Archive for the ‘Family Stories’ Category

handsome boys : Close-up portrait of a serious young boy looking at camera  Stock Photo

Where does the blame lie? Is there blame? Or should what happened to Eliot be chalked up to fate?

One could say, should say, Eliot had it all.  At least one supposed he did when he was three years old, and left a wavy impression of flax-blue eyes and corn silk hair after he’d dashed through a room. He had a father who worked and loved him, a mother who loved him and worked at home. His house was half-finished, but that would be rectified – in time. Truth be told, the half-built house was on the acceptable side of town, not downtown where unemployed loggers stumbled from drink while their wives pumped water out of flooded basements or merely watched the foundations of their homes rot into the ground. Nor was Eliot’s house along the waterfront where deteriorating docks yearned for the ships that no longer swayed while their hulls were loaded with timber. And most certainly the half-built house was not up on the hill, lodged among solid brick homes surrounded by azaleas and rhododendrons, and three cars in every driveway. As we said, Eliot lived in the acceptable part of town.

Maybe his parent’s divorce was to blame. Or his lack of interest in school. Or the uncle who molested him on their “special” camping trips. Perhaps blame lies in Eliot’s association with friends – can we call them friends? – who drank and took drugs and stole in order to enjoy unsavory pastimes. Maybe we should avoid combining enjoy and unsavory pastimes in the same sentence, but, for awhile, Eliot seemed to thrive on everything society frowned upon. In fact our Eliot sprinkled his own rendition of tasteless behavior on top of what he and his pals dished out to the people in town.  “Such as?” you ask. Does stealing computers, microwaves, radios and televisions from his father satisfy or should there be more? There is more.  But you must do your own research to discover everything Eliot got up to during his teenage years.

In the end, fair Eliot has slipped? plunged?  from darling boy, to handsome teen, to sad and broken man.  He has no job. He has no money. Later today our Eliot will have no teeth.  Thank you, Mr. Meth.

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A Letter From Home

Posted: October 15, 2014 in Family Stories
     Ten days ago Aurelio Nuzzo came five-seconds close to being zipped inside a body bag
     chest bleeding, legs broken.  
     Luckily three men had arrived minutes after his Huey went down.  
     Guy manning the zipper shouted, "Hey! Dude's movin'. Medevac him!" 
     Forget the damn wounds, one more pull of the zipper and he would have suffocated inside a big black bag.

     The sheets on the hospital bed are better than sex.  Yeah! Aurelio thinks this.  
     They smell sweet and feel soft, come all the way up to his neck.
     Best of all they don't care what position (mainly flat on his back) 
     or disposition (mainly angry with pain) he's in.
     
     "Mail!" the nurse shouts.   
     Aurelio thinks that - even though he is flat on his back - this blonde cutie 
     might be just what the doctor ordered. 
     Later.
     
     The handwriting on the envelope is small and tight.  
     Mom.  Cool.  
     There isn't another woman as cool as his mom.  
     Really.  Anna Nuzzo is the best. 
     All the guys in the neighborhood say so. 
     "Hey! Nuzzo we don't care if your mom's right off the boat.  She's cool."
     
     Anna Nuzzo strolled off the boat ten years ago
     nine-year-old Aurelio clamped in one hand, his sister Bettina locked tight in the other.
     But his dad, his dad, Umberto Nuzzo, cook on the SS Andrea Doria, 
     had frickin' jumped ship, yeah, defected to New York City, in 1956.  
     "Thank God," Anna often said.  
     'Cause the ship sank on the next voyage from Italy to the U.S. of frickin' A.
  
     Aurelio rips the top off the envelope.  
     Can't wait to see what Mom has to say.  
     A picture falls on his chest.  
     The woman in the picture looks like his mom.  
     Short, dark-haired, a bit heavy in the hips.
  
     Ney, can't be.  This woman is wearin' pants.  
     Anna Nuzzo does not, ever, never, no way in hell, wear pants.

           Dearest Aurelio,
           I know you won't believe it but this is me! Wearing pants! 
           Your dad says he'll never talk to me again.  
           He'll get over that. 
           I also got a driver's license and bought a white Mustang convertible. 
           Maybe by the time you get home from Viet Nam, 
           he'll at least say hello in the morning.
           As always, Mom

      And, yeah, Umberto did talk to Anna.
      Later
      But he never rode in the car.

My husband’s family tells stories about ailments with unfathomable enthusiasm. Colonoscopies, arthritis, trigger toe, prostate cancer and warts – nothing is too private to pass down the sister-brother telegraph line relaying maladies both large and small.
Fifteen years ago my mom had a cancerous breast removed and didn’t tell my sisters and me until a year, maybe two, later. For a month our dad nursed her. He alone monitored the drain tubes, fed her, and delivered medication while we daughters continued blithely on with our lives – oblivious to her discomfort. Her explanation? “I didn’t want to bother you.”
And that is what our family does. We keep ailments to ourselves.
On the other hand, my husband’s family laughs uproariously when they’re together, they play games and tease, remember the old days and look to the future. My family eats an entire dinner – including dessert – not speaking a word. That’s not to say we don’t have fun, we do. Out on the back porch Mom and Dad discuss books, the news, and who drove down the alley and took the broken stove Mr. Jenkins tossed out on Monday. On the front porch Dad points to the “fairy rings” in the lawn and asks Mom if they were there yesterday.
Of course, three hours may pass between these conversations.
In silence.
So, it must be true. Opposites attract.