Thursday, May 31, 2012

Proud Mom Mom

I am really proud of my eldest grandchild who after three straight years as making All Star on his Baseball Team decided it should go to another player who never had that chance, because my grandson felt his friend was just as good a player as he. I am in awe of his kindness at such a young age. Hats off to you, Shaun Patrick.

Sacred Heart Female Orphanage 1940

Fairmount Farms a.k.a FBHS

Click on record to view 1940 patient list.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Byberry State Hospital

I have been reviewing the 1940 census records and came across the records of Byberry Hospital known as Philadelphia State Hospital for Mental Diseases. I cannot believe there are 152 pages of names to sort through. That is going to be a lot of work so stay tuned. When I scan them, I will post them.

I did find the records for Fairmount Farms known today as Fairmount Behavioral Health System. There are four pages of names to sort through and I have already scanned those records, which I will post later this week.

I have records scanned for two orphanages; Sacred Heart and St. Joseph's, both are females.

Lots of information will be coming soon. Stay tuned.

Julia Wisloski Coppola

Name:Julia Coppola
Death Place:
Death Date:12 Dec 1971

This record was found in the Massachusetts's Death Records. I do not know for sure if this Julia Coppola is my great aunt born Julia Wisloski in 1906 and married Anthony Coppola in 1926. My search begins.


It is nice to sit on the balcony in the early morning with a cup of coffee, and listen to the birds sing their songs, the sun warm upon your face, and the memories that come and go within your mind.

I had a dream last night that I was standing over my brother's grave. I remember I was looking at his headstone, however he was standing beside me, as we watched the grave being dug up in preparation for another burial.

Sitting on the balcony brought back memories of the time of his death and how after he died in 1997, my life began to unravel piece by piece. My son began to have problems a year later. My marriage began to fall apart. There was no longer any satisfaction in being a Lab Supervisor. 1997 to 2005 were hard years. 2006 I remarried, went back to school, changed careers and started to move forward. There had been hills to climb, valleys to follow, bumps and bruises along the way. 2011 brought problems I never could have foreseen in a million years. Changes forced upon me. More tears fell than I ever thought possible. One foot in front of the other, I kept telling myself. I leaned on family and friends. I discovered who was there for me and who got lost on the wayside.

The other day, I believe I turned a corner. I decided I was no longer going to accept unacceptable behavior from anyone. I felt sick and tired. I had been to hell and back. My decision meant I would probably lose some people who I love, but in reality I had already lost them and never recognized it.

It is my time now.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Please Remember

Time, sometimes the time just slips away
And your left with yesterday
Left with the memories
I, I'll always think of you and smile
And be happy for the time
I had you with me
Though we go our separate ways
I won't forget so don't forget
The memories we made

Please remember, please remember
I was there for you
And you were there for me
Please remember, our time together
The time was yours and mine
And we were wild and free
Please remember, please remember me

Goodbye, there's just no sadder word to say
And it's sad to walk away
With just the memories
Who's to know what might have been
We'll leave behind a life and time
We'll never know again

Please remember, please remember
I was there for you
And you were there for me
And remember, please remember me

Please remember, please remember
I was there for you
And you were there for me
Please remember, our time together
The time was yours and mine
And we were wild and free
And remember, please remember me

And how we laugh and how we smile
And how this world was yours and mine
And how no dream was out of reach
I stood by you, you stood by me
We took each day and made it shine
We wrote our names across the sky
We ride so fast, we ride so free
And I had you and you had me

Please remember, Please remember

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I've been afraid
That I might drift away
I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I've come from
That's the reason why I seem
So far away today

Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you're calling me, now I'm going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything I've ever had

Now I have moved and I've kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
I have kissed the fellas and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes, there's no denying
I have traveled hard, sometimes with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind

Now I'm sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames have cooled, don't get any higher
They've withered, now they've gone
But I'm steady thinking, my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When hands have shaken, the kisses float
Then I will disappear

Thursday, May 24, 2012


How I love the study of Genetics. My coworkers make fun of me when they see me with my head in a book or information printed out from the NIDA site and take chromosomes apart and research which chromosome is linked to which drug a person maybe dependent on. Then I go a little further with the genes. Which genes on what chromosome are linked to substance abuse/dependency and are the genes located on the long arm of the chromosome or the short arm and how were they identified.


Concrete Thinker.

Where is the wonder in life?

These are the remarks I laugh off from my coworkers.

I am told, I require an an answer to everything. I consider that the best part of me, as well as the worse part of me. It is a double edged sword. I always require an answer and a time frame to go with that answer and if the time frame does not occur, I may be a little anal about it. Sometimes I verbally express this. Mostly, I have learned to suppress it. Stay in my own lane, I tell myself nearly every blessed damn day. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail miserably. But this is me. This is the sum of myself. Smart to a fault. Impatient to a point. Letting go and letting things just happen? Oh Dear God, that is so damn hard. I lack success in that department.

Other stuff.

My plants blew over and lost most of their soil on the balcony. I question whether or not being on the 10th floor is going to allow me the pleasure of a balcony oasis? High enough for the beautiful sun rises and sun sets, but also high enough for those cross winds. I will figure it out.

Family Education was a blast last night. (Tongue in cheek)

Sometimes I wonder if I work in an asylum.

Many successful discharges with patients going to long term programs. Yes. I am just great. Most are my female patients. Oh what a relief! That moment lasted two seconds, as I was assigned two new female patients today. There are so many family issues with females, and so much emotional stuff = long days at work.

One male patient had me laughing so hard today, I nearly fell out of my chair.

I am fortunate enough to see their human side. The side their families generally do not see.

We have some talented guys who sing and play guitar. I find myself just standing with them as they play. What a wonderful and enjoyable sight.

A patient I had a year ago called today. He relapsed. I told him I expected to see his face tomorrow.

This is basically a normal day in my life.

Family News;
My oldest grandchild will be graduating from grade school on June 11th. I will be there proud as can be as his grandmother. His birth nearly eleven years granted me the title grandmother, and it has been a blessing ever since. I remember his birth. I remember all the births of my three grandchildren. No one can take those memories away.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


"Anhedonia" is derived from the Greek "a-" (without) "hedone" (pleasure, delight). Other words derived from "hedone" include hedonism (a philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the main aim of life), hedonist (a pleasure-seeker), and hedonophobia (an excessive and persistent fear of pleasure).

I love working with Dr.C. He is always accessible, helpful and a good sounding board when one of his therapists wants to talk whether it be about a patient and/or self. We talked about some of my nightmares, feelings of loss and my inability to feel a sense of joy in the things that always brought me great joy such as gardening, vacationing, or just doing nothing. This began last July and although I get up everyday and go to work, laugh with my coworkers, smile at my patients, teach classes, attend classes and go on with everyday life, I lost a part of my self and the simple things that were once joyful are now just "numb". I do not feel depressed and have no symptoms of depression, but that inability to feel joy.


Dr. C told me I was experiencing Anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. His recommendation was to spend 30 minutes everyday in the sun. I have been spending 30 minutes a day in the sun when its actually out. No magic pill. No therapy. Just sunshine.

I like him because he combines medication with holistic approaches. In my case, holistic.

So simple. So easy. It works.  I finally entered a department store for the first time in ten months.


I had a dream about a dog I had named "muffin". The dog used to sleep at my feet with her head laying across my legs. In my dream, she was doing exactly that and it felt good and when I awoke, I thought for a moment, I was back twenty years ago when my boys were young, and we had that dog. I got her after Joshua was born and she lived fourteen years.

I have another Family Education class to teach tonight, so it will be a late night. At least, I left work on time the last two nights.

I have several patients who will discharge this week.

In the meantime, it is so foggy outside that I can barely see out of the window.,

And most importantly, Joshua and Lynee are engaged. He told me yesterday and I saw her ring. Congrats Joshua and Lynee, I love you both. If anyone knows me, then you would know that there was a time when I thought, I would never see this child reach his 30th birthday, let alone be engaged, out on his own and happy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Closure Begins

"Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be."

The most difficult part of this process is grieving the loss of someone you loved with your entire heart and soul. Memories are painful. Reality is even more painful. Everything is different. I wish someone could tell my heart. Right now, it does not listen to a word I say. It hurts.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coyote Crossing

If you are looking for a good Mexican Meal, Coyote Crossing is the place to go. They have excellent service, and an atmosphere that reminds me of the Florida Keys.

Goodbye Lauren

Celebrating Lauren

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When You Believe

Many nights we've prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song we barely understood
Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were climbing mountains long before we knew we could

There can be miracles when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you believe

In this time of fear
When prayer so often proved in vain

Hope seemed like the summer birds to swiftly blown away
Yet now I'm standing here
With heart so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Voice

I hear your voice on the wind
And I hear you call out my name

"Listen, my child," you say to me
"I am the voice of your history
Be not afraid, come follow me
Answer my call, and I'll set you free"

I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain
I am the voice of your hunger and pain
I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice, I will remain

I am the voice in the fields when the summer's gone
The dance of the leaves when the autumn winds blow
Ne'er do I sleep thoughout all the cold winter long
I am the force that in springtime will grow

I am the voice of the past that will always be
Filled with my sorrow and blood in my fields
I am the voice of the future, bring me your peace
Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal

I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain
I am the voice of your hunger and pain
I am the voice that always is calling you
I am the voice

I am the voice of the past that will always be
I am the voice of your hunger and pain
I am the voice of the future
I am the voice, I am the voice
I am the voice, I am the voice

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I watched two sparrows flapping their wings as they rolled around in a small pile of dirt in the parking lot. I took a moment to watch as I have seen birds using that same exact behavior while bathing in a bird bath. They look so carefree as if there was nothing in this world that could disrupt their happiness. Something so simple that is so peaceful.

I sat on my balcony tonight and became lost in my thoughts. Work was extremely difficult today and I came to realize how much of self is put into the type of work we do. It is nearly impossible to leave on time. So many patients needing so much attention. Classes to teach. Groups to facilitate. Families involved. Mothers with small children. Fathers who lost small children. The person who spent most of his life in institutions. Some need education. Some need nurturing. Some need an ear to listen. Behaviors addressed. Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? Treatment teams. Supervision. So much to do in a day without enough hours or a body that feels too damn tired.

I take a step back and ask myself, "why do I do this?" The expectations are high. The situations difficult. So why do it at all? I have dual degrees. Work in a lab vs work in a rehab. I noticed our patients are coming in sicker and the medical lingo I understand. No. It it not safe for a person with a platelet count of 25,000 or an EKG that screams A-Fib. Sometimes I say too much. I ask too many questions. The medical training clashes with the mental health/substance abuse training.

And I take another class for fun, "Genetics". In my world, things cannot just happen, there must be a reason behind it and I wonder why I am in constant conflict between religion and science. I want concrete evidence. Study genetics and perhaps I will find some answers. Chromosome 10 with specific genes related to nicotine addiction. Chromosome 17 with specific genes related to opiate addiction. The crazy thing about this class is it is exciting to me though so scary for others.

I sat on my balcony tonight and looked out across the lights in the darkness. So simple. So beautiful. Why can't life be like that?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May It Be

May it be an evening star,
Shines down upon you.
May it be as darkness falls,
Your heart will be true.
You walk a lonely road;
Oh, how far you are from home....

Mornie utúlie (darkness has come),
Believe and you will find your way.
Mornie alantie (darkness has fallen),
A promise lives within you now....

May it be the shadows call,
Will fly away.
May it be your journey on,
To light the day.
When the night is overcome,
You may rise to find the sun.

Mornie utúlie (darkness has come),
Believe and you will find your way.
Mornie alantie (darkness has fallen),
A promise lives within you now....

A promise lives within you now

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Calling all Nerds

I highly recommend the movie "Creation" which speaks of Charles Darwin and his book, "Origin of Species". I am so fascinated by his theory, I intend to research it. I understand his conflict between nature and religion, but his work was highly regarded and what surprised me was he is interred in Westminster Abby, another reason I need to visit London.

What's Up

Going to work til 730p tomorrow. Yay for me. I have a family session scheduled for 430p then a class to teach at 530p. Thinking about it makes me tired.

A patient wanted to climb out a third floor window today. That's always good.

After Friday we will be down one counselor. Lauren is going to work inside with the children and Adolescents. Good for her because I could never do it.
  1. I would want to take all the children home.
  2. The teenage girls would make me nuts.
We will celebrate Lauren's departure (abandoning ship) with Happy Hour on Friday Night. We are nice like that especially if it includes 1/2 price drinks.

Going to make a second attempt at watching Darwin's Creation. Fell asleep last night.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Goodnight my angel.

Time to close your eyes. And save these questions for another day. I think I know what you've been asking me. I think you know what I've been trying to say. I promise I would never leave you. And you should always know, I never will be far away. ]Goodnight my angel, now it's time to sleep. And still so many things I want to say. Remember all the songs you sang for me. When we went sailing on a emerald bay. And like a boat out on the ocean. I'm rocking you to sleep. The water is dark and deep inside this Grandmom's heart. You'll always be a part of me. Goodnight my angel, now it's time to dream. And dream how wonderful your life will be. Some day a child may cry and if you sing this lullaby. Then in your heart there will always be a part of me.

A song I sang to my granddaughter. It is an Irish lullaby.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Picture Taken By Me On 5/12/2012

Black Hoods and Iron Gags
The Quaker Experiment at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia
by Mike Walsh
Color photos by Graydon Wood
"Let the avenue to this house be rendered difficult and gloomy by mountains and morasses. Let the doors be of iron, and let the grating, occasioned by opening and shutting them, be increased by an echo that shall deeply pierce the soul."
-- Dr. Benjamin Rush, Quaker reformer, 1787

From the catwalk atop the central rotunda at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, you can see the entire eleven acres of the abandoned facility. Every building on the site, which operated for 142 years and held the likes of Al Capone and Willie Sutton, is crumbling. Trees are growing through the roofs of many of the buildings, every piece of metal on the property seems to be rusting, and every piece of plaster is crumbling.
It's hard to imagine that at one time this prison was the largest and most expensive building in America. It drew visitors from around the world to review its penal system and architecture, both of which influenced prisons worldwide for the next century.

On 2/10/99, this article was selected as the
The prison sits on a rise in the middle of the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, and from the catwalk you can see the skyscrapers of Center City. When it was constructed, Eastern State was on a farm more than a mile outside the city limits.
The first inmate was brought to Eastern State on October 23, 1829. His name was Charles Williams, and he was 18 years old. His prison record states: "Burglar. Farmer by trade. Can read. Theft included one twenty-dollar watch, one three-dollar gold seal, one gold key. Sentenced to two years confinement."

He would've gotten a good look at the tall, foreboding exterior of the unfinished prison as he approached in a locked carriage. It was and still is a gloomy fortress with tall iron gates and castle towers. The exterior walls are 30 feet high and 12 feet thick at the base. Mr. Williams must have felt a bit nauseous realizing that this monstrosity was built for the sole purpose of straightening out the likes of him.
The Quakers were the moving force behind construction of the prison, and they wrote that the exterior appearance should be "a cheerless blank indicative of the misery which awaits the unhappy being who enters."

During the previous thirty-five years, the reform-minded Quakers tirelessly lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to build a prison based on the idea of reform through solitude and reflection. The Quakers hopefully and naively assumed that an inmate's conscience, given enough time alone, would make him penitent (hence the new word, 'penitentiary'). They wanted a new prison to prove their theory, and in 1822 the Pennsylvania legislature approved the funding.

A revolutionary radial design by a young architect named John Haviland was chosen. Each cell block was to radiate in different directions from the hub. This allowed easy view of every cell block from the center.
After Charles Williams was brought through the three sets of giant doors, he was met by the warden. He must have felt like a head of state. That feeling wouldn't last long.

Williams was assigned a number, prisoner number 1, which would be his new name during his entire stay. Before he was taken to his cell, a black hood was placed over his head. The hood was used whenever inmates were outside their cells so they could not see any other inmates.

Williams was then placed in a cell with nothing to do--no work, no reading materials, nothing. The Quakers knew what would happen: "His mind can only operate on itself; generally, but a few hours elapse before he petitions for something to do, and for a bible. No instance has occurred, in which such a petition has been delayed beyond a day or two."
It's safe to assume that Charles Williams sincerely regretted stealing those gold trinkets before those first few days were up, and he probably came to know the stories in that bible very well during the next two years.

19th Century inmate in mask
The inmates were not allowed to communicate with each other or meet for any purpose, not even for religious services. Ministers sermonized to the inmates while walking through the prison, their voices echoing through the cell blocks.
The inmates weren't allowed to sing, whistle, have visitors, see a newspaper, or hear from any source about the outside world. They were allowed in their exercise yards, which were attached to their 8 by 12 foot cells, just one hour per day. At Eastern State, you went into your cell and you stayed there. You saw no one except a guard, and you spoke to no one.
Here's how the Quakers explained this policy: "No prisoner is seen by another after he enters the wall. When the years of confinement have passed, his old associates in crime will be scattered over the earth, or in the grave and the prisoner can go forth into a new and industrious life, where his previous misdeeds are unknown."

The cells were damp and musty with very little air circulation. The original sewer system didn't work properly so the cells reeked. The central heating system, another new idea at the time, didn't work very well either.

Although the Quakers banned flogging at the prison, other types of corporal punishment were used. If you were caught communicating with another inmate by, say, tapping on a pipe, you might be denied a few meals or secluded in a dark empty cell for a day or two.

If your infraction was more serious, you were chained to a cell wall or denied a blanket in winter. One prisoner was kept in a dark cell in irons for 42 days. When a counselor discovered the delirious inmate and gave him some bread and water, the counselor was fired.

The "shower bath" was another punishment used at the prison. An inmate was stripped to the waist, chained to an outside wall in cold weather, and doused with cold water. If it was cold enough outside, ice would form on the inmate's body.
Even crueler was the "iron gag." This was a five-inch piece of metal that fit over the inmate's tongue. The inmate was also cuffed with his wrists behind him, and a chain was connected from the gag to the cuffs. If the inmate fought the device and pulled with his arms, the gag was forced deeper into his mouth. At least one inmate died from the iron gag.
Although the conditions and punishments at Eastern State were harsh, they probably weren't harsher than other prisons of that time. The medical attention and the food were superior to prisons that came before Eastern State, and it was generally free of the corruption and danger associated with older prisons. The inmates were also expected to work, and those who didn't have a trade were trained in one.

By the time Eastern State was completed in 1836, it was the most expensive building in America at a cost of $772,600. It immediately became a popular attraction, being visited by sightseers and dignitaries from around the world. By mid-century the prison was being toured by 10,000 people per year. During the next 100 years, approximately 300 prisons worldwide were modeled after Eastern State's radial design.
But Eastern State was criticized relentlessly for the use total solitary confinement. The London Times claimed that it was "maniac-making."
Charles Dickens visited the Eastern State Penitentiary in 1842 and later wrote about it. "The System is rigid, strict and hopeless ... and I believe it to be cruel and wrong.... I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body."
There are no figures on how many people went insane at Eastern State. Prison officials persistently claimed that solitary confinement had no ill effects on the inmates. Cases of mental illness were frequently attributed to "excessive masturbation." One inmate lost his mind and died within a few months of incarceration. The prison physician concluded that the inmate "though apparently well on admission, was strongly predisposed to mania."
Through the 19th century, problems of mental illness and overcrowding forced Eastern State officials to dilute and eventually abandon the idea of complete isolation. The black masks were thrown out in 1903, and by then the iron gags were long gone.

In the 20th century, Eastern State Penitentiary was just an old, crowded prison. Like other prisons, it had its share of brutality, riots, hunger strikes, escapes, suicides, and scandals.

Things got interesting in 1929 when Al Capone spent eight months at Eastern State on a weapons charge. Capone allegedly needed a place to hide out from the IRS. As the legend goes, he was friendly with the warden, outfitted the prison band with instruments and uniforms, and quelled a riot.

A 1929 newspaper article described Capone's cell: "The whole room was suffused in the glow of a desk lamp which stood on a polished desk.... On the once-grim walls of the penal chamber hung tasteful paintings, and the strains of a waltz were being emitted by a powerful cabinet radio receiver of handsome design and fine finish."
Eastern State was in the news again in 1945 when Willie Sutton, an infamous bank robber, and eleven other inmates escaped through a tunnel to Fairmount Avenue. The tunnel was equipped with supports, fans, and lights and took at least a year to build. The inmates scattered in all directions, but they were all captured, most within a few hours.
Prison plaster worker Clarence Klinedinst designed and built most of the tunnel. At the time of the escape, he had only two years left to serve. Klinedinst had ten years added to his sentence for the escape.
Tunnels weren't unusual at Eastern State. In fact, they were the favored means of escape. Renovations in the 1930s uncovered an estimated 30 incomplete inmate-dug tunnels.

Eastern State was closed in 1971. By then it had been certified as a National Historic Landmark. Several schemes surfaced during the next twenty years for converting it into a shopping center or condos, but every plan was fought by a hearty band of local preservationists. They eventually convinced then-Mayor Wilson Goode of the site's historic value, and he put an end to conversion plans.
A few years ago the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the direct descendant of the Quaker reform organizations, was given use of the site for historic tours. The prison has since become an extremely popular tourist attraction. The site has also been used for several art installations and performances, and the Prison Society has acquired grant money to repair the roofs of numerous buildings.
While touring Eastern State, it's easy to imagine yourself being incarcerated there 150 years ago. The cell walls are high and arched, like a church. The only sunlight comes from a small skylight. The geometry of the room invites you to stare up at the light and lift your prayers and beseechments to the Lord.

The loneliness and tedium envelopes you in dread. Through peepholes the guards could be watching you at any time. They are a silent force always there to correct you if you stray from the course, always willing to punish you if need be. Here you are hardly human, just a number in a solitary cell. You have nightmares about the iron gag, the black hood, and water freezing shut your eyes, ears, and nostrils.

You learn to believe in God and you pray to Him for salvation because otherwise you will go nuts. The belief that you are communicating with an all-powerful, all-merciful being and the faith that He is even the slightest bit concerned with a wretch like yourself is some consolation. Maybe that keeps the heebie-jeebies at bay another day or two.
And when you have finished giving up a chunk of your life, you will be cleansed and reformed, and you will go forth sinning no more because you never, ever want to be led into that giant stone house on the hill again, the place where it took every ounce of strength to keep from going stark raving mad.

As a post note to this article, the Quakers were known as those who were against violence and did not believe in fighting in wars. Therefore, the cruelty stated in this article surprised me. It reminds me of that saying, "do as I say, not as I do". Oh Yes, I had an uncle there in 1910 check out his record on a previous post

Sun Rise Sun Set

One of the best things about living here are the beautiful sun rises and sun sets.
 Symbolic for a person as myself as they represent a beginning and and end. Most people hate Mondays. I love Mondays because for me the weekend is over, therefore the sadness dissipates.
I need to figure out a "new normal".

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Tears Shed Upon a Burden Heart

She remembers the moment she was told she was to bring a life into the world. She remembers how much love she felt at that first kick. She clearly can recall in detail the labor and delivery and holding that precious bundle that made her heart swell up with joy. 
 She remembers the first smile, the first tooth, the first foot steps. She remembers the first day of school and watched as her child grew and learned and completed projects and excelled at sports. She remembers graduation day and cannot believe that the little boy whom she held and cradled and washed the tears away with just a simple kiss had grown to be a man.
  She remembers the "should haves, the could haves, and the would haves", though knows she can't bring back time or lost moments nor make different choices. She hurts and the tears fall down her cheek as she wants to go back in time and make it all better, but knows she can't. The tears fall when she is forgotten and the once upon a time, the importance of being a mother is reduced to being just a person.

The tears fall because she can't fix anything and wants all the pain to go away. She remembers the birth of each grandchild and what it felt like when she held that child within her arms and looked down upon their tiny faces and was overwhelmed at how much a grandmother could love. She is a woman, a mother , a grandmother and though she appears strong on the outside, she cries on the inside and sometimes late at night when no one can see, the tears fall as the heart breaks.
Today, she tries to move on and creates an oasis on a 10th floor balcony, because she can't live in her own home and does not know what the "new normal" looks like. She misses her granddaughter and the bond they once held. She misses the sleepovers with all three of her grandchildren. She lives in fear for one son and worries about its impact on the other two. She has experienced so much loss and the pain it is so overwhelming at times, she wonders if it would be better to not be around. The tears fall on this Mother Day for all the loss, pain, fear and loneliness she feels.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Where I am at today and how it has been all week. I am struggling with #2, 3 & 4.

Today I really feel unbearable pain. I believe #2 trumps today.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Once again, it is important to interpret the stages loosely, and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is much looping back, or stages can hit at the same time, or occur out of order.

For example, generally, a long period of "depression" (not clinical depression), isolation, and loneliness happen late in the grief process, months after the tragedy strikes. It actually is normal and expected for you to be very depressed and sad eight months later.

Outsiders do not understand this, and feel that it should be time for you to "get over it" and rejoin the land of the living. Just knowing that your desire to be alone with your sad reflections at this time is normal will help you deal with outside pressures. You are acting normally. They just don't "get it".

"The 7 Stages of Grief":

You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it. You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion. You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair.

Just when your friends/family may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

As you start to adjust to life, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.

As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life.

During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward. You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you may not be able to think about your lost  without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.


A word that means so much when it is a time you feel so less.

 Joshua and Lynee sent me this card for Mother's Day and it meant so much to receive it that I wanted to share its content. I rarely receive cards from my children/grandchildren, so receiving this card actually made me cry. Josh wrote how he felt, then Lynee wrote what she felt. A card is such a small thing but could mean the world to a person, especially when the time is taken to write thoughts and feelings.
Along with the card was a picture of Lynee's 16 year old daughter's prom. On the back of the picture, Lynee wrote "this is your soon to be step granddaughter".  More tears of gratitude. I welcome this girl, Chelsea as my step granddaughter. What a beautiful girl she is. And I will always have that special place in my heart for baby Isabella Marie who joined the angels on April 13th.

The gang at work surprised Barb and I with a party in honor of our graduation from Drexel.

 Seriously John, you look like a person with a brain on drugs not the therapist helping them.
 This is us; Lauren, Nira, me, Barb and Sarah,
The old graduates.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More This and That on This Day

Booked and paid for The Great Wolf Lodge for 8/13 to 8/15. We will celebrate little Shaun's 11th birthday up there. I know the boys will have a blast. Hell, I am going to have a blast. Shaun and Trish are welcomed to join us as I booked a Family Suite. On the other hand, if they would rather have three days of peace to themselves, that is ok too. Ball is in their court on this one. It really looks "kid friendly" and has all the activities to all ages of kids small and big.

Grades are in. I got an "A+ and A" in those two accelerated classes that = done!

Feels great to have a week just focusing on work and not homework on top of work.

Work is .........

State and City are cutting 20% from Human Services as of July 1st. Many people will be thrown off welfare which includes medical, food stamps, child care and means less people coming into treatment for mental health and/or substance dependency. I see many more homeless people on the streets and though my job will be at risk at least I do not live in the city anymore although I own property there.

Things look rather bleak for many people and to think I only owe 28,000 dollars in student loans.

This stuff went on the entire twenty years, I worked in a lab and I survived, therefore I believe I will survive this as well. I worry about the generations growing up in this mess. They are our future and we do not invest enough into their futures.

This and That

When my alarm goes off, I think there are a pack of ducks outside quacking. I really need to change the sound on my alarm. Ducks beside, I woke up at 4a and have not been able to fall back to sleep despite being up til 11p last night first chatting with my mom then Bill. I think we talked about everything from work to religion to family to vacation. My parents just returned from California and I wanted to know her plans for Mother's Day. She is taking my niece and her daughter to see Peter Pan in town. Therefore, I will mail out my Mom's birthday and Mother's Day cards today. I held onto them in the event, she wanted to come here for dinner or if she were at her shore house, I would have driven down there.

It is raining and I can hear the birds chirping in the distance, as the rain is tapping on the balcony, Another day will be starting and I believe I am teaching a co-occurring class this morning.

I took three days off in August to take the grandpoles on vacation, and the week after Labor Day to plan a vacation with Bill. I work Labor Day weekend, therefore already have that Monday off, so I requested off the rest of the week. I am not sure where Bill & I are going, but decided to take the boys to the Great Wolf Lodge in August. I am going to reserve a family suite. The boys will have a ball up there with all its games, kid events and waterpark.

I am still trying to locate Julia Wisloski Coppola in the 1930 Census records now that I know she married a guy by the name of Anthony in 1924. So far I cannot find her and Anthony in the state, let alone the city, so I will begin my search in other states. She is the last Wisloski I have yet to find. She was born in 1906, married in 1924 (marriage record), but seemed to disappear after that date. I am also still searching for the last Boland sibling, Ellen who folklore states she married, had a son who was involved in an accident, and Ellen suffered severe depression, and was even sent to Byberry State Hospital. Apparently, she only had one child. Her married name is still not accurate. It could be Di Santos, Di Santis, De Santo. I do not know the first name of her husband though I believe her son was named John, It would be great to discover her marriage record if only to get the correct married name.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Jack in The Box 35 years Later

Jack in the Box 35 Years Ago

Jack In The Box 35 Years ago

Loss, Change & Grief

The mind has a dumb sense of vast loss that is all.
It will take mind and memory months and possibly years
to gather all the details
and thus learn and know the whole extent of the loss.
Mark Twain
"When a person is faced with a loss, crisis or life-changing event he/she is suddenly thrust into a new world, a world that is unfamiliar, one that can seem very daunting and at times frightening. It is a world of intense, unsettling at times conflicting feelings of loss, anger, depression, loneliness, fear, frustration, and desperation. Each person's experience of loss will have subtle nuances that will make it unlike any other loss, but what is common to all grief responses are the intense, heart-centered emotions that others will have also felt, endured and survived.

Without applying or asking to join, this person suddenly becomes a member of a very exclusive club. The Grief Club. This is a club that people do not choose to join, rather it is a club into which their grief has given them entrance. There is a common language spoken by the members of this club, one that can often be understood without words. Many times all that is required to let someone know you have been there and that you understand their grief is just a understanding look, a gentle touch on the arm, a reassuring hug or a heart-felt note. The motto for this Journey of Grief Club is "Cry, Remember, and Live Again." Also depicted within the coat of arms are the steps in the transformational process following a loss, going from loss (tear) through transition (purple heart) to reach healing (fuschia heart) and the butterfly to symbolize the life-altering change the occurs following a loss."

I was thrown into this club a little over a year ago and since then I have been struggling with a variety of emotions. I exist in a world where I am not living. When I discovered the above reading, I felt for the first time, there is someone else who truly understands what it is like to grieve the loss of an entire life style. No matter how I convey my thoughts or feelings to those around me, they do not understand the pain. As a therapist, I know it is a process in which I must go through. No one can help me with this process. However, I wish some of those close to me can just understand it. I did not asked to be placed into this situation though I have been judged and in the process have lost what has been most important to me. I am stuck in a place inside me that can't move on. I grasp onto promises, hope and words of others only to find myself in the mist of being a fool. How can someone so smart become someone so stupid?

For the first time, the reality of my world has stuck me. For a year, I had been living in a fantasy world, thinking and hoping some things will return to normal. Again I have been the fool. Nothing is ever going to be the same. Everything that has changed will remain changed. Reality is hard to swallow. I no longer view the world as I once have. I no longer view others as I once have. Things I once cared about, I no longer care about. I feel the loss and at times its intensity is so overwhelming I wonder if I can make it through it. Some will read this and blow it off as nonsense. Some will read this and say, "Get over it". Some will read it and just judge me. I do not care any longer. I have been trying to survive and unless you have walked in my shoes, you will never know what this type of loss this feels like. I lost people due to death. At least with death, there is closure. There is no closure here. It is an endless journey of ups and downs, thoughts and feelings and sometimes it feels as if one is walking on eggshells as afraid to crack or the opposite occurs and one becomes so angry, one cannot even stand themselves.

I want relief from this pain. I want to feel peace within my heart. I want to be able to get up in the morning and be happy I am alive.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

I leave FB and my stats increase on this site. Apparently, one post was viewed eighty times today. I am even impressed with that one. It is no big deal. Really. It is what it is. Tomorrow, Bill will fly down to Florida and spend some time with his Dad and brother as well as hit the beach in Clearwater. It is his birthday and my gift to him was an airline ticket. Now I wish I were going. Yeah, I know I just spent ten days in Italy without him. Fair is fair. Though I am trying to figure out a vacation for us either in late summer or Fall. I also want to plan a vacation with the grandpoles. Every year since they were born, I have taken them on vacation in the summer. It is a tradition they look forward to. How many kids can say they went swimming with the dolphins in the Bahamas at age eight? My oldest grandchild is a frequent flyer. I thought about Disney. We have not been there in a few years. We have been going to Dutch Wonderland every year. Things are different this year, so it will not be Dutch Wonderland. Maybe a Dorney vacation? I like to take them in July. It is a great time to spend vacation with children. I look forward to it as much as them. I can clearly hear my granddaughter's voice saying, "summer means Dutch Wonderland, right Mom Mom".

I worked late tonight because I had a family session. Family Dynamics are always interesting. A colleague is out to California on vacation, so we (counselors) split his caseload. I adopted two of his patients. I am done the powerpoints and still working on the final so after Saturday, I can officially add a few more initials after my name. No. I am not walking. I have never walked in any graduation. I did not walk in my high school graduation or the other two times in college. I will not do it this time neither. I do not need a cap and gown to tell me I succeeded. It looks like I will finish with a 3.97GPA. Not bad for an accelerated program and giving up weekends for the last few years while working a fulltime job. You Go Girl! Hey, I can say it! 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy Birthday Brother

Today is your birthday and though you are not here to celebrate it with us, I want you to know I am thinking about you today and know that you are celebrating with the angels. I miss you little brother and think about you often. I remember your kindness and compassion, your love and laughter. May you celebrate this day with God.