Tag Archives: memories

My Autobiography – from 6th grade?

Recently I have been redecorating my home office/craft room – looking for painting ideas on the Internet and basically overhauling the whole damn thing.

I have been wanting to change the decor in that room for 12 years!  Twelve years!

Finally, it seems like a reality – but I’m not quite there yet.

Scouring every inch of shit I’ve accumulated has been a real chore but maybe finally I’ll get my ass organized.  I’ve come across bill from 1993 and other crap that I promptly burned in my chiminea – because that damn shredder keeps crapping out!

Anyway, I cam across a lot of sentimental items as well:  pictures, mementos and my 6th grade autobiography.

It’s so funny to see what I thought of the world at 12.  That was 33 years ago!  I can’t believe I’m that old!  Damn!

So I thought I’d share some excerpts with you.  Now keep in mind that after I graduated college I became a translator in New York, the 6 years later a French & Spanish teacher.  Here we go:

Table of Contents (including page numbers of course!)

First Born
Kindergarten to Third
Fourth to Sixth Grade
My Future Plans
My Thanks
To Get This Information

A full 14 pages!!!!!  Remember that this was pre-computer – 1979.  This is not the complete “work”….

… At two years I was potty trained and at four months I used to climb out out of my playpen by putting my toes and fingers in the holes and climbing out.  I couldn’t stand my pacifier or playpen.  I used to climb out of my crib and my parents couldn’t figure out how I did it.

I swam at two years and stopped my bottle at two years old, when my mother threw it in the garbage.  I walked at eight months and was a pain in the foot.

I cried a lot, my mother said I was born with my mouth open.  I never slept, my mother had to play country music mostly “Tiger By The Tail” by George Jones and dance me to sleep, but I still wouldn’t go to sleep…

…When I used to do something wrong I used to hide under my Aunt Mary’s bed.

My mother said I was always quiet and good, and never touched anything when I went out.  I used to sit by my mother all the while, I was very shy like my father…

…I was promoted to first grade when I had Mrs. Romano.  We had a play and I was a sunflower.  For Halloween I was a flower girl with a pink gown.  Mrs. Romano left to have a baby, and that’s when Mrs. Tobie took over.

When I was in second grade I had Mrs. Forstenhausler.  She was a very good teacher.  We had a play and I was an Arabian belly dancer.  I looked exactly like Jeannie on T.V., even my hair and shoes…

…When I was eight years old I made my First Holy Communion

…I was in Brownies from second to third grade.

When I was eight and a half I started twirling at the Masonic Temple in Bloomfield… But then she transferred the Bloomfield girls to Nutley to the Elks Club and we became the “Elkettes”.  Then I was asked to take private lessons…

…Fourth to Sixth Grade.  I went to Mrs. Little’s class and developed many nicknames but one still sticks called “Apollo Creed” because I always put up my fists…

…At nine years of age I started competitive twirling, modeling, strutting, etc…

…I’ll soon be going to North Junior High and I’m a little bit scared about the whole new thing.

My hobbies are:  twirling, swimming, crafts, ceramics, ice and roller skating, biking, modeling, diving, dancing and many more…

…I have been in numerous twirling contests and beauty contests…  All together I have about ninety trophies and medals…

…I will certainly try to get into Miss America when I grow up.

My Future Plans.  For my future I would like to be a Psychiatrist.  I have thought about being an actress but with a hundred to one chance I won’t get to be famous….

It’s so weird to read this.  Lemme see…  I did want to be a doctor but when I realized that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood – that was out.

Miss America?  After Essex County Junior Miss (which I did for MY MOTHER) I was DONE.  D – O – N – E, done.  Pageants weren’t for me.

I can still twirl, and I still consider my hobbies to be crafts, roller skating, swimming and if I was younger and still clubbing my nights away – dancing!

Some things have changed, some haven’t, but I’m still Jacqui.

How different or alike are you all these years later?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.



Yesterday I had a dentist appointment.

Said sarcastically:  I’ve only been living at the Jersey Shore for 12 years (cough, cough) and my dentist, eye doctor and lady parts doctor are still an hour away.  I could never bring myself to leave them.

So I kill several birds with one stone.  I get my teeth cleaned, visit my mom in the cemetery, visit my dad and feed him hamburgers, subs, ribs and other artery clogging fare and sometimes I even get to see a friend or two.

After an hour trip up the parkway I popped in on Daddy with subs from Jersey Mike’s.  Did I say I was definitely cheating on my diet?  We chatted, caught up and I fixed his TV.

Aside:  My father and his TV issues are massive.  He wasn’t able to watch TV for an entire day because the remote wouldn’t work – and God forbid he called me to ask for help.  No.  He waited until I went up yesterday.  On Monday when I called him, he explained the dilemma and I schooled him in the art of using the DTV box to change channels – voilà TV!

So back to the TV repair daughter… I looked at the remote and realized the 9 was depressed.  I unjammed the number and snap!  The TV turned on and the remote worked!  He thanked me a thousand times, like I cured cancer (I wish).  I love my Dad!

At 2:30 I headed over to the dentist’s, and by 3:30 I was back in my car, top down, music blasting.

Should I ride by my old house?  Maybe I’ll see Skippy or Aunt Dolly?


I gave in to my inner voice and swung by the old homestead.  Wow!  Does it look different!  They built a driveway (we had none) and a carport and an addition.  It looked nice.  It brought back so many memories!

When I returned to my dad’s house, I showed him the pictures.  I’ve been dreaming about that house a lot lately and those pictures made my father dream about it last night too.

He was telling me this morning that he was thinking about how many different people lived in that house.  Originally the house was three rooms (pre-addition) and a small upstairs.  My dad told me there was a host of boarders and tenants that lived with them.

Daddy was a cry-baby (his words, not mine), so he slept with his mother (my Nanoo) in the back bedroom where my Aunt Tootsie and Aunt Mimi also slept.  My Uncle Joe and my grandfather slept in the front room (I always knew it as the parlor) and the tenant d’année lived upstairs.

Imagine all those people in 3 rooms?  Crazy.  The Depression.

In between tenants, when my dad and his siblings got older, he and my Uncle Joe slept upstairs.

Over time tenants came and went, the family grew, moved out and then moved back in with and without their spouses and or children.  My Aunt Tootsie was the first of the family tenants.  Uncle Joe came next.  Then my mom and dad moved in and I came along 4 years later.

After we moved out when I was 4, my Aunt Mimi who was widowed by her 26-year-old husband (he died of testicular cancer) moved in.  I’m not sure of the timeline, but the next person that moved in was my Aunt Tootsie after my Uncle Teddy died.  Mimi moved downstairs with Nanoo and Aunt Tootsie stayed there until she fell ill and moved in with her daughter.

Now it was time for me to move in.  This was my third apartment after leaving my parents’ house.  I quit my job and went back to school for my Master’s Degree and teaching certification.  My parents offered to pay my rent for me but I wasn’t going to make them do that.

My Aunt Mimi asked me if I wanted to live upstairs in my old house, rent free.  Nanoo had already died a while ago and she was very lonely.  So I moved in with all my shit – furniture, clothes – everything!  My dad painted for me and my mom decorated the kitchen with black and white checked contact paper to give the room a little pizzaz.

I showered downstairs and was allowed any overnight guests.  LOL!  That didn’t work.  I had been dating my boyfriend John (now husband) for a while and he used to stay over and I would pretend he showed up at 6 am to see me.  I would go as far as to walk down the stairs, answer the door and walk on all fours back up so it would sound like 2 people coming in.

I was nuts!

Everyday when I came home, Mimi had to hear ALL the events of the day – no matter how mundane.  She and my mom were like the FBI!

I lived in that house for almost 3 years before I got married and moved in with my husband – right up the street.

All my apartments were in the same few block radius.  I went from Evergreen to Entwistle and then down to the end of Entwistle and back up to Passaic Ave – and now I live at the Jersey Shore – but that’s another story.

I loved living in my grandmother’s home.  It was so familiar and brought back so many memories.  I wish that we would have kept the house in the family – but I guess we all have to move on.

Move on but never forget all the good things.

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

My Life As A Jersey Girl

For the first 4 years of my life, my mom, my dad and I lived upstairs from my paternal grandmother (aka Nanoo) and my Aunt Mary (aka Mimi).

We lived in 3 rooms.  A large old-fashioned kitchen with a big white sink like you would see in the movie A Christmas Story, a large living room with a scratchy yet pristine couch, a smaller flowered love seat that pulled out into a bed, a big reclining chair and a console colored TV.  The bedroom was small with a full-size bedand a small closet.  That was the only closet space in the entire apartment!  Oh wait!  Maybe there was one in the living room.  I can’t remember.

My Nanoo in her kitchen

We had a half bath with a toilet that was so tiny, if you were an adult your knees would hit the pipe directly in front of the bowl.  Showers and baths were taken downstairs at my Nanoo’s but my mother used to bathe me in the large tub adjacent to the kitchen sink.

We had no air conditioning, so we spent most of our warm evenings on the porch swing chatting with the neighbors.  This is the late sixties and early seventies, when you knew your neighbors and actually spent time with them.  This is before everyone got too busy to see each other face to face, before families started moving away from each other instead of living on the same block or in the same house for that matter.

Playing the organ in my Nutley kitchen

This was a time when we all gathered for Sunday dinner at 1:00 in the afternoon to enjoy a giant pot of gravy with meatballs and sausage, and a huge bowl of macaroni (not pasta) that my mom and maternal grandmother (aka Grandma) slaved over for a couple of days just to get the perfect flavor.

My dad and I were always disappointed when mom made a roast beef or some other non-macaroni Sunday dinner.  It just wasn’t the same without the smell of pork and beef wafting through the house.

In the Nutley kitchen with my cousins

In the summers I swam in my Uncle Al’s pool next door.  He really wasn’t my uncle but calling a neighbor or a cousin aunt or uncle to show respect was an upheld practice.  My Aunt Ann (aka Tootsie) also had a pool that we would swim in.  She lived on the next block up the hill from us.

My Nutley childhood is full of fond memories of people, events, smells and daily life.  It was simpler time.

In 1971 we moved to the next town over.  It was only a 5 minute drive but it seemed like a world away.  No more running downstairs to see Nanoo and Mimi.  No more running up the block to visit Aunt Tootsie.  No more running across the Pipeline to visit my Tata (my Nanoo’s sister) and my 2 cousins that were my age, Bobby and David.

I was alone in Bloomfield.  No friends.  No family.  Just mom and dad.

My Poppy (my step-grandfather – really my great-uncle) helped my dad put up a 18 foot above ground pool.  It seemed like days that they were digging.  My dad

In my pool

was a perfectionist.  Everything had to be smooth and level.  When it was done, I couldn’t wait to jump in!

I spent day and night in that pool.  I was part fish.  I learned how to swim underwater first (I had been swimming since I was 2) and then I gradually mastered the art of freestyle.  My dad was a great swimmer who could hold his breath longer than anyone I knew.  He would stay under water for what seemed like hours but was really A LOT of minutes.  It was unbelievable.  No one could match or beat his breath-holding expertise.

One day a neighbor down the street came over with his daughter and introduced himself as Dick and his daughter Susan.  He thought that we might be the same age – and we were.  Susan was my first friend and more importantly, my first BEST friend.  But Susan is another story – I’ll talk about her later.

Back to my my new house…

We finally had air conditioning!  Two units!  We all slept downstairs until I got a little older, then we moved upstairs.  Then we had 2 units downstairs – one in the

My 1st bedroom at our new house

dining room wall and one window unit in the den (once my parent’s room, then the den, now my dad’s room) and one in each of our bedroom windows’ upstairs.

We could NEVER have all 4 on at the same time or they would trip a breaker.  Two at a time my father said.  So during the day we had the downstairs 2 running and at night the upstairs 2.

He used to come in my room to wake me up (I was NEVER a morning person) and bitch and moan because I kept the AC so cold.  He’d walk in and say, “Jesus Christ!  I can see my breath in here!”  I loved it cold in the summer so I could snuggle underneath the covers.

During the summer we spent most of our time in the half finished basement watching TV, eating, playing games (this is when I wasn’t in the pool).  We had another kitchen in the basement and my mom did most of her cooking downstairs 1.  because of the heat of the summer (even with AC) and 2.  because she wanted to keep the upstairs clean.

Did I mention that my mom (and her mother) were OCD, clean-crazy Italians? ALWAYS cleaning the house.  You could literally eat off my grandma’s floors – they were so clean and shiny.

We weren’t ALLOWED to use the front door.  The living room was for company

Sitting in the livingroom

only.  Food was definitely off-limits there.  I wasn’t allowed to sit on my bed after it was made.  My mother always said, “Beds are for sleeping, not for sitting.”

That about sums it up.

My bedroom floor was covered with an itchy indoor/outdoor block carpeting.  It was an ugly gold and I hated stepping on it.  My walls were hidden with white wood paneling and wooden beams framing my bed.  My furniture was a dark, early American clunky set that was popular in the seventies.  One wall had ceramic Hummel’s that my mom made but I was not allowed to put up posters or anything like that.

I loved Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson but posters of the Jackson Five or Puppy Love were out of the question.  Phyllis put her foot down.

We had a half bath upstairs complete with a built-in vanity and a little faux fur covered chair.  It had a big sink that I loved washing my hair in.  All my makeup (when it was time for makeup), hair stuff and other toiletries were tucked away in  3 out of the 8 cabinets.  I loved that part of the house!

The kitchen was an open galley-like kitchen with a wall oven and a stove top.  My

Singing away in the kitchen with Grandma & Poppy

mom set up a small “ice cream table” with 2 chairs so we had someplace to eat besides the dining room – which happened to be adjacent to the kitchen.

The living room had a wall of built-in bookcases and cabinets from floor to ceiling.  It housed all the books we loved to read:  Reader’s Digest, how-to books, nature books, encyclopedias and all the treasures that I bought from the Weekly Reader and various book fairs we had throughout the year at school.

The curtains on the front windows were made with material from Germany or Austria that one of my dad’s bosses brought back for my mom.  They were pretty, white, lace curtains covered by a heavier material drape.

The entire house was wired for sound.  I mean it was ahead of its time.  We had speakers in the livingroom, kitchen, basement and everywhere else – all hooked up to a stereo system complete with turntable, radio and 8 track.

It was cool!

I loved my new neighborhood and my new friends.

To be continued….

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Related articles

Does Life Begin At 40?

My mom used to say, “I’d like to meet the asshole who said life begins at forty and punch him in his face!”

I always got a kick out of that.  My poor mom’s life went downhill health-wise at forty:  cancer, diabetes, you name it.  So I always “understood” why she said it.

After she passed away, I was going through her “stuff” and found a button in her drawer that said, “Life is like a shit sandwich and every day I take another bite.”  Again – I understood.


Botox (Photo credit: AJC1)

When I hit 40 five years ago, I flipped out and was amidst my own mid-life crisis.  I was afraid I was going to end up sick like my mother.  I was in total fear.

I went on a diet, lost 50 pounds in 5 months and booked a trip to Paris for a month in the summer.  It was a blast!

At 41 I finally got my convertible BMW but all the birthdays have been lackluster since then.

Am I afraid of getting old?  Yes.
Am I afraid of looking old?  Yes.
Will I age gracefully?  I’m NOT sure.

All these things drive me crazy!

My husband cannot believe my maddening obsession with age.  I’m worried about MY age – no one else’s.   As soon as a movies comes on TV, I’m checking out the cast’s ages and compare myself to possibly botox-laden starlets who have more “plastic” injected into them than a Barbie mold.

There are pros and cons to getting older.  I once blogged about my twenties vs. my forties – read it HERE.  The differences are amazing.

So, what are my pros and cons?


  • I know what I want (usually) and can probably can get it.
  • Many younger men love older women – especially in Europe.  This is not really one of my pros because I’m married but flattered.
  • Being married and sharing my life with someone.


  • The sagging boobs.  At 40 they dropped ever so slightly.  At 45… I can’t even talk about it!
  • Wrinkles & lines.  Noticeable or invisible.  I am my worst critic.
  • Being married.  Did I already mention that?
  • Losing people you love.  There are more of us in the ground than on the ground now.

I think my con list is going to be longer so I’ll stop now rather than risk an onset depression from life-examination.  

Will I Botox up and filler out?  Will I face lift and boob-job and God knows what else?

Yes.  No.  Maybe.

The truth is that I don’t know.  I think about it then I dismiss it.  I have noticed that I do think about it more now than I did 5 years ago.  Do you?

So my question is… Do you think life begins at forty?

My answer… I guess it depends where you are, how you feel and what you have to look forward to.  I feel strong and confident at 45.  I felt it at 40 too.  Of course there are always way to improve oneself – something I’m constantly striving for.

Has life begun at 40 for me?  It didn’t for my mother.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What about you?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Italian GRAVY! Not sauce.

I wrote this post back in March of 2011 – maybe even before then.

A friend of mine asked for my gravy recipe so I’m going to include it at the end.  Here you go Allie:

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-AmericanGRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Brasciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.


So here’s MY recipe… get cooking!

Grandma’s Gravy Via Jacqui 

x virgin olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves minced or sliced
1 handful of fresh basil torn or much less dried basil
1 handful of fresh oregano chopped or much less dried
1/2 handful fresh thyme or less dried
a pinch of red pepper flakes or more
red or white wine
1 can tomato paste
sea salt or grey salt & pepper to taste
1/2 handful sugar or more depending how sweet you like it
3 -4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I like Tuttarosso, Luigi Vitelli, Whole Foods brand or Rienzi)
water – 1/2 can of each can used
1 large onion minced (red or yellow)

Meat:  meatballs (RECIPE HERE), pork & beef brasciole, 1 stick pepperoni – cut in half then in pieces, sausage – also you can add spareribs or a piece of pork, steak etc.
1 c or more of grated pecorino romano

Salt & pepper all meat (except meatballs).  In a large stockpot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil & brown meat on all sides.  Set aside in a large bowl.

Deglaze the pot with a little red wine and allow to burn off while scraping brown bits off bottom of pot.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and heat.  Add onions and stir.  Cook until starting to get translucent.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, any dried spices and a pinch of sugar.  Cook, stirring until garlic starts to brown.  Add can of tomato paste and stir to combine.  Cook for a bit, stirring.

Add crushed tomatoes and approx 1/2 can water per can of crushed tomatoes (for desired consistency).  Add wine (maybe 1/2 c), fresh herbs, salt, rest of sugar, a couple of pieces of pepperoni and grated cheese.  Stir to combine.  Cook until bubbling then lower to a simmer.  Make sure to stir occasionally – do not burn.  Cook for at least a half an hour – ideally 1 hour.

Add all meat and accumulated juices after an hour and cook over low heat – stirring occasionally.  Cook for 1-6 hours.  The longer you cook it, the better it will taste. 

Serve with pasta.

From Jacq’s Kitchen

© 2012 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.

Seven Years Later

Many of you know that I lost my mother 7 years ago… February 27, 2005.

Well, I’ve survived another year without her, another year where it gets easier to deal with but not any easier to accept.  

Another year spent privately crying and publicly tearing up at my weakest moments.  Another year wishing she didn’t have to leave so soon.

Another year watching my friends’ parents pass and feel every ounce of their pain, all the while wishing that they didn’t have to go through it too.

Another year hoping and praying that in some way, shape  or form, she can see me.  Another year stressing that she’s ok wherever she is and not at all lonely.

Another year hoping that she knew how much I loved her and how much I miss her.  Longing for her to watch over my Dad and I.

Another year forging ahead because that’s what she would have wanted.

Another personal day spent with my Daddy making the pilgrimage to the cemetery.

Today we placed a dozen red roses on her grave.

I left them there just like I left her in her cold, snowy grave 7 years ago.

Like she left me when she moved on.  She had to go.  It would have been selfish to keep her here.  She was in so much pain.

Now it’s my turn to be in pain.

Until I see you again Mommy… watch over us and know that my heart is broken without you.  I love you!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Where the Hell have I been?

I know, I know, I’ve been bad.  My blogging has fallen by the wayside because of my other, more pressing endeavors… Jacq’s Rox & Jersey Shore Gourmet – but let’s not forget my real job – career in fact – a magnanimous & entertaining French & Spanish teacher.

Oh – and let’s not forget ebullient.  Tee hee.

In any case, I have a lot on mind – some good, some bad – and my brain is often fried or vodkafied when I return to my quiet (only if my husband is out), cozy home – cat meowing and all.

My husband’s Uncle Joe just passed away.  He was such a nice man.  I’ll miss him.  Death puts me into my own reflective and pensive world – too introspective for my own good.  I start thinking about my mom, her death, her illness and how I could have been a better daughter.

Ok – the tears are here now.

I’ve written about my mom so many times because it comes from the heart and seems to be genuinely cathartic for me.  AND if I can help someone along the way who is going through the same loss, I’m thrilled about it.

Mommy will be gone 7 years in February.

I can’t believe it’s been that long.  It seems like yesterday yet sometimes so far away.  There is not a day I don’t think about her, talk to her, cry to her and ask her for her strength.  She was so strong.  I’m not sure I can ever be the woman that she was – but I try to be the best woman that I can be.  I think she’d be proud.

I want to share so many things with her every day but all I can hope for is that she’s listening to me from wherever she is and is channeling all her strength and fortitude my way.  I still find myself picking up the phone to call her.  Then I catch myself.

When you lose a parent it all makes sense.  Not their death.  Not their suffering.  Your own life, as crazy as it may seem, starts to make sense.  It’s like someone opened a window into your soul and you finally think about what’s important in life, in death and inside.

I will never stop missing my mother.  I will never stop hoping that she is pain-free,  at peace and watching over me (and my Dad too) as much as she can.

I think she’s watching like a hawk and still trying to guide me to make the right decisions.

If you knew Phyllis, I think you’d agree.  
My mommy is still here with me.  
From Heaven or from right above.
She never stops giving me love.
Mommy I miss you so.
I find it so hard to let go.
As I cry and write this poem.
I wish you were with us at home.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

My Most-Visited Post: Losing The Ones You Love

I was just reading through some of my older blogs, trying to avoid cleaning up the kitchen, when I came across one of my first “from the heart” posts.  On January 3, 2010, two hundred and fourteen people viewed Losing The Ones You Love.

Today I decided to re-blog that post and also include all of the original comments that both friends, family and readers made that day.  I read each and every comment and really appreciated all of them.  They way you all opened up was wonderful and cathartic for me.

Grief is a terrible thing.  It’s stressful, sad, happy and so many other things.  It helps to read about others who are or who were in the same situation as you.

I’ve lost so many people in my family but losing my mother was the most grueling, tragic and heart-breaking of them all.

If you have a sensitive side like me, get your tissues out and read.  Whether this post makes you cry, remember or realize the joy of life and living while it’s here, or even if it reminds you to make that call or visit before it’s too late – then it has accomplished something.

Losing The Ones You Love

Hi everybody.  I was originally going to talk about addictions today but I’ll put that on the back-burner for another day.
My friend Vicky who just joined Facebook, after months and months of urging, posted a comment that made me think of my mom. A memory, a good memory, that I suppress along with a host of others.

She wrote, “Were your ears ringing Christmas Eve night?  We were in church – Silent Night was playing and I was remembering how you, your mom , Jules & I would go to midnight mass- I shed some tears.”

Well that did it.  The tears welled up and I started to cry.  Thanks Vick.  Then I started to think about how shitty the world is without the people I love.  I have lost a lot of people to death.  It’s not at all comforting but we all have to deal with it eventually.  It made me think of my mom’s death and how I can’t watch movies or TV shows where someone s dying, is in the hospital, has cancer, etc.  I think they call that TRANSFER.

In case you didn’t know my mother, her name was Phyllis.  Phyllis was a pip.  Funny, strong and definitely outside the box.  She was a straight shooter – so if you didn’t want to hear the truth – you shouldn’t have asked her for her opinion.   Everybody loved mom.  Even when she tried to run them over with her car – but that’s another story.

My mom Phyllis died of sepsis at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair in 2005 after fighting cancer for 24 years.  Twenty four years!  That’s amazing to me.  When I think about it, I don’t know if I could be that strong.  Radiation, chemo, chemo, radiation and finally chemo – once per week for the rest of her life.  She went into remission twice but it always came back.

She tried to refuse treatment, but the doctor fought with her to keep her alive.  I never really realized HOW SICK she actually was.  Maybe I was in denial.  Her personality was so effervescent, it never clicked.  When I look at photos of her right before she died, I can see how debilitated she became.

I remember the last time that she went to see Dr. Lee and she told her how far the cancer had progressed.  She hoped that she would go into remission again, but that didn’t happen.  It seems like yesterday.

I was waiting for my mom and dad to come home.  My Aunt Mimi was upstairs and I was in the basement cleaning poop off the dog’s butt.  I heard the door open and my aunt say, “How did you make out?”  The next thing I heard broke my heart in half.  My mother was absolutely hysterically crying and sobbing as if she couldn’t believe that she still had, at full force I might add, this cancer that was NOT going to go away.

I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted to run upstairs and hug her with all my might but I too had started sobbing and I wanted to stay strong for her.  So I finished up with the dog, choked back my tears and slowly went upstairs.  There were no words.  I couldn’t say anything to her that would help, so I just hugged her and hugged her and hugged her.

She died in a semi-conscious state while my dad, my cousin Elaine, my husband John and I were all with her.  She opened her eyes to look at every one of us – I was the last one.  I held her hands and said, “Mommy, I love you.  I don’t want you to go, but if you have to, it’s ok.”   My mom closed her eyes and the doctor came rushing in.  We asked him why he rushed in and he told us that her heartbeat just slowed significantly.  I told him that I told her that it was alright to go and he told me that it was the best thing I could have ever done.

I still question that decision.  Fighting with my selfishness and my selflessness.  I don’t care how old you are, you always need your mother.  Losing people you love is difficult.  You miss them so much but hang on to the memories.  I suppress.  It doesn’t get any easier but it gets easier to deal with or to hide.

Shortly after she died my husband said to me, “Jacq, some day you’ll talk about her and laugh.”  That may be true, but how freakin’ long does that take?  Does anybody believe that?  Is it true?  I still cry everyday.  The holidays are the worst.  Thank God I still have my dad and he’s healthy and doing well.

If you knew my mom and have a good memory of her, please post it.  If you didn’t know my mom and you have a memory of someone who you loved and lost, please post that too.  As much as I don’t like to depend of people, everyone needs someone to lean on, a shoulder to cry on and someone to help you through the worst times and the best times of your life.

Comments Below…

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished 2011.


Hey Jac,

Unfortunately, I didn’t know you mom, but she sounded like an amazing and strong woman. I read you posting today and I found myself sitting here crying myself,…and laughing. My mom died very suddenly 2 years ago today. I think it is sort of ironic that you wrote this posting today because I was just sitting here thinking about how there couldn’t be anyone in this world who understands how it feels to lose their mother, besides someone who has lost their mother….

My mom called me January 3rd at 8 am and asked me to drive her to the hospital because she had a stomach virus and was in so much pain. Josh and I picked her up and took her and after hours and hours and hours in the ER, they finally moved her to ICU, where she passed minutes later. It was such a shock for someone who was never sick and who never complained about anything. She ended up having a serious issue with her pancreas which shut down many of her other organs. My mom was the most selfless woman that anyone could ever meet. She would honestly give you the last dollar in her wallet if you asked her. She did anything and everything for the people she loved. She made everyone feel comfortable even if that meant that she would be without something…or anything.

I remember sitting in the waiting room after I watched my mom go into complete cardiac arrest, surrounded by family and friends and thinking that I would never, ever be able to sleep, eat, love, laugh or live without my mom….my rock. I remember going home with my Dad and sister and brothers and sleeping (well not sleeping) on the living room floor, night after night after night….and just tossing and turning. I could not find happiness in anything….the holidays are still extremely hard. My sister and I cried through the planning of both of our weddings, and every other joyous occasion that my mom should be here for. We got totally jipped!

Some days are def. better than others, but I agree, every day is still a struggle. I miss her every single day. It sucks that my children will never get to meet such an awesome lady. My Mom was the kind of person found humor in the littlest and silliest things. Honestly, that’s what gets me through the hard times. I too find humor is simply stupid things….and when I do, I think of her and laugh…

Eventually I was able to laugh again, live again, love again. But every day I miss her.

Thank you for posting this today. :) You don’t know how much your story helped me.

I actually remember you talking about your mom in class. It was evident that you two were close but I think you wished that you could be even closer. As an only child, you knew that you had to be there for her through all her treatments and always had to be strong for her. I remember you showing us a picture of your mom one of the times she was in a bit of remission and her hair had started to grow back a bit. Strange that I remember that, but I do… possibly because I lost my grandfather freshman year of high school? I don’t know. It’s been 12 years since he passed now and I think about him all the time. My family talks about him a lot and we laugh, sometimes so hard we are crying. Then later, I sometimes cry just because I wish he could be here to witness us laughing at him 12 years after he’s been dead. lol, It’s definitely hard to lose someone, but if you stay close with your family and keep the memories of her alive, a part of her stays alive. I can still picture my grandfather sitting in the living room and his reactions to things as I’m sure you can your mom. Keep her alive in your heart and embrace the memories.

I never met your mom! I did have the privilege of talking to her on several occasions! I felt has if I had always known her! And you are right about one thing! If you didn’t want an answer to your question then don’t ask it! I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this to you! What a great wonderful woman! My mom is a lot like yours…pulls no punches…if you don’t like what she has to say don’t ask.

I don’t ever think you get over losing a parent. I know for Jeff it still haunts him….being only children..it is always there. I can see Cameron at Tony’s visitation and my dad taking care of him. I guess we think that our parents will live forever! Yours does in your cooking and making the dishes you grew up with….mine too! I lucky I still have my parents and they are in good health. I know that I am going on and on but I don’t seem to be able help myself! Your mother loved you and always wanted the best she could give you. She also knew that you were very special and had so much talent! Be proud! You come from tough stock! And Just remember a cousin in law in Arkansas loves you!!!!

Jackie, I have so many memories of your mom, but I was so young when I knew her. She always invited me in for a visit when I would walk around the corner to see if you were home. I also remember this one time you were teaching me how to twirl (I wasn’t very good!) and she stood on the steps and watched looking so proud of you! They all seems to blend together in my mind from one visit to the next. but I was always happy to see her and she always welcomed a tiny drop in visitor from around the corner.
I just had a funny thought…..I was at your house and we were talking about boys and I was reminiscing about my first kiss. I remember your mom knew his family and was giving me the lowdown on his siblings and I remember being mortified that I shared that story.
Hi Jacq don’t know how to start but here goes… your story brought me to tears i lost my mom in 2007 after suffering for ten years from alzheimer’s, it was and is still a struggle but i move on for her, she would have wanted it that way. My memory of your mom happens to be with my mom! Our football games you twirling and me in my tiger outfit they never missed a game and the cheered for us like crazy!!! Still could see them up there in the bleachers soooo proud of us.. it just isn’t right that he takes the good ones, sometimes i wish he took another mother one that doesn’t have a daughter, some girls don’t even get along with there moms he could have taking one of them right? But i guess he needed them, but they are together again watching us from above and cheering us on together again…..sorry for your loss xoxo
Hi, Jacqui!

I got chills reading this. I can tell your mom was an amazing and feisty woman. I guess that is where you get your spunk from. Although her battle with Cancer was a long road I am glad she was able to give you 24 more years of memories to hold on too. Your statement that said, ” I don’t care how old you are, you always need your mother. ” is sooo powerful. My biggest fear in life is to not be there for my children. I always pray for God to keep me here long enough to have my children be able to be independent of me. But like you said, no matter how old you are you always need your mom.

I just lost my friend Diane to Cancer this past Christmas Eve., 12-24-09. She also battled for a long time, close to 10 years. Her children are young adults and I am sure the holidays will never be the same for them.

I also did loose a parent too. My dad! But I was only 3 years old. I really don’t have ANY memories of my dad and that can be really painful too. It also explains why growing up for me was so hard. I did luck out though because my mom re-married and I do consider myself lucky enought to have had two dads. I am glad you still have your Dad also.

I am sure the holidays will never quite be the same but I hope your pain lessens as the years pass. Four years is only a short time to loose someone you have loved for a lifetime. I am sure you will keep your mom alive in memory and by living your life by being a reflection of her. Keeping you in prayer!


I read your blog about Phyllis about an hour ago and I had to give myself some time to think.

I will never forget her the few times I spent at your house with you and your incredible twirling awards and trophies!! I remember her yelling JAQUI be careful in there! you and she were quite a pair!

Like me and my mom.. I miss her soo much Jaqui, It’s is close to 15 years and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I understand your saying you surpress your memories cause I do too. I have to if I am going to continue with my life, it’s still painful for me to think about her. but I didn’t start this to talk about my loss, I wanted to share a memory of your mom .

Remember when we were in girl scouts and we went camping? Carols cabin and we were scared shitless!! I remember this one particular night we were sleeping on the floor and each one of us kept having to go to the bathroom, it’s really kind of silly but she said something like” Boy, what does everybody here have a leaky faucet?? well needless to say we all thought that was the funniest thing we ever heard! Just the way she said things was funny.

I remember the last time I saw her, it was in the “old” Brookdale Shoprite, she was wearing a bandanna on her head and she was telling me how she beat the cancer! I was so amazed at her strength, I remember going home and telling my mom (who knew your mom pretty well), That I was inspired by her courage.

It is true that our parents live on through us, but I still wish every day I could see my mom and dad here on earth even just one more time. I do have faith that I will see them again, however, you never stop wishing for one more.
God bless you Jaqui and keep your faith!

Hey Jac,

Now I’m crying after reading what you wrote! My mother and I just went to see the Radio City Music Show today and I’m so glad we did now! Anyway, I do remember your mom, I remember going to your house, and what I remember was that when you were punished and it was your mother only home, she would let you go out anyway, but if your mother and father were both home, you were really punished!!! I always remembered that, I thought it was funny!

Hello my friend,

There are sssssooooo many emotions I have after reading this blog. First off, it sucks losing anyone, especially a parent. It really is hard to move forward and enjoy life in the same manner. It definitely changes things. Your emotions are in turmoil and it is hard to put everything into perspective.
I have found, since losing my dad 23 years ago and my husband 12 years ago (those being the most tramatic to me), that everytime I start to get a little down, or find myself feeling sorry for myself, something happens or I hear of another person’s struggles and it reminds me that I have a lot to be thankful for.
I do tend to talk about that person, in a funny or positive light, if I am feeling down, and it reminds me that we were able to share a lot of wonderful times and although the time we shared may have been too short, it was great while it lasted.
I know that this may sound like a big fat cliche’ but it has really happened to me over the years.
When you are ready, you will speak of your mom in a way that makes you happy.
I am absolutely sure that when that time comes you will remember some hysterical stories. She was a pip, just like you said. She was always there, sick or not. She never missed anything or a trick for that matter. She had a heart of gold and was always there to lend a hand. She was a mom that was involved. There aren’t a lot of kids that can say that their parents were there for them. You can! You might not have liked it at the time, but looking back I know that you are glad now.
Jacqui, my friend, someone very wise told me that it would take 5 years to wake up from whatever funk I was in to realize that I was actually in a funk. I thought, yeah right. They were right! The day WILL come when you will realize you have been here, but not really here. Trust me! And when that time comes and you want to tell stories, I’ll be ready to listen. I can always use a good laugh, and cry, for that matter.

Ginamarie M-S | January 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Reply |Edit

I did not know your mom passed. I am soooo sorry. I will always remember your mom. You’re so right- she was a pip and a definite straight shooter- not unlike my mom. That must be why they liked one another. Your blog made me cry. I lost my grandmother to cancer years ago and it will always stay with me. I never in a million years thought my grandmother would not be at my wedding or not be around for my children. I remember when she was in ICU and I held her hand with tears in my eyes and told her she didn’t have to fight for us. I just didn’t want her to suffer. Just last month, her son, my Uncle Frankie passed- he too of cancer. It was terrible. I was by his side when he passed, as was most of the family. I miss him so much. We take people for granted- especially family- sometimes, thinking they will be with us forever. Don’t take anything for granted because none of us is promised tomorrow.


I am reading through ALL of your blogs and I have to say your write beautifully!! I had to comment on this one about your sweet precious mom!!! I loved that woman!! I will never forget how she helped me on my wedding day! I like you know the feeling of losing my mom and to not have my own mother there with me on one of the most special days of my life was hard. I wouldn’t have had any other person in my life in the room with me that day! I remember when we got to the church she stayed in the back and helped me with my veil and train. She was one of the most wonderful people I ever had the honor of knowing. The way she made us laugh will never be forgotten. She was the true definition of a angel on earth!!!

Love this post, it really made me remember about my mother too. She passed away 4 years ago and I still think of her every now and then. I’m sure it’s difficult for everyone when they lose their parents, mothers especially.

Stay strong. I’m sure she’s in heaven watching you (:

PS. Interesting blog you have here. Will link you!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished 2011.

My Favorite Summer Memory

When I was a little girl, Mom, Dad and I used to live in a 3 room apartment above my Aunt Mimi and my Nanoo in Nutley, NJ. We had no air conditioning so the porch was the only way to keep cool on hot summer nights.

There was a couch-like swing and a rocking chair where my grandma used to sit and rock for hours. I remember laying on that swing every night while my family told me stories – real and imagined.

It’s 40 years later and I’d give anything to sit on that porch, and fall asleep on that swing and listen to all the good people in my life who are no longer of this Earth.

Life was so simple back then. Sometimes we need to step back and take another look, so we can not only cherish the past but embrace it in the present.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished 2011.

What Lies Beneath: A Repost

Every time I watch that episode of Sex & The City when Samantha is giving a speech about cancer and rips off her wig to reveal her much shorter mane beneath, I think about the first time I saw my mom with no hair.

Every torn off wig in that episode makes me relive the moment which had to be so much more horrible for her than it was for me – but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

My mom was always so confident and not at all into that vanity shit like I am.  She went out without her boobs, without her wig but with her dignity that she always maintained.

One night we were all sitting around the table bullshitting about this or that.  My mother was notorious for her hot flashes as long as I can remember.  Cancer made them even worse and covering up her head added to her internal fire.

Anyway… she said to me,
“Jacq.  Do you mind if I take this frigging thing off my head?”

I said to her,
“Of course not Ma.  Take it off.”

She reached for her turban and unraveled if from around her head and hung it over the back of the chair.

As I looked at my mother I immediately started crying as my eyes filled up with tears and my heart broke for her.  It broke into a thousand pieces.

She asked me why I was crying and I said sobbing,
“Oh Mommy!  I’m so sorry you have to go through this.” 

I couldn’t imagine the pain of looking in the mirror at a bald head.  The pain of going through CANCER and all the rotten stuff that goes along with it.

My mom was stronger than me.  She never looked at it as pain, just a temporary setback of sorts as she energetically  plodded through her sickness and took everything as it came.

When I find myself upset, I pray to HER to give me the strength that she had.  HAS in Heaven.  I’m sure God is putting her to work doing what she does or maybe he’s just letting her rest for a while.

I any case, I hope she knows that she has always been an inspiration and a role model for me.  I hope that kids todays will realize how great their parents are before it’s too late.

I know that my mother knew I loved her but I regret so many things every single day of my life and I hope that she can forgive me wherever she is.

I hope she knows that sometimes I didn’t show my emotions (my defense mechanism) but I was with her every step of the way from North Junior High School when she found out she had the disease to Mountainside Hospital, 28 years later, where she left us so she can finally have some peace.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished.