I just got back from the local beach at the end of Lincoln Boulevard. It started raining at about three o’clock this morning. Although the rain stopped a few hours ago, it’s still a cool, foggy, dreary day so there were only extremely few people on the beach. The last individual I saw on the way back was a young guy with a white dog. Right now he must be thinking about his wife and kids and how he can keep track of all their schedules, and he hopes it doesn’t start raining yet again because he’s sick and tired of always having to drive back and forth to work, and to go shopping and to run errands in general, on a rainy foggy day. Then there’s always the problem of how to deal with a wet, smelly dog. Because practically everybody in the entire City of Long Beach has a dog, and can frequently be seen outside walking it, this gentleman must have a large supply of anecdotes he’s looking forward to being able to tell about his antics with all his fellow dog-walkers. Besides that he wants to know what his friends think of the latest adventures of all their favorite sports franchises and politicians, as well as what a bunch of certified morons their opponents are. His life is all about taxes and other bills, car keys, cell phones, car pools, extra curricular activities, and miscellaneous annoyances. Things that were once so fresh and enjoyable are now equally stale and dull. Maybe his wife is no longer the beauty queen and sweetheart he thought she was fifteen years ago, nor his kids the perfect models of behavior. Like everyone he’s hounded by aggravation, resentment and regrets. Nobody at work understands him, but at least everyone is willing to humor him. At least he’s aware of the fact that his life’s only as big of a mess as everyone else’s anyway. Being happy most certainly isn’t easy.
In December, right after I first got to Long Beach, I knew I couldn’t spend a significant length of time here without making sure I got a chance to visit my two cousins in Massapequa and their families. I tried to get in touch with Larry but because he hardly ever bothers with his cell phone I ended up talking to Gary first. Larry eventually returned my call and asked me to visit him. I went over to Massapequa that Sunday morning, a couple of hours after Mass, and spent the day with him, Rose, Eddie, and Jennifer and both her kids. After a fairly short time we all went over to Amityville to visit Aunt Norma. We spent a very nice time there except that the elevators were too slow and the music too loud. It happened to have been snowing very violently all that day and night. I got into my car and drove down to the exit to get onto the Loop Parkway. I took the Loop to the Meadowbrook and then to the Southern State. Fortunately I recognized them all because of my having spent so much of my life around here. Unfortunately the weather conditions turned the entire trip, each way, into an absolute nightmare for me. On top of that, on the way back to Long Beach, I absent mindedly got off at exit 23, Meadowbrook Road, instead of exit 22, the Meadowbrook Parkway. My nerves have always given me trouble so I was seriously frustrated with all the excessive and entirely unwelcome precipitation. We all had such an exceptionally nice time though. Eventually I called Gary again and we made plans for me to visit him and his family. Yet again it was on a Sunday, a few hours after Mass. That day the weather was very bad because of rain. Instead of the Southern State, I got off the Meadowbrook onto Montauk Highway at the exit for Freeport and Merrick. Each way I could, yet again, barely see where I was going. When I got there Gary and Mary were their with both her parents, Tony and Carmela. Tina and her boyfriend Doug were there too. From there we went to an anniversary party a short distance away for Maria’s sister Giuseppina and her husband Adrian. Several of Maria’s relatives were there including Dino’s and Roseanne’s both kids. Of course as always we made quite sure we made time to visit Aunt Norma.
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.
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.
Yesterday, although it started out quite nice, turned into quite an absolute nightmare at about 2:30 p.m. Uncle Frankie always wants me to go to his house to pick up his mail when he visits Fran. He’s there for Father’s Day now. I went yesterday on my usual mostly daily trip to get the mail. As soon as I first left there was a major bolt of thunder & lightning. Because of its having been such a nice warm day I honestly fully expected it to be just another lovely spring shower. It was an absolute nightmare from hell. There was wind that got up to beyond fifty miles per hour, along with hailstones & zero visibility. I got the mail from his mailbox. As soon as I got back into my car it occurred to me that I couldn’t see through my windows. I couldn’t even so much as dare to try to leave. I tried to call my parents but their phone didn’t work. I didn’t have Gino’s & Michelle’s phone number. They live only two houses away from Uncle Frankie. I couldn’t even dare to get out of the car so the phone was my only hope. Eventually it calmed down enough for me to try to go home. It was a long slow trip down Eighth Street past Wyoming Avenue. There were all sorsts of fire trucks & other emergency vehicles out. Eventually I got home. Amazingly it stopped after only a very short time. Many people’s homes & trees were damaged. There was no advanced warning of anything bad. On television there was a major storm watch for a lot of Pa. counties until 9:00 p.m. Conveniently I wasn’t terribly nervous or afraid but the frustration really got me crazy.
Fr. Justin Belitz OFM is the founder of the Franciscan Hermitage and author of "Success: Full Living," "Success: Full Thinking," & "Success: Full Relating." His teachings incorporate spirituality, science, and art for personal growth and development.