My mother got cancer last November. Over the course of the next ten months she spent most of the time at the Geisinger Hospital, John Heinz Center and Wilkes_Barre General Hospital. The doctors, nurses and therapists, among others, did a good job of helping her. She spent her eightieth birthday in bed at Geisinger Hospital. In the end she finally succumbed and died, on September 23, at the Geisinger (formerly Mercy) Hospice in Wilkes_Barre. Her wake was at Gubbiotti’s Funeral Home in Exeter and her funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr. Leo McKernan at St. Monica’s Parish at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in West Wyoming. Unfortunately it was on my father’s eightieth birthday.
My mother has been home from the hospital for a while by now. She has lots of trouble with pain but she’s been keeping up with her therapy & doctor appointments. Because we couldn’t have an eightieth birthday party for her on her birthday we had one for her this past Saturday night, combined with a St. Patrick’s Day party. Mary Anne & Steve were here with Michael & Erin, Sam & Bridget. They brought the dog. Uncle Frankie & Fran showed up. Aunt Lauren, Uncle Jim & Elaine were also here. All went well but as always it was entirely too fattening. Alas Michael & I never got our traditional cigars. He bought some fancy beer instead. He gave me a Dell laptop computer that they no longer need at work. I met Robert F. Kennedy at his last St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The morning of the party I went to my monthly lay Carmelite meeting at the Little Flower Manor on South Meade Street in Wilkes~Barre. The papal conclave that started on March 12 was filled with suspense but all worked out so exceptionally well. The cardinals only took a fairly short time to elect Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, from Argentina, as Pope Francis I. He’s the first South American pope, though his parents were both from Italy. He’s also the first Jesuit & the first one named Francis. Eight years ago, when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI, Bergoglio was in second place. Spring is only two days away but unfortunately we still have snow. I went to Frank Gubbiotti’s Auto Lodge in Plains this morning to get an oil change & my annual inspection. I don’t usually get to keep in touch with my New York cousins but I called up Gary on his birthday, February 27. It was nice being able to talk to him for a while.
Pittston’s annual Tomato Festival was a couple of weeks ago. As always I made sure I went a couple of days. Each year I see the same guy from the San Cataldo Society. He always recognizes me & reminds me that I showed up the previous year. This year, instead of a basket of cheer, he sold a basket of lottery tickets. I had a really nice time but it’s more about eating than anything else. I didn’t get anything to eat this year. Each day, on my way over there, I could never help noticing that on Main Street in Pittston, there was a nice little barber shop that only charged five dollars a haircut for the duration of the festival. I made sure I got one. I usually go to Rose Chairge in West Pittston but I couldn’t resist the price. It was raining when I went there. I parked in the library’s parking lot & walked down to the barber shop’s neighborhood. This month’s lay Carmelite meeting went really well too. We always meet at 9:00 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Little Flower Manor in Wilkes_Barre. We always welcome new members. Nothing significant or drastically different happened at the meeting. St. Monica’s Guardian of the Redeemer men’s group still meets regularly too. St. Barbara’s Catholicism meetings are over. The last one was last night. Br. Patrick went to California for the summer so Fr. Phil covered for him. Gino & Michelle have succeeded in adopting officially their three kids, who have all started their first day of the new school year today. Uncle Frankie’s birthday party went well. He was just recently away for a week to visit Fran so I ended up having to get his mail for him. Yesterday was Jo~Anne’s birthday. She’s one of my oldest friends from Queens. My nephew Michael’s twenty~fourth birthday was on August 24. He had a really nice day with his girlfriend Erin. My parents spoke to him on the phone.
August is quite a busy birthday month for my kin. This coming Friday will be Mary Anne’s birthday so she, Steve & Bridget came in this past weekend for a party. It was on Saturday. Neither Michael nor Sam was available. They both had to work. Uncle Frankie, Aunt Lauren, Uncle Jim & Benjamin all showed up. Although Aunt Lauren got very badly hurt a while ago, she seems to be doing quite well so far. At least it’s good to see that she’s already back on her feet & partying. Benjamin’s been getting very big & talkative lately. I think he’s around nine years old now. Uncle Jim’s birthday was on Sunday. Fran wasn’t available though. She spent her birthday, August 2, in Canada with a friend. They both showed up yesterday, after a visit to Uncle Frankie’s with souvenirs for us. As always the cuisine was exceptionally good but entirely too fattening. Steve & I even went to Antonio’s in the Midway to get pizza & chicken wings. Their prices have gone up unfortunately. It’s still quite a really good place though. We haven’t been to Sizzle Pie in Kingston in quite a while. As always Mary Anne & family made their predictable pilgrimage to Weggmann’s. They don’t have one in their part of New York & everyone’s really crazy about it. Of course Steve made sure he took a few people on his plum inevitable jaunt to Jitty Joe’s. Alas I wasn’t available. That was the night I went to 7:00 p.m. Mass at O. L. Sorrows. Yesterday was Gary’s & Maria’s twenty~ninth wedding anniversary so I made sure I sent them an e mail congratulating them. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in their wedding party. Today’s Autilia’s birthday too. She’s cousin Lanfranco’s wife. Unfortunately the air conditioner in my car hasn’t worked for quite a long time so I shall have to ask Frank Gubbiotti to fix it for me very soon. There’s quite a major heat wave going on right now. We also get extremely violent rainstorms, with thunder & lightning, on a regular basis lately. A man even recently got killed by lightning at Pocono Downs Racetrack recently. This past week O. L. Sorrows held a blood drive. I really wish I could have donated blood but I already gave a donation too recently.
The weirdest thing happened last week. One day, during the middle of the week, my father & I went on one of his usual jaunts to the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilkes Barre for his check up. I always have to drive him there. As I pulled into the parking space I wanted, the guy directly opposite me said we needed a new right rear brake light. That wasn’t the highlight of the trip. On the way down River Road in Plains we always have to pass over a railroad track that doesn’t have a gate that comes down when the train is on its way. There’s one like that on Eighth Street in West Wyoming too. As we passed by the track he made a comment about how there was an accident between a train & a car. The next morning, in the Citizen’s Voice, I read an article about the accident. There’s a couple, Rocco & Liz, in their seventies, who attend St. Monica’s Church on a regular basis. Liz was the driver of the car. She’s seventy~eight years old. Amazingly, although her car was totalled, Rocco said she went away from the accident, after only a brief time in the Geisinger Hospital, with minor bruises on her nose & wrist. That’s most certainly the luckiest break I’ve ever heard of. The meetings at St. Barbara’s Parish, St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, have been going really well so far on Tuesday nights. Oblates Brother Patrick McLaughlin hasn’t been available for the past few weeks because he’s visiting his family in Albany, N.Y. Fr. Phil Massetti has been covering for him. We have a big crowd each week. That girl Mallory is the only one we’ve lost so far. Last night was her last night. She is moving to North Carolina. Today is cousin Jamie’s birthday. Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, would have turned seventy years old if he could have lived until today. Tomorrow’s birthday girls are cousins Fran & Elaine.
This past weekend was quite active. St. Barbara’s annual feast, held at St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, started on Friday night. I didn’t bother to go on the first night though because of the torrential downpour. We’ve been getting quite a lot of electrical storms & heat waves lately . I went on Saturday afternoon after I lectored at 4:00 p.m. Mass at O. L. Sorrows (I lectored at St. Joseph’s at 8:30 Mass last Sunday too) . It was a really nice time. I made sure I entered the raffle, as always. I got a root beer ice cream cone too. On Saturday morning I went to the monthly lay Carmelite meeting. It’s always at 9:00 a..m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Little Flower Manor on South Meade Street in Wilkes~Barre. We always welcome new people who are interested in joining us. Sr. Mary Robert & Msgr. Grimaglia were both there. It went quite well. On Sunday St. Monica’s annual bingo game was held at O.L. Sorrows Church on Eighth Street in West Wyoming. Because I always used to help when I was active in my old Knights of Columbus council 794 in Lindenhurst, N.Y., I made sure I called Tom a while ago to ask if I could help. He got me helping Mike & his wife in the kitchen. I spent most of the time selling soda & other drinks after that. I ate a hot dog with chili & later I ate a wimpie. Unfortunately unlike my old K of C council they didn’t have any knishes. They’ve never heard of them around here. I got some cake & a beer too. I even ended up going to the local Price Chopper for some Diet Pepsi. Unlike last year Uncle Frankie couldn’t go this time because he hasn’t been feeling so well. The Catholicism series, on Tuesday nights, has been going quite well so f ar. Br. Patrick, of the Oblates of St. Joseph, does a really good job of things. Daren’s birthday was on Saturday. She died of suicide a few years ago. I made sure I sent a card to her mother, Grace. Yesterday I got an answer from her.
The kinfolk appeared to have survived yet another of our annual Hilldale feeding frenzies. This one was number 52, the first ever having been in 1961. That was the year I turned two years old. Mary Anne, Steve, Michael, Sam & Bridget were here. Michael brought Erin with him. Michael, Erin & I even went to a convenience store on Wyoming Avenue in Wyoming to get cigars. Richie, of course, made sure he got all us musicians together for a jam session. Most of the kin from Michigan, North Tonawanda, Long Island, the western U.S. & southeastern Pa. got here. As always there were the predictable piÑata, an obscene excess of food & drink, & the occasional showboat who couldn’t resist making an utterly pointless speech. The softball game was cancelled because of heat. I stink at sports anyway. Of course they all talked about sports. Many people went to the casinos to gamble. When it was my turn for K.P. duty I helped my cousin Vinnie, Anthony & Ed with the hamburgers & hot dogs while Matt took charge of the vegetables. My cousin Vinnie’s girlfriend was even here with her daughter. For the first time in many years I went swimming in the built~in pool. I got a bit of sunburn because I din’t put enough sunscreen on. Cousins Larry & Gary, of course, went off on their predictable tirade about how libraries are such a waste of taxpayers’ money. Happy anniversary wishes go to Larry & Rose tomorrow & Elaine & George on Wednesday. Michael L., Aunt Helen, Richie & a bunch of others all have birthdays too.
Yesterday was Father’s Day. On Saturday afternoon Mary Anne, Steve & Bridget, along with their dog, surprised my parents by showing up & staying overnight. Steve, being Steve, got my mother, Bridget & me to go to Jitty Joe’s in Moosic with him for ice c ream. I got a bowl of praline ice cream. Early yesterday we all went to Perkins, on Rte 315 in Dupont, for a really nice breakfast. They were forced to leave early to pick up Sam at the airport. He was in Florida visiting his other grandmother. Michael & Erin were visiting her parents. Uncle Frankie has been visiting Fran for the past few days so I go to his house regularly to pick up his mail. I’m in the habit of attending 8:30 Mass each Sunday morning at St. Joseph’s on Sixth Street but yesterday I went to 11:00 Mass at O.L. Sorrows. After Mass, when I stopped at Unimart on Wyoming Avenue, I ran into Gino, Michelle & the kids outside the store. On Saturday morning I attended our monthly Lay Carmelite meeting on South Meade Street in Wilkes_Barre. We meet at the Little Flower Manor on the third Saturday morning of each monthe. We welcome new people who are interested in joining. Sister Mary Robert wasn’t available but Msgr. Grimaglia was with us. Unfortunately, O.L.P.H., my old grammar school on Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst, N.Y., is now closed permanently. On the bright side, Msgr. Bob Brennan, an alumnus of both O.L.P.H. & St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, N.Y. , has recently been named an auxiliary bishop in the Rockville Centre Diocese. Today is Beatle Paul McCartney’s seventieth birthday. We hall hope he has such an especially fab time.