Category Archives: Mother’s Day & Father’s Day

Thinking of You Today

My grandmother Mammy

taught me

that men and women

are not created equal.

She believed that women

were superior to men,

created by God

to endure

and withstand

both emotional

and physical pain.

She knew a thing or two

about pain.

I can still hear her today

explaining the birds

and the bees.

Explaining that two

weeks a month, we

women are

reminded by God

that our bodies

are divine vessels.

As His vessel, God has

tasked us

with a week of pain

leading up to our

sacrifice — a week of blood flow.

Those were her words of wisdom,

and I was afraid. But she told me

to be proud. Proud to be chosen.

The pain we live with as women

is why we are superior to men.

A week of pain followed by

a week of blood flow.

Only a woman can

carry and deliver a baby.

Thanks be to God.

Speaking of babies, my grandmother

always promised me that she would

take care of mine, but she

died before they were born.

If I had to describe my grandmother

in a word, it would be:


Father-Daughter Dance

If you know me, or my blog, I often write about being fatherless, and its cause and effect on the past 60+ years of my life.

The annual Father-Daughter Dance at St. Ambrose School in Bridgeport Connecticut during the early 60’s, was the blockbuster event of the year.

For me, it was the tragic reality that as the only one in my class without a father, I couldn’t go.

The nuns, of course, knew of my fatherlessness, and were vicious about it; whispering gossip to each other about me and my unusual family unit.

As a divorcée, my mother was excommunicated by the Catholic Church. As such, she was deemed a sinner by St. Ambrose and as her child so was I.

The nuns accused me of sinning, while the parents of my friends labeled my home broken.

So from grades 1-8, I enviably sat that dance out.

But oh how my imagination ran wild.

I conjured up in my young inventive head how magical the night would be.

Me the belle of the Father-Daughter ball, sparkling in a Cinderella gown, and my father the most handsome man in the room, dressed to kill in a fancy tuxedo.

All eyes would be on us as we made our grand entrance into the transformed cafeteria and danced and twirled the unforgettable night away.

Everyone in attendance would ooh and aah at the bedazzled and priceless diamond necklace my father had surprised me with.

And no chintzy corsage for me. My wrist was adorned with a matching dazzling diamond bracelet.

I envisioned posing for the Father–Daughter photo, a swarm of paparazzi bulbs popping all around the two of us.


Year after lousy year I was harshly reminded of the sin, the broken home, the fatherless void.


For Some of Us, It’s Fatherless Day

Father & daughter

For me,  a photo can be so much more enduring than words. And since I live and love by the written word,  images need to shout volumes to scorch my soul.

As someone who never knew my father, I have always had a painful relationship with Father’s Day. There’s nothing worse than seeing so many happy father people when I have absolutely nothing but regret, and fatherless loneliness to celebrate.

And yet I found the following presentments beyond words,  which stirred me in indescribable terms. The power of the images below filled me with heartache and okay, a lot of sadness. I hope they stir something in you too. And for all you fatherless friends out there, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

Fathers Day

Fathers Day B

Fathers Day C

Fathers Day G

Fathers day H

Fathers Day I

Fathers day J

Fathers Day K

Fathers Day M

Fathers Day N

Fathers Day O

Fathers Day L

Fathers Day P

Mother’s Day and Raleigh: My Brother Disguised as a Dog

Raleigh A

My relationship with Raleigh began on Mother’s Day in 1961 when I was eight years old and continued for eleven blessed years.

I was living on Huron Street in a railroad tenement with my grandmother and mother, who both worked full-time jobs. Our top-floor apartment was run down but immaculate and was laid out in a single long line of rooms: from the kitchen to the living room, to the bedroom that I shared with my mother, to my grandmother’s bedroom at the end.

The tiny bathroom was directly off the kitchen to the left and lined up with a long narrow hallway that ran from the bathroom all along the length of the entire apartment and ended up at a dark, steep and narrow stairwell that led down twenty steps or so to the front door. We never used that door, because it was padlocked—sealed shut and unusable. So the only way in and out of the apartment was to climb the several rows of steep stairs in the back of the house and enter through the kitchen. Only one way in, and one way out. A real fire trap.

My grandmother Mammy (pronounced MayMe) worked the 3-11 pm shift, so she was already gone by the time I got home from school. My mother worked until 6 pm or so.  I didn’t like coming home to an empty apartment at all. What eight-year-old would?

Every day after school I would slowly trudge home. Then I would anxiously climb the stairs upon stairs in the back of the building and hole myself up in the kitchen until my mother came home.

Huron Street 1958 A

And in the winter when the sun would set super early, I was a bundle of nerves—tense and agitated. Because scary things inevitably came out when it got dark in that crummy apartment on Huron Street.

I would continuously and frantically check the clock in the kitchen as it got close to the 6:15 mark while sprinting from one end of the apartment to the other, to press my face and hands against my grandmother’s bedroom window in the hopes of catching a glimpse of my mother arriving home.

Huron Street

I would furtively check out the street below for a mother sighting and then race as fast as I could back to the kitchen, my mind full of monstrous thoughts about the dark hallway. During that time in my life, I had a recurring nightmare that troll-type demons were lurking at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for me. That damn dream didn’t help the situation at all.

I would rock myself on a kitchen chair, willing my bladder to cooperate so I wouldn’t need to go to the bathroom and face the dreaded scary hallway.

I finally got up the courage to tell my grandmother that I was afraid to come into our empty apartment.  I tried to play it down because I didn’t want her to worry about me. Plus what I told her was sort of true: I was more lonely than afraid.

“The poor dear is lonely,” she repeated to my mother soon after that, as I listened intently while pretending to color at the kitchen table. As they discussed the situation, they glanced over at me, and when I curiously looked up at them, in hopes of hearing their solution to my predicament, they finished off their conversation in French.

A few weeks later, my mother treated Mammy and me to an elegant and very expensive Mother’s Day brunch at the Lighthouse Inn in New London, Connecticut.

Lighthouse Inn New London, Conn

Now, this brunch was way beyond my mother’s means, but it was Mother’s Day after all, and it was also a rare day that we ever went out to eat.

I recall the Lighthouse Inn being the grandest place I had ever seen, and incredibly fancy, with magnificent views of the Thames River, as well as the Long Island and Fishers Island sounds.

At the time, I didn’t know what the bodies of water were called, but they most definitely left a lasting impression on me. So much so that 56 years later I can still recall that Mother’s Day like it was yesterday while most other memories from later in life are a bundle of murk and haze.

There was an elegant pathway leading up to the Lighthouse Inn, which was set way back from the main road. Both sides of the path up to the mansion-turned-Inn were spilling with the brightest and most beautiful wildflowers, roses, asters, and goldenrod.

Before we reached the front door of the Inn, there was a magnificent fountain sitting inside a circle of lush meticulously manicured green grass.

The entire scenario reminded me of the royal estates I had seen many a time on the  “Million Dollar Movie.” For anyone that remembers the series, they would show the same movie twice every night from Monday to Friday, and then three times a day on Saturday and Sunday.  The “Million Dollar Movie” music was “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone With The Wind.” So as I strolled up to the grandiose entrance of The Lighthouse Inn, I hummed the iconic tune quietly to myself.

While I stuffed my face with eggs benedict, and hordes of crispy bacon, I was pretending that I was one of the rich and the famous. I play acted in my mind and ordered a Shirley Temple.

After brunch, the three of us decided to throw pennies into the fountain and make a wish. The fountain area was packed with families who all had the same idea, and as we squeezed in and out of the crowds toward the fountain, Mammy suddenly and violently began to throw up.

Well, that dispersed the crowd rather quickly. And to their horror, Mammy’s top false teeth flew out of her mouth and onto the green leafy grass. My mother and I looked at my grandmother in shock as she bent over and picked up her teeth, shook off the vomit, and popped them back into her mouth.  When she turned toward us, she casually and matter of factly said, “The food was too rich.”

My mother was humiliated and wanted to get the hell out of there. I was in no rush—and intent on throwing a penny into the fountain. She dragged me to the car, all the while talking under her breath about how embarrassed she was and how she couldn’t take us anywhere without us causing some kind of an incident.  Poor Mammy was nauseous as all get out.

We got into our rickety old car, and it took a few tries before the engine turned over. My mother was frustrated, and I figured our Mother’s Day outing was over—ruined by Mammy’s teeth flying out of her mouth.

We drove for a while and came to a white house with a large red barn-like building. Mammy, who was still feeling queasy, stayed in the car. My mother took my hand and together we walked up to the house, and she rang the doorbell. An elderly woman answered the door and chattily walked us to the barn.

The woman opened the latch to the barn and lo and behold, there was a pile of black fluffy puppies! I was having a hard time trying to figure out why we were there with these adorable fluffballs and ran back to the car to get Mammy.

When I got back to the barn with Mammy, the woman handed me the tiniest and most precious black powderpuff puppy I had ever seen.  “He’s a pedigree Pomeranian,” my mother told me proudly as he fervently licked my face with his teensy red tongue. I was still confused as to why I was there.

“He’s yours,” Mammy said lovingly. “Someone to keep you company,” my mother added. The woman pulled out a folded paper from an envelope as I crushed the little black snowball against my chest.

“His mother’s name is Marlene, and his name is Marlene’s Onyx Jet,” she explained as she presented my mother with his “papers.” “His name is Jet,” my mother reiterated to me.

Jet? I didn’t like that name. It didn’t suit my puppy at all.

“What’s his father’s name?” I inquired. “His father? Who cares?” Mammy responded. The woman pointed out a name on the piece of paper and replied, “His father’s name is Sir Walter Raleigh.”

Sir Walter Raleigh! Now that was a fitting name for a dog with papers!

“I’m calling him Raleigh,” I informed them both, even though they thought it was an overly pretentious name. On the way back to Huron Street, they tried to convince me to call him something else, but my mind was made up. His name was going to be Raleigh, and that was that.

It was a Mother’s Day I will never forget. Poor Mammy asked my mother to pull off the side of the road so she could throw up again, and right before we got to Huron Street Raleigh puked all over my new dress.

I often look back at that time in my life and refer to it as before Raleigh and after Raleigh. Before that Mother’s Day and after that Mother’s Day.

Now with Raleigh in the picture, when the school bell rang, I would ecstatically race back to our apartment, fly up the stairs upon stairs, and burst into the kitchen where my too- fancy-for-Huron Street pedigree puppy would be patiently waiting for me.

The bathroom? No problem. The hallway? Easy breezy. Raleigh would growl and bark at anything he thought was moving about. Heck, Raleigh would bark at the air.  He thought he was a Great Dane, and I guess whatever was lurking around thought he was too because nothing scary ever showed itself when Raleigh was around.

I had no need to sprint from one end of the railroad apartment to the other, furtively looking for my mother.  And I wasn’t afraid of the dark any longer.

I was too busy dressing Raleigh up in pink tutu’s and teaching him to dance on his hind legs. Or I would whip him around the kitchen with his tiny teeny little front legs.

I look back on it now, and I hope I didn’t hurt him, but he loved every minute of it, the two of us swirling and spinning full tilt in circles until I would fall down. Then the two of us would dizzily try to walk it off. I would laugh uncontrollably. He would bark playfully.

From that Mother’s Day forward it was always Raleigh and me—my best friend, my fierce protector, my favorite sidekick, my beloved brother.

Raleigh D



While its roots can be found in ancient Greek and Roman times, Mother’s Day started in the United States as a way for mourning women to honor fallen soldiers and work for peace.

In 1868, the special day was organized to allow mothers of Union and Confederate soldiers to come together in the hopes of eliminating the divide between them, as a result of the Civil War.

And the dates may differ, but no matter where you are in the world, there is a special day to celebrate moms.

The bond that we as mothers share with our children is like no other. We carried them, sustained them, and shared our sustenance with them for nine months. During my pregnancies I was in awe of every moment of the miracle growing inside of me.

And I’m sure most mothers would agree that the love we feel for our children is immeasurable and will last beyond forever.

What makes me truly happy on Mother’s Day has zero to do with the cards, gifts, calls and visits.

If my children are happy—then I’m happy. And the best gift my children could ever give me—was already given to me the day each of them was born.

Below are a few of my fave “Mother” quotes:

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. Rajneesh

 Mother is a verb, not a noun. Proverb

A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.  Dorothy Canfield Fisher

A worried mother does better research than the FBI. Unknown

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. Tenneva Jordan

Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. Oprah Winfrey

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed. Linda Wooten

It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.  From the television show The Golden Girls

Women’s Liberation is just a lot of foolishness. It’s the men who are discriminated against. They can’t bear children. Golda Meir

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life. Sophocles

A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path. Agatha Christie

A mother’s prayer is that her children will love each other long after she is gone. Unknown

The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Pregnant mom

This year I am going to honor Mother’s Day by making a donation to fight hunger and loneliness in the home bound elderly community. Too old and frail to shop or cook, or just plain old forgetful, the hidden hungry are everywhere.

Fifty-one million people in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night, six million of which are adults.

I recently stood in line at my local grocery store, and awkwardly watched an elderly man fish around in his pocket for enough money to pay for a can of tuna, a head of lettuce and a container of cat food. I wanted to do something—to say something. But what could I possibly say? Hey mister, let me treat you to some tuna and lettuce with a side of cat food?

The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) has recently released a study, entitled State of Senior Hunger in America 2013, and reveals that 15.5 percent, or 9.6 million seniors, age 60 or older in the United States face the threat of hunger. This represents an increase of 300,000 more seniors affected by senior hunger than in 2012.

The risk of hunger and food insecurity is increasing at an alarming rate among older adults. The number of food-insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50 percent when the youngest of the baby boom generation reaches age 60 in 2025.

The top 5 states, including the District of Columbia, with the largest percent of food insecurity among seniors, are Arizona (26.1), Louisiana (24.3), Mississippi (24.3), D.C. (20.2), and Texas (20.2).

After a lifetime of hard work, many elderly find themselves struggling with health issues on fixed incomes, and many are forced to choose between paying for groceries and buying medicine. Welcome to retirement.

Additionally, hunger among the more than 12 million U.S. veterans over 60 is reaching critical levels. Estimates are that over 300,000 elderly veterans are food insecure.  These numbers are unacceptable for any country, especially when the supposed richest country in the world can’t provide enough food for one-sixth of its citizens, much less the veterans who have so valiantly defended it.

So this Mother’s Day, honor someone special, and help to ensure that no senior is left behind. Below are but a few organizations to make a small donation to: