Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Impromptu Drive brings Moments of Reminiscing

Disappearing bridge hidden in clouds and fog right before it began to snow./EarthCam®

Disappearing bridge hidden in clouds and fog right before it began to snow./EarthCam®

By the time we left Nyack it was snowing lightly so that you couldn’t tell if it was rain. The village looked magical, and the towers looked pretty cloaked in a heavy sky that wasn’t as heavy earlier on the way there.

“When are they going to take this bridge away?” mom asked. She and dad were married less than eight weeks before it opened. Sometimes she asks if they can keep it with the new bridge.

She wanted to see what was doing with the project, and since it’s difficult for her to get to the viewing area, much less in cold weather, we drove to Nyack.

She asked a few more questions. “When is this going to get done? Do you think it will ever open?” I smiled and asked if she remembered the first time she crossed it. She was married by then, a newlywed. She didn’t answer.

* * * * *

Friday night my dad visited me. I walked into the foyer of our house to find him by grandma’s table that holds family pictures. The back of his pants near the waist was cut away.

He turned around and smiled; I said, “Daddy!” and reached to hug him. He hugged me and made a pained face. Then I hugged him again, and he made the same pained face.

Mom reminded me he’s always had a bad back.

Dreams occur usually just before a person wakes (sometimes). When I awoke it was Saturday (December 10),so the dream was probably early Saturday morning.

Tonight I realized, after checking a log I kept of dad’s last months, that the date correlated to an incident exactly three years ago, when his back was injured. He was trying to tell me he was in pain.

I loved hugging him, and he, me. Dreams can be widely interpreted.

He left us February 2014, and while I knew it was a dream I was so happy to see him! This is the fourth time he’s visited me. Articles I read about visitation say the person is younger and healthier (he looked that way every time) than when last seen. He wears one or the other of a brightly-colored sweater, one of which is in my closet, and while he always has a broad smile he never speaks to me.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Thanksgiving Memories: Wanting a Sleepover

movie star dadIt was my dad’s first night at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. I’m grateful to the facility for accepting him on short notice and for giving him dignity during his last days. I wrote this nearly three years ago and kept it private until now.

Eyes widening, he asked me in a quiet voice to stay over one night. I look at him, my own eyes questioning silently. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Yes,” he half-mouthed, half-said.

Dad’s vulnerability frightened us both. “Why don’t Mom and I both stay over?” I asked, looking up as she wordlessly in a chair. “Otherwise, I’d have to visit without her, and she’d be home alone.”

When I heard he’d been accepted here, I cried tears of relief and joy. The past two months were emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and — as Mom and I’d learned the day before — spiritually frustrating.

Several years ago I penned “Open Faced Sandwich” about helplessly watching Dad struggle, determined to advocate for him. I have, and continue to do it.

His request for me to stay overnight in his hospital room is the end of a long road that started on Thanksgiving Day. For weeks, I was haunted with the belief I’d personally escorted Dad deeper into a hole from which he’d never return.

For the second time in less than two weeks, my conscious was wracked with guilt because, three hours after Mom and I left the place I chose for him, Dad fell on the floor. The call came at 9:57 p.m.; my heart stopped, thinking it was that call.

“Your dad fell, and we’re putting down floor mats,” the assistant told me. Putting down floor mats NOW? Mom and I saw them in his room earlier, and were assured they’d be placed under his bed.

Dad plunged deeper; Mom and I were livid. The doctor sent him back to the hospital, where he languished for the next six weeks — speechless, mouthing words, repeating a word or two when he could. He sometimes ate, mostly not, and always surprised us.

“We found the Holy Grail yesterday, daddy!” my December 30 journal entry said. “You had half of a huge pastrami sandwich with mustard on a hard roll, and see, the nurses didn’t think you were hungry. It took five calls to the hospital to get the doctor to take you off soft (mushy yuck) diet; she was afraid you’d aspirate and choke.”

“You’re smarter than that, daddy, and couldn’t wait to eat. Tomorrow I’m bringing you a pad and pens so you can talk on paper. I don’t know if we’ll have a conversation again, daddy, yet I pray and hope that things will turn around for you. I love you.”

Several days later, Dad was talking, reading “Happy New Year” from the paper on which I’d written it. It was wonderful to see recognition in his eyes, and then he looked at me as if to say, ‘Why are you asking me to read this?’ I wanted to know if there was a connection, if his brain was working, my scientific trial.

Until back into that dark place he fell.

Doctors told us dementia is cruel, plays tricks, teases, gives false information. I didn’t believe it, not in Dad.

What happened next can only be described as a miracle.

His brown eyes opened wide when I walked into his hospital room later that day. I greeted him, and then I heard the sweetest sound: his voice. I asked him a question, and he answered; I asked him something else. He again responded.

From somewhere far away, Dad had climbed out, back to us. Mom and I believe it’s because we demanded that he be taken off both sedative medications. I blamed them for his fall in the rehabilitation facility; since he’d lost weight and was eating little, his body wasn’t able to absorb it.

I question if his earlier inability to communicate was due to overmedication.

Dad’s doctor, and the medical team attending him here, listen and understand, and I’m grateful for their compassion and communication with Mom and me.

“Are you sure?” I asked again. “Yes,” he replied a second time. I’m looking forward to our sleepover, Dad.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Harold V. Rosman

dad

My favorite veteran left us nearly three years ago. We have this picture in the foyer and meant to have it framed; however, where it is now offers a clear view of dad’s smile as we walk in the door.

I love you and miss you, dad. During one of our last conversations I told you about something on my mind, something I was thinking about doing. When I finished speaking you looked at me, grinned and said, “Go for it!”

This is my new mantra, dad. Happy Veteran’s Day on the other side.

I love you and miss you,

Janie

Tarrytown Man an Integral Part of 9/11 Project

Here is one Hudson Valley resident’s personal story of this horrific and tragic aftermath, and his part in our nation’s healing. I share it as I did last year.

By Janie Rosman

towersAfter living through the nightmare and subsequent aftermath of September 11, 2001, Ray Tuohy learned his boss had a contract for construction on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, part of the World Trade Center (WTC) complex. Tuohy, who has worked construction in New York City since 1997, requested to be part of that job — and was made foreman.

“It’s what I do,” the Tarrytown resident humbly said, four years into the project. No stranger to the WTC, Tuohy worked there from 1990 to 1993, leaving his job before the building was first attacked on February 26, 1993.

“It sounded like a freight train with the devil riding on it,” he said when the North Tower crashed into the clear September 11 morning. “There was dust everywhere, and it looked like something out of a bad Godzilla movie.”

Television depicted the visual and auditory; one could only imagine the emotional impact of being there. “I saw shoes everywhere, in the street, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen,” he said..

The steel towers twisted as they fell into the Manhattan streets. One woman fell, he said, and another person picked her up.

“Everyone came together, no barriers of race, religion, beliefs — we were all one that day, and for a few months,” Tuohy said quietly. “I miss that. I’d like to bring back the feeling when people were friendly to one another.”

Making his way home that day was no easy feat, he said, despite acumen and training as a proud member of Tarrytown Volunteer Fire Department. Once back in Tarrytown, he joined the entire department on standby for the duration of the day.

The next day, Ladder 37 was called to the Bronx for mutual aid to cover FDNY Truck 37’s calls, and Tuohy joined the crew. Two days later, he went to work on the site.

“My brother, Andrew Tuohy, was in town; my father, Matthew Tuohy, though retired from Engine 85, the Bronx, said he ‘needed to be with his boys,’” he said. Despite ending his own 15-hour tour with the TVFD, Tuohy set off with them.

One of the amazing experiences, he recalled, was that people reached out to help one another, like those on the West Side Highway handing water bottles to emergency personnel and first responders. Thousands of people lined the highway, cheering those headed for lower Manhattan to help search for friends, loved ones, colleagues, and bodies.

The community rallied support for its own and for those less fortunate, taking up collections, organizing fundraisers and drives. Diane Tuohy assembled 10 family members to help trucks at the American Red Cross in White Plains. Tuft’s boot drive raised $6,000 for the Andrew A. Fredericks National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, honoring one of the 343 firefighters who died that day rescuing others.

One building planned for the WTC site is a transportation hub; its retractable skylight for daylight and fresh air is built so each year, on the morning of September 11, sunlight falls onto the floor inside, where visitors can pass behind the base reflecting pools.

Two of the nearly 3,000 names engraved in the bronze panels edging each pool — victims of the 1993 and 2001 attacks, and symbolically grouped together — are Tuohy’s cousins, Port Authority officer Paul William Jurgens, and Supreme Court officer Thomas Edward Jurgens, 26.

Set in the footprint of the former Twin Towers, and dedicated on September 11, 2011, they symbolize a void and also healing, he said.

The new One World Trade Center, north of the memorial, stands 1,776 feet tall, its 200-foot dimension is the same square footprint as the Twin Towers. Its observation deck will be 1,362 feet, the height of Tower Two; the glass parapet, reflecting light in it like a kaleidoscope, will be at 1,368 feet, the height of Tower One.

Both One WTC and the museum are slated to open in 2014, after delays caused by a construction shut-down due to funding issues and months of clean-up after Hurricane Sandy.

“We’re building what the hate tore down,” Tuohy said, his voice quiet.

My article originally appeared in The Hudson Independent in 2013.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Words from the Heart: Eulogy for My Dad

Original Madison Square Garden, where mom and dad met/Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Original Madison Square Garden, where mom and dad met/Library of Congress (loc.gov)

It took me endless hours to write because I wanted it to be perfect until one friend said, “You only need to make it real, honest and raw.” Thirty months ago today I read this to my dad, who was by then with us in Spirit.

“Hi Daddy,

You always told me to talk slowly, Daddy, so I’ll do my best, because while it’s hard to talk slowly, it’s even harder now. How to condense a lifetime into a few pages? Where do I start?

I could talk to you about anything, and you made life fun, so when serious things happened, you were easy to talk to. Like the time my nearly 12-year-old mind couldn’t understand something scary, and you patiently explained it to me.

You gave me your attention, and made sure I understood things. You taught me not to give up on my goals and dreams, and to do what I feel inside. You taught me to not be afraid, Daddy. I need to draw from what you taught me so I’m not afraid now.

You and mom filled the house with laughter and love, and music — Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Burt Bacharach, Henri Mancini, soundtracks from shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, The Pink Panther (original, not the remake) — and took us to theater: Annie, Pippin, Chicago, Cabaret, Camelot, Little Shop of Horrors, Sweeney Todd. The list is endless.

You were such a good sport, Daddy, about everything. The time I made you rice pudding and forgot to cook the rice, you said it was delicious.

When Spence brought home a goldfish from Robin Hill, the next day you bought us an aquarium with more fish, sand, rocks, the whole shebang. You didn’t get angry when you found fish floating on the water because we overfed them accidentally. We were kids and kept watching them eat food we sprinkled into the tank.

A few weeks ago, I made a wrong turn going to the hospital. It was meant to be, since mom and I drove past that oh-so-big hill where you took Spence and me sledding. You taught me how to ride a bicycle, and how to drive a car, giving me independence. I felt your trust when you let me drive to school.

When I wanted to smoke as a teenager, you wanted to be sure I learned correctly, so you bought a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and said smoke in the house. I choked the first time I tried to inhale. That made you grin although you tried not to show it.

After I missed the college bus back to Oneonta, you walked with me through a blizzard to Scarsdale train station, and then rode with me to New York City so I could catch a bus to campus. A five-plus-hour trip from Port Authority.

There were pictures, lots of pictures, of family, vacations, tailgating parties. And then Spence and I took pictures of you sleeping. We kids thought it was funny, topped only by the time we put a tape recorder next to you while you were snoring. You thought it was funny, too.

The summer before your first stroke, nearly 10 years ago, you and mom wanted to go to Woodstock. So off we went. I have a picture of you standing on the balcony of the Woodstock Playhouse, happy to be with each other, smiling at the sun.

Daddy, you were a peacemaker with people at work, and friends, and you tried to do this within our family. An eternal optimist, you gave it your best, yet life isn’t always fair. You were positive even when things didn’t go the way you planned.

A few people said you’d be watching us from the moment you passed, and one cousin said you’d be upset to see us grieve. It’s OK, Daddy, I told you. That last week in the hospital, I knew you wanted to leave, and were getting ready. And like you took care of us, you wanted to help me with this, too.

You did, Daddy. Except I would never be ready.

When you looked at me during week before last, you questioned with your eyes, and I said it’s OK to leave, do what you want, that mom and I will be OK.

I hope your spirit is soaring in the great somewhere, and that you’re happy to see your childhood dog Buddy, and friends and other family. You had so many friends who loved you as I do, and we grieved with you when they left. It’ll be quite a party up there, Daddy, especially when you start telling jokes.

Last Thursday morning, after you left us, I bet — as you used to do after dates with mom — you lit a cigar, opened a window, and put on the radio for the ride home.

I hope you had a safe trip, Daddy. I love you.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

%d bloggers like this: