Just How Offensive is a Picture of Jesus?

It is my general policy not to Blog any of my personal views but due to a silly Facebook post, I felt compelled to write this. Please indulge me this one time. I promise it will not happen again.

Back in the days when I went to school, we had to study and learn about Egyptian Pharaohs (who believed that they were Gods), Nero, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi, and Golda Meir. The reason was because of their contributions, good or bad, to history and their effect on the world. You know who we didn’t have to learn about? …Jesus!

Yet Jesus is a very prominent historical figure who was a man of the people and killed by the “church leaders” of his time. He was an advocate for equality and peace. His quiet and peaceful movement called for turning the other cheek and people loving one another… very much like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And also Like Rev. King, he was killed because of it.

The other day I came across a post on Facebook that begged the question “Do you think a picture of Jesus Christ belongs in a public school?” The apparent reason for the enquiry seemed to stem from the local channel 12 news report about a school that took down a small framed photo rather than go to court over it. It was my first instinct to say a great big “NO” in response but then I started to really ponder the idea and what it represented in actuality.

The Picture in Question

The Picture in Question

In this day and age when kids are looking up to role models like Snooki, Kardashian’s, Honey BooBoo, and the Situation, just to name a tiny few (which by the way, America embraces wholeheartedly) why all the stress about a simple picture of Jesus? I know that in my school we had pictures of Gandhi, Buddha and Golda Meir. None of these people were American leaders and all three were also icons for their own respective religions. Yet no one seemed bothered by the images.

In a time when it’s “IN” to be selfish, greed is a common and excepted way of life, and sickos who believe that wiping out dozens of innocent lives with assault weapons at movie theaters and elementary schools will make them “go out in a blaze of glory,” is it really so bad to see an image of a gentle man of peace and love? After all, the school is not teaching about Jesus or Christianity it’s merely a picture on a wall in a hallway. I didn’t become Hindu because I saw a picture of Gandhi every day nor did I ever consider switching to Buddhism or Judaism because pictures of Buddha and Ms. Meir hung in my classroom. I did however admire all three and wanted to strive to be more like them. The point I am trying to make is; whether or not you believe that Jesus was the son of God is totally irrelevant. You do have to agree that he is a historic figure that represents peace, love and humanity; qualities that are becoming quite extinct in our modern world. For the record, I would not be the least bit offended by a picture of Mohammad or Moses hanging in a school either. Maybe the best way to settle the “big picture dilemma” would be to add pictures of Moses and Mohammad rather than remove Jesus. It may do kids good to have small reminders of kindness, leadership and love to reflect upon, if and when they even look up, as they rush through the busy, crowded hallway from class to class.

If on the other hand, the school was “preaching” about Jesus or Christianity, even though I am a devout Christian myself, I would be very upset. A public school is NOT a place for any religious teaching. Such teachings should come from your own individual churches, temples and quite frankly, your home.

When will America’s great offence with religion end? Americans fought to have prayer stopped in classrooms even though the prayers were non-sectarian. Even now, folks are fighting to remove the phrase “Under God” from our pledge of allegiance. I love when they ask, “whose God?” Silly me, I was under the assumption that there was only one!

Every piece of American money we handle says “In God We Trust.” Should we be rallying to have that removed from our currency? What about the Declaration of Independence? It says that “All men are ‘created’ equal. That they are endowed by their ‘Creator’ with certain unalienable rights.” What if you don’t believe in a creator? Should this now be removed from the document that explains the very notion that our country was founded upon? What if non-believers started to feel offended by any sign of religion? Should crosses, stars and windows that adorn our houses of worship be removed to keep all signs of religion inside the building as not to offend the atheists and agnostics who may have to pass them on public streets daily, or so none of us would be offended by symbols of religions other than our own? While we’re at it, why don’t we ban wearing jewelry in the form of crosses, stars and other iconic religious designs in public?

People, it’s a picture. There could be (and certainly are) a lot worse things for our youth to have to look at in a public building or any other place for that matter. I’d worry more about what they’re looking at on television if I were you. Just my humble opinion.

Until next time,

Don

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Excerpt from Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story)

Hi everyone. I thought I might just post another “teaser” exerpt from my soon to be finished novel, Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story). Hoping to take some time this spring and summer to get this book completed. Wish me luck!

Unforgettable

(Trudy’s Story)

Copyright 2011 by Donald Philip Massetti

All rights reserved. No part of this book or Blog may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a novel based on the true-life events of Gertrude Wilson- Massetti-Abate.

December 1948 

It was a positively perfect Christmas season.  Trudy could not have been happier.  She was living a life that she deemed ideal.  She was happily married and had a wonderful baby son.  Dukie was now two years old and this Christmas would be so much fun.  He understood what was going on and Trudy and Mario were eager to see the boy’s reaction to the gifts that “Santa” would leave behind for him. 

The city was alive with excitement.  Red, and green lights were strung in swag formation from one side of the street to the other.  Large candy cane shapes illuminated each lamppost and best of all, while they were out shopping, a gentle dusting of snow had started to fall.  Trudy held Mario by the arm as he pushed the baby carriage down the block.  Dukie was sleeping quietly, kept warm by several layers of blankets that were now topped with paper bags filled with Christmas presents and gift-wrap.  Trudy was smiling while Mario sang out loud as they strolled down the block “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful and since we’ve no place to go… let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”  

Trudy rested her head on her husbands shoulder.  “Oh Mario,” she began, “this is such a wonderful night.  I wish it could go on forever.” 

As the couple turned the corner, they noticed a large cardboard box by the curb.  As they got closer to it Trudy saw movement inside the box.  She brought it to Mario’s attention.  “Could it be that someone left a dog out on the corner like that?” he wondered.  

The wind was starting to pick-up and the snow was beginning to fall more steadily now. They approached the box and took a look inside it and to their surprise sat a young teenaged boy wearing an old coat.  He was covered in newspapers and huddled into one corner of the box.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Exactly who was this mystery boy? What affect will he have on Trudy and her family and why? What part will this chance meeting play in shaping Trudy’s life? Find out only in “Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story).”

The Happy Couple with Their New Baby

 

Thanks for reading!

Untill next time,

Don

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Okay It’s Time to Answer the Question, “Where the @#&% Have You Been?!”

Yes I have been missing in action for quite some time now; since Thanksgiving to be exact. We all have those moments when our life seems to spin out of control and it’ not of our own doing. So it was with me this winter.

I started the holiday season with the best of intentions, even getting a jump on cards and decorating. December 8th we were going to see the huge Christmas pageant held at the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale. It’s an extravaganza that [to me] outshines the show at Radio City (and I have seen them both). It takes over one thousand volunteers to pull it all together and the job they do is bar none! I highly recommend that anyone who finds themselves in the South Florida area during Christmas season do whatever it takes to see this show.

This year we were going to have a houseguest. Christy is a client, a busines partner, and most of all, a dear friend. James and I were really looking forward to sharing some of our Christmas traditions with her.

The day after the pageant, we were going to have a small open house with family (James’ sister was visiting as well) and a few close friends. As we were preparing for the event, James broke out in a sweat and in what seemed like mere moments, went from perfectly healthy (or so we thought) to full blown influenza! He was burning with fever, had the chills, was weak as a kitten and finally had to be sequestered to bed!

It was too late to call off the party, so Christy and I played the happy holiday hosts, giving everyone James’ regrets at not being able to join the celebration.

It was a late night for Christy and me, and by the time we fell into our respective beds, we were hoping that sleep would come fast and furiously. After all, the next morning Christy was catching a plane back to New Jersey. She had a class to teach that Monday evening. Neither of us expected to wake up feeling like we were about to die at any moment. Yes during the night, she and I had both come down with the same flu that knocked James off his feet the night before!

Of course Christy had to cancel her plans to travel home, heck she could barely get out of bed. As for me, I remember feeling that death would be a welcome relief. Okay, maybe I am being a little melodramatic, but if you were one of those stricken with this year’s awful and most deadly flu in decades, you know exactly what I mean! Still, with Christy out of commission and James almost unable to lift his head off his pillow, someone had to go out and purchase cold and flu meds, juice, and soup, not to mention the fact that we have two puppies that had to be walked… five times a day!

Don’t ask me how, but I managed to drag my butt out of bed and do this for the first two days on my own. By the third day, James had regained some strength and was able to alternate the dogs’ walks with me. After a few days, he and Christy both felt… I can’t say “well” or even “better” for that matter; but I will say stronger. Christy, who must have been dying to be in the comfort of her own bed, was able to book a flight back home. As she and James got stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker. I tried to talk myself out of it, even thinking that I may be feeling so weak because with James on the mend I was somehow allowing it for myself. It was no use, I felt weaker than I had felt since I was hospitalized with hepatitis over a dozen years ago. I had even passed out on my way back to bed from the bathroom and woke up on the floor to Theo licking my face. There was nothing left to do so I changed the sheets in the guestroom and bunked in there as not to sabotage James’ recovery process.

Two days later, he went out very early in the morning to walk one of the dogs. I tried to lift myself out of bed and found that each time I so much as tried to hold my head up, I would feel as though I were about to pass out again. That’s when it dawned on me; I was dehydrated. I most likely brought it on myself by not allowing myself to rest enough when I was first stricken. I needed to go to the emergency room to get placed on an I V as soon as possible. I was not going to be able to drink myself back into hydration at this stage of the game.

As James literally was dragging me across the room over his shoulder to get me to the car, our phone began to ring. A call before 6:00 AM could never be good news. James set me down into a chair and picked up the phone. It was my sister Maureen. She was calling us from a different hospital close to where she and my father live. My dad had suffered a stroke and was taken there by the EMS.

James explained to Maureen that he was on his way to St. Mary’s with me and that with our bad flus; it would not be wise to visit my dad while he was trying to recover from a stroke. We would have to be in touch via texting this morning and then by phone until we became well enough not to risk my dad’s health.

I was given two I V bags of nourishment and released that evening. My dad on the other hand was going to need a procedure to mend a “space” that had grown between two chambers of his heart. The space was being blamed for the stroke, as it restricted blood flow to his brain. We all sat on pins and needles until at last, the news came. The procedure was a success and dad was expected to have a full recovery!

He was released in time for us to all celebrate Christmas as a family feeling we had our own Christmas miracle to be thankful for!

The week between Christmas and New Year’s was dedicated to work. Our event company, Dazzle Creative Events, was producing a New Year’s Eve blast for a client who has been throwing this annual celebration for many years with us. It’s a big job that requires putting a level, solid floor over a terraced area of sand and shrubs that leads down to the beach. It also requires tenting it along with extensive lighting and décor.

As we worked on this project, I felt a mild pain throughout my left arm. Finally after a successful party and the major teardown/load out, I was feeling enough of a stress in the arm to pay a visit to the ER (for the second time in two weeks) to have it checked out.

While the doctor and staff wanted to check my heart, I tried tirelessly to explain that it was not anything to do with my heart (I had even undergone an EKG two weeks prior when I was there for dehydration). Whatever the culprit was, I was certain it had nothing to do with my heart. My pleas fell upon deaf ears and I was admitted for a 48 hour heart test. I understand that given my family history (my biological father died of a heart attack at the age of 39) they did not want to take a chance. However two days later, I was given the good news that my heart was “strong as a bull.” So that Saturday evening they released me from St. Mary’s saying that the pain in my arm was most likely caused by sleeping on it funny and that I should just try to work it out.

As we entered our home, I was surprised to see that James had taken down all of the ornaments from our Christmas tree. He had also arranged for workers to come take down all of the outdoor lights to save me the work after my hospital scare. We were both tired and after a brief dog walking, we retired to bed for the night.

The follow morning the men arrived to take down the lights from our house. James headed off to Costco to do some shopping and I took all the lights off and disassembled our tree. Once that was complete, my next job was to place all of the heavy boxes of ornaments and lights on the shelf I had built over the garage door many years ago, to store them away until needed next year. After setting up the ladder, I came into the house for a glass of cold water. As I headed back towards the door that leads out to our garage, I was suddenly made aware of a song that was playing on the radio. It was the song “Who Knew” that I had blogged about a while ago. It’s one of two songs that my mother had never known but for my own reasons, they still remind me of her. I stayed inside the house to listen to the song all the way through, talking out loud to my mother asking if she was letting me know that she was here with me and perhaps was wishing me a happy New Year. Maybe she was telling me she was glad that I received a clean bill of health from the hospital? As the last few bars of the song played, I got up once again to head to the garage but to my surprise [and shock] my other song for my mom came on – literally back-to-back from the first one! Now I got a little more serious and asked out loud if there was a reason she was letting me know that she was with me. I no sooner got the words out when something extremely supernatural happened to me. Suddenly my left arm felt as though it had been slipped into a tight sleeve; like the kind from a diver’s wetsuit or something. My arm would not bend. Then a voice whispered into my right ear, “Call James now and tell him to come home. You need to go back to the ER. You have a blood clot!” The voice was nondescript and I cannot say it was my mothers or even if it were male or female. What I can tell you is that it was clear and real enough to make me do just that; call James with the news. He wasted no time in getting home and before long we found ourselves entering St. Mary’s once again. We didn’t even wait in the waiting room or sign-in. We went straight into the ER. The doctor and a couple of nurses from when I was there prior, seemed surprised to see me and asked me what I was doing back again so soon. Without hesitation I answered, “I have a blood clot somewhere on my left side. That’s what is wrong with my arm!” They seemed to roll their eyes in synchronization. The very looks on their faces exposed their thoughts, “Here we go again! Just what we needed, another hypochondriac with a self-diagnosis!”

When James saw their expressions he angrily demanded, “This man knows his body. If he says he has a blood clot you better damn well check him for one… now!”

We had to wait a while for the test. They needed to call someone to come in to do it, as there was no one there on Sunday morning to give an ultra sound/sonogram. But once the test was given, I no sooner was wheeled back into the ER from the ultra sound room when the doctor turned to me to say, “You have a blood clot alright, left clavicle.” As it turned out, if I had lifted the heavy boxes as I had planned, I would most likely had died from a sudden massive stroke or at the very least caused massive irreversible damage to my heart. It was the music that prevented me from going into the garage to lift the boxes. The strange voice in my ear telling me to call James is what brought me back here. Had my mother just save my life?

I was admitted and had to stay there until they could thin my blood. I needed my cumadin level to be somewhere between 2.0 and 3.0. I was only a one at the moment and it goes up in single point increments. In other words I was 10 increments away from the 2.0 that I needed as a minimum. Because my body has its own awesome immune system and works at clearing things up that seem wrong to it, they were having difficulty getting my blood to thin out. It seems as my blood thinned, my brain was aware that it was not at its normal thickness and would send messages to my body to “thicken” it up again. Finally after 12 days of medication and twice daily injections into my stomach of Lovenox, I reached the illusive 2.0 mark! I was released that afternoon with a Rx for 15 mgs of Cumadin and an appointment to be tested that Thursday at the hematologist office. I was happy to be home after what seemed to me to be almost the entire month of January in the hospital. My rejoicing was short lived however. When Thursday rolled around (three days after my release) I went to get tested only to find out that I was back to square one. It seems that St. Mary’s released me too soon. They should have kept me there to see where my levels would be once removed from the lovenox injections. They wanted me to go back in. I begged and pleaded, “Wasn’t there anything I could do on my own from home to solve the problem?” The hematologist finally agreed to let me stay home if I stayed in bed, and if they could get a lovenox prescription filled for me to inject into my stomach on my own twice a day. After four calls to different pharmacies, it didn’t look good but finally a couple of hours later the gal at the doctor’s office called me back. They were able to get me the lovenox from the department of health of all places! It took an additional two weeks of injections to get back on track but I am happy to report, that I have a perfect cumadin level of 2.5 and I no longer need the injections! My black and blue stomach was happy about that.

As for my clot, it will take at least six months to go away but I am pleased that I am on the mend. I promise to come back even stronger than before. Once I get the okay, I plan on joining the gym and getting back to my old self after a long, long health hiatus. Between crumbling bones, neuropathy, and myopathy, it’s been an uphill climb. Today I am thrilled to say that I feel as though I have reached the top of the mountain. It’s time to take a minute to enjoy the view and start the descend back to normalcy again.

PS Just an FYI, it seems the culprit that caused the blood clot was the dang IV from my dehydrating episode! Go figure?

The Author

Until next time,

Don

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At Thanksgiving, I am Grateful for Valuable Lessons I learn Each Day…

Each and every one of us has the power to impact other lives with no more than the simple little things we do. What a great gift indeed! It turns what we have… into all that we need, and then some. The humblest endeavors such as donating to your local food bank, picking up medication for an elderly neighbor, volunteering to serve a meal to people in need, spending time with a lonely shut-in, thanking a vet for their service to our nation or even dropping a quarter into that expired meter before the meter maid comes along, can change a fellow human being’s day, inspiring hope and love in the process. 

Sometimes it feels as though our world is spinning out of control but you can be the change it needs, one small good deed at a time. 

As I write this blog I cannot help but recall something that I witnessed in church one Sunday afternoon. A man came in and took a seat in the pew in front of James and me. He appeared to be homeless. His cothes were dishevaled, his hair was wild and he was unshaved. What’s more; his body shook and quaked as though he may have suffered from cerebral palsy (a possible explaination for his appearance). As others began to fill up the church, no one would take a seat next to the young man. Although he sat alone in the pew, he didn’t seem to notice or perhaps he had become immuned to the treatment. In any case, the fellow kept to himself and didn’t make a move when the greeter asked everyone to turn and introduce themselves to someone they did not know; a custom in our church to help encourage a sense of community. I am embarrassed to report, that I didn’t push the issue. 

The mass progressed and the young man followed along as best he could. Then it happened… it was time for the collection basket to come along. When the basket reached the newcomer, he placed it next to himself on the pew. My first reaction was that he desporatly needed the money inside, but soon my eyes teared as I futher observed him struggle, with his body shaking, he removed his wristwatch; the only thing of worth he wore. When he was finally able to free the watch from his arm, he dropped it into the collection basket and turned to pass the basket along to us. Part of me wanted to take the watch out and deposit more cash on his behalf, then return the timepiece to him after services. It was then I realized that there was no amount I could have put into that basket that could rival his genorosity. I knew in my heart that in the pureness of his action, laid the true spirit of stewardship and it would be wrong to take the selfless deed away from the youngman. 

As church let out, he disappeared into the crowd as though he were somehow magiclly transported out of sight. I hoped that he would return to Saint Ann’s Church so that I may actually introduce myself and get to know him. I searched for him for weeks on end but to date, I have never seen the young man again. I often wonder if he knows what a valuable lesson he taught me and how much he inspired me to become a better person. 

The funny thing was, I remember watching him and thinking that this poor unfortunate must desperately be in need of something that brought him into our church that day. The reality is, maybe it was I in need of something and God sent him into church to sit it front of me so that I may witness his action firsthand. 

So as you gather around the Thanksgiving table with your loved ones remember that it is you who can make a difference; not only in a person’s life but in our world. Without spending a penny, you have the ability to encourage, inspire, comfort and to love. We are God’s vessels and if each and every one of us does our small part; together we can, in Gandhi words, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

God bless you all and Happy Thanksgiving.

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How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

What the?????  I woke up this morning and went to the bathroom.  When I looked in the mirror some “old dude” with thinning gray hair and tired eyes was staring back at me.  It creeped me out until I realized… CRAP!  The old dude was me!!!!!!!  

Life’s greatest joke is that while you’re young, you think time marches ever so slowly… then when you realize it’s actually racing by, it’s too late! 

I read on Facebook that my cousin is getting ready for her 50th high school reunion. Fiftieth?  How can that be?  When did she even get to BE 50, let alone celebrate 50 years since a milestone in her life?  How’d that happen?  More importantly, WHEN did it happen?  I myself have reached an age where I’d love to go BACK to age 50…  When did THAT happen? 

I’ve been going through some old photos lately. I was a huge picture taker in my youth, capturing not only milestones and celebrations, but the simple moments in the day-to-day life of my family and friends. There was something about seeing those faded photographs of wonderful memories that quite literally, had my life passing before my eyes.  It has thus far been a very good life. Oh it has had its share of ups and downs but that’s what life is; a series of good and bad times.  It’s the lesson you learn from each experience that helps you to grow and become the person you are today.  The best part is; we are all constantly growing and evolving. The choice is ours, we can complain about the bad things that befall us and blame them for not becoming the person we know we should be… or, we can rise above the ashes to live an inspired life. 

Getting back to the photos; I worked on restoring several of them and shared them on my Facebook page.  The response they received was so heartwarming.  These tiny moments captured on film also sparked a joyful nostalgia for many others who have shared life’s path with me.  Though their comments, I could almost see the smiles on their faces. 

Yes, life does indeed move quickly.  Far more quickly than we realize, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take a moment to stop and smell the roses. It’s nice to reflect on the good that we’ve been blessed with. Being aware of the good in our past, will help us with our future. For if there is no other lesson we learn from life, we will always know that things will continue to change.  If we’re going through a bad time at the moment, we should take solace in the fact that one day (sooner than you think) this too will merely be a story from our past.

 I was especially touched by the wonderful things people posted about my mother.  Although she has been gone for nine years now, she is still remembered by those whom she touched as, “elegant,” “loving,” “beautiful inside and out” and as my cousin Marcia put it, Aunt Trudy had something amazingly different and special about her than anyone I have ever known.” There were dozens of comments about her and these were not by any means, all from her family, but from friends, neighbors, in-laws and just about anyone she had come in contact with during her 78 years on this earth.  I find that inspiring!  That’s how I would want to be remembered as well. 

So I say to all my young friends, nieces, and nephews; make good choices, be kind to others, love with all your heart, take care of your health and take time in your day to thank God for what He’s given you (seriously, five minutes of prayer to start and end your day). One day you will find that these things are all that truly matters.  In the end, a man is not judged by what he made… but by how much he loved and the way he touched others. That’s what they’ll remember.

Then…

and Now

Until next time,

Don

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Who’s Sorry Now?

Technology can make our life easier or when we depend upon it too much, can also make it frustrating and at times, even embarrassing. Many of us (I as the biggest offender) have learned to rely on “spell check” in our computers and “auto correct” for our cell phone texts. As if these options are not blessings enough, my phone now has voice command for my text messages. It’s really quite awesome, you simply touch the little microphone icon, speak your message and voila… in two seconds, voice command has it all typed out for you! Pretty nifty heh? Well it is when it understands what you’ve said, otherwise you can be sending a totally different message than the one you intended. Case in point; once when a friend asked me about a project I wanted to accomplish around the house, his text said, “you know if I were there, I would be glad to help you out.” What I intended to respond was, “If you were here, I would surly tackle it.” The answer he actually received (thanks to voice command) was, “if your wood was here, I would surely tickle it.” Talk about bringing your relationship to a whole new level quickly! Hahahaa…

I have been on both the sending and the receiving end of such texts, more often silly sounding than really embarrassing.  However recently, I sent THE text of all texts to my sister in New York. Allow me please to set the picture for you so that you can understand the reason for the text in the first place.

You see, for decades here in West Palm Beach there was a breakfast restaurant that had become quite a classic eatery within the community. Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen was known for their scrumptious menu and oversized portions. After something like 50 years, they sold the property they were on to CVS Drugs (naturally, we only have one on every other corner) and closed their doors forever. Shortly before they closed down, my sister Sharon and her husband Joe were here visiting and of course we made the pilgrimage to our favorite breakfast haunt. Sharon and Joe were in awe of the quaint restaurant and its old fashioned down home cooking. I remember that when our food arrived, we found it necessary to take photos of each plate as if it were a cover of some food magazine.

 Several months later, when they came for another visit and requested a trip to Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen, we had to break the bad news to them that sadly, Grandma Sarah’s was no more. Since that time we have gone out to breakfast together many, many times but still somehow our conversation always goes back to Grandma Sarah’s and how there will never be another one like that.

Well we recently found out that Grandma Sarah’s Kitchen is back!  They have reopened in another location and changed their name to simply Sarah’s Kitchen. The menu, staff (well a lot of them) and great food is all the same. James and I went there this weekend for breakfast and it was as wonderful as we remembered. So much so, that I felt it necessary to text my sister back in New York to share the good news. As we got into the car I took out my cell. That’s when I did it… sent out a text I had to call and explain (don’t ask me why I didn’t just call her in the first place). What I said into my phone was, “James and I are just pulling out of Grandma Sarah’s… They’re back!”

What was sent instead was, “James and I are pulling out of Grandma Sarah… bareback!” Clearly these are two very different messages and it painted such an absurd and freakish image that it became comical. Out of all the messages that I have let escape without proofing first, this one was the mother of all mistakes!

So here I sit; a guy who claims to be annoyed by the misuse of “I” over “me” and I just sent a perverted message to my sister! Perhaps I should learn to be as concerned about trusting auto correct and voice command as I am about simple grammar errors? After all, I would have far preferred my message to have said “James and me …” over, “pulled out of Grandma Sarah bareback!” Guess it was my turn to be humbled {{{blushing}}}.

Oh well, until next time,

Don

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They Are Called the “Greatest Generation” for a Reason…

The other day my sister had this story posted on facebook.  Whether or not the story is true isn’t really relevant.  The fact is; it COULD be.  Please read this touching story and see if it awakens something inside of you.

A sweet lesson on patience.
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly…
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds.  She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse…
‘Nothing,’ I said.
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life…
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have ever done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.  The End

Again, whether this story is true or not is of little importance.  What is important is its message.  We often forget that the elderly weren’t born that way. They had a whole life that led up to the moment that we finally met them.  They were children full of energy and promise, young adults about to embark on life’s path, newlyweds, and new parents.  They have lived through hard times and good, wartime and peace.  Their generation had changed the face of our nation and our world.  How dumb can we be NOT to take the time to sit and listen and learn from these jewels of humanity?

It’s the very reason I am writing the story of my mother’s life. I remember as I began to give her eulogy, I looked out onto the faces of the wonderful people in the chapel who came to her service.  I suddenly realized how sad it was that so many of them had never known her as anything more than an old, sick woman. I knew at that moment that her story had to be told; not only for my mother’s sake, but for all of those seniors from… the greatest generation.

Until next time,

Don

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What’s Wrong With Me?

I hate to be obnoxious, but I have a pet peeve that of late, has been driving me crazy.  It is not bad enough that we have totally bastardized the English language by removing whole words as if they’re simply too much trouble to say for example; Kentucky Fried Chicken is now officially KFC, extra virgin olive oil is EVOO, salt and pepper became S & P, and now even JC Penny’s department store has joined the band wagon with their new ads for “JCP.” Don’t even get me started on TTYL, OMG and TY. I have a theory that all this chaos started with IHOP, but that’s another blog. 

My literary peeve this time, is about a simple (yet common) grammatical error. It appears to me that no one seems to know when to say “me” over “I” when speaking. I’m not talking about any gangsta clown who thinks that he is too cool for school; I’m talking about news casters, talk show hosts, DJ’s, etc. 

This morning while reporting on the upcoming Katie Couric talk show that will be debuting this Monday; our local anchorman said to his co-anchor, “she’ll be taking on a lot of subjects that are important to you and I.” Seriously?  You and I? You call yourself an anchorman? 

People seem to fear the word “me.” Maybe it takes them back to their childhood when they would rush into the house to ask their mother, “Can me and my friend go to the movies?” only to have their mom correct them by saying, “my friend and I.” In that case, mom was right. It would be; “can my friend and I go to the movies” … well it actually SHOULD BE May my friend and I go to the movies?” but again, another blog. 

The rule is very simple; “I” is a nominative pronoun and is used as a subject of a sentence, while “me” is an objective pronoun and used as an object. If that sounds too confusing, try this easy rule of thumb; simply remove the second party from the sentence to see if “I” or “me” is correct. For instance:

“Would you like to join James and I for dinner?”

Now remove James:

“Would you like to join I for dinner?” See how that can’t work? Now try it this way:

“Would you like to join James and me for dinner?” Once you omit James, it would still be correct, “Would you like to join me for dinner?” 

I remember my mother explaining it to me this very same way. My response was, “who is going to take the time to run the whole sentence in their head before they speak? It would take forever to hold a conversation!” She laughed and reassured me that once I had it down, I wouldn’t be running it in my head first. It will just come naturally. “You will however,” she continued, “always be aware of the people who get it wrong because it will sound silly to you.” She was 100% right. James laughs at me now as I sit and watch television, correcting out loud as if I can be heard by the offender. I guess it’s my version of being an armchair quarterback!

 I don’t know why people are so afraid of the word “me.” Maybe they think it just sounds smarter to say “I” but honestly folks, a misused “I” can make the listener cringe just as much as hearing you say “aint.”

 To be fair, this is one of the most common mistakes in the English language and I have even heard British people make the same mistake. I must admit with a British accent, it is even more amplified. I guess that everyone with an English accent automatically sounds somehow smarter to us Americans, so an obvious grammar mistake is all the more shocking.

 Please don’t misunderstand me; I would be the last person on earth to stand up on a soapbox to preach the benefits of proper grammar. I don’t’ even know all the rules of grammar.  Heck, I never even finished high school! That said, if I a guy like me can know enough not to say, “a guy like I,” then can’t we expect as much from our television news casters?

 Whew!  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Me is going to sign off now LOL!

 Until next time,

Don

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At Long Last, My Book Has Been Released!

Well at long last, I have a moment to breathe! I have missed not being available to blog, but between all the traveling we’ve been doing for work, endless meetings, taking care of home and harth; not to mention two puppies [one who has been chronically ill since the day he came to love with us] there was not very much “me time” let alone blogging time.  In fact, I even missed my own release date for my children’s book, Donald and the New Baby!”

That said, I would like to formally share the official press release for my book, which is now available for purchase, nationwide.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

 

West Palm Beach author releases kids’ book nationwide

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – This week, West Palm Beach author Donald Massetti celebrates the nationwide release of his new children’s book, “Donald and the New Baby,” based on real-life events.

In the story, Little Donald has three sisters and dreams about having a brother. When his parents announce that his mom is going to have another baby, Donald gets very excited and starts to plan all sorts of fun things to do with a new little brother. But what if he gets a fourth sister? Young readers find out what happens next in this engaging tale.

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, direct from the publisher or by visiting barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com.

This is also an eLIVE title, meaning each book contains a code redeemable for a free audio book version from TatePublishing.com. eLIVE – Listen, Imagine, View, and Experience!

Mr. Massetti currently resides in West Palm Beach, Florida. This story is based on his own real-life childhood experiences with his youngest sister, Sharon Rose.

Click HERE  to order your copy and remember, this book makes a wonderful gift too!

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Thank you all so very much for your support and I hope you enjoy my lil’ story!

Until next time,

Don

 

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Introducing Theo!

Okay… so I was traveling and was going to be away for my birthday.  It was one of those trips where anything and everything that could go wrong did!

I was supposed to do a book reading and signing, but the books could not get to me on time.  Once that was canceled, I tried to get back home to spend my birthday with James but JetBlue wanted more money to change my ticket than it cost for the entire round-trip.

While waiting to see if an affordable seat would miraculously become available, I wrote a little blog about my 55th birthday… and then the rug was pulled out from under me.  I no sooner hit “post” on the blog when I suddenly received an email from James.  I knew he was up to something, as the subject of the email read “Ohhhh Pleeeeease!”  When I opened it up, there was a photo of a cute little ball of fur that he was looking to adopt.

Now I am not even going to try to act like I didn’t melt since you all found out what a soft touch I was with Buddy, however I did TRY to be strong.  I called him back and asked him if he had lost his mind since I left for my trip.  You see, Buddy was away at school becoming a certified service dog complete with three weeks of training.  “How,” I asked “is he going to retain what he learned if we allow a three month old puppy into the house that is too young to be trained?”  I sighed heavily and gave him an emphatic, “No way!  He’s not potty trained; he’s going to chew on furniture once he starts teething, yatta, yatta, yatta.”

I think my downfall was going back to look at the photo.  Forty five minutes later, I had James on the line and I told him to go ahead and pick up the pup.  After all, I was assured that he was only going to be about 13 pounds once fully grown.  I can handle 13 pounds of canine cutie.  And so just like that, we got a new puppy for my birthday.  I guess it is only a myth that wisdom comes with age.

After James took the puppy to the vet for a check-up, it turned out that he was already just shy of 12 pounds and he is only three months old, so much for being 13 pounds when he’s grown.  The vet said, and I quote, “His paws are like baseball mitts, he’s got a lot of growing to do!”

Then, just as if the universe was trying to send me a message to chill out, my laptop crashed, my cell phone crashed and my charger shorted out.  My sister’s house phone rang and when I answered it… IT went dead.  Heck, I simply pushed the “on” switch to her coffee pot and it stopped working!  I was then banned from touching anything that worked by electricity or batteries.

Well I got home the other day and this Teddy bear of a pooch has won my heart.  He’s fluffy, cuddly, soft, and gentle as the day is long.  I can’t help smiling every time I look at him.  What’s more, if I didn’t know better, I would swear that he and Buddy have had a secret doggie chat and I have been marked as the marshmallow of the family.  Or maybe it was James who told them I was a soft touch.  After all, his strategy was to have me name both the pooches.  Anyone knows that if you name them… you’ve got to keep them.

We are now a family of four.  In six weeks we doubled our size.  I am happy to report that Buddy’s training went very well and he is such a good boy.  He and I have training together for few day next week, as now I have to be trained as his handler.  Theo has never had an accident in the house [keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way] and as much as I don’t understand how this happened, who would I be kidding if I didn’t admit that I am glad it did?

Now please just shoot me if I become one of those people who put their pups on Christmas cards and tee shirts or heaven forbid, slap a “My Dog is Smarter than Your Honor Student” bumper sticker on my car.  But I don’t think any of you would fault me for having their picture on my coffee mug would you?

Theo in his car seat

Until next time,

Don

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