meirwen_1988: (table tag)
I got out of my sick bed to go to Dennis's funeral today. It was held in one of the largest, most beautiful churches in the area, St. Mary of Mt. Carmel. It's in East Utica, the former bastion of the Italian-American community in Utica (until recently the largest ethnic communities in the city, in order of longevity, were the Irish, Italian, and Polish; you used to identify where you lived by parish, not street, because there were so many Catholic churches and each had a very specific identity). It's all stained glass, painted ceilings, inlaid marble, and every piece of art has an "In Memory of" attached, most with Italian surnames.

So, when Fr. Mark (from, of all places, St. Mark's in North Utica) came forward to give the funeral homily, he started by saying that he felt like JPII at his first address to the assembly in Vatican Square, looking out at a sea of native Romans looking up at him, all thinking "So, who is this Polak?" But he knew Dennis well, was with him through the long years of his battle, and so it was right that he celebrate the Mass.

He was right, though. While the ages of the assembled friends and relative ranged from children to senior citizens, the vast majority were between 20 and 50, olive skinned, black haired, brown eyed, and harkened clearly to their roots in Calabria. There were the occasional blondes, and a few token Lombards, but otherwise, yeah. I was out of place, in more ways than one.

His sons were torn up, as was his daughter. I was touched to see that his son-in-law looked like he was taking it as hard as anyone. I think that says volumes about both men. Lynda was as I expected. She was taking it like an Evans-Wood woman--that's the lineage we share. In joy she's all Perritano; in grief the Welsh comes out.

And it was, in many ways, everything I expected. With some exception. It was a two hour funeral mass. My cousin Dennis sang (twice, and my God his tenor is beautiful). They talked about family, and the business, and family, and the Seabees, and family. Because that's both Dennis and Lynda, and why they were so incredibly right for each other. Oh, and NASCAR, but only a little. *smile* And family--did I mention that? Which includes his employees. All of these were expected.

I didn't expect the stretch limo for the immediate family. But maybe I should have. (I have to admit, it was efficient, and if there'd been one, we wouldn't have had some of the moments of embarrassment at my Uncle Pete's funeral.)

What I really didn't expect, but that I think is actually a beautiful, honorable element I never would have envisioned, is that the funeral cortege was led by his employees, driving the company vehicles, with "Dennis Padula and Sons Roofing" on the sides. Beautiful, and shiny, and proud.

Lynda knows I was there. I didn't go to the reception after--I'm family, but not really in the ways that matter at times like this. (Some things require more than blood.) It was, I am sure, an incredible laying on of food and booze, and by now there are clusters of maudlin Italian men holding each other up, and telling funny stories. The exhaustion is hitting Lynda and the kids, but they won't leave until the oldest relatives do. Who won't leave until the food is cold and the drinks are flat. Because that's what you do at an Italian funeral meal. I've been to enough of them--it's as predictable as clockwork. And it is a good thing.

So, yes, I probably shouldn't have gone. I really needed one last day in bed, and that's where I am now, and have been since I got home 2 hours ago. But I'm glad I went. A glimpse at the family I would have been welcome in, had we not moved out of Utica. I'd probably have married one of those Calabrian-sourced men, because that's who Uncle Pete and my godfather, my cousin Peter, would have approved of. And cousin Dennis would have helped with the vetting. Sometimes the veil thins, and we see a different world, a different set of...selves. No regrets, but still, an interesting view, from time to time, isn't a bad thing.

Dennis was sent off with love and tears. Not a bad epitaph. Not bad at all.
meirwen_1988: (Thoughtful)
My mother's cousin Lynda is just about centered in age between my mom and me. When Momma was young, before she was out of high school, used to babysit for Lynda, nursed her through meningitis...they were very close. Lynda was always slightly glamorous to me. When I was young she worked at the Bank of Utica, which made her very sophisticated in my eyes. She was always lovely, and funny, and kind. And she was Aunt Ann and Uncle Pete's daughter, which made her magical, not to mention she was my godfather's little sister.

When I was in high school she got engaged to a Vietnam vet, Dennis Padula. Dennis reminded me a little of my Uncle Pete (both short, Italian Uticans with a stocky build), but I never knew him well. I remember their wedding in St. Anne's in North Utica like it was yesterday. Afterwards my dad had to drive me back to Morrisville for the 9th grade fashion show and Spring concert, then he turned right back around to drive back to Utica for the lovely, elegant, evening wedding reception. I was bitter about missing it, but, well, the show had to go on. (Missed my Senior Dinner Dance for similar reasons, but I digress).

Lynda and Dennis had three children--Dennis, Peter, and Renata. Dennis is gay, and a singer with his own band in NYC. Peter got married and became a father in the last year, and Renata's been married and has, I think, two children. Maybe more. I'm bad about family. Never got the knack, nor the taste for it. There was always too much underlying hostility. The only relatives we ever visited where it felt safe was Uncle Pete and Aunt Ann's (not my grandmother's, not my aunt's, only there), and once they were gone, it all fell away. Lynda would like us to be closer, but it just never seems to happen. My fault, not hers.

From things on my cousin Dennis's Facebook page, I think Dennis senior died today. He's been fighting lung cancer. He's another victim of our friend Mr. Orange's appearance during his time in Southeast Asia.

So there are calling hours in my future. And a funeral. Lynda is going to be a wreck, and strong, and all the things in between. I would hate this to be the thing that finally makes us close. But it may. Or things may just go on as they have. But I will go, and there will be family.

It's complicated, but as Gibbs would say, "It's family. Always is."


Jul. 16th, 2012 09:42 am
meirwen_1988: (anger)
Today is the second anniversary of the death of one friend's young husband.
Last week a good friend killed himself in despair.
Today another lovely woman's husband is being kept alive through the miracles of modern medicine, but he's suffering organ death and miracles are hard to come by.
Another couple I adore is divorcing. Two other friends are being worn to shreds as their mothers slip away into twilight or the ravages of cancer. Cathy's husband has been given months to live.
A wonderful woman died last week, leaving her son, whom I adore, in grief.

I must remember there is a baby Stendahl. And a baby Kahler. And a baby Reichert. A new baby George is on the way. And my favorite newlyweds are having a housewarming for their new home on Saturday. My youngest SCA daughter is getting a wonderful new house. I got to see Kathi. The Ping is healing, though he may end up blind in that eye. TAG kitty is better. eLeri is home from the hospital. Tina got a job. Carrie has a job. Matt is doing well in school. Jeci is coming home.

Blessings. I has them.
meirwen_1988: (1977)
  • Born March 3, 1923 to Geneva (nee Hardy) and Leo Thomas Mink.
  • His own father died in 1926.
  • A straight A student in parochial school, with dreams of becoming a lawyer, he dropped out of school at 14 to go to work to support his mother (whose second husband had just died, leaving her, my father, and his half sister Donna). When he could, he worked as a jockey's apprentice, hoping to follow his father into the silks.
  • Starting in 1941 he tried to enlist in the Army Air Force and in the Navy, but his mother refused to sign the enlistment papers (she was sure, given his size, he'd end up an aerial gunner, which had a high mortality rate). She really didn't want him to serve, but especially didn't want him to end up in the Infantry.
  • In 1943 he was drafted--into the Infantry.
  • Where he was a Marksman, and scout. He was supposed to be on Omaha beach on June 6, but his unit got different orders just before they left. Probably why I'm here today.
  • He was injured by shrapnel in his knee while in Belgium. He got a Purple Heart, and his dreams of a life on horseback died.
  • He left the service in 1948 with that Purple Heart, and a Bronze Star.
  • He got a job in Ilion, NY shortly after separation (a hardship for a southern boy, but it was where the job was).
  • He found a local bar, owned by a guy named Peter Perritano and his wife, Ann. He became a regular. Pete's sister-in-law Lydia was also a frequent attendee. Lydia and Tom became friends.
  • One day Lydia's daughter came to the bar with her. Betty Jane. She thought Tommy "had a cute butt."
  • Two years later, on Labor Day weekend, Tommy and Betty eloped and were married by a JP in Old Forge, NY. Their honeymoon was a fishing trip.
  • The only big disagreement was about children. Betty wanted them, Tom didn't.
  • Seven years later, Betty won the argument when Rosemary was born.
  • For nearly two years Tom endured the creature in his house. Then, as Betty put it, "One day you looked at him, and said something, and I saw his face change--you became a tiny person, and it was all over. He has adored you ever since."
My daddy was a gentle, poetic man tortured by nightmares of being behind enemy lines. or surrounded by explosions. He had a deep, terrifying temper that he fought to control, usually with success. His dreams were stolen by the exigencies of a Depression era youth and the injuries of war. He became a quiet alcoholic, and we lived paycheck to paycheck, in a home with only cold running water (in the 60s and 70s), where snow came in and stayed on my pillow overnight. His only son was never healthy, and died at 11. He was a deeply conservative man, who, in the era of the Kennedys and Johnson, supported Goldwater and Wallace. He ranted against the "academic eggheads" in the 60's, yet no man was ever prouder of his grad school daughter than my Daddy was of me.

I broke his heart, as all children do, yet I made sure he always knew how much I loved him. The hole that his death left in my life, 2 weeks after I turned 30,  is indescribable. Our politics differed, but our way to figuring out the world was the same. I didn't have to explain why I thought the way I did, why I behaved the way I did, because Daddy knew--I was like him. I loved my mother profoundly, but we were often a mystery to each other. Daddy I understood, and he understood me. Others have come close to understanding, especially Morguhn, but no one "got me" the way Daddy did.

I miss him every day.
Happy Father's Day, Daddy.
meirwen_1988: (tired)
Because of a massive amount of work that needs to be done for Monday (why did all the committee meetings hit next week?), I wanted to get a lot accomplished today.

Well, put that down to good intentions.

I appear to have the attention span of a flea today. I'm going to put it down to still being under the weather (stupid body) and genuinely exhausted from the dramah with the car and other issues. But, still, the impulse to beat myself up about it is rather strong.

So, I'll take the puppies out one last time, feed the kitties, and go to bed. The morning will see me heading off to the store to get the butter I thought we had, that was in fact a half empty box, and then come home and try to get some work done around making a birthday cake and birthday dinner for Duchezz.

I see a long Sunday ahead, so I think I'd better make it a short Saturday--and since it's been such a success so far it isn't like that's a problem.
meirwen_1988: (tired)
(*cue Mamas and Papas Tribute Band filking "Monday, Monday"*)

I should be grading placement tests. But I console myself that I have been virtuous and graded film papers, and EN 101 in-class assignments, and did laundry. I should also be organizing my room, packing for the New England trip, balancing my budget, and working on the solution to the national debt problem.

At the very least I should be reading one of the books I have on loan, or the TV show I taped, or clipping the cat's claws.

Instead I've been tooling around on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

I have lots of thinky-thoughts going on right now--about friends having babies, and friends having cancer, about the thinning of my skin (both the actual [related to the passing years] and the metaphorical), about absent red-headed men, and the spaniel I miss, and the grey cat I long to hold again. About mommy food cooked by Momma, and Daddy's dry humor. About the extremely fertile womb, with no endurance, I was born with. About the sisters and daughters of my heart, and chosen family. And how I miss the time not so long ago when here was a community of many voices, with real things to say, instead of a place where the voices moved to the shallow end of the pool (yes, Mark Zucherberg, I'm talking about you).

But I'm tired, and my eyes hurt right now, so I think I'll just get out the eye drops the ophthalmologist gave me, and head to bed. Tomorrow is time enough to save the world.
meirwen_1988: (happy dance)
The wonderful woman who introduced me to a friend as "my second mother" has gotten an awesome job!!!! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
meirwen_1988: (Default)
I had a great weekend with loved ones. I apparently lost a bet (I'm a bit foggy on the details, but it started with my asking the question "Did Rene Auberjonois play Lumiere?") So now I must pen something involving a Brown Betty. *begins to plan*

In other news, my students (some) did great on their midterms, but others cheated. It has taken me 4 weeks to decide what to do about it. Decision made. I really hate this sort of thing.

Duchezz is home from the event. Sorry I missed it, but discretion is the better part of valor sometimes--and I did get to hang out with the aforementioned loved ones.

Okay, back to grading.


Apr. 23rd, 2010 03:20 pm
meirwen_1988: (happy dance)
So, a Pict, a Cossack, and a Welshwoman walk into a bar....

I haz a happi.
meirwen_1988: (tired)
After a trip to Utica (driving the Forester, which I really shouldn't be driving, because cars definitely shouldn't sound like that--like an avalanche of rocks--when you put on the brakes) I came home and was shortly joined by the Matt and Jeci.

We had a lovely day, catching late lunch, early dinner at Cafe Tramontane (really, you need to go there!), and then after a 45 minute walk around the Uptown district that took us past what used to be Hamish and Ysabeau's house we caught Clash of the Titans, in 2D (as originally shot/planned) at the Uptown. (It was fun--not as much of the gods as a I wanted, but fun nonetheless.)

Then home for tea and conversation. I had a wonderful time, with beloved family. And now, sleep.
meirwen_1988: (happy dance)
We drove home in the snow tonight from Norwich after seeing page Grant in Les Miserables, the high school edition. It's most of the music, with big holes in the plot.

I was...apprehensive...geez, it's a show most professional touring companies can't pull off. I have to say it was truly good. Good sets, good production values (except the guy on the sound board--grrrr), better than high school acting in many of the parts.

And Javert, Marius, and Enjoiras (the latter appearing to be about twelve--okay, maybe fourteen--with a full double set of shiny braces) had positively stunning voices. Genuine baritone and tenors, strong tops, full middles, convincing bottoms. In the case of Javert and Marius there was genuine acting ability, and Enjoiras shows promise. Fantine and Eponine were rich and fluid, and could act. Mssr. and Mme. Thenardier were everything you could ask for, though his enunciation needed a bit of work--but the physical delivery was spot on--menacing and campy, usually at the same time. A neat trick. And Portia, my love, you have a doppleganger.

Valjean, I fear, has been getting good press through all of his high school years, and so tends to rely on his natural gifts (including an amazing range) and good looks (rock star), but that wasn't quite enough here. Nonetheless, in this production, surrounded by so much strength, Valjean coming across as a Deus machina wasn't altogether a problem.

The only genuine disappointment was Cosette, who was a pretty face, with a coloratura soprano range, but a reedy, unreliable voice. Oh, and she was rather wooden in her performance.

The male students at the barricade were full voiced, tuneful, and some were positively convincing. They were, some of them, EXACTLY the right age for the parts they were playing, and that made it all the more heartbreaking, and, strangely enough, believable. And Grant died valiantly.

We're very glad we went. I just can't help but wonder what they're putting in the water in Norwich to have all that talent in that little school.

meirwen_1988: (Default) ask a question, and, well, you wish you hadn't.

meirwen_1988: (Default)
February, usually the cruelest month, has seen two household members get new jobs, for good money, and, best of all, there's going to be a Caer wedding!! No date yet, but Squire Posthumous and his lady are engaged!!!!!!!!

meirwen_1988: (Roses)
This morning I found a package on the table. It came yesterday, but neither of us got the mail when we got home yesterday (we tend to bring it in with the morning paper).

So there it was, a cheerful mailer with those cute American Greetings bears on it, and flowers, and covered in cheerful. On a morning when I needed it.

I opened it, and inside was a beautiful gift. Made with love, and skill. (Pictures later, I promise). And a note, that made me cry, in a good way.

Thank you, Ysabeau.
meirwen_1988: (Christmas House Mouse)
Christmas day was lovely and quiet. We had dinner with [ profile] retiredmaj and family, and it was lovely. Amazingly good plum pudding, as well as much yummy that preceded it.

So now it's St. Stephen's Day. After morning caffeine, we headed to town to pick up main course for tomorrow's guests and catch a film. On our way in we got a call from [ profile] emt_hawk and the fair [ profile] svan_1004 . We were able to meet them in New Hartford for a lovely brunch, quite serendipitously. Delightful way to start the day. Did a bit of shopping, then went to see Holmes. Marquee was insane, so we went off to the Uptown. We enjoyed the show (most satisfying Guy Ritchie movie I've seen, though I think Snatch! is a better film). As one friend said, sometimes the FX intruded, sometimes it dragged a bit, but I really liked Law's Watson, and it's becoming a surprising truth that Downey is demonstrating an amazing depth of talent--profound talent.

Then home. Quiet evening watching Shrek the Halls and The Lost Christmas Eve, then the beginning of the end of one of the best Dr. Who runs ever (and as a fan of Baker and Pertwee, that's quite a concession from me).

Tomorrow is cleaning up for guests and cooking. :-)

There is a rightness that on what would have been her 79th birthday I watched a new film of one of my mother's favorite fictional characters.
meirwen_1988: (Christmas House Mouse)
1) Surprising my *sister* at her bakery in Fort Edward and having a couple of lovely hours with her, her sweetie, his son, and their amused and bemused employee Edward.

2) Exercising some (though not much) self-control as the cider doughnuts were put onto the trays.

3) Surviving Crossgates and finding the prezzie we weren't able to get at a similar establishment in Syracuse on Thursday.

4) Slow-cooker recipe a success (beef, whole berry cranberry sauce, onion). Next time will add a touch of horseradish. Would be especially yummy on Heidlberg Bakery rolls, topped with Momma Stamberg's cranberry relish. Yum.

5) Finishing the novel the wonderful wyz_azz loaned me back in August. In four days. Go me! (We'll just ignore those 4 months it sat waiting for me to get to it, shall we?)

6) Not killing any of the stoopid-hedz.
meirwen_1988: (Default)
It will come as a shock to many that the last two nights saw me to bed before midnight, asleep before midnight. This is, to say the least, rare. The Boy would be/is stunned. But I am the better for it.

Unlike most weekends Duchezz is gone, when I move to the big bedroom where the dogs normally sleep, I moved their kennels into my room, which is warmer, especially with my little oil filled friend warming things. They seem to have slept well, too, perhaps because they were warm.

Today is grading, football, and then, with luck, meeting up with Den and Julie for dinner.

As I was watching CBS Sunday Morning today there was an ad for a new Rod Stewart CD--this one is soul standards, not torch standards. I find myself wondering what it is about his voice that makes it seem possible for him to engage in these "experiments" with some measure of success. He doesn't have a very good voice, but his forays (as opposed to Mr. Dylan's), usually have some measure of "listenability." Hmmmm.

On the same show there was a teaser for next week's show, which I am currently scheduled to miss. I am, on many levels, unhappy about that, based on the teaser, but, for now, I have the following comments: "Robin--please. It's okay to pretend you aren't bald, but it is not okay to pretend you aren't at the stage of having grey hair. And, for what it's worth, your hair was NEVER that dark. You can afford a good toupée --just get one, 'kay?

And boys, really. Rethink this. Unless what you want is for all of us to hurt as much as you do that Mo is gone, find a way to do the music without that huge gaping hole in the harmonies. Please. You know I love you. Just do it, 'kay?"

Alright. Time to make the red marks.
meirwen_1988: (girlhawk)
After watching a promo for a film coming out in September...

Kelda: [spoken in a baffled tone] Why are they remaking Fame?

Meirwen: Because every generation must experience the pain?
meirwen_1988: (happy duke)
They came.
They talked and laughed and wrangled.
They ate with me and worked with Duchezz; they played with pugs and kitties.

We can put screens in windows; I have a functioning air conditioner, and hose, and grill. We have a summer suitable home!!

Our family is full of awesome. And they did this while coping with car dramah, or a 7.5 hour drive, or exhausted partners, or excruciating pain, or bruises with names, or very first hard liquor hangover, or bitchy duckess.


Full of awesome.
meirwen_1988: (small but mighty)
Minutia )

Most importantly I got a call from a VERY tipsy Duchezz. Sounds like she's having fun.

And Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness! Let's hear it for the GIRL!!


meirwen_1988: (Default)

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