down the rabbit hole

family: a blessing, a curse, the learned dysfunction, things and people out of our control, the baggage one carries through life. one woman's story of the craziness that makes up her family. the hurts, disappointments, fun, hilarity, tears, laughter, life and death.

26 July 2006


"hey mom, it's me."

"oh hi, honey! how are you?"

"i'm fine, mom. what's going on with you?"

"oh nothing."

"nothing? aren't you getting out and enjoying your new surroundings."

"sometimes. but, i have cornelius here and we talk."

now, cornelius is a stuffed monkey i bought mom for valentine's day probably 10 years ago. his significance in her life has grown greatly in the past couple years. it's as if he's become a link to me. she keeps him close by.

"what do you mean, you talk?"

"well, i tell cornelius things and he listens." she laughs as she tells me this.......

"as long as he doesn't answer back mom, i think you're safe," i laugh back......

"and your picture...the one tom did of you? i talk to you every day as well"

"i know mom. i'm glad having that picture helps."

"how's work?"

"fine. you know....same thing, different day and client."

"do you have enough money."

"yes mom."

and the conversation repeats.....starting with the information about cornelius. it's a repeating loop these days.....cornelius, me, that drawing tom did, my work, cornelius.......even when i interrupt her with other questions, she goes right back to her loop of conversation. it's difficult not to cry when i speak with her.....even more so when i get off the phone.

this last time.......

"mom, have you talked to kitty lately?"


"your sister. kitty."

"hmmm, i think so......."

mom and kitty are 18 months apart in age. they've always been close and are the last remaining siblings out of a family of 10. makes me sad for both of them that mom is forgetting kitty. mom's losing so much so fast. feelings of abandonment wash over me sometimes as we speak. i get so angry this is somehow her idea. then i wish for a way to stop it and know i can't. i don't think there's ever been anything in my life that frustrates and hurts me as much as watching my mother disappear before my eyes, while her physical body remains strong.

when i spoke to gerry tonight i told him of my 10 minute repeating conversation with mom on sunday.

"yeah.....that's pretty much it for her these days. i can't even have much of a conversation when we're together. it's hard."

"i know, gerry. i'm sorry you're alone in this."

"i'm not. i know you two talk regularly. hope's here. i just can't seem to go see her as often. it just hurts too much."

thing is, mom's almost always laughing as she talks. she seems so happy, loves her "new place" in the alzheimer's unit. although, she doesn't have much use for the other residents. she told me once:

"they're so old. and they don't know what they're talking about."

"mom, you're 82!"

"shhhhh, and i still seem younger!" she announces with some swagger to her voice.

there's a part of me that is relieved she's happy and seems to be getting to a point where she doesn't realize what is taking place any longer. she just feels lucky to be living in such a nice spot and that gerry and hope visit often. if i'd only come back to visit more..........and i'm thrilled she still recognizes my voice when i call. i'm still her "baby." i should be thrilled for her that she can be happy, that she's comfortable. but it's just plain slowly lose my mom. and to feel like an orphan even as she continues to inhabit her body.

i'll continue to call....we'll continue to have the same conversation and i'll go back to visit before the summer takes its leave. i just wish.............

i love you mom!

10 July 2006

funeral fiasco

it's been far too long since i've posted here. so, here is a sad, yet in some ways amusing post. the memory was brought vividly to mind over the 4th of july weekend and i finally am at a point where i can post it.

my father and i had an extremely tumultuous relationship for most of my young adult life. there were 4 years in which we did not my insistence. my father had been far less than the perfect dad. he was lutheran pastor who, to put in politely, couldn't keep his pants zipped. worse yet, he chose to fuck women in his congregations.....and always managed to get caught. his problem was the cause for much strife in our family life....much as my mom tried to keep it a secret.

4 years prior to my move to new york, dad and i (along with my brother gerry) met with a therapist. dad finally took responsibility for his errant behavior, paving the way for a reconciliation and an eventual healthy relationship between us. he ended up being the only family member supportive of my move to nyc.

as i departed for the city, my father was diagnosed with copd (a nice acronym for emphysema). he'd smoked for most of his life but had quit in his early 60's. unfortunately, that was too late. i spent a good share of my first two years in nyc traveling back to illinois to visit him, especially when he ended up in the hospital.

my father died after lung surgery to try and give him better quality of life for the time he had left. the surgery came too late.......he was in a drug-induced coma for two weeks to see if his lungs would heal from the surgery. they didn't. his "new" wife and the surgeon made a decision to turn off the jet ventilator he was on and let him go. he deserved the peace. besides, the surgery really hadn't helped.

i made plane reservations to get home to see him before they turned off the vent. he died before i reached his bedside. i was unconsolable. i'd wanted to say good-bye. we'd talked the day he went in for surgery. we'd said our "good-byes" then.....just in case. but i felt awful not being there when he left this earth. the nurses knew i was on my way, so they cleaned him up and left him for me to say my farewell to my father's corpse......not exactly the same.

being the wise man that he could be and to avoid the inevitable arguments with his "new" wife (a whole other, often funny subject), dad had planned his entire funeral. he was a veteran of wwII, but declined to have the military honors he was entitled to saying that since he didn't serve overseas, he was not truly untitled (dad could be humble at times). he also requested to be buried in civilian clothes instead of his clerics. i'm a common man.....bury me as a common man. he understood the mistakes he'd made.

the funeral was slated for 3 july. the presiding minister was the bishop of the synod. a man, that for many reasons, our family did not respect. true to family irreverence, we referred to him as "banana beak". oh, i know.......shameful and we'll all go to hell! we were not looking forward to his homily. we knew it would not be true to who our father was. thankfully, my brother was also speaking at the funeral.

dad had arranged for visitation to happen for 2 hours before the funeral. he knew that gerry, his family and i would be coming from a distance. he wanted things to be as easy as possible for us.

as we milled around, greeting the people that came to pay their respects to dad, gerry, hannah and i would touch base occasionally......making jokes about family issues, dad's indiscretions, the "new" wife. it was our way of making the day tolerable.

my parents were married for 37 years. he'd been married to the "new" wife for 10. she'd barred my mom from visiting dad in the hospital......and he wanted to see her, to reconcile, apologize for the awful things he'd done. it was a shitty thing for sandra to do to mom. but that's her......her reason for her affair and eventual marriage to my father was that god told me to marry a pastor. the nerve! sandra also refused to allow my mother to attend the funeral. now mom had dealt with him, his indiscretions and other issues for 37 years.....not to mention bearing his 3 children.

mom felt terrible, but, classy woman that she could be, deferred to sandra. we encouraged her to go. friends offered to bring her and just sit quietly in the back. she politely declined. choosing to meet us afterwards to be supportive to her children. that's class!

about 20 minutes before the beginning of the funeral, the bishop arrived. my niece, in a loud voice announced:

hey, banana beak is here!

ssshhhhhhhhhh! that name is not for public knowledge!

my dear sister just laughed at her daughter.

time for the funeral to begin........up until this point, hannah had been laughing and joking about many things. as soon as they closed the casket, wheeled it into the church and seated the family, she broke into the loudest sobs i'd ever heard. she could have riveled the professional italian mourners one sees in the movies. that's not to say that the rest of didn't cry, but we did not wail at the top of our lungs. knowing my sister as i did.....i saw through the act. she would have won best actress for most over the top performance if she'd been in a movie.

seated in the front pew, hannah continued to wail as her daughter patted her shoulder and i handed her extra kleenex. thankfully, she quieted for my brother's short eulogy.

gerry did a great job of acknowledging my father's faults in speaking about the "all to human, sinful side to us all". he also talked about the great lessons he had learned from dad. gerry spoke from the heart while choking back his own tears. i was proud of him. he painted a true picture of my dad.....talking about the good and the not so good. dad would have been pleased.

the bishop's homily was as was the greatest pastor and human being on the face of the earth. it annoyed me......the insincerity and dishonesty presented by the bishop. sandra sat and nodded her agreement through the homily. what else could she do?

thankfully, the burial was brief and (with the exception of the return of hannah's wailing) without drama. we piled into my brother's suv and headed to pick up mom.

giving her an overview of the services (minus our irreverence and hannah's wailing), she was proud of her son for being honest and caring in his eulogy. she had a difficult time dealing with her grief and the missed opportunity to say her good-byes.

we all traveled to my brother's for the remainder of the 4th of july holiday. nobody was in the mood for fireworks (well, except for hannah who pouted because we weren't going to drive to madison for the big show).

it's not fair that marie has to miss the fireworks!

uh hannah, dad was just buried. i think she can watch them on t.v. this once!

hannah pouted the remainder of the evening. the rest of us sat around going through old pictures, talking about the good and bad times. it was a healing time for us as a family. to look back over the awful things that transpired due to dad's issues and find the humor and lessons learned helped ease the pain.

it's been 9 years since we buried my father. there are times i still miss him, his encouragment and the easiness of his personality. the guy had charisma......he was also smart and funny. he was a good man with a fatal that haunted him (and us) throughout his career. but in the end, dad knew what he'd done, the pain he'd caused. i respect him for that. and it's a lesson i will carry with me always........

dad was a football fan.....the minnesota vikings. to this day, as football season approaches i miss talking to him about the prospects of the vikes and on game day miss the "can you believe that (insert correct verb for situation here) play/call/stupid brother and i still partake in this particular family pastime.

i love you, dad..........and if you have any pull.......can you make sure it's a good year for the vikes?

28 May 2006

another step down the spiral

gerry: "hi rose. "

me: "hey gerry. what's up?"

gerry: 'how are you?"

me: "i'm okay. you?"

gerry: "i'm fine. i have some news."

i knew he had something to tell me. gerry usually doesn't call unless there's something to share. i'm the one that calls just to chat.

me: "okay, what's going on with mom? i'm assuming it's not good."

gerry: "rose, we're moving her to the alzheimer's/dementia unit. the move should be done within the next 2 weeks."

me: 'she's that bad already? seems like it was just christmas and it wasn't that bad....."

gerry: "well, she's not leaving her apartment. she's afraid she'll get lost. her not taking showers is because she's afraid she'll fall, and she's starting to soil her clothes and hide them from us."

me: "just like a kid, huh? wow, things are really heading downhill quickly. quicker than i thought."

gerry: "i know. i took her to see the place. she likes it, so she won't give us a hard time about the move."

me: "want me to come back and help?"

gerry: "no....that's ridiculous. oakwood has men that will move her for $26/hour. there are a few things she can take with her. the rest i'm going to take to a consignment shop. the money i'll put in an account for her for incidentals."

me: "that's a good idea. what are we going to do about hannah?"

gerry: "i'll send her an email. she can't be bothered to visit, i can't much be bothered to do much else than that."

me: "i know........" and the tears come.

gerry: "rose, you know this is best for her."

me: "oh gerry, i'm not crying about the move. i'm crying because it hurts to watch. it hurts to see her dignity go, to see her memory go, to not be able to have a conversation with my mom anymore."

gerry: "i know, honey. but there's not a thing we can do to change it."

me: " yeah, i know that. i just wish......i miss my mom."

gerry: "yeah, i know. "

and the conversation continues. gerry filling me in on the up side of the alzheimer's unit. it will be good for her. she'll be able to walk and get some exercise now. they have all sorts of activities to keep the patients busy and stimulated. the stimulation, exercise and extra care will be perfect for mom. in that way, i'm relieved and happy for her. the down side is what it symbolizes........the continuing decline. such a cruel that robes you of who you are. and robes your family of difficult as my mom could be sometimes, as cruel as she could be when i was younger, those things changed with the onset of alzheimer's. she turned into a happy, loving person. yet, i miss both. i learned to be a survivor from strength, my creativity comes from heart aches as i watch her decline. but, the logical side is relieved she's got a place to be that will be good for her...........

05 April 2006

sunday afternoons

when i was very small, before the destruction of the "happy family" myth occurred, sunday afternoons were the best. they blaze in my memory as if they only just happened.

being that dad was a pastor, sunday mornings were filled with, coffee hour, sunday school. we arrived home in time for lunch....or in our neck of the midwest woods, on sunday it was dinner.

mom would make something "big"......a crown roast, pork roast, ham (the old fashioned, still on the bone ham with cloves stuck in the skin), some vegetable, potatoes, salad of some sort, dessert. it was the big "fancy" meal of the week.

dinner was always followed by the game (baseball or football), dad and gerry sacking out on the floor. dad was always tired after a was, after all, a work day for him. i think gerry was tired from taking care of (read: chasing) me.

gerry would be lying on the floor, with his knees bent, often dozing. he was 17 - 18 at this time.
i was 4 -5.

i'd come flying in from the kitchen, sit on gerry's knees and slide down, flopping on his stomach (occasionally a little lower--ouch!).

oomph! sheesh rose, i'm trying to nap.

come on, gerry. i wanna play!

i was great with manipulation as a child. it was my eyes. i'd give him that soulful, "please" look and he'd always give in. my great brother.......

okay rose, go get your child craft book.

we had this set of child craft books. can still see them. they were this shade of orangey red and about 16" long. just big enough for me to sit on.

i'd go running to my room and grab one, returning to gerry......

'kay, ger, here it is.

i knew what he'd do. he was my own personal carnival ride. he'd lay his arms over his head, i'd place the book on top of his hands, then sit down back to him, on the book. he'd lift me up and down on that book, from the floor to over his head. i would squeal in delight at my ride.

then he would let me slid down his knees. as long as he was awake and knew what was coming, he could protect sensitive spots. my landings were expected so not quite as shocking as that first one of the afternoon as he dozed.

he'd grab me sometimes, tickling me and tossing me around like a little rag doll. i would laugh and squeal at the fun we would have.

had enough, rose?


up he'd get from the floor, holding me by my arms and swinging me around as my feet flew out. i felt like i was flying.

we'd spend a good couple hours playing like that. sort of rough and tumble, but gerry never forgot i was his baby sister. he always made sure i was safe.

as i look back on those moments i see where the bond we have now grew from. there was a time in our lives when gerry thought me a pretty irresponsible young woman. we didn't talk a great deal.

around my 30th birthday, our relationship started to change. i'd been doing counseling for 3 years at a treatment center for juvenile delinquents at that point. gerry decided that if i could handle that, i must be more responsible than he gave me credit for.

since then, we've talked about those times when i was a small girl. from the time i was a toddler, until the age of 7 when the desertion of my parents occured, gerry was like my dad. he was the one holding me during church, or chasing me around. he was who i went to when upset about something. mom and dad didn't have the time.

funny how playing on a sunday could influence an adult relationship. i trust gerry with my life (literally.....he's my power of attorney, and health care proxy). he's the person i call when things get overwhelming. and we're the ones that share mom's decline and the responsibility of decisions that need to be made.

child craft book carnival rides, knee slides and arm flying........those things created a lasting, strong, unbreakable bond. amazing..............

02 April 2006

the ultimatum

this little snippet of my life has been floating in my head for several days. a good sign that i need to write about it.

chuckles and i were married for two years....together for a total of four. during that time i figured i knew him pretty well. this is one of those events that reminds me that you never really know people as well as you might think. although, there were some clues to this side of him.....i chose to ignore them. i loved him.

first clue that there may have been something amiss was toward the end of our senior year. we were getting ready to go out with friends. i was finishing my make-up, he walked into the bathroom to pee.

chuck, if we hadn't lived together this last year, would we be getting married in a month?

probably not, getting married without having sex is like buying a used car without checking under the hood.

i didn't reply. my thought was that i said nothing about sex......but living together. there was that twinge in my stomach. besides, he could've found a better way to phrase that.

second clue was that when his parents came to visit, he would never come to my rescue about anything. and nothing i ever did was good enough according to my mother-in-law. that and his family had taken to calling me (excuse the term, but this is true) "their little nigger". being italian, i can get pretty dark in the summer. when i met them my hair was long and curly. chuckles never said a thing to his family about that either.

i know.......i should have but i was in love.

third clue came at the beginning of our marriage when my closest friend from high school's mom died in a house fire. donna called and asked me to please come home for the funeral. chuckles told me no. two reasons: he didn't want to spend the money on air fare and secondly who was going to take care of him. i acquiesed....being the good wife.

my theory is that when we were on our honeymoon in the bahamas, some native bahamians kidnapped, cloned him and gave me back his evil twin. that's the only explanation i have for the total change in his attitude from our courtship to post wedding.

the beginning of his second year of med. school was also the beginning of major problems between us.

he was never home, except to eat, sleep and fuck me for study breaks. once i actually asked him to leave a $20 on the pillow.

if you're gonna fuck me like a whore, you can pay me like a whore.

he walked out of the room without a word, returning to his books.

i came close to starting an affair, but couldn't be unfaithful. i'd lived through that with my parents. i wasn't going to start it with my matter how bad things got.

thanksgiving weekend of his second year in med. school, 18 months into our marriage, we were at his brother and sister-in-law's for dinner and the weekend. i was missing home and our family customs. i hadn't seen my family since my wedding. chuckles refused to take the trip to illinois to see them.

thursday was a pleasant enough day......we ate, watched some football and they discussed the politics of the indians, the reservations and that they should just be fenced in. my in-laws were not the most tolerent people in the world. i kept my mouth shut.

i turned in early that night with a book. the book being far better company than my in-laws at this point.

early friday morning, chuckles shook me awake.

rose, we're having sex this morning. if you don't, i'm going to divorce you.

it had been a couple weeks. we weren't getting along and i was in no mood for sex. especially sex with someone who treated me like his own private whore.

chuck, we're at your brother's. the whole family's here. i'm not interested in the entire family knowing we're in here having sex.

i'm gonna fuck you or leave you.


with that, chuckles moved on top of me, pinned my arms above my head with one hand as he forced my legs open with his. i started to open my mouth to scream at him, so with his other hand he grabbed one of the pillows in the bed and shoved the corner in my mouth. the rest of the pillow was on my chest and for some reason, i couldn't get it out of my mouth. so, there i was.......pinned to the bed. against my will, as my husband shoved his cock into my closed, very dry pussy.

the tears streamed from my eyes, into my ears, over my neck as my husband forced me to accept his cock plunging in and out of me. he came after a short time, much to my relief. that was the most painful sex i've ever encountered, not to mention degrading.

getting off me and removing the pillow from my mouth, he looked at me with eyes so cold......granite comes to mind.

well, that was the most unsatisfactory fuck i've ever had. clean yourself up before you show your face.

he left to shower. i sat on the bed, sobbing.......wondering where the man i'd loved had disappeared to, what i'd done to deserve this from him. and wondering if i could ever enjoy sex again.

i don't know how long i sat there and cried. chuckles stuck his head in at one point to let me know i needed to get showered and join the family for a late breakfast.

and will you try and look happy, for chrissake.

i showered, dressed and tried to use make-up to disguise the fact that i'd been crying.

joining "the family", i plastered a smile on my face and pretended everything was fine. i was much quieter than usual.

two weeks later, chuckles told me he wanted out anyway. he'd been having an affair with a classmate.

besides, i married you because you were pretty, could cook, and i figured your folks would help us through med school. that's not happening. i never really loved you. it's best if we just end this now.

it was the most devastating moment in my young adult life. i had trusted this man and was burned badly for that trust. i left that relationship wondering if i could ever trust another man again.........

28 March 2006

light dawns briefly

a return to the present and my mom. it has been difficult the past few weeks to talk with her.....she's failing so quickly. frighteningly quickly.

the beginning of the month saw gerry and me discussing the next step for mom. seeing her extremely negative reaction to a move to assisted living. she threatened all manner of bad behavior, insisting there was nothing wrong with her.

this also spawned the ultimately hurtful exchange of emails between hannah and me. that relationship seems close to irreparable. i hope that one day she will be able to accept my attempts to mend the tears in our relationship.

last week, gerry called me. he found the perfect solution for mom (pending oakwood village's acceptance of mom into their program). oakwood would provide more help to mom.....for a fee, of course. they would dispense her meds, thus removing her temptation of digging out extra pills, she would get breakfast and lunch as well as the dinner she already received (meaning she would not have to cook), help her with her back exercises, make sure she showered twice a week......basically she would be getting almost the same services as assisted living without having to move out of her little apartment.

it sounded perfect. the only hitch was that mom had to pass their requirements. they had a list of things she needed to what to do in an emergency, such as a fire. that one just about kept her out of the program. she wasn't quite sure what to do......

luckily, gerry has an uncanny ability to persuade people to his point of view. he astonishes me constantly with this little gift of his. i am often in awe. he tells me i need not be.....we seem to share the gift. i think he's better at it. (although when i worked with juvenile delinquents that particular skill came in very handy).

i called mom tonight.

she sounded terribly sad.

mom, what's wrong?

nothing rose. i'm fine.

you sound sad. why is that?

well, there were nurses here today. i have to go see some doctors.

what's going on?

wait rose, let me get my list.

upon her return to me, with the list, mom tries to explain the changes taking place. the people coming in to help, monitoring her personal hygiene, dispensing her her eyes, still stealing her independence.

it's my memory, rose. i'm just not smart any more.

mom, this has nothing to do with your intelligence.

i know....and i have no control over what's happening to me.

there it was: her admission. she was finally acknowledging her disease, the devastation it brings.

this has been the most difficult time in the progress of her alzheimer's. watching her decline and slowly, seriously admit what is happening to her. she feels so helpless and frustrated. her forgetfulness is so all encompassing that she can no longer joke about it.

the sadness in her voice, the tears i hear breaks my heart. and tears fall from my eyes at my own helplessness. there is nothing i can do for her, no pills to get her, no doctors to consult.

all we can do is watch her fade away, support her in any way we can and love her. it just doesn't seem enough.

and the pain of watching her finally acknowledge her disease and what it is taking from her is most painful. thing is, i'm not sure who it's more painful or mom.

she talked to me tonight about how lucky she's been.

i've had a good life, rose. i raised 3 great kids......well at least two of you......she laughs. she also doesn't understand hannah's actions in life.

i agree with her....she's been a survivor on many fronts in her life. it has not been an easy one, in many ways.

even when your father left, things turned out well for me. i can't complain. there are a lot of folks who are worse off than me.

that's one lesson i will always remember from mom........i come from a line of survivors and fighters. she has always bounced back from the adversity that confronted her in life.

she can't bounce back from this, but she can leave with dignity......and as the light dawns briefly for her, helping her acknowledge the truth of her disease, she finds a way to see the positive. to strive to keep her independence for as long as she can.

i admire her for her strength and thank her for passing some of that on to me............

25 March 2006

the beginning

chuck and i first met during our freshman year. he was dating a friend of mine. i didn't give him much of a look......i was dating someone else. however, due to some mutual friends, we often ended up at the same parties and talked some.

in fact, he came to our "hotel" party. my friends and i rented a room at a hotel in fargo and organized a nice little party. liquor, two beds, 6 couples. some sex, mostly heavy making out. chuck seemed a little uncomfortable in the surroundings. although to give him an out.....he was surrounded with theatre, art and music majors (not exactly his cup of tea).

we didn't see each other much our sophomore year. we were on the outer periphery of each other's lives. he was pre-med, i was psychology and organizational communications. i was involved in theatre, the campus radio station, chairing the homecoming show......he was involved in science stuff. not disciplnes that overlapped much.

our junior year, i was living in an off-campus apartment with 3 friends. that fall there was the proverbial campus rapist. seemed to happen every fall. i was leaving campus late one evening, wondering about the safety of walking several blocks alone. i bumped into chuck leaving the library. he offered to walk me home.

so, we walked and talked about the previous summer, the beginning of our junior year, the mundane of life....oh, and the ever present fall campus rapist.

it was almost midnight when we arrived at my apartment (the finished basement of a single mom making up some cash flow with her extra rooms). we stood in the back yard, watching the aurora borealis sparkle in the night sky (one of my favorite parts of going to college in northwestern minnesota).

i stood on the stoop as we talked and looked at the night sky, chuck's arm all of a sudden around my waist. then pulling me toward him and kissing me. such a romantic first kiss......midnight, watching the aurora borealis, after being escorted home by a tall, handsome man.....who was my protector that evening.

he left a note and a rose in my campus mailbox the next day, asking me out. a total sucker for and believer in romance in those days, how could i resist that? well, i couldn't. we made a date for the weekend......a movie i believe. and of course the walk home.

we seemed to run into each other a great deal that week on campus. we even managed to lunch together a couple days.

three weeks into our dating, his roommate was leaving town (chuck also lived off campus). we decided to spend the weekend together at his place. now, i was still a virgin at this point in my life (thanks to my mom and the fear of god she managed to instill in me).

the weekend came, and i arrived with a small bag of clothes (which i didn't use). we left to pick up some groceries, wine and other needs before snuggling in for the next 2 days.

i lost my virginity to chuck that weekend. okay, not a really big surprise.

i remember the evening so clearly. we made some dinner......that i don't remember. i did dishes and then we curled up on the couch with wine to watch a movie. we never saw much of the movie.......we ended up on the floor, making out like kids.........his shirt came off, my sweater came off. we spent time getting to know each other's upper bodies.

we took a break for the news and nightline......the iranian hostage crisis was in full swing at that time. as nightline wound down, we found each other's mouths again. the kisses led to more exploration and soon my jeans were off and his hands were exploring the wetness of my pussy as i gasped with pleasure.

before i got to taking off his jeans and exploring his hard cock with my hands and mouth, chuck suggested we head to the bed. naked, i got up to go wash my face and brush my teeth as chuck locked up for the evening. he followed me into the bathroom where he went through his own bedtime preparations.

he took my hand and led me to the bedroom. folding down the bedcovers, he gently lifted me up and laid me down on the bed, lowering himself on top of me. i remember his kisses......the tickling and roughness from his beard, our searching tongues, my nervousness. i also remember my pussy being so wet and aching....our hips were pressing hard against each other.

i raised my legs up to his waist, crossing my ankles behind his back as his cock seemed to just slip right into my pussy. i gasped, he moaned, and in typical 20 year old fashion.....he came quickly. and i'm thinking......okay, that felt pretty good, but is that all there is? he fell asleep......i masturbated and fell asleep.

we woke up fairly early, falling into kisses and more exploration. this time, chuck actually wandered south, tasting my tits, and ending up with his tongue on my clit. he stayed there for a bit, but before i came, he stopped, moved back up and fucked me again. he was blissed and i was frustrated.

we spent the weekend naked in the apartment, getting up from bed to eat, do a little homework (and chuck had to watch some of the 3 stooges. what is it with men and larry, moe and curly?). but, we spent most of the time in bed.

during the making of dinner saturday evening, chuck came up behind me as i stirred something on the stove. his hard cock pressed into my ass, his hands on my breasts, lips on my neck.....we ended up on the floor of the kitchen, fucking like there was no tomorrow. and finally.......finally, chuck got me to cum.......with his fingers as he kissed me. that did it for me. i'd cum before with boyfriends in high school.....mostly from fingers slipped beneath jeans and panties (with one, naked in bed, hoping his parents wouldn't come home too early).

but cumming like that, then having him fuck me again......i was finally blissed and in a thick sex haze. the rest of saturday and part of sunday, we played, we explored and learned each other's bodies pretty well.

that was the beginning of our four years together (two of them married). as we left his apartment sunday night, i commented to chuck, laughing, that since he'd taken my virginity, we had to get married.

sometimes, when i look back on those days, and all the things that transpired during our four years together, i wonder........did he marry me partially out of some strange obligation?

during our divorce, he did own up to marrying me because he figured my parents had enough money to help put him through med school. alas, my parents' divorce fucked up that little idea of his.

i wonder if we ever loved each other really........

21 March 2006

family lore

mom and her sisters seem to have a special talent for telling family lore, some truth, some myth. we've found, as a family, to "trust but verify" as mr. reagan put it, before taking their stories as gospel.

my uncle, gerry was in wwII. he spent his tour on iwo jima. he was proud of his service. my father was a bit envious. he spent the war stateside, stationed at west point (that's how he met my mom.....but that's another story). needless to say, dad didn't see any action. he'd wanted to be a fighter pilot.....bad eyes kept him from his wish.

when gerry died, mom and i went down for the funeral as did her sisters and last remaining brother. the funeral is another story in itself. my aunts and uncles can be a handful and loud! but, i digress.

as we sat around the kitchen table at the neighbor's house we'd inhabited for the days surrounding the funeral, my aunts told many stories about their beloved brother. the one that stood out for me was about his time on iwo jima.

you all know that famous picture of the soldiers raising the flag on the island at the end of the war? well, the sisters had somehow gotten hold of the "fact" that gerry was at that flag raising. not only was he there, but he was part of the picture. (which by the way, i learned from jefferson was a posed photo. the photographer missed the first flag raising, so they restaged it to capture it for posterity). they were so proud of their little brother being such a big part of history. hell, i was pretty impressed myself. i had an uncle who was part of history in a big way......every body knew that photo.

when gerry's daughter, tori came up to stay with me during surgery, she brought all her family tree research along with her. she figured she'd share it with me in my more coherent moments. she's done an amazing amount of research about our family and it's beginnings outside of naples, italy. our grandparents were immigrants to this country coming through ellis island, in it's heyday.

i was blown away by all the material she'd collected. as we sat, the third day after my surgery, going through birth, death and wedding certificates, naturalization papers for grandma, i decided to ask tori about the iwo jima story.

tori, have you ever heard the aunts talk about your dad on iwo jima?

no, why?

well, story has it that gerry was at the flag know, the famous one in the picture.

she laughed so hard, she had to catch her breath before looking, wide-eyed at me:

you've got to be kidding? they've been telling that tale?

god's been circulating in the family for years. i heard it at your dad's funeral.

well honey, he was on iwo jima. but he wasn't in that photo!

we had a good laugh over the aunts and their rewrite of history (seems a family trait with some).

a year after my surgery, tori sent me a package.

i sat on my bed, opening it......wondering what she could be sending me.

laying on top of all those polystyrene peanuts was a note:

dearest rose,

i'd meant this to be a get well present for you. it was my intent to send it right after your surgery. it's been sitting in my kitchen for a year.

however, in the year it's been sitting here, i found the perfect thing to put in it. i thought you might like an updated picture of dad.


ps: feel free to change the photo.

well, i knew it was a frame. and i was happy she'd sent me a picture of my uncle. he always made me laugh.

i dumped the peanuts on my bed to get to the frame. she'd put it in the box upside down. as i turned it over, all i could do was laugh!

in the frame was a copy of the black and white photo of the soldiers raising the flag at iwo jima. i've never changed the photo. it sits facing my bed and is one of the first things i see in the morning. it makes me laugh...........

18 March 2006

four aunts, an uncle, mom and......

my mom is one of 10 children, born to italian immigrants. she grew up in newark, during the depression. once she married my father and moved to the midwest, she didn't often make it back east to see her family.

one fall about 15 years ago, mom and her sisters arranged a trip to go visit my uncle gerry down in mobile, alabama. i decided to go along. due to distance and other factors, i didn't know my mom's family well and they could be riotous fun. we planned four fun-filled days in mobile.

gerry was the favorite sibling. he had a great sense of humor, cooked better than his sisters (he owned a restaurant in mobile) and could keep the sisters from arguing too much (an amazing feat for one man).

mom and i were the first to arrive and gerry picked us up at the airport. the others arrived a few hours later. gerry made another trip to the airport while mom and i spent time with sylvia (gerry's wife).

dinner that night was my uncle's chicken cacciatore, family stories and wine. i sat back and listened to the family grandmother's legendary temper, only to be outdown by my grandfather's.

the one story that stands out from that evening was grandpa getting so angry during dinner. now, imagine 12 people sitting at a long dining table, eating spaghetti with red sauce, steak, wine....grandpa gets angry and upends the table, sending children flying back from the table and food flying. seems this was a semi-regular occurance. they must have gone through a great many dishes. however, the tale as told by the aunts was pure hilarity.

after a long time at the dinner table, wine flowing, espresso with anisette finished, every one was pretty much ready for bed. it had been a long day.

the next morning started a 4 day tradition: the sisters arguing over how exactly to make the best pot of coffee. i clearly remember walking out of the bedroom to my aunts marie, kitty, lee, anne and my mom surrounding the coffee maker:

no, need to use cold water.

that's too much coffee for the amount of water!

no it isn't! you want coffee or dark water?

that's not the right coffee filter!

well, it's the only coffee filter they have!

it took them an hour to make the coffee. five adult women who have been taking care of their own families and making coffee for years. they couldn't agree on exactly how to make a lousy pot of coffee. gerry sat and laughed as i begged him to just take over.

geez jerry, it's the only way we're ever going to get a cup of coffee.

ah rose, this is vaudville at it's best. relax and enjoy the show.

he was right....but i wanted my damn cup of coffee. the funny thing was, they went through this every bloody morning! they all seemed to think they knew best. an obvious family trait (inherited by my brother and me).

the other thing my mom's family had a penchant for (besides food, wine and talking) was playing poker. it was a nightly occurance during our visit.

before i continue the poker story, there are two things you must know. my mom didn't smoke....well, unless she had too much to drink and others were smoking, and she can't hold her liquor well. we always tease sniff of the cork and she's already tipsy.

on friday evening, after a dinner of spaghetti with marinara sauce and shrimp, we sat down to play penny ante poker. there was plenty of wine (actually uncle gerry and i had to make a wine run, also picking up cigarettes for my aunt marie and me).

my aunts were sharks at the poker table, as was my uncle. mom and i were the odd men out. neither of us played poker well. my aunts made regular visits to atlantic city, getting in plenty of practice. marie and kitty always did the best....they each had a stash of money from their trips down to a.c. surprisingly, they often left a.c. with more cash then they went with. good poker faces, both of them. another surprise for such an emotive family.

so, we're playing poker, drinking wine, marie and i smoking. as the wine flows, the talk gets louder. i never figured out exactly how my aunts and uncle managed to play cards and speak. none of them can talk without using their hands (another inherited trait....i express myself much better with my hands).

all of a sudden mom turns to me:

rose, let me have a cigarette.


you heard me.....light me a cigarette.

um, okay.

i light a cigarette and pass it to my mom, staring in disbelief. i have a great pic of my mother, cigarette in one hand, glass of wine in the other, smiling at the camera. of course, after that she took a drag and turned a lovely shade of green.....coughing like mad. we teased, so she made herself smoke the whole darn thing. i refused to give her any more that night. needless to say, mom was the loser that night.....i actually did pretty well, finishing with more money than i started, but that evening's real shark was kitty. i think she left the table with 20 bucks. pretty good for a couple hours of penny ante poker.

saturday was "family" day. gerry's daughters were all coming for dinner, bringing their respective families. there would be 17 of us for dinner. i hadn't seen gerry's girls for about 10 years. i couldn't wait to see them again. we were a great deal alike and had many things in common.

the menu: homemade manicotta, stuffed pork roast, fried zucchini, fresh green salad and for dessert, a homemade cheesecake. now, the cheesecake recipe was courtesy of marie. back in the 40's, she'd made a trip into new york city. she stopped in a jewish deli to grab some lunch and ordered a piece of cheesecake. as she tells it, that piece of cheesecake was the best darn cheesecake she'd ever eaten.

my aunt marie was a beautiful woman and a bit of a flirt. she managed to cajole the recipe out of the deli owner. it's been passed along in our family since then. and i'll tell is the best darn cheesecake i've ever had.

in preparation for saturday's meal, friday afternoon was grocery shopping day. gerry took his sisters and me shopping for the needed ingredients. i went along purely for the entertainment value. mom and her sisters did not disappoint. actually it was gerry that added the amusement.

as we went through the store, mom and her sisters each had their own opinions about what ingredients, brands were best. there was a friendly argument in almost every aisle.

we need to use contadina!

no, heinz!

parmesean cheese with the riccota!

no, romano.

and on it we walked through the store, watching the sisiters argue, gerry would (with a smile on his face, laughing and speaking in his southern over jersey accent) apologize for the "girls".

sorry for the noise. i have no idea who these women are. just picked them up along the way to the store.

and one of the girls would turn and correct the story.

what a site that must have been. 5 women arguing over everything that went into the shopping cart, being trailed by gerry and me, laughing at the spectacle.

dinner preparations started that afternoon. they were making the manicotta shells from scratch. that went off without a hitch. it was the next day the friendly arguments started again.

first it was how to flavor the ricotta cheese mixture that would fill the manicotta shells. then it was the cheesecake recipe. the atmosphere was almost carnivale like as the sisters argued, cooked and tasted the fruits of their labors.

dinner was a success though. there was more food then i think i've ever seen in one place. my family doesn't know the meaning of cooking small........the stories flowed as the food disappeared along with the wine. jerry kept us in stitches with stories about his restaurant and teasing us all. we also watched some college football that day......bama playing ole miss. oh the loudness while we all rooted for bama.

that was the last time all the sisters and jerry were together. marie died a couple years later of lung cancer and jerry a couple years after that from prostate cancer.

today, mom and kitty are the only two left out of that family of 10 kids. and mom's facing the darkness of alzheimer's.

i love thinking about that trip. the memories make me laugh, and be very grateful for the time we all had together.

13 March 2006


i was seven years old. we'd been living in the minneapolis area for three years and my father had started a new congregation for the church.

in outward appearances, my father was a great pastor. charismatic, good public speaking skills, could give a fine "hell fire and brimstone" sermon one sunday and the next cover you with grace.
his secret was that he was self-destructive. and his acts of self-destruction was to have affairs with the women in his congregation. often times, women that he had been "counseling". (i think that's one of the reasons i was never a bill clinton fan. he reminded me of my dad).

my mom did a relatively good job of shielding us from dad's indiscretions....well, me at least. my brother discovered his secret during this little story. hannah chose to deny my father's indescretions.

i remember being awakened late one night by an argument in our living room. i could hear my parents yelling at each other.....but there were other voices i didn't recognize. i got up and teary-eyed, walked into the living room to see what all the ruckus was about.

my brother caught me, picked me up and returned to my room with me. drying my tears, trying to soothe my soul, he sat with me until i fell asleep.

the next day, my parents took me to a friend of my mom's. mom wanted me to meet them. they had a daughter just a year older than me. i was friends were fun!

mary and i played as the adults talked. we left after a couple hours.

a week later, my parents sat me down for a serious talk. things had happened and they had to move to illinois. they couldn't take me with them. they were setting up legal guardianship with this couple and leaving me in minneapolis. then they packed my things and piled me into the car.

being seven, i didn't really understand all this. what i did understand was that my parents drove me to the home of relative strangers, unpacked my things, kissed me goodbye and drove off.........

i remember standing on the slate steps of the house, where i would spend the next year plus, watching my parents drive away, wailing.......refusing to go into the house. my parents were deserting me......and leaving me with total strangers.

ruth had to drag me into the house, crying and screaming......wondering why my parents didn't want me anymore.

to complicate matters, ruth's daughter mary had been adopted. mary knew that. but as i moved in and needed some extra attention, mary got jealous. we had terrible fights sometimes. she was afraid i would take her place. i was afraid nobody would ever love me again. after all, my parents just dropped me off and left. if they didn't love me, who would?

i remember one morning as ruth was changing the sheets on my bed (i'd started to wet the bed....something i'd never done in my young life), mary came in crying about something. and she yelled at me for taking up too much of her mom's attention.

ruth, patient ruth, sat us both in her lap. she carefully explained to mary that nobody could ever take her place in ruth's heart. mary was lucky.....they'd picked her from many little babies to be theirs. but, ruth explained, rose is feeling very abandoned right now. we have to help her understand that she is loved and that her parents still love her even though they are far away.

that particular memory is so very clear in my head.....i can see the three of us as plainly as if this all happened yesterday.

while adjusting to my parents' desertion, i also had to get used to a new home, rules, school, find new friends, new piano teacher. but the other thing i noticed was that in this house, nobody yelled, slammed doors, walked out, left me cowering under the dining room table.

my grades in school initially dropped, then went back up as i adjusted to my new life. i remember life becoming almost carefree. they had this big backyard that abutted the apple orchard of the neighbor's house. he let us pick apples if we asked.

mary and i became friends. i finally had a "sibling" my own age. it was fun. life was all of a sudden not such a frightening prospect. except when my parents called. those calls always snapped me back to the reality of my parents deserting me. i was hurt and it showed in our phone conversations. mom would talk to me about being a good girl for ruth and her husband merrill, i would cry and dad would get angry that i cried.

the only time my parents came for a visit was at christmas. again, a strong memory for me.

i can see the church, plain as day.....the glass windows that surrounded the sanctuary, the chairs instead of pews.....and that night, snow was falling outside. i can hear my mom singing "silent night". all i could do was cry. (up until last year, every candlelight service when "silent night" came up, i cried. i don't anymore).

i don't remember how long my parents stayed. i remember them leaving and going through the same horrible crying as they left me again. wondering why they didn't love me enough to take me along. what had i done that was so awful?

yet, ruth, merrill and mary seemed to care. it was too much for a seven year old brain to wrap itself around. after adjusting to my parents' leaving again, life returned to some semblance of normal.

at least i had become accustomed to living with the tommerasans. they watched out for me, cared for me, seemingly loved me, even. they became my family. hannah was still in the twin cities and never visited (maybe that was the beginning of the end of our relationship). gerry visited occasionally. he was in college and working his way through. he came when he had the time.

but the tommerasans became my family. i understood their rules, i felt loved, i had a "sister". i became pretty comfortable there. my fantasy became that they were my real family. i cut my own out of my mind. they didn't exist.

yet, they did. and when my parents came to take me home with them, to illinois, it was as traumatic for me as their leaving me the year before. i was being uprooted again, by two people i no longer trusted. forced to leave a family that had loved me and made me feel safe.

my sister hannah chose to move to illinois with us. i don't know why.

so, there we were.....a "family" again. but not really. i remember hearing my parents argue through the paper thin walls in the duplex we were living in. i'd cry and cry, afraid they would desert me again. hannah would tease me......

if you keep crying, they will leave you.

that certainly helped bolster my confidence. it took me a couple years to finally trust that my parents weren't going to take off again. but, as a family, we never discussed this time in our lives. it was years before i knew why they needed to leave me. sadly, it didn't come from them. i had to hear it from my brother and his wife.......a month before my wedding.

here's what precipitated the desertion:

my father'd been caught having an affair with a woman in the congregation. her husband showed up at the church president's house with a rifle, threatening to kill my father if the church neglected to deal with this. (nobody can ever say life was dull at our house).

the church's solution: my parents had to enter into therapy. not just any therapy. but intense therapy at lutheran general hospital in park ridge, illinois. they would be required to live in subsidized housing, work factory jobs and attend several different types of therapy: group, individual, couple.......

my mom decided it wouldn't be a good place to have her "baby". it seemed to make more sense to her to leave me with strangers. when i finally confronted her about the whole issue, mom denied it ever happened. to this day, i don't know why she refused to discuss it......guilt i guess.

the sad thing is that my father refused to complete the counseling. he was banned from the church (well that segment of the church). he went back to being an electrical engineer. that is, for two years, until the other faction of the lutheran church came to him and offered him a church. and the pattern continued.

i look back on that time in my life and can't help but wonder what life would have been like if things had been done differently. then i remind myself that wondering about the "what if's" won't ever change what happened. our family broke then......badly and because of the silence, the denial by my parents, things were never really put back together.

we limped along as the pastor's family......seemingly happy and healthy to outside observers. the secrets, fear, mistrust and anger......well, they came out over and over in different areas.

as an adult, when my insecurities surface, it's this time in my life that i think about. the feelings of being unlovable by my own parents.....and for a brief moment i feel like that seven year old again, standing on those slate steps, watching my parents drive away.

training "annie oakley"

as i mentioned in my previous post, my in laws lived in the middle of oglala sioux reservation territory. when the indians received their government checks they often headed to town to drink and party.

on a fairly regular basis, a car full would stop at the farm looking for many things......most often gas. but this was a farm. the only gas pump on the property held diesel fuel for the farm equipment.

chuckles related a story to me, early in our dating, about the time a car full of indians stopped to try and get some gas. they threatened the old man who owned the farm and cornered him in his barn. chuckles was, thankfully there, and with a few well aimed blows of his fists and then picking up a tire iron, he scared the indians off the property. (chuckles was a big guy....6'4", about 195 lbs).

chuckles and i were visiting his parents during a med. school break (chuckles was in med school). every one was going into town but me. i was cooking my family sauce for was an all day...more or less....project.

prior to everyone leaving, it was decided that i needed to learn to shoot a gun.

del: chuck, she has to know how to protect herself in case the indians come by.

chuck: yeah, you're probably right. you bring your gun?

now, del was chuckles half brother and a cop in a nearby nebraska town. you'll love this.....their uniforms were: blue jeans, a work shirt, stetson, cowboy boots, along with the usual police stuff in their holsters, with the exception that they all carried .357 magnums as their official side arms. oh, and their squad cars? old yellow taxis painted blue and white. i kid you not. i laughed so hard when i saw those. and my in laws couldn't figure out what was so funny.

and honestly, being in that particular nebraska town was like walking back into the old west in some ways. i half expected to see james arness (ya know...."gunsmoke") walk out of the police station.

but i digress......if any of you have ever shot a gun you know there's a bit of a kick to most. but a .357 magnum, well......that'll land you on your ass if you aren't prepared.

i'd never held a gun in my hand.

chuckles: rose, come here.

me: what honey?

chuckles: del and i want to teach you to shoot. you should be able to protect yourself when you're alone on the farm.

me: you're kidding, right? i've never held a gun, and you want me to be "dirty harry" with that .357 magnum?

del: you'll be fine. come on. we'll go out across from the barn.

so there we stand; del, chuckles and me. del takes the .357, shows it to me, explains how to sight an object, and shoots off a couple rounds.

he hands me the gun as i beg him not to make me learn. the gun scared me. actually, it was more the thought of actually having to use it that scared me. they were both very insistent.

gun in right hand, left hand gripping my right fist to keep it steady, feet apart shoulder width and i look down the sight. the first round i fire off lands me on my ass, the kick was so powerful. oh, and the bullet just missed the cat.

chuckles and del are laughing as i get up and wipe off my ass.

me: ya know, you really shouldn't laugh at a woman holding a gun.......

chuckles: oh yeah, after watching your first shot, i'm really worried!

okay, back in my shooting stance. this time expecting the kick, i fire off my second shot. it hit the front tire of our car......i was aiming for the barn just beyond the car. hey, but i stayed on my feet this time!

del and chuckles exchange glances.

del: okay rose, try a couple more shots. focus on the sight. steady your shooting hand with your left. you can do this.

back to my shooting stance. i'm still aiming at the barn.....the big flipping side of a not easy to miss, right?

i shoot and the bullet hits the ground right in front of the poor dog. scared him to death. and i'm on my ass again.

del: guess we don't leave her alone or with a gun.

chuck: yeah, i'll stay home with her......

and they both got a good laugh at my expense. sheesh, i really did feel like i was living in the old west sometimes out there........

i didn't pick up another gun until about 5 years later, when a boyfriend tried to teach me to shoot his gun. i didn't fair much better. guess i'm not cut out for the use of firearms.