Father’s Day 2018

When it came time to hand out blessings, God surely moved me up to the front of the line. Father’s Day reminds me that I had two exceptional fathers; one who gave me life and another who made that life wonderful. Talk about remarkable dads, when my biological father, Mario, found out he was going to die, he set my dad (John Abate) up to become our new father. I can’t even imagine all that was going through his head, a man still in his thirties, awaiting a fatal heart attack to snatch his life away but taking the necessary steps to see that his wife and children will be loved and cared for after he was gone. That is truly unconditional love.

Furthermore, I can’t fathom the idea of a young bachelor stepping into another man’s shoes to become daddy to three children ranging in ages from 6-16. My dad, John, not only did that, but he taught us that it is not blood and DNA that makes a family a true family, it is caring, respect, selflessness, and above all, love.

I do believe with all my heart that when my time comes to be called home to God, the first thing I will do is thank him not only for the blessings of James and all of my wonderful family, but for going above and beyond with the two great men in my life that I have had the good fortune to be able to call “dad.”

Wishing all of the fathers around the world, and above in Heaven, a blessed and happy Father’s Day. Thank you for your sacrifices, your hard work, and your love. You are appreciated more than you can ever imagine.

 

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My biological father, Mario Massetti, with me    Christmas 1960. He passed away just days before Christmas of the following year.

 

Old Port Cove

John Abate, the man who became my dad, my inspiration, my hero and… my best friend.

Until next time,
Don

 

 

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Another Trudy Birthday…

Today would have been my mother’s 93rd birthday. Her outer beauty was only a hint of the true beauty that lay within her heart. Trudy was truly a “one-in-a-million” woman with a heart of gold, a quick wit, a contagious smile and an infinite well of interesting and comical life stories.

Mom 21 years old

Trudy 21-years old

 

For those that knew her, she was a true friend, a confidant and a comedian, as well as a sympathetic ear with a shoulder to cry on and arms always opened to embrace you with a hug of true love and compassion whenever you needed it. She had a unique kindness and an undying faith; not only in God, but in her family as well as her friends. She was just the right mix of smart and funny with a hint of naughty that made her a lot of fun and kept you on your toes. If you never had the opportunity to know her… all I can say is – it’s a shame, because you would have absolutely adored her!

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Trudy 35-years old

 

 

That said, if you happen to love anyone of her children, then you do also love her, as all that we are is directly related to who she was. Our wit was once hers, as is our kindness, love, supportiveness and generosity. I know that we, her children, even today almost fifteen years after her passing, still strive to live our lives in a way that would make her proud. There was something so rewarding about having the opportunity to make mom happy that it was almost more selfish than selfless.

 

Mom Bayside Purple Room

Trudy 47-years old

 

I don’t know how I would have navigated through life without the benefit of her wisdom and love. Nowadays, I call upon my mom in my prayers and still, she never fails me. Her presence is felt each and every day by all five of her surviving children, with amazing signs that quite frankly, defy explanation.

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Trudy 52-years old

 

To this day our mom is still our rock, comfort, teacher, and supporter. Her love transcends death and we actually never truly feel that she has left us. She is merely on a different plateau watching over and guiding us with the same great love and grace that she had in life.

 

Mommy Fish dress

Trudy 74-years old

 

Happy birthday, Mom. You lived your whole life for us, your children. Though you suffered through unfathomable pains and illness and unfair diseases for literally decades, you hardly complained and still always had a smile for all those who came your way. Thank you not only for giving us life, but for making it wonderful. I personally thank you for teaching me to be the man I am today. You were, are, and will always remain… unforgettable.

All my love, always from your son-your son

Donald XOX

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Thanks Mom

Throughout our lives, we experience many “coincedences” but there are times when we have to sit back, take it all in, and see if what we experience is a simple coincedence or a bleessing.

Earlier today I took the pups out for a walk. At this point in time, I have to take them out separately, as Theo’s current eye ulcer has him on medication that keeps the eye very dilated, making his eye extremely sensitive to light. I walk him first, he does his business rather quickly, allowing me to return him home without having to keep him outdoors, bothered by the bright sunlight, while continuing on with the long walk, which Buddy so enjoys taking.

As Buddy and I were nearing home from our neighborhood stroll, I was deep in thought about Theo, wondering how long it will be before this latest bout of unfortunate health will last. I couldn’t help thinking that he is a lot like my mother. I often kid that she and Theo were cast from the same mold, both beautiful, fluffy-haired blondes, plagued with endless medical issues. Also in keeping with my mother, Theo somehow manages to always be happy and uncomplaining through it all.

I began to silently pray to my mom, asking her to please watch over my little pup and help me to take the very best of care of him. As I did so, a small leaf fell from a tree that I was walking under, gently landing upon my shoulder. The craziest thing about it was that it was formed into a perfect little heart shape. I must admit, that it made me have to hold back a tear.

At this point, there are a few bits of information that you should know about.

First: My mother’s birthday was on the 11th of June while my dad’s birthday is on the 11th of January. I have always joked that if you added the sum of their two birthdays, you got my birthday, the 22nd! Because of this, whenever I see the clock reading 11:11, whether in the morning or the evening, I send a prayer out for my mother.

Secondly: Last night as I was color-coding Theo’s three medications (to help ensure I give him the correct medication at the correct time) I could not find another round sticker to mark the box of his most important salve, which I wanted to mark as “green.” Too tired to go on searching, I decided to use a little green “heart-shaped” sticker to mark that package.

Okay, back to my story… As I entered the house with Buddy, James told me that my alarm had gone off a few minutes ago, marking one of Theo’s medication times. I quickly went into my bedroom to retrieve the salve needed for Theo’s eye and when I grabbed the box, it was the medication marked by the small green heart! Astounded, I sat down a minute to allow the coincidence (?) to set in when I looked at the time and found that the clock read, 11:11!

Make of this story whatever you wish, but for me it was yet another sign that my mom, true to her dying words, is still watching over her family from above with the same brand of unconditional love and gentle caring that she had blessed us with all of her life. Thanks mom. I love you too.

Until next time,Don

Don

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Don’t Let Frustration Overshadow Your Blessings…

So I was waiting in the doctor’s office today sitting next to a young woman who was having some sort of smart-phone issue. She became quite upset by the momentary inconvenience it was causing her; apparently due to the connection in the building, she was unable to reply to a Facebook posting. Suddenly she shoved the phone into her handbag and sighed out loud with a great dramatic flair of frustration, “I hate my efen life!”

Well those of you who know me, know that I was as equally frustrated because I had to keep my mouth shut and mind my own business. I was burning to tell her that such a statement is an affront to God who for whatever his reason, had given her a life of privilege, which she obviously takes for granted.

All over the world there are countless numbers of people who would give their souls to trade places with her and have to live a life filled with her trivial problems.

She doesn’t have to worry how she will get the next meal into her children, who haven’t eaten in days. She does not have to trek barefoot for two days to stand on a line for another day (or more) in the baking sun to get a couple of buckets of water for her family, which by the way, they now have to haul back home!

She is sitting pretty, here in a doctor’s office, about to receive whatever medical attention she needs, while millions of people all over the world are watching in horror as their spouses and worse yet, their children, die of very curable diseases.

As people living in the United States, we may take for granted (myself included) just how blessed we truly are. We do not suffer hunger, although if we miss a meal, we exclaim, “I’m starving,” when in reality, we (thankfully) know nothing of starvation. We BUY water in bottles because we feel a strange need to partake in what we consider a luxury of better water than we have in our taps (which is a fallacy created by the companies making billions off this ridiculous purchase).We regularly see doctors, dentists, optometrists etc., when we are in need of them and forget that others worldwide are dying every minute from lack of medical treatment.

Before I get too preachy, a door I probably went through four or so paragraphs ago, I just want to say that it is okay to “take our lives for granted” every now and then. It’s a sign that things are quite good on a regular basis but please, for God’s sake, don’t cry out that you “hate” your life.

At times, frustration can be a bitter pill, but try to keep life in perspective. It will talk you off the ledge, if you let it.

 

Frustrated Businesswoman Tearing Out Hair

Frustration, it’s part of life!

 

If we took as much time reflecting on how good our life is, instead of focusing on the silly little things that leave us peeved, I promise you, you will be a much happier, more humbled person who appreciates each day as the gift that God intended it to be.

This whole thing reminds me of a song by Francesca Battistelli, “This Is The Stuff” Within a catchy tune, she sings out to God about life’s little frustrations and how we handle them, with lyrics that say:

“I lost my keys in the great unknown, and call me please ’cause I can’t find my phone. This is the stuff that drives me crazy, this is the stuff that’s getting to me lately. In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed, This is the stuff that gets under my skin, but I’ve gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing. Might not be what I would choose, but this the stuff You use.”

This Is The Stuff:

Thanks for reading my rant. I wish you all a day of peace and blessings beyond measure.

Until next time,

Don

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Made In 1957… And Built To Last!

When I turned thirty, it had absolutely no effect on my psyche what so ever; and why should it have? I was strong, healthy and for the first few years of my thirties, still being asked about (high) school! I felt that my whole life was ahead of me and the opportunities were infinite.

When I turned forty, it too was just another number to me. My body was in great physical shape inside and out. I liked the slight, subtle touch of grey that had begun to fleck my hair on the sides of my head, and even at forty-nine years old, while taking a routine stress test for an annual physical, I was asked by the stress test technician, if I’d like a job, touring the country, demonstrating the machine at medical fairs and conventions. I felt like a “Superman.”

I entered my fifties with the same optimism and enthusiasm as the decades that had proceeded. For goodness sake, at fifty-three years old, young (and quite fit) men at the gem were telling me that my body was their goal!

However sixty hardly carries all the same cheerful prospects that the 30’s, 40’s, and yes, even 50’s did. Lately I was chatting with a stranger in the market who asked almost childlike, “what’s the big deal, so we’re middle aged?” Middle aged nothing, I thought. Who the heck do you know who’s 120 years old?

There’s a reason I am being chased down by AARP and worse yet, hounded by insurance companies to make sure my “final expenses” will be covered. If that’s not bad enough, I receive weekly invitations to come and enjoy a free meal at various restaurants around my community to start “PLANING MY OWN FUNERAL” and I’m even being offered wonderful two-for-one deals on cemetery plots as well as discounts on cremation. This didn’t happened when I turned forty. Clearly I have been placed into a new demographic. One that, if you please, I’d rather not think about.

Sixty is apparently an age that etiquette deems to be socially acceptable for organizations to constantly remind one that they should start preparing now, because they are closer to death than they’ve ever been before. I get it; I have one foot in the grave, but if you don’t mind, I would like to still go on living until such time that the Grim Reaper actually grabs me by the throat and drags me into the hereafter, kicking and scratching all the way. Is that too much to ask?

As you can plainly see, 60 is not a friend of mine. I am not graciously embracing 60, tossing it around as just another number. I do appreciate that in actuality, I’m merely one day older than I was yesterday, but I also know that I need help from younger people with my “tech” problems, who snicker at me because I don’t use my smart phone for anything more than calls or photos. If I have to climb a ladder it is no longer done with the same quick sense of purpose and reckless abandon of my youth but instead rather cautiously, always aware that one wrong move can leave me with some badly broken bones, and I relish getting into bed by nine o’clock each night, as if I’m meeting an old dear friend. All this said, inside I feel every bit the same as I did when I was twenty-seven; it just seems to come with rather old packaging nowadays.

So sixty, I say to you, beware. I am not going to allow you to get the better of me. I may be older, but I didn’t reach this age without a multitude of struggles, each and every one of which, I conquered with sheer determination and stubbornness beyond compare. If you do however think you want to take me on, remember that you have been warned!

In fact, I’ve decided that I am not going to sit back and just “accept” 60 as my newly “assigned” number. From now on when someone asks me how old I am, I think I’ll simply answer, “five dozen years old!”

Jan, Don, and Maur 2

Celebrating 60 with two of my sisters

Until next time,
Don

 

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My Last Word On Last Man Standing

OMG! Has it actually come to this, we’re going to be led to believe that a TV show was canceled because the character on it has “right wing conservative” beliefs? It leads me to wonder, just how many people complaining even watch the show!

As a regular watcher of Last Man Standing and one who has been since the series began (until recently), I admit that the past two seasons have gotten stale and silly at best. I went from a guy who DVD’ed the show in case I should miss it, to “I don’t need to tape it; it’s no big deal if I miss it,” to searching other avenues aka Netflicks, etc., for something “good” to watch instead of Last Man.

The fact is that the show has ALWAYS been what it is, and ABC bought the show knowing so. They then ran it for SIX SEASONS, a truly excellent run for any TV show. Very, very few series have the staying power of an “All In The Family,” “Friends,” or “Law and Order.” Last Man, and the out-in-out horrible, poorly written, and poorly acted show, “Dr. Ken,” have both been put to pasture as ABC tries to revamp their Friday night, prime-time lineup with newer fresher shows for the upcoming fall season. In the meantime, the cast of Last Man Standing, will be enjoying the “really big money” as the show runs in syndication, bringing them all a heafty paycheck, without the effort of any work, for a long time to come. So your energies are better spent on starving children, war torn countries, and horrible, incurable diseases.

I wonder how many people who are fast to write ABC a letter about this silly and very imaginary issue have also written letters to congress demanding, healthier foods served to our children in school lunchrooms, or for that matter, to Ambassador Mr. Cui Tiankai to stop the annual torture and killing of innocent dogs in Yulin for a festival.

Let’s PLEASE STOP the political belly aching, especially on ludicrous issues like this, solely to make a point (or try to) and get on with a more productive and intelligent life once again. I for one really miss those days.
Until next time,

Don

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Will Someone Please Just Shoot Me?

There I was, minding my own business doing some work that needed attending to in our front yard. I was in a “Big Band” kind of mood so I had Pandora set to just such a station on my cell phone.

While I went about my work, happily singing along to Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo, a fellow who appeared to be about 30-32 years of age, pulls up in a small pick-up truck to ask me directions to “Curly Cut.” Delighted that this is indeed a street I know in this crazy maze of a development, I direct him around the corner.

After thanking me, the fellow decides to offer some unsolicited small-talk. Nodding his head toward the music he says, and I quote, “It’s great singing along to the songs of our youth”

Smiling I tell the guy that Chattanooga Choo Choo is from 1942. He smiles back and adds, “Cool, I bet it really takes ya back hah?”

Tilting my head in dog-like confusion, I repeat the year again, slowly this time making sure I emphasis the date lest he should think I said 1972. “This song is from nineteen FORTY two!”

“Wow,” he says in total astonishment, “That was like the World War Two days right?”

Thinking he has now seen the error of his ways, I say, “Yes, it absolutely was,” only to have him ask me if I fought in the  freakin’ war!

Now anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a man who would avoid conflict at all costs. That said; it was evident that diplomacy was getting me nowhere. In total disbelief, I explain to the young man (who clearly has trouble with arithmetic) that 1942 was seventy-five years ago.

All he did was shake his head and say (and once again I quote) “I sure hope that I can remember the words to songs seventy five years from now!”

I know that the past seven years or so have not been kind to me. My face shows the stress of a man who suffers chronic pain from both nerve damage and disintegrating bones, but do I actually look thirty-three years my senior? Could ANYONE ever look thirty-three years older than they are?

Frustrated I tell the young man, “you do realize that even if I were fresh out of high school in 1942 it would make me 93 years old today?”

“You’re kidding?” he questions more amazed than before. “That’s awesome!”

Then with a smile and a wave, off he went to do whatever he was going to do on Curly Cut, leaving me to ponder whether he thought I looked really, Really, REALLY bad for 60 or that he is going to go home tonight and tell his wife that he met the finest specimen of a 93 year old that ever lived…I’m hoping for the latter.

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Your Truly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

Don

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