Sunday, July 18, 2010

Honesty

I often preach honesty, and 99% of the time I practice it. The last 3 months have seemed to last a decade. There have been definite changes, for most of which I wasn't prepared. Living in the same house since the age of 4 leaves you with a sense of comfort that's hard to shake.

Mom and Dad always took care of things, and life in itself was from most angles, a breeze. Childhood was a dream that I would relive an infinite amount of times if it were possible. We had bikes, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, TV, freedom, good schooling, love, FOOD, etc. We weren't thrown in a room when we were bad. We were taught lessons and made to realize why we were wrong. We weren't abused. Our parents weren't at the bars while we were home with the babysitter. They were dedicated people with 2 things on their minds:
  1. Their children.
  2. Some form of sleep.
Being surrounded by a family that cares about your every emotion/need is something you take for granted as a child. It often takes a heavy dose of reality to give you that jolt... the jolt that tells you to wake up and grow up.

That being said, Dad passed away when I was 14. He had battled 3 strokes over a span of several years. He beat the first 2 and came back ready for another war, but the 3rd one proved to be much more serious than it's predecessors. It sent to him to the hospital, indefinitely. We would visit and he'd be conscious. Problem was, he couldn't speak. You could tell he was frustrated. When I would visit, he would look at me, and I could see his pulse rates on the monitor go across the board. He would tear up, so I would too. It was scary, seeing your father helpless. He was the strongest man in the world when I was a child. Now he was confined to this room; I recall it resembling something out of a Marvel comic book. His bed was advanced. It had a countless number of buttons that might as well have been in Braille. The memory can't be accurate, because I remember him almost suspended in air. I think I was short and had to look up at him. It was a confusing time in life. Onward... Mom was at the hospital the night he died, and most every other night. She closed his eyes, put on her straight face and told me the bad news in the morning when I woke up. I recall going to school and not telling anyone. I had no idea what to say to people. There should be a system for these sorts of things. Perhaps, an announcement. I remember going through the entire day pretending it didn't happen. My mother picked me up at the end of the day, along with my good friend, Bill. She somehow or another announced the news to Bill, and he was speechless. I know he was wondering why I wouldn't tell him something so important, but I had no answer. As an adult, it seems much easier to sit someone down and say, "I have some very important news. I need your undivided attention for just a minute. Thank you." As a child, I didn't understand what or how to say these things.

So from 1996 and on, Mom had to pick up a job. She didn't work as long as my dad was around, so there was a bit of an adjustment to be made. It was no longer, "drop off the kids and go home." It was now, "drop off the kids, head to work, pick up the kids, go home." This left her with many more duties as a mother than she had before, and in less time. Truth be told, I can't imagine how much she went through with Dad passing. Someone can tell you over and over, but until you feel the emotion, you're clueless.

Now this one is heard throughout the world after a father's passing. "You're the man of the house, now."

Really? I'm fucking 14. I just got pubes a couple years ago. How the hell am I going to take care of this house? This is confusing. Anyhow, I got a job at the family bakery. Well... let's say I started getting paid to work at the bakery. We (Pete and I) had been working there since 8 or 9 years of age. So, with the money I was making, I started paying the phone bill and little things like that. I thought I was really being a big man now. At 16, I had a real job busing tables. Guess who dropped me off and picked me up. Mom. I worked at Strapazza for 3 years until it was time to get a car. Then, I relieved my mother of her driving duties when I got my Civic. She was still working much harder to keep the house going than I understood at the time. Her jobs consisted of cooking, prepping and washing dishes at 3 different restaurants. I don't know many people that would accept those jobs, nowadays, but my mother didn't have much choice. She didn't speak much English, so she took what she could get. It was about keeping the roof over our heads.

Either way, this went on a while... another 14 years or so. On April 2nd, at work, I missed a couple of phone calls on my cell phone from my sister, Kelly. Normally, she'd call to say hi. I didn't hear my phone ring. Then the work phone rang and I answered. It was Kelly. She told me something was wrong with my Mom. She fell down and they thought she had a stroke. I ran out of work. Mom was small: 5'2". She didn't weigh too much, but I was always afraid of receiving that call, either from a family member or from Mom, herself. It was probably because of Dad's passing that I always anticipated something happening to her.

I went straight to the hospital. Nobody was there yet. My uncle went along with the ambulance. He didn't have a cell phone. It was nerve-racking. I asked if they had an ETA at the front desk. Nobody had a clue. Eventually, the ambulance drove up and my uncle appeared. I saw them pull out the stretcher and I went to the door. As they pulled through, I went to see my mom. She was paralyzed on one side and I had to talk to her on her right. She spoke to me in a muffled voice and told me her head hurt and that she fell down. I didn't know what to do. For the first time in my life, I didn't know who to turn to. Mom was crying and I couldn't talk to her. She kept trying to explain to me what happened. I held her hand and cried. They told my uncle and I that one of us would stay with Mom, and one of us would have to fill out papers. I had info, so I had to fill out papers. That would be the last time I spoke to my Mom. April 3rd, the following day, she was pronounced brain dead by the doctor. How they do their jobs, I don't know. They must have to tell families on a daily basis that someone important has passed away. I'm sure reactions vary, but how do you bring yourself to tell people that a loved one is gone? I'm sure it takes experience, but what a job.

Anyway, as we (family and friends) sat in the conference room, a stark realization hit me. Mom was gone. Just down the hall, her heart was beating, her lungs were being pumped in and out by machines, but she didn't feel anything. She was numb. Her hands, although still warm, didn't accept mine like they used to. I didn't want anyone there anymore. I just wanted to be alone with her. April 3rd was the last day I would see her before the viewing that following Thursday.

I was hoping to make a few points, but got into details I wasn't previously willing to disclose, and went off on a tangent. Here they are:
  1. I was never the man of the house until Mom passed in April. She kept this house moving, and in many ways, kept the family glued together. I would be insulting her by saying I helped out as much as I could.
  2. I apologize to my friends for my absence the past couple months. It's been tough adapting to this life. I don't have time like I used to. I might not for a while. I love you all and thank you again for all your support during this ordeal.
  3. As far as the title, "Honesty," I'm sorry if I haven't been honest. If I tell you I'm ok, I'm lying. Life isn't the easiest it's ever been, and will take some time to level itself out.
Thanks again for the support,
Manoli

6 comments:

  1. Emmanuel, my heart goes out to you brother. At times when I need it the most, you're blogs/posts bring laughter and humility into my life, and I always appreciate that. I'm glad that I met you bro, truly.
    Anthony in Tucson,AZ

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  2. Manoli, your a good boy..and I love you! I understand all that you wrote! I lost my mom when she was 53, and no the world did not stop! It is very frustrating! I am so sorry you lost your Mom~ I know it was the second hardest loss of your life, and it hurts. Yes, it will take you forever to get over it! The pain eases a little but you never get over it. Our parents are are rocks, our glue, they are what keeps life going, and then we find that they are gone and we become the rock and glue! Your parents raised you to be an AWESOME young man ~ you make me so proud. I am very happy that you are friends with my Jessie and our family! Again, Manoli, we love you. If you need a motherly hug would be happy to give you one, it would not be the same but you could close your eyes real tight and pretend.

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  3. Thanks Anthony. It's nice to know people read these things, especially if it helps them out in some way. I'll try writing more often.

    And Mrs. Sheila, you see things from 2 angles... as a child and as a mother. I appreciate your kind words. I hope to have a family as beautiful as yours one day.

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  4. Making me cry at work is not a nice thing to do.

    You have to do what YOU have to do. Life is not easy. Taking on all the responsibilities that your mother would carry out. You grow up with them buying the cleaning products, toilet paper, etc. But in the end when you have to do it all, it hits you like a boulder. There is alot to attend to!

    I do not know how to tell you to re-act regarding your mom passing. I have not lost a parent and do not know the feelings you are going through. Plus, everyone is different. Everyone takes different steps. Just remember we are all here for you and even if you have been absent, we know you are not neglecting friendships. Life takes people on different paths. Right now, you are still getting affairs in order with the house. All while balancing friendships, romance, a job.

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  6. A real tribute. Your mom was a one of a kind. Your best friend. The one one only. I've never forgotten her-in the kitchen-at the top to the stairs looking down at me in the front foyer, giving me a hug, and a pat on the back to top it off. I can still see her kiss your cheek "good bye" and her big laught-smile, and her closed lip "good bye" smile as we left the house and she stood at the door watching us leave. I can see her pulling up in the green wagon at school. In your house, she loved to watch you. She was always looking at you with her smile. I noticed that-that she truly was interested in all you did and said to your friends, and to her. That's a good mom. I'll never forget.

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