Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
Over the past year and a half, we’ve been hearing a lot about healthcare workers being heroes. Frankly, I never thought they were anything less. One stint in a hospital is enough to see the light.
Last November, my mother was in the hospital for an extended stay. Unfortunately for everyone, so was the patient a few doors down. I think I’ll call him Pita (pain in the ass).
As if things weren’t bad enough with COVID on the rise once again, the hospital reaching total capacity, and untrained me taking care of one too many Code Browns, use your imagination folks, to count, we ALL had to deal with Pita. Trust me; I earned a cape.
On one quiet Saturday afternoon, mom was resting, and I was reading when we were interrupted by a commotion coming from the hallway. Enough to stop the cleaning woman in her tracks right outside our door.
I looked at the cleaning woman with a WTF glare, and she responded with a WTFK’s. Facial expressions speak volumes.
Now mom was wide awake, wondering what was going on. All we could hear was a loud voice insisting at the top of his lungs to see his girlfriend. I peeked out the door to see a 6’4′ bare assed sock-wearing hands flailing big mouth trying to escape. Superpowers would come in handy.
Without missing a beat, my mom says GIRLFRIEND?! and we both started laughing. It was like that’s all she heard.
The cleaning woman came into the room laughing and said, “she’s on vacation.” Now, we are howling. Mom chimes in with, “she’s not coming back.” The only thing missing was popcorn.
While we were acting like three school girls laughing at all the things the girlfriend probably did after dropping Pita at the hospital entrance, he was making vulgar remarks to the nurses about their bodies. He was a real charmer.
As security arrived, I saw one of the nurses filling up a syringe, smiling ear to ear. Pita was going down!
Mom couldn’t get out of bed, so Juanita and I gave her a play-by-play of the injection. “They’re going to need a big one,” she said. The giggles continued.
Finally, silence took over, and the nurses went back to their duties as if Pita never existed. Night night.
Juanita stayed a little longer to talk to mom about her age, sense of humor, and unruly men. This was the best medicine mom received.
Remember, heroes cross our paths every day, some with needles, some with mops, but all serving a purpose. It’s important to recognize the good in everyone as we … Enjoy the Ride!
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to pay homage to my mother … Venita. My mother is the oldest of three children born to her Italian immigrant parents Vincenzo Torcini and Maria/Mary Landini in 1926.
Vincenzo left her life at 4 years old, shortly after the Great Depression entered. This left her mother faced with the burden of raising her young children alone, without any means to do so. After this abandonment, she suffered from what would most likely be considered a nervous breakdown today. No welfare, free housing or valium for Mary.
Years later my mother was told that the apartment they were living in had caught fire and her mother was under the impression that the children perished. That pushed her over the edge and lead her to the breakdown.
Scenarios like this were not uncommon especially amongst immigrant families during the Great Depression. Many of them could not find work to support their families, because they could not speak English. This frustration, piled on top of economic pressures led to abandonment and in some cases suicide.
This tragic set of circumstances left my mother and her siblings in the care of the Catholic Charities in Philadelphia. They were placed in an orphanage, followed by what was called a Shelter. This was emergency lodging that was set up in order accommodate all of the families that had become homeless following the Depression. Some were run privately and were set up to serve cases like that of my mother’s family. These children needed homes until their parents were able to support them again.
My mother and her brother, who were only 14 months apart, were separately placed into homes. Unfortunately, their sister and youngest of the three, died of malnutrition while waiting for placement. The children were taken to several different homes before settling into somewhat permanent residences. My uncle was raised by an Italian family in South Philadelphia, while my mother was raised by an Irish woman in North Philadelphia. To this day my mother refers to her as “the Irish woman who raised me.” She rarely refers to her by name, which was Ellen O’Malley. Ellen was a widow at a very young age, never had children of her own and never re-married. It was her single lifestyle that allowed her to open her home to these children. Giving children to single women..now that’s a switch.
Ellen O’Malley a/k/a “Auntie” cared for my mother from the time she was 7 years old until she was 16. There were other children placed during her time with “Auntie,” however they had parents that remained in their lives with weekly visitations. These children were just waiting for their parents to get work to rebuild their lives, but this was not the case for my mom. Her father never did return, and her mother remained at the hospital until her death. This left my mother to just wait, wonder and hope.
Auntie did the best she could to raise her. However, she did not express herself in a maternal manner. This is understandable since the other children had mothers in their lives and she most likely didn’t want to impose.
To this day when my mother talks to me about her own mother, I can hear the yearning of unanswered questions in her tone.
At 85 years old she is still left to wonder if her face resembles that of her mother or father. No pictures, no trinkets, no memories of her own and surprisingly…not one ounce of resentment.
What is her secret? How did my mother raise (4) children of her own without ever experiencing the love and nurturing of her own mother?
I have to conclude … Momma, you were born this way. She is a humble and loving person who gained strength from her hardship that resonates into the enormous love she has for her own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The reason I chose the title for this Blog is because my mother Venita enjoys Lady Gaga. You heard me…the same day the photo above was taken “Just Dance” came on the radio. My mom asked “Is this Lady Gaga? I saw her on The View in the cutest black and white outfit. If I were young, I would have that dress.” This was followed by “she’s a smart girl.” I was so grateful she wasn’t referring to the Meat Dress.
At 85 she is a hip hat wearing, organic eating, interesting, funny, strong Lady Gaga loving Democrat, who enjoys going to the movies, solving crossword puzzles, dropping hilarious one-liners and LOVING her family with all her heart. But most of all … she is my Mom. Enjoy the Ride!