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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Fly

This holiday season felt different for me than the last two years. Of course, Grandpa was not with me to share it with or play cards while the food was cooking but it was as if he was there the whole time in different shapes and people that have entered into my life. I know that he is watching over me and placing blessings in my life that will help me always feel his presence. I felt his presence this Christmas morning.

I awoke Christmas morning reminded of a conversation I had with my grandfather the month before he died. I was sitting next to his hospital bed holding his hand thinking about the afterlife. I wanted to know he would still be with me even after his death. I finally asked, “How will I know you are with me after you die?”

He turned his head gently on the hospital pillow, patted my hand in reassurance, and made a “buzzing” sound through his closed teeth. “I will be flying around looking over you like an angel. I will be the fly circling around that you just can’t swat away!”
“Grandpa, a fly?” I laughed. “How did you think of that?”

This Christmas morning, two years later, I got a call from my Aunt Linda and Cousin Steven to tell me an enormous fly was in their home in cold New York. I simply said, “Grandpa.” Then as I walked into my sister’s house, I noticed a fly circling in the kitchen. I looked up to the sky and said “I love you Grandpa, Merry Christmas.”

Happy Holidays and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

WWII Memories from the Diary of My Grandfather

My grandfather was a unique man with a history in WWII that most of the family never knew about until he passed. He would speak about his time fighting in North Africa with the British Army very rarely and only if some asked a specific question. He was a top turret gunner on the B-25, Desert Warrior that flew bombing missions over Northern Africa while fighting against the Nazi troops. He flew a total of 199 hours logging 73 missions over Tripoli, Tunis and Sicily. This amount of flight time was unheard of back then based on the morality rate for top turret gunners. My grandfather was different. He could do anything!

During this time he kept a diary of his daily events in war and how he felt during the scariest times of his life. This diary is just amazing to read and hear about all the battles won or lost at this time. He had some amazing times outlined in the diary that I have grown to cherish. It was this diary which was left to me upon his death that has truly transformed my life and helped me heal from the wounds of the past.

I share with you today a passage from his diary on May 7, 1943 as well as an article that was written about my grandfather in February 1991 as the country is fighting a war in the desert. I hope you enjoy this piece of history on WWII and my grandfather.

The book, The Only Father I’ve Ever Known: How My Grandfathers Love Taught Me Life, will be available in April. Please email me for your advanced copy at

Article Link:

Diary Page May 7, 1943:

God! What a day. This was nothing doing all morning. 8th Army closing in on Tunis. Right after lunch the horn blew and we find ourselves on tap to bomb a heavy Itie cruiser in Tunis harbor. Everyone scared stiff. 9 ship deal and splits. We take off with 6X500lb and head out for target. So scared I was almost sick. As we cross coast A/A starts. Our electric system out. No guns or radio. Very cloudy. We lose formation and can’t see target. Circle about 30 mi decide to bomb Kelibia. Light A/A but no E/A. Thank God! The anticipation on this raid was the worst since our raid on Crete. Never was so glad to set my two feet on ‘ye ‘ol terra firma. Tunis fell our hands. We also had air raid last night. Sure glad this day is over. Very tired. It’ll take a direct hit to get me out of bed before morning. So air raid or not let me sleep.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An page from my new book: The Only Father I've Ever Know: How My Grandfather's Love Taught Me Life

I thought I would share with you a small page from my book, The Only Father I’ve Ever Known, How My Grandfather’s Love Taught Me Life. The piece below describes when I am trying desperately to find this WWII diary, left to me upon my grandfather’s death, in a small, dusty storage unit. I know the diary is there and I am determined to find it but at the same time I am completely broken inside based on the events in my life at this point.

The book is about a transformation journey I take with the diary as my catalyst. It also illustrates my grandfather, an Italian immigrant who was a soldier fighting for our freedom in N. Africa. I hope you like it!

Book Page Excerpt:

I pushed aside the boxes that I had already searched through and plopped down on the cold concrete floor. I was exhausted, but I pulled forward to reach a small brown box. As I ripped off the tape with one hand, I took a giant swig of my water in the other to relieve my throat of the dry dust that had accumulated. The box revealed the smell of musty old papers. A dusty grit covered most of the contents inside the box, but there was a white plastic bag that seemed to be undisturbed. I blew off the dust and unzipped the plastic bag that had preserved it all these years. There is was—the little black diary. The front cover was a simple impression of a camel looking up to what resembled a palm tree with words on either side of it. Onestinghel Tripoli. The title of the front of the diary was in English: Agenda 1943-XXI. The months were written in Italian.

I looked at it for a while wondering whether or not I was ready to embark on this journey at this point in my life. I pressed my right hand against the diary hoping its strength would run through my bloodstream. I rubbed my fingers across the camel’s back hoping this diary contained the healing power I needed to pull my life together. I grabbed the diary forcefully and pressed it against my heart. I felt connected to the book as if it had magically entered my body and was beating new life inside me.

I flipped through the pages reading a few of the entries from 1943. The historical pages began releasing a part of my grandfather that I never knew existed. A part of his life that had been closed off to his family intrigued me, and I had to learn more. I pressed the diary harder into my heart to feel that connection with my grandfather again. My jeans were covered in dirt as a spider made his way up my leg to find his home. As the sun dimmed on that cold New York Saturday afternoon, I felt resurrected by the hope that my newfound 64-year-old gift would heal my deepest wounds.

You can find out more about my book by emailing me at My next post will be more focused on my grandfather as a soldier in WWII.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Grandparent and Grandchild Bond

It seems like every day I hear more or see more grandparents raising grandchildren and I feel so fortunate all over again. Last night I had the opportunity to volunteer for a wonderful organization that helps women with breast cancer financial and personally plan for their children’s well being. The holiday party for this organization was last night and it was filled with children, adults, music, food and most of all, love.

I was assigned arts and crafts with the children. About one hour into the party, a very shy nine- year old girl came up to me and just stood next to me. I looked down and asked her if she would like to make a hand puppet together. She shook her head yes so I started to pick up the glue and markers. As we were busy making the best hand puppet of the evening, I asked Alexis, my new nine year old friend, who was she here with? She looked up at me and said my grandmother and two sisters. I felt the bond immediately and now I knew why, we were both raised by a grandparent.

I spent the next three hours with Alexis making a paper hat, playing basketball, throwing a football and trying to see if she would dance. She smiled twice, once when she made a basket at the basketball game and the other when I hugged her goodbye. Alexis and I share a bond even if we are years apart in age. A grandparent stepped in because a parent was no longer part of our life for whatever reason.

I meet Alexis’s grandmother and gave her a huge hug. I felt as if I was hugging my grandfather all over again. I told her thank you for taking care of Alexis. She thanked me right back for spending the whole evening with her granddaughter. As I hugged the family goodbye, I looked around the large room where the party was and felt so incredibly thankful. I felt as if my life was insignificant and the only purpose is to keep paying it forward by helping other people.

As Alexis was walking out she turned and smiled one more time and I told her to listen to her grandmother because she will learn so much. The bond is everywhere and it is amazing what it can do to a person’s life

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Being Raised by My Grandparent

My grandfather has been the only father I have really known since I was 16. He provided me the wisdom, guidance, and love to help me through the tough time in life as well as celebrate the joyful occasions. In the U.S., more than 4.5 million children are being raised by grandparents. In fact, President-elect Obama was raised partly by his grandmother. His bond with her was so tight, that he suspended his campaign for part of two days and went to visit her at her apartment where she was in hospice care. Grandparents raise their grandchildren for reasons such as death, divorce, child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. For me, I was just happy that my grandfather took the time to help raise me. Grandparents raising grandchildren offer them a special bond that will impact their lives forever.

My Grandfather passed in 2006 and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about something he taught me or hope that I have the kindness and compassion that he had his entire life. Grandparents teach their grandchildren the foundation skills of helping other people, being kind to others and for me learning how to develop relationships with unconditional love.

I am writing a memoir about the bond between a granddaughter and a grandfather. The Only Father I’ve Ever Known: How My Grandfather's Love Taught Me Life is my personal story about how my grandfather’s love profoundly made a positive difference in my life. It is my story of a women who becomes unrecognizable to herself and only through her grandfathers dying days re-establishes the bond they had so many years ago. It focuses on a diary my grandfather left me upon his death from WWII that truly transformed my life. His writing becomes a touchstone for his unconditional love and offers a lesson for creating a fulfilled and meaningful life.

So, for all those grandparents out there, thank you for being who you are and you truly are an angel on earth.

The book will be available soon. Please email me with any questions at