Tag Archives: Francine

Showers of Happiness


My sister and I attended a baby shower today.  Our brother Tim’s best friend Mike and his wife Lindsey are having a baby girl in June.  I have known Mike since he was a kid.  He’s been to lots of family celebrations.  My mom and Mike’s mom and Francine and Lindsey were friends.  I was so happy to be a part of the celebration today, but to be honest, I was quite surprised when I received the invitation last month.  Although Tim and Mike are still very close, I don’t see him or Lindsey very often and most of our interactions are through Facebook.

Kathi and I think that we were invited in honor of my mom and Francine and that made us so happy to be there in their place.  It was really a special day for Lindsey and her family.  Their little girl is due in June.  She was showered in pink today and judging by the amount of love shown in that room this afternoon, that baby will be lucky to be born into such a special family.

I wish them all the best.

Another Anniversary

loss of a loved one

Tonight, my dad and I are going to see South Pacific at The Papermill Playhouse, a local theater. He and my mom have been benefactors there for many years.  They were always given tickets to the dress rehearsals of the shows as a thank you for supporting the theater.  My mom loved going, although it was more and more difficult for her to get there as her health deteriorated.  Tonight marks the one year anniversary of the first show I went with my dad.  My mom had just passed away three weeks prior, and he asked me to join him in her place.  We got there and the women remembered him and greeted him warmly and asked about my mom, not realizing that she had died.  Of course, they were sympathetic and offered their condolences to us.

I thought that night would bring us happy memories but as we drove there, my dad told me that my sister-in-law Francine had been rushed to the emergency room that morning, with acute morning sickness symptoms. We spoke to Tim before the show and asked if he needed us and he told us to go on to the show and that there had been no change.  We promised to call when it was over, which we did.  In that short time span, her health had taken a drastic turn for the worst.  She had an adverse reaction to the fertility treatments she had been receiving which caused her brain to swell and caused bleeding in every part of her brain.  This caused irreversible damage.  She was placed on life support and given no chance of survival .  She was only 31.

Once again, our lives were turned upside down.  Thursday marks her one year anniversary.  In some ways, the year seems to have flown by and other times it seems like ages ago.  My brother has had good and bad times throughout the year.  I am sure the next few days are going to be very hard for him and for his mother-in-law but I hope as time passes, the pain lessens some for them.  The world he and Francine had planned completely changed and he is slowly adjusting to his new normal.  I wrote about it 6 months ago, another night of a show at The Papermill.  I have a feeling that no matter how wonderful the shows, I am always going to associate that place with some sadness.  Remembering my mom, as I sit there in her place, and remembering the terrible phone call from Tim as we left the theater.

Regardless, life does go on and we have to remember all of the wonderful memories and let them out number those sad ones.  That is what gets us through our grief.  Never forgetting, just remembering.



I realized tonight that I am pretty much a baby when it comes to the blogosphere, considering that today I read on Hello Giggles that blogging has been around for 20 years! The author of the blog, Grace Cox, put something into words that I am thinking everyday when I sit down to write my own,

The idea of blogging is so weird and amazing.  That you can be a published writer on a platform that is accessible to millions of people is mind-boggling if you stop and think about it. 

When I began writing, it was to promote something I am so passionate about  – KINDNESS!  I thought that I’d be sharing stories about kindness that I read about or witnessed in person.  I wrote everyday, just as I had said I would. The amount of views the blog got varied, but it was never very many.  Mostly friends and family when I shared it on Facebook.  Then, two months into my “project” my mom died and it all changed.  Hundreds of people were reading it during the one month period of when she died and when Francine died.  I began to realize, that my blog was taking on a life of its own, taking me on an adventure where I was learning on the way.  I started to realize that although I was still spreading kindness in my blog, when I got personal and let my emotions come out, more people were interested in what I had to write. It has become my personal diary in some ways.

Growing up, I tried keeping diaries but never kept up with them. I was envious of my friends who wrote faithfully in them everyday.  Now, I have become one of those people – but my entries aren’t private.  I am writing it and putting it out there for anyone to see.  That is why some of the things I write have been so hard to actually submit!  My blog has made me a stronger, bolder person.  It has allowed me to express myself in ways that I doubt I’d ever speak about otherwise.  It is still giving me the opportunity to spread kindness, the original intent, but it has opened up my world.  Although my blog is still pretty small in the scheme of things, I have “followers” and people respond to what I have to say.  I am meeting other bloggers and despite living in this enormous world, blogging actually makes it seem a little smaller.

What Happened?


Yesterday, I wrote my blog about Dr. Seuss.  A very simple blog, just listing a few of my favorite quotes in celebration of his birthday.  I did the same thing that I do after I write all of my blogs.  I shared it.  On Facebook, Pinterest, Google and a few other sharing sites including Reddit.  On a typical day, I get between 100-200 views.  That in itself shocks me.  Over 100 people read my blog daily!  Why?  I don’t know but makes me happy.  My biggest day for readers was after Francine died. 1000 people visited my page that day.  The months of March and April last year brought a lot of activity to my blog because I wrote a lot about my mom and Francine.

After sharing it yesterday, I did school work and some things around the house.  I went back later to see if it had been read and thought something was wrong with my stats page.  It looked different because the bar graph that lists the weekly views seemed to have changed.  Then I noticed that the number of views was at 4,500.  That could not be right.  I refreshed the page and it jumped up to 4,700.  Something was wrong…it had to be.  I closed out WordPress and reopened it.  Now it was over 5000.  I looked to see where all the activity was coming from and it turns out it was from Reddit.  I have shared on there before, so what made this post different?  It truly was not one of my better blogs, was it because it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday?  I still don’t know what it was but the final count for the day was…..


Will that EVER happen again?  My guess is no.  Will it bring more activity to my blog?  Probably not, but it was pretty amazing to watch.  I kept getting alerts on my phone telling me about the “activity” on the site.  It went on for a few hours and then suddenly slowed down towards evening.  In the grand scheme of things, is 11,399 a lot? As I sat and watched Ellen DeGeneres hysterically host the Oscars last night and claim to “break Twitter,” with her group selfie, perhaps not. Yet once again, it’s all relative!

Thank you Dr. Seuss – I have always had a special place in my heart for your stories and now you have given me even more of a reason for loving them!!

My Movie


I am a sucker for sappy, sentimental stuff.  That is probably why I spent a good part of my last two days watching so many of my friends’ minute long Facebook movies that have been posted in celebration of Ten Years of Facebook.  The movies are all similar.  You don’t choose the photos, they do.  They also use the same music, choose your most liked posts and have the same beginning and end for everyone, yet I still get weepy watching them, especially the ones of family and close friends.

I really liked mine.  It wasn’t perfect and probably did not even include all of the photos that I would have chosen, (in fact my oldest son wasn’t even in the video.)   My brother’s made me cry because it had my mom and Francine in it a lot.  My best friend Kelly and I had a similar photo of the two of us that has always been one of my favorites and having that in both of ours made me smile.

I joined the Facebook craze a lot later than most of my family and friends.  I use it a lot.  I share lots of photos and get to stay in touch with friends and family that I’d otherwise probably not see or hear from  if it weren’t for Facebook.

Considering how much I don’t like seeing photos of myself, I have to admit I felt like a bit of a bit narcissist watching myself over and over again in a movie clip all about me!  It was fun.  Thanks Facebook.  Happy Birthday and thanks for helping me stay connected!


Superbowl Sunday

football family

Since my brother Tim got married, he and his wife Francine hosted a Superbowl party.  Francine always went all out.  She cooked for days leading up to the game and loved doing it.  Tim always went into the city the morning of the game to get a Manganaros sandwich .  He used to go for the big one…the six footer, but with all the food Francine made, and the food that all the guests brought along, it got smaller each year.  I think this year he opted for a three footer.

After Francine died in April, we weren’t sure if Tim would want to do it anymore.  We were all wrong.  He decided to go on with it as they always did and honor Francine’s memory with all of her favorites.  He took my boys into the city with him to pick up the sandwich this morning.  He will go back home to make and prepare all the traditional foods she used to make.  All of the same people were invited.

I am trying a new recipe this year.  I found it on Pinterest, “Cornbread Hot Wing Cupcakes.”  They sound like a perfect party food, mini corn muffins stuffed with blue cheese, topped with blue cheese mashed potatoes and drizzled with hot sauce…my mouth is watering just thinking about them.  Hope they turn out well, but with those ingredients, how could they not?

Having the Superbowl played in New Jersey this year has brought an excitement to the area even though none of our local teams are playing.  They media hype has been fun to watch.  I absolutely love to watch football, but this year, I don’t really have a big interest in who wins so I am just hoping for a good game.  The commercials are always something to look forward to as well.

I keep thinking back to last year.  Mom always sat in the same place, not caring about the game but just happy to be with everyone.  Francine wouldn’t sit for a minute, always too busy to sit down and relax for a minute just making sure everything was perfect.  It will be different, there will be an emptiness but I am glad that Tim decided to go ahead with the party and that all of his friends and family who came in the past are coming again to be with him.  Some holidays are harder than others and although this is not an “official” holiday, it was huge for them and I am sure that having us all together remembering her is important to him.

Good Bye 2013 – I can’t say I’m sad to see it end.

life knocked me down

2013 is coming to an end and I cannot say that I am sad for it to be it over.  This was the toughest year of my life and I am very glad that it is complete.  My year began with a phone call from DJ on the morning of January 1st.  He had stayed at my parent’s house for New Years Eve.  During the night, my mom had been rushed to the emergency room with a heart attack.  Fortunately, it was mild, but with all of her other health conditions, she stayed there for a few days until the felt she was well enough to go home.

That same day, I wound up with a migraine.  I have suffered from them for years but little did I know that this headache and many more, would last me EIGHT months. MRI’s, numerous specialists and appointments, various medications did not help but finally, in August, a new doctor suggested a few things to try, and perhaps it was one – or the combination of several, but I went from having five or six headaches a week, to only two or three a month.  This is huge for me and I am so grateful for each day that I wake up headache free. In January and February, my blog focused mainly on kindness and sharing stories that spread kindness.  That was the original intent of my blog.

Then, March came along and my life was changed forever.  On March 8th, my mom, who was suffering from COPD for years, stopped breathing on her way to my grandmother’s house.  It was just a routine 10 minute drive.  They were actually headed to Florida the next day, so this was totally unexpected.  By the time my dad reached the hospital, she had been without oxygen for too long.  She was kept alive on life support for a week but we made the decision as a family to take her off of it on Friday, March 15th . That entire week, I wrote about nothing but my mom.  My blog took a total turn from just writing about kindness, yet was being read by hundreds of people everyday.  My mom had touched the lives of so many people and I have been told that this blog helped them understand what our family was dealing with and getting us all through the hardest time of our lives. Writing her eulogy and then reading it at her funeral, was so hard but I needed to do it and that church was so filled with people that loved her and loved us, it helped begin the healing process for me. Throughout the rest of the month, my entire blog focused on mom and her friends and our first holidays, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter without her.

April arrived.  It has always been one of my favorite months.  Spring had sprung and we had all begun to adjust to mom not being around and then we had the devastating news of my sister-in-law Francine.  What a shock to our family.  Two deaths in our family in less than a month.  She was only 31 and she and my brother Tim had just found out that she was pregnant with twins.   Once again, my blog provided an outlet, for me to write it and for others to read it and try to comprehend what our family was going through.  The day I wrote Francine’s story, over 1000 people saw it.  Incredible to me that so many people were empathizing with our family.   This led to even more blogs about family and coping with death.  Tim had asked me if I’d also do a eulogy for her and of course I said yes.

Although I did not know him well, death touched our family again when my brother-in-law’s father passed away at the end of April.  Bad things happen in 3s. My father could not believe how unfair this year was

I turned 43 in May and although it was not quite the same without mom around, my family and friends did so much to help make is a special one for me.  Our first mothers day without mom was low key and we made it through without too many tears.  All those “firsts” came and went without mom and Francine, birthdays, holidays, Christmas… but we got through them with the support of our family and friends.  Thank God for all of them because without them, I don’t know where we’d be today.

Things really did settle down for us once Summer arrived but then, on Labor Day, my sister’s birthday, she wound up in the hospital for emergency surgery to have her gall bladder removed.  Fortunately that was routine and after a little less than a week, she was home recovering.

I will admit that there were some positive things that happened this year… There is now a beautiful bench dedicated to my mom in the park given by my class and The Kiwanis club.  Dave and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary. On October 18th, NJ passed the marriage equality law. giving everyone the freedom to marry and to me, that is a huge step in the right direction.  Because of that, we were able to attend the wedding of two friends Eddie and Todd.

I surprised myself by sticking to TWO New Years Resolutions this year.  I did the 52 week money challenge AND wrote my blog everyday this year.  I am trying to find the positive in this year.  My two boys are healthy and happy and enjoying school.  I love my job and look forward to going to work everyday.  Dave got some licenses he needs to move ahead in his career in the mortgage business.  Now, if he could drum up some business for 2014, that will be a huge step in the right direction!So here’s to the end of 2013 – and a positive outlook to the future.  As we move forward, may 2014 bring you and your families happiness and good health!

Thank you to my class

being loved

Today was the last day of school before the holiday break.  It was also Pajama Day.  On this day, we all wear our pajamas to school and we ask that everyone who is able, to donate a new pair of pajamas for a child in need.  This is the fourth Pajama Drive that I have organized and in the four years, we have collected over 1000 pairs of pajamas.  This year, we were able to give away nearly 350 pairs.

At the end of the day, we had a holiday party in my class.  The class was so generous and gave me some very lovely things.  There were several parents at the party helping out, and they gave me a gift from the entire class.  It was such a touching gift, that I cried in front of the class and had to explain to them why people cry even when they are happy!

One of my class parents told me that several of them read my blog.  I knew that a few of them did, but hadn’t realized there were so many! She told me that they knew that this Christmas was going to be a difficult one after the year that our family has been through.  One of the gifts that they presented me with was a charm of an angel’s wing in memory of mom and Francine.  That alone made me emotional, but then, she told me that one of the mom’s made a Plum Pudding for my dad, after hearing that it was going to be the first Christmas without one since my mom made him one every year.  I had written about how I’d need to find a way to make one, and this mom, found a recipe and with the help of her own mom, she made it for my dad.  That’s when I started to cry.  Happy tears, grateful tears, appreciative tears.  My dad was nearly speechless when I told him about it.

The school I teach in is an amazing place, filled with wonderful, compassionate families.  After mom and Francine died, the support and generosity they showed was over and beyond what I could have ever expected.  This year has been no different and I am truly blessed to be a part of the school community.  I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.

Mom’s Tree

christmas tree

We all went to my dad’s tonight to decorate his Christmas tree.  He ordered some sandwiches, I brought some Christmas cookies and after we ate we got to work decorating.  His tree is huge and there are hundreds of ornaments.  Mom would never had settled for a little tree.  The number of ornaments would never allow for that!  After Tim and Dave got the tree standing, Tim, Drew and I hung the lights.  Drew, Gabi and Mikey all found ornaments that they had given to mom and they hung those themselves.  Kathi got to work organizing all the “sets,”  they all had themes and since they were handmade, mom was very particular about them all hanging together.  Dad sat on the couch and directed where certain ornaments MUST be hung.  Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and Mr. and Mrs. Snowman are always displayed proudly at the top of the tree so we used DJ for his height to get them up there without a ladder.  We had to search through several boxes to find one that our Aunt Ellen had made them when they were first married.  She is coming for Christmas this year and dad wanted to be sure that it was hung prominently on the tree.

The first ornament that went on the tree wasn’t homemade.  I don’t even remember where it was from.  It looks fairly new.  It was the first one Drew pulled out of the ornament box.  It was a simple circle with the letter E in the middle.  We hung it front and center on the tree.  The kids chose ornaments that we will bring to the cemetery this weekend.  For Francine, they chose a glittery, silver, shiny, ornate one. . It totally screamed “FRANCINE”, it was so her!  Even Tim agreed it was perfect.  For mom, they chose one that read, “Best Grandma.”  My grandfather is buried there too and so is my great aunt Dee, so we found one for each of them as well.

It was hard to be completely in the spirit of Christmas, but the kids were having so much fun and watching them, it was hard not to feel the joy.  It brought back so many memories from when we were little. That anticipation of Christmas and how hard it is to wait!!  What they were hoping to get…. all the same conversations we always had as kids.  My dad kept saying how proud mom would be and how much she’d love the way we decorated it this year.  In the past, mom was always very particular about the tree that they would get.  Their trees weren’t always perfect, often lopsided sometimes too tall, or too fat, but I have to say, this year, the tree really is one that mom would have loved and seeing it filled with all of her ornaments I think my dad is right.


Dinner with Tim

family 2

Tonight, my dad called and invited us all to join him for dinner with my brother Tim.  Tim’s having a rough week.  This is the week that his babies would have been born had life not changed so drastically for everyone in April.

I had a class, the boys and my niece and nephew had homework, but we all did what we always do for one another, we went.  Less than two hours, at our family’s usual place for some yummy comfort Italian food.  We sat with Tim and just let him know that we are all there for him.  He talked a little about Francine and the babies but for the most part, it was just a regular family dinner.  Probably just what Tim needed.

After such a traumatic year for all of us, we all have our good and bad moments.  Remembering good times and being together is what we all need.  The holidays will be hard for him – for all of us I am sure, but knowing that we have a big family of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, who are always around to console, support and take care of each other is what has kept us all going for all of these months, and it was what will get us through the months to come as well.