A CURIOUS VIEW: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
To say that I have been blessed would be an understatement. When it comes to family and friends… the things that truly matter… my cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5). But for this little piece, please don’t feel like I have neglected you if you are not mentioned. This little juncture in my life took place between 2006 – October 2011 and the participants mentioned are key to the story.
There are some people in my life whose actions have been so beneficial to my well-being, and the well-being of others who are very dear to me, that regardless of what further actions that they might take, be it detrimental or not, my loyalty to them will never falter.
First, on this list is my Aunt Carmela and Uncle Al who literally stepped in and helped to raise my two brothers and myself after my lovely, caring mother passed away.
Secondly, is my friend Tony Ciccone, who literally kept me afloat when I moved to Los Angeles. After being unemployed for a substantial amount of time, he got me a job at the Palm Restaurant that kept me in Los Angeles while providing me with a very nice income, and lifelong connections and acquaintances whose influence would come to play a significant role in every book I have written, as well as in many of my short stories. Besides that, he introduced me to my future wife, to whom I have been happily married for nearly thirty years.
I never saw my wife so overworked nor happier when she and her staff dragged her beloved Sound Department at Disney from a deep sea of red ink into the black as they staved off the predators who tried to diminish the rewards of their hard work.
When my wife suffered a life-altering injury on the Disney loading dock one day, she worked from her hospital bed on the day she had spine surgery, determined not to desert her beloved department.
Her co-workers were more like family to her than the people to whom she was related by blood. They also were suffering personal tragedies, health problems and relationship challenges, yet none of them complained. They were there to succeed…and succeed they did.
If their lives had been a Disney cartoon, this ragtag team of fighters (scratch “ragtag”…call it “Tommy Bahama-clad” team) fought the corporate dragon and won for a decade until the edict to close the department came down from the mountain and destroyed their happy little kingdom, destroying their “happily ever after.”
When the final injustice rang upon my wife’s beloved department, and it was closed with the company’s entire division, in true Disney style, a fairy godmother appeared to wipe away my wife’s tears…and from a most-unlikely direction…just a few blocks down a Burbank street.
The third person who made a profound change to my life was Kathleen Tucci, NBC SVP of Talent Relations. Not only has she been a wonderful friend, she helped us at a very low point in our lives by opening the door for my wife and getting her a job at the Peacock network.
Mrs. Tucci, having never met my wife and simply taking my word about how great she was, got my wife a job working for Jim Powell, SVP NBC West Coast Operations and Entertainment. To this day, my wife says that if all bosses were like Jim Powell, everyone would work for free, just to be near someone so genuinely brilliant and kind.
The fourth rescuer in my life, Ms. Robin Ratner, a customer at the Palm Restaurant, a friend, and a superb lawyer who unselfishly helped me resolve situations that could have affected adversely me for the rest of my life. She will have my gratitude forever.
The next savior in my life is my beautiful cousin Lindsey, an angel on Earth whom God must have sent to save us all.
Lindsey’s relentless support and caring helped my brother Paul as he watched his first wife, Maureen, suffer and eventually pass away from lung cancer.
Lindsey, who was barely twenty at the time, spent day after day, month after month, up to twelve hours each day, beside my brother at The Westchester Square Hospital watching as Maureen slowly faded away, into unconsciousness, waking one last time before passing away just a few hours later.
My cousin, a court reporter, missed work for over two months and instead stood beside my brother and his dying wife… a bulwark for him to lean against and a comfort to his wife knowing securely in Maureen’s heart that a beautiful, guiding angel stood beside her beloved husband.
Months afterwards, Lindsey and Paul came out to visit my wife and me in Los Angeles. Her quirkiness and happy demeanor were back in full force providing just the right tonic to alleviate the lingering grief that tormented my brother. After they left, my wife and I acknowledged for the first time we thought my brother was going to be okay.
Lindsey visited us a number of times afterwards and despite our efforts to get her to move in with us and become a full-fledged Valley Girl, she resisted. Sunshine, with a chance of no rain or snow or winter, would never keep her away from the most important things in her life, which were her immediate family and friends.
In a few more days, it will be eight years since Maureen passed away. In a few months my beautiful cousin will be getting married to a wonderful guy, Nick.
If I know my sister-in-law, Maureen, she has been her usual busy self, up in Heaven, sorting the good guys from the less-than-stellar, and pushing Nick and Lindsey into intersecting paths so that two wonderful people can have their happily ever after. And I know that with Lindsey in his life, Nick is one hell of a lucky guy.
If I may say a bit more about Maureen, she was, for lack of a better word, “sparkling.” Her smile, her eyes, her laugh, and her glowing love for my brother, made everyone around her know that life was good. She never faltered when it came to driving away the darkness, no matter what the situation. All of us, especially my brother, Paul, suffered to the core when Maureen passed away. None of us thought that life would ever be good again.
Then, like a miracle, the happiness returned in the form of Lourdes. For those unfamiliar with the holy city of Lourdes in France, believers make a pilgrimage there to receive the gift of healing.
Fortunately for our family, no pilgrimage was required. A stunning force of nature, my beautiful new sister-in-law, Lourdes, was gifted into Paul’s life, and our family was once again on a path to happiness. A dynamo of love, compassion and achievement, Lourdes’s energy is boundless. From caring for her patients at a New York City hospital, to being the caregiver for terminal family members, her strength, faith and resolve never waver. She is an unsinkable livewire that generates love, happiness, health and well-being to all she encounters. She has a magical way of making the impossible seem achievable and manages to knock down barriers with a flash of her lightning white smile.
The biggest barrier that Lourdes has overcome is one that has brought supreme joy to our family…a joy that we never thought we would have.
After years of being the “last of the line” for all of us, Lourdes and Paul have brought the most magical miracle to our family…a two-year-old angel named Teresita Ann. This precious child with her beautiful curls and enchanting eyes captivates everyone who sees her, most of all her adoring family.
From my wife who is training her to be a Valley Girl by giving her a toy cell phone and iPad, to her uncles who never, ever would have been caught dead changing diapers, her aunts who dote on her, to the doorman at their building and the kids at daycare, and her cousin Lindsey, whom she obviously adores, this little ball of delight brings the family closer with every new word she learns and every new discovery she makes. Even the cats, who still consider her with trepidation, are slowly being won over by her charm.
I am a fortunate man. These people in my life who have helped me, have supported me and have loved me in ways that a younger version of myself never would have imagined, have my eternal respect and love, and my loyalty to them will never falter.