Category: Family, Friends and Memories


Who remembers going for a Sunday drive?

A treasured memory of mine from when I was a young girl, was going for a Sunday drive after our traditional early afternoon family dinner of macaroni and meatballs. A celebrated family gathering of delicious flavors, and of varied conversations that often included stories, laughter, and debate. After which, my mother often would say to my father, “Freddie, let’s take a ride.”

It was the 1970’s. The sun appeared to shine differently, magically-brighter. Entering through glass panes, it landed on every article in the room with beams of hope, and a subtle but distinct at-ease sense that lingered in the air. It traveled through one’s spirit—a hopefulness down to the feet infused with innocent joy eager to move throughout the day. There’s never been more distinct sunshine. Not for me.

I’d join my parents in my father’s Pontiac for a drive. I was the youngest of seven children. Older siblings opted-out with their own agendas. Sometimes, but not always, my sister, Joanie, and brother, Freddy, would take a drive. The three of us were closest in age in what my father liked to call his “second family.” The split between his seven children—the first and the youngest with eighteen years between them. I can distinctly recall thinking to myself about my oldest brother, “but who is this guy?” when he would visit from college on sporadic weekends, then try to administer authority over me at the ages of three and four years old.

Sunday drives were either aimless in nature in which nine out of ten times we’d stop for Carvel ice cream, because second to my mother’s saying, “Freddie, let’s take a ride,” she’d say, “Let’s get ice cream.” I was in love with all of my mom’s ideas. I also loved a vanilla-chocolate twist on a cone with colored sprinkles. Other times, when the drive wasn’t merely to get out of the house routine and to enjoy a mild breeze through a partly rolled down window while taking in the Long Island sights, it would include visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We’d alternate Sundays, between rides with no destiny but ice cream, to going to dad’s family in the Bronx, then to mom’s family in Brooklyn. Talk about the best of worlds (and food!)

Importantly, I must not forget to include the occasional drive, after relentless pleading on my part, to Palisade’s Amusement Park in New Jersey. “Daddy, can we go to Palisade’s Park today? You said, maybe last week. It’s this week. Can we go, please? Daddy, Palisade’s Park, today, please, the rides… I can chuckle to myself now when I recall my mother’s not so subtle cringing, or eye-rolling upon seeing their commercial air on television.

In Brooklyn, my maternal grandparents lived in a beautiful brownstone that included their own Italian specialty store. Imagine the bread, tomatoes, and sandwiches for a few things. You could enter the store from their kitchen through a heavy Dutch door. Sometimes, my grandmother would open the top portion of the door, and I enjoyed leaning onto the bottom half to peer into the store. I remember my grandfather coming home from a long day of work down a hallway and through that door on nights when I’d sleepover. He always took the time to play with me and my dolls at the dining table. His cigar burned, and there was a nearby jug of homemade red wine that sat on a sparkling Formica table with silver-edging, surrounded by six vinyl chairs. Later, my grandmother would make me comfortable on a pull-out couch to sleep with a blush-colored satin comforter.

In the morning, the backdoor to the courtyard was opened to allow a refreshing breeze. My grandmother nearby in her railroad-style kitchen, which was really part of the whole room. There was a dinged-up large aluminum coffee pot that sat on the stovetop with freshly percolated coffee at all times of the day. I remember her cutting fresh vegetables and the sizzling of meat in a pot filled with olive oil. She was robust in an apron that went over her head and tied around her back.

A black buzzer was attached to the backdoor molding that connected with the apartment above where my Aunt Marion and Uncle Charlie lived with their children, my cousins. They would buzz each other when they needed to speak and communicate by talking outside from one floor to the other. I loved going between each apartment up the grand staircase in the entryway with its gorgeous mahogany railing. When you first entered the home, my grandparent’s German Shephard, Bart, would jump up for a kiss and pat on the head before my grandmother would tell him, “Va bene, basta. Bravo ragazzo. Vai a sederti.” (Okay, enough. Good boy. Go sit down.) My mother grew up in this brownstone with her brother Vincent, and two sisters, Catherine and Marion.

The Bronx. A different story. A different dialect. My maternal grandparents did not even believe that my father was Italian when they first met him with his Sicilian slang. He lived in Harlem and shined shoes to help my grandmother put food on the table. He would speak to me about the importance of eating my potato skins, and never to throw anything out just because it’s burned. His sisters were Lucy (my godmother), Josie, and Mary. His brothers were Tony, Vincent, and Sammy. My father told me of how he swam in the East River and played stickball. He was hit by a car three separate times!

I never met my paternal grandmother. She died the year I was born. Catarina was her name. She was dark-haired, and quite tall compared to my grandfather that stood only 5’1″. My grandfather, more often referred to as Pop-Pisciotta, or Grandpa-Benny was not one to be reckoned with. Despite his height, his stature was like that of a sailor. Think Popeye. He had thin lips and a sturdy nose that took a turn to the left. He was a bricklayer, tough as nails, and as he aged into his nineties, my father, uncles, and cousins would laugh in amazement as he’d start fights with neighbors half his age over one thing or another. One time, when he was elderly, he grabbed a bat and went after a younger tough guy wising-off to him, and the man in total disbelief, fear, and respect, backed-off.

Going to the Bronx was more about visiting aunts and uncles. Grandpa Benny lived with Uncle Sammy and Aunt Mela. My father’s family were seven siblings all together, and there was no shortage of first cousins, each of them with jovial personalities. Our aunts and uncles were great fun and big love. The Sunday drive over the Throgs Neck Bridge was one that I always looked forward to, watching all of the sailboats gather on the Long Island Sound.

Though we had already eaten an earlier dinner, once we arrived, the cold-cuts would immediately be placed onto the table. Everyone enjoyed sandwiches, my favorite was always Genoa Salami, followed by fruit, nuts, and sweet desserts. My aunt Mela had the voice and smile of an angel with magnetic blue eyes when she asked with the warmest sincerity if she could get you anything else. All of the aunts and my mother were brilliant at making everyone feel nurtured. The men were strong and steadfast. There were voices across the table speaking in the Bronx-twang, which is what I like to call it, but soft, and refined by Italian family love. The kids played together in another room while the women talked and drank coffee, and the men played cards.

The ride home on a Sunday was always contented. On the way home from Brooklyn, the Bronx, a Long Island drive to get ice cream, and even the occasional one from Palisades Park, it was quiet and reflective. There was easy gratitude in knowing we were rich in what we shared together.

Sometimes, I’d let my eyes give into their heaviness and close on the way home as the road hummed beneath us. I knew my father would carry me inside, and I’d rest my head on his shoulder. I knew I’d sleep comfortably in my bed, with my sisters and brothers nearby, and parents that loved all of us. I knew when I got out of bed in the morning, I’d smell something tantalizing that my mother was preparing in the kitchen. I could count on, without doubt, feeling loved—magical sunshine, even on a rainy day.

Today, at times when life is painfully still, lacking luster, and there’s waiting, desiring something more, or different, I like to recall the sunshine of the 1970s, even if it’s only in my mind, it carries my heart through hardship. Sometimes in a brief moment, I catch a glimmer of yesterday that feels profoundly real today, and I imagine I can actually step inside of that car for a drive and see them all once again.

Until then,

Perhaps someday in the liveliest sunshine of Heaven—

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2020 All Rights Reserved

 

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2020 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

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Eileen Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

This is a short story about life sometimes being painfully long, and other times abruptly short. It’s about fleeting-time, death, living day-to-day, year-to-year -the struggles, triumphs, and the people that we love, creating memories and losing them, falling-apart, and finding yourself. It tells of new friends, old places, and the need for trusting strangers. Throughout, there is music, dance, laughter, and madness, sometimes waiting too long-running out of time, broken hearts, and romance. Included are the moon, the sun, the sea, that has often saved us in our coming and going in fear and fury, desperately holding on and simultaneously letting go.

When once we were young and beautiful now growing-old and free – the tears, regret, joy, and walking with God in love. Sometimes you must trust in something, even a dream, each day while losing hope until there’s a miracle.

Finally, it’s about choices – good, bad, and suddenly having none.

Together we are here as if a point on a map has found us equally lost.

Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

I am in between love, without life’s old shine, missing a best friend, walking, not necessarily feeling the steps beneath my feet that take me through the day. When sleeping has become the only sanctity, and you end up in an uncomfortable bed — the irony.

Eileen is a woman I’ve come to know. Alzheimer’s is her afflicting disease. We share a strong sense of humor, punching our way through life’s struggles, laughing at ourselves, jointly crying over a broken heart.

In many ways, in different circumstances, two people can find a new foundation to keep them both from sinking.

I cry almost daily for a warm hug that never comes, for a listening ear that understands and won’t judge. I’d like to be able to trust someone. Eileen cries to know how things changed and if she could possibly get back to where she belongs, feeling happy. We agree with finding happiness.

From my first poetry book, The Sum of Something Meaningful

This story is a reflection of you, out there, and of me and Eileen, and what it takes to survive nature’s cruelty. What if anything, is the point? Do love and pain exist as experiences in and of themselves that we merely host like the sky does the stars? Or is each step, day, year, a way closer to healing…

For the past year and a half, I’ve been caretaking for Eileen. I thought I was ready because my mother died from Alzheimer’s, and I had witnessed first-hand the violent storm. During those years, I was losing a caretaker—heart of the home, a warm hug from the person that could always make anything better. I was missing her recipes, stories, clear-eyes with no confusion, advice, unwavering love, her kiss goodnight that I’d collect while she said her prayers, knowing they always included me, and it made me feel much safer in the world, that and the smell of Pond’s cream on her soft cheek.

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My Mother Francesca

Eileen is my friend. I’ve come to know her well, despite the times she does not recognize herself. Unlike the experience with my mother, today, a mature woman, I am learning the soul and heart of another woman. I only wish I could have understood my mom this way, those days, but instead, I later found a gentle glimpse of her romantic heart in her love letters to my father. I have learned how much like her I am.

Letter to my Dad Overseas

Eileen also has love letters from a man she recalls when she was young. Jimmy Wells sung of her praises. From photographs, she has shared with me; beauty did not miss her. Even today, Eileen maintains the same spirit and fights to keep herself!

Young Eileen

Putting on her lipstick with an aching heart, she views the picture of her beloved late husband, Sonny, on the bedroom chest-of-draws. Confused and sad, she wonders why he doesn’t come around anymore? Initially, I explained he was in Heaven. It pained me to see her become angry or hurt, thinking he’d left. Now, she no longer understands the concept of dying the same way she doesn’t always recognize that she’s home.

Sonny and Eileen

“Where is my father,” she asks – A large red STOP sign taped to the front door and an alarm that sounds if she tries to leave to find her way home to the Bronx.

Eileen 2019 – Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

I do a lot of distracting these days – Let’s get dressed-up nicely before we go!

We look for people from the old days on the boardwalk and cope with anger when they don’t show. Often, we go to the nearby beach. There is peace at the ocean hard to find anywhere else. It has a quiet knowledge of everything. We feel simultaneously small and lucky to tread on the sand or boards beneath our feet. The sun offers brilliance on a blue-sky day or peeking through stern-grey clouds. We don’t have to grasp for words to speak but listen to the waves crash and seagulls soaring above. It’s enough, and there’s comfort in that.

Long Beach NY Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

In her last year of life, my mother continuously stated I want to go home! To watch my father make her comfortable, kiss her hand with love, and carry the burden of her being lost from him, broke my heart. I can only imagine the pain and fear of feeling you’re unable to find your home, beneath a roof or in someone’s heart, and oddly enough today, I recognize this feeling in my loneliness. I witness Eileen trying to find her way, and I know sincerely a soul is a home no walls can ever confine but invite a willingness to stay, yes.

My Father and Mother

Eileen and I listen to Frankie Avalon sing his hit songs, Why, Venus, and Beauty School Dropout. Eileen is back in time, young, beautiful, gushing over boys from school, and she laughs out loud while telling me how her mother would tease her, mimicking her young daughter’s behavior. In those moments, she is entirely comforted. Then we take a walk around the corner to find people from that time. They may be near if only we believe.

Recently after taking a couple of days off over two weeks, then returning to work with Eileen, she had declined. She saw me differently. That day I was her enemy. In her words, disgusting and horrible. According to her, I’d stolen her sister and children and now was after her memories. No, Eileen! It’s me, remember? No, she doesn’t. Suddenly, a sinking selfish-sadness came upon me. Everything I did is for nothing!

Then an epiphany – I realize on some level, not only with Eileen but my other relationships, love is meant to save you and in turn, myself. Could I be this powerful, and if I love you enough, if I give more than I can bear, will you stay and remember me? Can we build a forever home?

Long Beach NY - Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

We try to understand this life, turn to God, talk about faith. I admit I’ve turned away momentarily but because I cannot remain that angry, or deny all that is purely magnificent in this world, return. I convince Eileen to return.

Through profound points of personal sadnesses, we can find ourselves on a random Friday suddenly lifted by purple light cast across the sky, and a racing flock of Sandpipers.

We all transition through much over our lifetimes. All of us connect. All of us have our turn to live, to love, to explore, to be brave, to suffer, to celebrate, to be lost, to be found, to challenge the truth, to be angry, to fight for what we feel is right, to walk away, to create, and to die. But I don’t believe we really die. We merely transition our energy into another form. I think we find each other over and over, and that time is only an illusion. Love and pain will see us again.

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Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

Lately, Eileen and I dance. We listen to the music that returns a time when everyone we know was alive. Isn’t it brilliant the senses remember so well they can transcend? Close your eyes; we’re there.

Eileen and I developed a second language of gibberish. How it makes us laugh to make no sense at all and at the same time, understand – that we don’t need to.

Over many meals and walks together, we’ve learned of each other’s families, friends, lovers, our dislikes and likes, the disappointments, and been plain silly. We’ve balanced the most serious from medical test results to the simplest, enjoying a chocolate-malted.

She has cried to me about her fears, and I won’t forget. Life, people, nature, time, leave imprints.

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Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

Eileen and I are an example of finding what we need at the right time until the next time we need something different, more or less. We’re an example of our human experiences, the frailty and strength, the kindness we all need, and love most importantly.

A Bench Along Our Way

A Bench of Someone’s Memorial along our Way – The Written Message So True

I miss a companion and have become one to another. I recognize we all portray what we need most, and in that, I don’t think anyone of us can truly ever be lost. We only need someone to help us remember, to remind us to live from that most profound part of our soul that doesn’t need explanation; just being is enough.

(YEARS FROM NOW, on the beach, I’m confident, Eileen, will let me know she’s reunited with her, Sonny, and dancing into the Mystic, like my Mom and Dad (Fred and Frances) where someday I’ll join them with a love of my own.​

Long Beach NY 2019 Photograph Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIA PISCIOTTA-DELLAPORTE at Long Beach, NY 2019

 

 

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—The days we were fearless and brilliant.

Friend, I can never grow old with you, forever young, in my heart. I love you. Through sounds of rock-n’-roll remember:

Maybe it was a conversation. A Chevy racing anywhere but here! Embracing madness we believed could kill, or save us…A confident moon in July on long summer nights that melted into our souls. The street walked a thousand times; Pair of jeans that knew your name – bandana in your pocket. Late-night pizza. A stale warm, Michelob, shared like gold, the Marlboro cigarette from behind your ear, asking for a light.

We dreamt while awake, lived with no regrets. Had each other’s backs as natural as breathing.

Today, our pieces have fallen perfectly into place – collages of the lives we formed.

Some days are furious twisters, funnels collecting tomorrows and taking them for granted. They hit us in the face with yesterdays, memories that love and hate us—Either way, we keep them: Scream holy hell with regret, or smile gladly for it happened!

In the weather of seasons, city traffic, daily grind, country blues, ups, downs – the pain, pondering, emptiness or joy, is the same here as there, I promise, as is the beauty of our many new layers.

No matter what road traveled the lyrics remain the same, and ours to sing with whomever we choose. Free—Jesus Christ, we could go anywhere!

Forever intermingled, a spiral finds a way to land (or fall-apart) together precisely.

You’ll find us, me, him, her, all, waiting in laughter and love to comfortably make you at home. No secrets or lies, and you’ll know confidently it’s where you belong.

Our collected treasures of a lifetime, and the extensions in love that we’ve added to them – to live, dream, celebrate, die, to remember the places and people that love us most, the ones that know our hearts, and helped to build our souls.

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2016 All Rights Reserved

(This poem was inspired by my friend, Joe, and all of my closest friends through the turbulent teenage years, to young adulthood, and that will forever remain in my heart.  Wherever life takes us, we know those that will always shine a light for the other.) 

 

 

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We are moving-up, not necessarily away from meeting downtown where you’ll pass by a brownstone home. Its rich corner history—an ever-present glow to its muted exterior, bulky-banister, and steps that capture ice exceptionally well in winter. Spring and summer—they grow the perfect blend of street noise along with perky green leaves on bows of hundred-year-old trees. Voices come alive like jazz along a cheerful stroll to Court Street for gelato. Shadows—like maps with stories—line the street in kaleidoscope fashion, cast from a Brooklyn sun, bouncing-off of rooftops through sturdy branches.

Grandparents lived here once upon a time, speaking in Sicilian dialect; Aunts and uncles too, one up, one down, a buzzer between, and a holler from the back window.

The kids hand-hit a Spalding against the home’s lowest level. A spray of the hose across hot cement on each other’s red cheeks and sweated hair brought some relief on ninety-five degree July days.

The park across the street was empty, capturing heat like fire on a metal slide and jungle bars. Garden tomatoes nevertheless smiled perfectly plump while dangling from their vines.

An old lady on the ground level screamed—one hand rose with four fingers meeting her thumb as if to catch a fly in midair, “Rotten kids! Goa to school, eh? Learn a somethin’ would-ya!” (She’s got some time until September when she’ll miss them) Later she’ll worry about them overheating and offer freshly made lemon-aid with Anisette cookies.

Oh, how the children loved to laugh at her when she was riled-up, but not so much that it could be considered disrespectful. They knew better! Besides, her bluish-white hair offered a sense of security and comfort. Sometimes, Peppina, that was her name showed a picture of her late husband, Jimmy. A bricklayer.  “He died too young — a good man.” Her heart can never heal. So, forever, she wears a black dress.

“Adesso, Sta ‘zitto! Sto cercando di riposare. Sono già stanco di questa vita.”  She’d abruptly utter when her loneliness became too evident. So the children would leave Peppina to rest, and hit the streets for some summer adventure.

Inside, percolated coffee was always hot on the stove. A gentle hint of garlic remained in the air regularly sautéed in a cast-iron pot. Sweet tomato pastes sizzled every Sunday. Clean linens lay on beds Saturdays with the windows lifted for fresh air that takes away any sickness. An evening cigar enjoyed by an older man along with red wine from a jug. Genoa salami on semolina was a snack. Freshly cut flowers placed on tables. Spray starch and an iron made for perfectly crisp collars. Plastic-couch-covers were most uncomfortable. All of these things plus more, and the lives, laughter, sweat, and tears, from every soul that once lived there, fermented into the walls creating a singular most heavenly welcoming scent—home on the storytime street in Brooklyn, New York.

When you go, remember us on the Upper East Side—Hipsters and Yuppies, swank gathering in Williamsburg for an Acai bowl, Wi-Fi, a latte, live music, and a cold brew. We are all grown from the seeds of yesterday, planted—all avenues of the world!

Some new is noticeably better, but older is the wisdom that encapsulates us in goodness like love, and it saves us from getting too smitten with ourselves.

Steelworkers, bricklayers, electricians, carpenters, etc. built the bridges across boroughs and buildings to skies the limit for today’s youth that sometimes foolishly or arrogantly forgets a “Greatest Generation”—how they fought for us. I am not so forgetful.

The leaves are beginning to fall with age on their weary veins. They begin to match my weathered years but not my heart. A breeze carries memories across town. I can see clearly from one corner to the next that time has passed and we all have changed, but simultaneously remain the same.

No matter how far we go, our roots call us home.

I am happy to meet you there and reminisce about our travels.

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2019 All Rights Reserved

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Photos I took of Carroll Park and at Clinton Street

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We are moving-up, not necessarily away from meeting downtown.

 

You’ll pass by a brownstone home. Its rich corner history—an ever-present glow to its muted exterior, bulky-banister, and steps that capture ice exceptionally well in winter. Spring and summer—they grow the perfect blend of street noise along with perky green leaves on bows of hundred-year-old trees. Voices come alive like jazz along a cheerful stroll to Court Street for gelato. Shadows—like maps with stories—line the street in kaleidoscope fashion, cast from a Brooklyn sun bouncing-off of rooftops through sturdy branches.

 

Grandparents lived here once upon a time, speaking in Sicilian dialect; Aunts and uncles too, one up, one down, a buzzer between, and a holler from the back window.

 

The kids there would hand-hit a Spalding against the home’s lowest level. A spray of the hose across hot cement on each other’s red cheeks and sweated hair brought some relief on ninety-five degree July days. The park across the street was empty, capturing heat like fire on a metal slide and jungle bars. Garden tomatoes nevertheless smiled perfectly plump while dangling from their vines.

 

The old lady on the ground level screamed, “Rotten kids! Goa to school, eh? Learn a somethin’ would-ya!” (She’s got some time until September when she’ll miss them) Later she’ll worry about them overheating and offer freshly made lemon-aid with anisette cookies.

 

Oh, how the children loved to laugh at her when she was riled-up that way, but not so much that it could be considered disrespectful. They knew better! Besides, her bluish-white hair offered a sense of security and comfort. Sometimes, Peppina, that was her name showed a picture of her late husband, Jimmy. A bricklayer. He died too young — a good man. Her heart can never heal. So, forever, she wears a black dress.

 

“Adesso, Sta ‘zitto! Sto cercando di riposare. Sono già stanco di questa vita.”  So the children would leave, Peppina, to rest, and hit the streets for some summer adventure.

 

Percolated coffee was always hot on the stove.  A gentle hint of garlic remained in the air regularly sautéed in a cast-iron pot. Sweet tomato pastes sizzled on Sunday. Clean linens on the beds every Saturday with the windows lifted for fresh air that takes away any sickness. An evening cigar enjoyed by an older man with red wine from a jug. Genoa salami on semolina was a snack. Freshly cut flowers placed on tables. Spray starch and an iron made for perfectly crisp collars. Plastic-couch-covers were most uncomfortable. These things, and the lives, laughter, sweat, and tears, from every soul that once lived there, fermented into the walls creating a singular most pleasant imaginable welcoming scent. Home on the storytime street in Brooklyn, New York.

 

When you go, remember me on the Upper East Side–Hipsters and Yuppies, swank gathering in Williamsburg for an Acai bowl, Wi-Fi, a latte, live music, and a cold brew.

 

We are all grown from the seeds of yesterday planted—all avenues of the world! Some new is better, but old is the wisdom that encapsulates us in goodness like love, and it saves us from getting too smitten with ourselves.

 

The steelworkers, bricklayers, electricians, carpenters, etc.… built the bridges across boroughs and buildings to skies the limit for today’s youth that sometimes foolishly or arrogantly forgets a “Greatest Generation”—how they fought for us. I am not so forgetful.

 

The leaves are beginning to fall with age on their weary veins. They begin to match my weathered years but not my heart. A breeze carries memories across town. I can see clearly from one corner to the next that time has passed and we all have changed, but simultaneously remain the same.

 

No matter how far we go, our roots call us home.

 

I am happy to meet you there and talk about our travels.

 

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte ©2019 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

 

I believe the greatest complement that I could give to my mother is that I’ve spent my life trying to replica her. Thank you, mother, for being every beautiful thing that you taught me. I love you. The connection is eternal. As for my daughter, I am grateful everyday, and thank God for the opportunity to be your mother. I love you. I hope that you will replica all of the good, and become better than any flaws. Someday in your child’s eyes I know you will see me, and feel the abundance of love through which we are all connected, mother and child, one maternal heart.

 

-Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte © 2017

 

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When I was a young girl I wanted to take piano lessons. At the time my father worked with someone that explained his wife gave lessons. So, once a week I began going to the Silverman’s house to learn my notes and scales.

At home, I practiced what I had learned from the workbook but couldn’t play without a piano of my own. Understandably, my father was initially hesitant to invest into buying a piano, as it was a big expense and I could easily change my mind. Week after week though, I proved that I truly wanted to learn.

I can still remember the smell of the piano store, my excitement admiring the shiny ivories, and in choosing the right one along side my parents and the salesman.

I practiced every day.

Mrs. Silverman came to our home once a week and drew with different colored markers on new sheets of music. She made sure I wasn’t being lazy with my pinky (that I sometimes tried to be). Don’t rest your wrists! Hold them up!

Each week I was getting big, happy, check marks on successfully completed lessons for a job well done. Then the day came for Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Für Elise. I can still recall the black notes etched importantly, as if poetry, a language of their own. I thought I’d never learn, but in fact I did. Never by heart though, as I did Fiddler on the Roof, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, or my all time favorite, Where Do I Begin from Love Story.

I loved the piano from everything I can remember, and still do. Yet, one day lessons came to a halt.  I was too distracted being a fourteen year old. I didn’t take the time to practice as much. Reflecting back, I wish for my sake that someone would have instilled the importance of continuing my practice, or at the least had been patient with me on the days I was distracted. Perhaps they were, and I simply couldn’t hear the tune of their words with a preoccupied teenage mind.  Today, I might still be able to play as well, or better!

As an adult, I used to sit down at the piano about twice a month to play what I could recall by heart, and of course from reading the music (though rusty).

The last home I moved into had a challenging set of stairs, and I painstakingly came to a decision to give the piano (a gift to me from my parents) away to my goddaughter.  It was the only thing that made sense to me, or that I could find solace.

My hope – is she will learn to play elegantly, and that I may enjoy listening to her while remembering my own young hands – how they once made beautiful music.

Maria DellaPorte ©2016 All Rights Reserved

 

Swing High

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When I was a little girl I swung high and low,

and tried to touch the clouds with my toes,

in a pair of sneakers with worn-out laces,

that I learned to tie with the help of

a song about rabbit ears.

Collected memories in dirt-filled-soles,

of Mill Pond and the trees I climbed.

Each winding branch an invitation to soar,

to new heights,

in the world and in me.

The days of tall grass fields and Daffodils,

scents of onion, and honeysuckle sweetness.

Oh and how loudly the sun shone!

As if it were a chorus in the sky:

Hopes and dreams sung in children’s voices,

not just light, but imagination come to life–

We challenged one another to balance,

walk on the white wooden fences,

dividing us from the street,

and constructed belief.

I learned to stand tall, even on one leg,

with the other behind, then in front,

arms like a bird.

When you could you flew, and if not,

you fell and got back up again,

dusted-off the scrapes and bruises.

The breeze was delicate, innocent,

could heal and carry you anywhere…

We played softball in a dirt field with

made-up bases, raced up and down hills,

yelled:

You’re it!

We honored our word and knew the importance

of it as children.

…Called teams, jumped rope, hung tires,

even dug deeply down into the clay layers of soil

for China.

It’s true (and we actually believed we could!)

Sometimes with a close friend,

you’d just sit and wonder, talk secrets,

and collect the ladybugs or ants that crawled

onto your sun-drenched skin.

We had no doubts…

When I was a little girl no one ever told me

it’s impossible to touch the clouds with your toes.

They let you believe, reach for, and dream.

We weren’t encouraged not to because we may fail,

get hurt, or that things were unattainable, silly even,

but were encouraged to strive because trying

made anything possible—

As we grew into adulthood and older eyes,

from seeing the truth of things not so playful…

Something somewhere somehow said we couldn’t,

and being so smart we believed it,

and settled into that misfortune.

I carry around my little girl’s heart,

into love, into life, into creating,

in everything that I am—

(and it’s when someone suggests I shouldn’t that I hurt.)

…Into believing, into teaching my own daughter today,

and every little girl (boys too),

that  you should always strive to touch the sky

with your toes, even if it seems no one ever has

or will.

…Be the one trying and believing,

rather than a hopeless fool—

For rigid is the road to devastation.

And you could toss your sneakers,

and live your days in shattered bones.

Maria Pisciotta-DellaPorte

© 2014 All Rights Reserved

(this is still being edited)

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