I need a pair of slippers for my feet.

Instead of slippers I cover myself with a
blanket and leave all the windows open.

The cat and dog watch a squirrel carrying
walnuts back and forth across the yard.

A crow screeches from a nearby tree.
The cat and dog don't seem to hear him.
They are only interested in the squirrel.

A new backpack and pair
of sneakers sit empty by the door.

I see five brown eyed susan
blooms that need to be cut.
They are shriveled and tired.

In two days the school bus will pull up.
My feet will have shoes on.
The dead flowers will be cut.
This crow will probably still be screaming.
And summer will be over.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A moment. Kathy and I at Ryan's wedding.

Reflecting on 47

The worlds softest, sweetest dog is asleep on my feet. The sun is shining. The sky is the perfect shade of blue with puffy white clouds that are drifting by at a snails pace and the humidity is low. Today is July 11th. My Birthday. It’s always this nice on my birthday. For as long as I can remember I’ve woken up on July 11th  with a sense of excitement and anticipation. The 48th time this morning was no different. I ate pancakes and drank an entire cup of coffee before it got cold. I stayed in my pajamas for as long as I wanted to. Today I choose to not wander too far from my yard. Today I want to think about how nice (and sometimes not so nice) 47 was and scheme some dreams for 48.

This one day is all about me. These couple of things happened and are going to shape my dreams for 48:

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. We had just enough chairs and a perfectly moist turkey. I’d like to do it again. I’d like all my sisters to be here. It seems harder and harder to all be in the same place at the same time for something happy. The older I get, the more I miss the ho hum day to day chit chat with them.

I have the nicest friends who don’t seem to mind if I budge in and dance with them at the Company Christmas party. I’m a solid party of 1 thanks to them and their kind, open hearts.

I had the heater replaced in our cute little house and spent the winter smiling every time it blew hot air on us and warmed our toes. I slept peacefully knowing we were not going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, the amount of snow that fell was not at all horrifying. This makes me feel more prepared for next winter. I feel like the only thing I have to do is buy a new furnace filter and we’re ready for anything.

In March, my step sister Kathleen Mary Waffner died. I feel fortunate to have been with my family all day at the hospital. For as awful as it was, it was also beautiful to feel so intertwined. We prayed, cried, laughed, grew tired and hungry. We drank whiskey out of waxed paper cups and watched our sister struggle to breath until she finally let go and shed that broken body. That was it. Just like that. She was gone. She stopped being amongst us living. Sometimes I forget for a minute that it happened and it takes my breath away. I imagine the hospital staff viewed us, her gathered people, as a polite fiasco. That is my family. These are the people I love the most. We are one man down.

I started a vegetable garden. The thought of not reaping the harvest of an asparagus bed for 3 years sent me into a bit of a tail spin tho. In three years Lily will be a freshman at college. Could I make her an asparagus quiche on the weekend? What if she isn’t living close enough to come home on the weekends? How could I eat all that asparagus myself? Does it freeze well? OMG I am going to be 50 by the time I can pick this asparagus. End result = my vegetable garden is doing well. I did not plant asparagus.

My Grandmother, Josephine Patitucci, turned 91 and drove her and a girlfriend over to our house for a Memorial Day parade celebration. I aspire to be that interested in life at 91.

My kid is the opposite of what I believed to be true about teenagers. We certainly have some sassy ass moments together but she continues to be my brightest light and person that makes my heart soar.

I have a job that I like. I love my house and feel safe. I have friends that I can’t imagine my life without. Someone pinch me. How did I ever get to be so lucky?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Abstract Pieces

I had an Uncle. His name was Tom. He died when I was 5. I don’t remember the exact shape of his face or the sound of his voice. I remember him in abstract pieces. His leg sticking out from his black reclining chair, tripping me when I ran by. The silhouette of his profile sitting in his car outside the front of our house. His hand, passing me a book of paper dolls in the front room of my Grandparents house.

I attributed the unexplainable to him being on the other side of what I perceived to be real. I was 5. It was easy to believe in heaven and angels. There was no doubt that what I could not see but could feel was divine.

23 years ago I took my first yoga class at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia. I wasn’t sure about heaven and angels anymore. I had an infinite number of possibilities to explain what I once believed to be magical coincidences. I went to yoga because my Self magazine told me I would get great abs and I needed to learn how to meditate to keep my snowballing anxiety to a dull roar.  

Savasana is the pose that you do at the end of yoga class. The corpse pose. The do nothing and surrender pose and it is not as easy as it sounds not matter how tired you are. That terribly annoying little voice in my head is hard to turn off. “Did I send that email? Is that lady snoring over there? I’m sweaty. I wish I had socks on. I wish I didn’t eat that second piece of pizza. I should stop for gas on the way home.”

The Savasana chatter was nonstop. Thankfully my instructor was a lovely woman who was happy to lead the group through a guided session to help ease the chatter. We were supposed to open our mind and hearts to whatever it is that guides us and surrender to the peace and harmony of the pose. I was skeptical. It sounded flaky. But I was willing to try. I might have fallen asleep. I might have been dreaming but there he was, sitting on a bench at the opening of a garden, my Uncle Tom.

We talked about our experiences afterwards. Some claim to have held the vision of Hindu deities in their third eye. Some spoke of walking with Jesus. I kept my Uncle sitting on a park bench in his t-shirt and jeans to myself. He never said a word. He merely sat there with a mischievous look on his face. This hardly seemed prophetic.

Yet there he is, all these years later, sitting there every time I prepared myself for Savasana. Never saying a word. I guess he doesn’t have to. I guess knowing he is there is all I need. I choose to believe again that what I can not touch and see but can feel in my heart is divine.

My version of an Angel is wearing blue jeans. He is the light that dances playfully in the garden. He is the breeze that blows thru my hair. He is the bird landing on the branch that watches me. He is the glue that fixes our sometimes broken family. He is the unexplainable force that guides me.

I have an Uncle. His name is Tom.