Tag Archives: brothers

Farewell to my Kitchen Sister

Farewell to my Kitchen Sister

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”—Julia Childs

Lana Lee Jones D’Agostino, July 18, 1955 – April 25, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018. Lana, you’re missing the conversation about your life that’s happening as we listen to your brother Michael and wife Megan read your obituary we are crafting. Although you made your presence known when you knocked over the framed tribute President O’Bama signed to our father-in-law Vic thanking him for his military service. That passage you approved was about being a strong [and independent] woman—Steve’s addition.

Strong and independent. Yes indeed. But also tender and loving.

We knew you as our sister. Had conversations over the years about your work as a journalist. But as we sister-in-laws shared last night at your viewing, we really didn’t know the breadth of your professional life. Until you died.

Steve is collecting your press badges for your memorial service. They tell a story in their own right. 911 In New York City. The elevation of Cardinal O’Malley in Rome,  The Boston marathon bombings. The Whitey Bolger story. JFK Junior’s plane crash. These were some of the big ones. You covered thousands of smaller stories that kept us informed and connected to the world outside our bubbles. Over 20,000 in your 30-year career.

Isn’t it a pity that we don’t get to glimpse our impact while we’re here. Perhaps a tad narcissistic, some might think. Yet it can also be an opportunity to measure how much more there is to do with whatever days are marked on our earthly calendar. Your days reflected how deeply you cared about social justice and truth telling. And family. 

How you loved making a comfortable home! Your Thanksgiving and Easter dinners were legend. Especially that unfortunate ham you sourced so carefully from the Amish one Easter Sunday—we all heaved a sigh of relief when you pronounced it inedible. 

That was one of the memories Pat, Kim and I shared as we stood beside you last night. Ours was a kitchen sisterhood. Since we gathered en masse mainly at holidays, there were always kitchen duties. Prepping, serving, cleaning. These simple rituals gave us plenty of time to catch up on life. Griping lovingly about our mother-in-law (sorry Stell!) and our husbands. Wringing towels instead of hands, we vented what I now recollect were minor frustrations typical in a life shared with a big Italian family.

I think you would appreciate the care we are taking with your obituary. Of course you would be humble and probably want less, but, since you’re not here, it’s in our hands. We are fact checking, avoiding overt, flowery language. But hell Lana, to quote Steve Jobs, “You made a dent in the Universe.” From the Governor, Mayor, politicians to colleagues and ordinary citizens, you witnessed and captured history. 

So we who love you best are telling your final story. I believe you would approve. “In sickness and in health. That’s part of the bargain,” Steve says as we wrap up draft 1.

Mark adds, “She may have signed off, but her powerful impact on our story continues.” Agreed.

Love you always Kitchen Sister. 

XO

Miss Vicky

Pat, me, Lana, Kim Circa 2000’s

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Unconditionally Mom, part à deux

Unconditionally Mom, part à deux

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.                   —ee cummings

 

On Saturday, April 14, I will stand on the stage at the 15th Annual Baltimore CityLit Festival with my Listen To Your Mother cast sisters and do a repeat reading of my 2015 essay on motherhood.

I auditioned for LTYM in winter 2015 after I read the poster asking people to read their original writings on motherhood. Hadn’t written a word yet, but my heart knew I had a good shot when I contemplated writing about my twin gay sons’ coming out. It’s a good story. I have decent skill as a wordsmith. My sons said, “Go for it Mom.” So—I wrote, auditioned and made it.

I rehearsed with my cast sisters, reading with ease and a bit of flair. The day of the performance, I thought, “I’ve got this! I’m used to public speaking and performing.” What I didn’t factor, was the hefty emotion of telling this very personal story with my sons and husband in the audience. I was at turns confident and a hot mess. Looking up where those pieces of my heart sat, I expressed the depth of my mother-love. My sons were laser-focused on me, trusting me to tell it true—that very intimate part of their story. I did them proud, so they told me after the show. Read the rest of this entry

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To Cuss or Not to Cuss…never my effin’ question!

To Cuss or Not to Cuss…never my effin’ question!

“My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”—Ralphie from A Christmas Story

 When my kids first heard this line from our favorite holiday movie, they said in unison, “Mom, look they’re talking about you.” You see, I love to cuss. Have from the time I was a pre-teen and dropped my first F-bomb in public.

I remember that evening with fond affection. It was a very frigid winter but coming from hardy stock, the cold and snow never stopped us Northern NY kids. So there I was with my white figure skates, sporting fluffy homemade blue and white yarn pom poms, twirling around the ice rink at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. I decided to show off my newly acquired skill of inserting the F-word masterfully into the conversation. Oh I felt so grown-up and chic as I whirled around the ice, skating in tandem with my girlfriends, firing off this “queen-mother of dirty words” as Ralphie said.

The F-bomb has seen me through a lot of situations in my life. Job losses, broken treasures, stupid drivers and stubbed toes. In fact, my tapestry of obscenities is legend in my family if I somehow injure myself. It begins with “Dirty rotten mother-effer…” and goes downward from there. All bets are off too when my temper gets the best of me. Though I have learned not to flip drivers off anymore as you never what they are packing and can take exception to this gesture. Yet I can flip that bird in a host of ways if I don’t think there’s danger lurking.

Our poor baby sitter Mary took a heated tongue lashing from me one Christmas when I went to her home to pick up my toddlers. She was an extraordinary sitter! Patient, organized, played fun games and made nutritious meals. She was a gem! Well, the evening before on the way home, sweet Adam, approximately 2 1/2 years old and very verbal, was enjoying the view of the streets from his car seat in our van. Suddenly he shouts, “Oh my Jesus Mommy, look at those Christmas lights!” I nearly drove off the road because a) I thought it was hysterical and b) my baby just uttered his first curse words. Surely he must have heard them from the sitter because I really did try very hard not to swear in front of the boys then.

Mary vehemently denied it and I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. Then, when I was doing something at home one day shortly thereafter, I heard myself say, “Oh my Jesus…” I never did apologize to Mary, but if you’re reading this, I was a boob and you were a goddess.

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Happy Birthday Adam & Alex-#27!

Happy Birthday Adam & Alex-#27!

Happy Birthday Sweet Sons!

Adam (l) & Alex (r)

Adam (l) & Alex (r)

Today you are 27—hardly seems possible that this much time has passed for you wombmates! I remember the night after you were born looking out from my hospital room, snuggling you up close as I looked over the city lights, baby in each arm. Who would you become? What things would you love in life? What are your special gifts? Would you be close as brothers?

The room was quiet and you were both snoozing, perfect contentment, baby A and baby B—Adam and Alex. I didn’t know then that you would become these incredible men who bring love, joy and light to those in your circle. Although it was my hope and wish you would.

Adam, you came into the world first. That’s your path in Read the rest of this entry

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