People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Loving Memory of Anthony Marchese

Anthony C. Marchese
September 15, 1925-August 13, 2011

"Don't forget Aunt Annie." My uncle Anthony pulled me close in a hug the day my Aunt died. We were all at his house afterwards, sitting around, aimless and numb.  He whispered those words in my ear as he held me with tears in his eyes.  Just two weeks after her funeral, to the day, we were once again at the same funeral home. But this time, it was my uncle in the casket at the front of the room.

Suddenly, the word numb takes on a whole new meaning.

He missed his wife, he was ready to go be with her. Plus, he was a stubborn man and once he made up his mind, he got things done.  So the fact that he lasted less than two weeks after she died isn't even a surprise. He was determined. But it really hurts.

I feel like I have so much to say about Uncle Anthony, but I'm not sure where to start. Of all the memorial blog posts I've written in the last few months, I think this one is the hardest.

He was in the Navy during WWII and his aircraft carrier was sunk. He was one of the few survivors. Then he worked at Bell Aircraft (it's Bell Areospace now) and was involved in developing the Rascal Missile and the Rocket Belt. Interestingly, his older brother, Anello, who died in 2006, was the lead engineer at Bell and worked on the X-1, the first supersonic aircraft.  So at least I was related to smart people.

Uncle Anthony then went on to work at Moog Music as Director of Engineering and developed a bunch of different musical devices, many of which were used by popular groups at the time. If you don't know about Moog, their synthesizers were a huge part of the musical scene, starting in the late 60's, and had a major influence on disco and rock. One of the first rock groups to use a Moog were the Doors in 1967 on their album, "Strange Days."

My uncle created the Moog Liberation, used by all sorts of people and groups, like Santana, Devo and Herbie Hancock.  This isn't a great pic, since I took a pic of a picture with my cell phone at the funeral, but here's my uncle - back in the 70's - pretending to play it.  He thinks he's tall here.

In 2008, Uncle Anthony was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. The best part was my Aunt Annie calling everyone she knew, all excited, and tell them, "Anthony has just been indicted!"  People weren't sure if they should be happy or worried.

According to our pastor, my uncle was a humble man. While delivering the funeral service, pastor made mention that even though he had known my uncle for over 30 years, he didn't know many of the things that Uncle Anthony had accomplished, but read them in the obit (which you can read here).

Our family had a different take on Uncle Anthony. He loved kids, especially his kids, grand kids and great grand kids, and when we were all little, he had us call him Uncle Beep-beep, cause we'd press on his rather sizable nose and he'd make a beep-beep sound, like a car horn. But he was also a cranky, stubborn old man who didn't like people. I get that from him. Alright, maybe he liked some people, but you know what I mean.

He was incredibly picky; his food couldn't touch on a plate. Seriously, the man had to eat every meal on those divided plates and wouldn't eat any kind of casserole or mixed dish.  He loved to travel and to "get out of the house." He dragged my aunt on long drives through the country, stopping at garage sales and drug stores, buying so much stuff they didn't need. Their house was just loaded, their cellar had stacks and stacks of...well, I guess the word is, again, stuff. They also went on tours with Ramblin' Lou. Maybe that's a Buffalo thing, but he was some sort of country music DJ and performer. Maybe he still is, I'm not sure. Anyway, he and his wife do these tours, all over the place, like cruises or trips to Atlantic City, and they went on so many that Ramblin' Lou knew them and came to the funeral.

It's still so hard to believe they are both gone.

But I won't forget Aunt Annie, Uncle Anthony, and I won't forget you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

But This Is How We Communicate

And from the file labeled "conversations that I could not make up" here's another one that really happened:

HIM: So do I give the puppy one of the white pills now?

ME: Well, if you give her a white one now, we can give her one of the brown ones about mid-day, then save a white one for bedtime. Of course, you can give her a white one now, another one in 8 hours and still be able to have one for bedtime, so maybe we don't have to give her a brown one at all. You can give her both white and brown now, even, but then we have to make sure we time it out, cause she can only have the brown one twice a day and can have the white one every 8 hours. But since the white one seems a little stronger, maybe we should just stop the brown one altogether?

HIM: So do I give the puppy one of the white pills now?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: Manitou The Sky People Saga

So a friend asked me to review a book she'd just written.

No wait, not a friend exactly, more like someone I've never met and only had contact with through email. So an online acquaintance.  But not one I ever spoke with before agreeing to review the book.  You know what I mean, so don't even pretend you don't.  In any case, I'd say we're friends now. (Or at least frienquaintances.)

Anyway, she put out a plea on this indie book publishing message board I belong to and just hearing her enthusiasm for her story made it sound interesting to me.  So I thought why not, if nothing else, I'd get a free ebook out of the deal.  (I think she's a she. Maybe she's a he?? As it turns out, I have no idea. But I'm going with she.  OK, fine, I just checked and she's definitely a she. I told you.)

Of course, now we get to the harder part of the equation. The book has been read and must be reviewed. I don't review too many books on here, even though I read dozens and dozens. It's not because I don't like them, either, but just cause by the time I finish one, I move on to the next and the moment is gone.

But not this time. This time, I have to write a review. The panic actually set in as soon as I agreed to review the book. What if I don't like it? How do I even write an actual book review, you know, beyond the "it's good and you should buy it" kinda of thing? I don't even know if I have that skill. Book reviewing is a skill, right?

Well, the good news is, I really liked the book. So it'll be much easier to tell you how good it is and that you should buy it.  And in my attempt to be like a real reviewer type person, I'll start with a synopsis:

Manitou The Sky People Saga by Lexus Luke is the first in a series of YA novels about a young girl adopted into the modern Ute Tribe.  Wray Sky's parents were murdered and she has been transported from her New York home to live with her Ute great grandmother in Colorado.  Wray firmly believes in good solid logic and scientific facts. But one day she comes face to face with with some ancient Ute magic and she begins to believe that science may not always have the answers.

This is pitched as a YA story, but I think it will appeal to younger and older readers.  It definitely kept my interest throughout and, even though my reading time was limited, I managed to finish it in just a couple of days. (Honestly, I stayed up way later than I should have, too!)  I even found myself thinking about what would happen next when I wasn't reading, which is always a great sign of well-developed, engaging characters and an intriguing story-line.  I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that the story isn't as predictable as you think it might be and the twists are definitely surprising.  Overall this was an enjoyable read and I'm glad I was able to review it.

And the best part? That the story isn't over yet! I can't wait to review Book 2.

Oh, I almost forgot...if you want to buy it (and you do!) check it out at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In Loving Memory of Annie Marchese

My Aunt Annie passed away on Sunday after a four month illness with bone cancer. She was a wonderful, funny, sweet woman. She leaves behind a husband, three children, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Uncle Anthony, my mom's brother, met and fell in love with Yanette Petrillo, when she was only 13. They were married when she was 21. My mom still tells the story of her first encounter with Annie. Being the little brat she was, mom greeted the girl who liked her brother by sticking her tongue out and running away. 

But, somehow, even after that, the two became great friends. Their kids grew up together, more like siblings than cousins. Their friendship would last for 72 years. The last few years, since they weren't able to get around too much anymore, they mostly talked on the phone together. And talked. And talked. Every day. For hours and hours and hours. In all those many years, my mom was able to say that they never once had a major disagreement or fought about anything.  That's something when you consider they're both Italian, too!

A room in her house, dedicated to her doll collection.
Aunt Annie touched so many lives. She was one of those people who would give you anything she had. And she had lots and lots of stuff.  You've never seen so much stuff. She was the woman you could always go to if you needed something unusual, cause she probably had it. She decorated her entire house for every holiday, including Arbor Day, I think. But Christmas was when she went way over the top. She would buy presents all year round for her kids and grand kids, and then carry down big bags full of gifts for everyone. One year, when I was little, she took a Santa hat out of one of her many trunks full of costumes and gave it to me. I wore that hat until it fell apart and I still wear a Santa hat every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Because I did that, my four nephews always wore them, and now their children wear them, too. Even though they don't know it, it's a legacy from my Aunt Annie.

She had a saying for everything. For instance, she'd tell her grand kids, "Never marry a murderer" and "Don't make friends with a serious killer." OK, maybe she got those sayings a little wrong, but we knew what she meant. She was also fond of telling you that if you did something wrong or were with someone who did something wrong, you'd get worms. And she was always worried about what you were doing, even if it was just going out for ice cream. "Oh, dear, be careful, I knew a kid who died doing that."

What makes her sudden loss even worse for the family is that my cousin, Marianne, their youngest child, just died in November, the day before Thanksgiving, after fighting cancer for 5 years. She was only 53. I wrote a post about her, if you'd like to read it, she was an amazing person. 

Aunt Annie was still grieving her daughter when she started feeling ill, around Christmas, but she didn't get checked out until Easter.  They found a tumor in the bone of her shoulder and removed it surgically, inserting a metal rod into her arm where they had to remove bone.  But it was too late. The cancer had spread through her body.

She spent the next four months in and out of facilities, including Roswell Park Cancer Institute, having radiation and chemo.  A few days ago, they gave about three months to live, but said maybe a year with treatment.  While she was going through chemo last week the pain became unbearable and they started heavily medicating her. At that point, the doctor gave her two weeks.

Then we got the call at 2 am Sunday morning to get to the hospital and she died around 10:15 am.

I already miss her so much and I just can't imagine what we'll do without her. We won't forget you, Aunt Annie. We love you very, very much.