Does the tooth fairy know where I am?

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2013 ~ Just came across this pic from 1982 with my brother, Tony Ladesich (10 years old at the time). He spent the summer with me in Colorado that year…during that stay, Tony asked me, “Do you think the tooth fairy will know where to find me?” I looked at him, “Why?” In a very matter of fact tone, Tony answered, “Cause I have a loose tooth and I could really use the cash.” The tooth fairy did indeed locate Tony and awarded him with a bonus: this fish.

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Anela en Rouge

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2013 ~ Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! I’m so excited to share with you all this beautiful short film (18 minutes), Anela en Rouge, that is the story of me coming full circle in recovering from the death of my mother, and how my mother promises to stay in contact with me after death. The story speaks to all mothers and daughters. Cara Myers is the producer of the film. Anthony Ladesich (also my brother) is the director of photography. Several film festivals selected and showed the film. I promise you will love Anela en Rouge. Beginning today the film is open to the public! Please share with all you know. (to all my mother’s children and grandchildren, too)

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Family Again

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2013 ~ About two years after my father died, my mother started dating my second Dad (never did like the ring of “step”—Cinderella put the curse of horror on that word).

The notion of our family returning to wholeness by having a father back in the home delighted me. I could quit answering the question of my father’s whereabouts; I could quit seeing the pained looks on people’s faces when I told them he had died; I’d still have a future as a father’s daughter.

After a year of dating, my dad-to-be, my mother and the four of us kids sat in the back seat of a Ford Country Squire station wagon with the faux wooden sides waiting at the railroad tracks for the train to pass. My nine year old brother, counted the train cars, my seven year old sister and I sang Herman’s Hermits’ song “Mrs. Brown You’ve got a Lovely Daughter” at the tops of our lungs to drown out my three year old sister’s repetitious “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Suddenly, my dad-to-be turned to us in the back seat and said, “I’d like everyone’s attention.”

He wasn’t yelling or anything, but we were totally unaccustomed to him making any group statements. My mother even looked surprised. He turned to my mother, held up a small box, opened it and held out a ring toward all of us.

“Barbara, I want to know if you and the kids will have me?”

My mother looked at us in the back seat and said, “Well? Vince wants to marry us. What do you say?”

We’d just received the biggest gift ever. We all started screaming “yes” and watched my dad-to-be kiss my mother. “Gross!” we yelled and we were happy.

Gratitude for my second Dad

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Anything

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Sometimes when we get down or stressed, something as simple as a quick happy memory can lift us up…one of my memories that is a fast way to make me smile is a memory of of when I was five years old.

I was visiting my grandmother and her brother, my great uncle Fred, his wife, my Aunt Eileen, my Aunt Nancy and my great-grandmother in western Pennsylvania. I’d woken up earlier than everyone else in the old farmhouse, gotten dressed and gone into the kitchen ~ I was looking in the refrigerator when my Uncle Fred came into the room.

“You won’t find anything exciting in there, I’m afraid,” he said.

I closed the refrigerator and then Uncle Fred picked me up and placed me on the kitchen counter. He leaned close to me, put one hand on either side of me and said, “If you could have anything in the whole wide world today, what would you want?”

Was he kidding? Anything? I thought and thought and thought. Finally, I said, “If I could have anything in the whole wide world today, I’d want hotdogs for breakfast.”

Uncle Fred lifted me off the counter, pulled his car keys out of his pocket and jingled them close to my face. “Hotdogs for breakfast it is. Let’s go.”

Off we went to a diner where I indulged upon my hotdog breakfast, me, believing this was the most amazing and unbelievable thing I’d ever done in my whole life…thank you Uncle Fred for the memory that I will always hold dear.

nannette rogers kennedy 2012

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Garage Sales & Pumpkins

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Thinking about a garage sale, endearingly coined “The Crap Castle” that I had several years ago…a friend of mine, one of the funniest people I have ever met, was selling some of her things at this garage sale. During a “slow” part of the sale, my friend had gone into the house for coffee. When she returned, the sale had become very busy and she was wearing an adult sized pumpkin costume. Naturally, I laughed. She walked up to me while I was speaking with a “customer” and said, (dressed in her orange gourd regalia) “For fifty dollars I will go to the grocery store in this outfit and ask where the pie shells are.” She walked away sipping her coffee and the customer and I laughed until we cried. Then the customer bought the pumpkin costume for more money than what we wanted for it…sweet smiling memory ~

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The Memory Power of a Chocolate Hostess Cupcake

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Just this morning, I am grateful for my friend Dee Meyer, again ~ we were on hold for a conference call, when we started discussing Hostess possibly going out of business…then we chatted about the fact that as adults we cannot remember buying twinkies, ho-hos, snoballs, etc. It was then that I shared a powerful memory I have as a child and Hostess Cupcakes.

I was 8 years old when my biological father took just me to Sunday Mass on this particular Sunday. After Mass, we went over to a drug store breakfast counter. Daddy ordered us both coffee (mine mostly milk). I was on cloud nine to have my father all to myself (I was the oldest of four children at that time.) My father asked me what I’d like for breakfast. I wanted the package of the chocolate Hostess cupcakes (my mother would have never approved of this choice~love you, mom, despite the lack of junk food in my life :) ). While waiting for cupcakes to arrive, my father held open the newspaper and I modeled his behavior by opening the comics. The cupcakes arrived and my father asked me if he could have one. To which I said, “No. I want to take the other in my lunchbox tomorrow.”

Four months later my father died from a 9 year battle with cancer. That morning, when the news finally sunk in that my father was dead, I ran to my mother, “I’d do anything to give Daddy that cupcake.” For years, I had that thought.

Well, as Dee and I continued to chat on this phone conference where no one else ever showed up…Dee said, “It’s never too late. Put one of those cupcakes on his grave.”

“Oh my God, Dee. I’ve never thought about that. Thank you.”

Seriously, Dee, thank you…

And I learned some years back that my father was not sitting on a cloud judging me, but at the same time, this offering of the cupcake to him feels like a wonderful healing gesture.

Ah the beauty of a good friend and a conference call where no one showed up but that good friend ♥

nannette rogers kennedy
November 21, 2012

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We Buried My Mother in an Elephant

current events, essay, non-fiction 8 Comments »

I am a recovering Republican. It’s been nearly 12 years. Even before my recovery, I did not vote a straight party ticket, nor did I always vote for the Republican presidential candidate.

My great-grandfather on my mother’s side became a Republican as a very young man and eventually worked his way to becoming a United States Congressman from the state of Pennsylvania.  This is not the Republican party of my great-grandfather…and I dare say it is not even the Republican party of my dear departed mother and it is definitely not the Republican party with once I used to affiliate.

Several years before my mother died, I was at a G.O.P. event with her where John Ashcroft was the keynote speaker (a man my mother knew well, and this was before John Ashcroft was the U.S. Attorney General).  At one point  John Ashcroft said something, that I cannot now even remember, and everyone in the room got on their feet, screamed, whistled and applauded in approval.  I so did NOT agree with what had been said, that I remained seated.  My mother looked at me and asked me to stand up.  I remained in my seat….this was the beginning of the end of my Republican affiliation.  I adored the ground my mother walked on, but the light bulb went on fast and bright, and not even the love and loyalty for my mother was going to keep me with a party that less and less resonated with me.

My mother worked over thirty years for the Republican party, for the most part as a volunteer.  She was very loyal to the G.O.P. even in times when the G.O.P wasn’t loyal to her.  Having grown up with my active G.O.P. mom, I used to be loyal to her political world view.

My mother’s love of the U.S. and it’s democratic process were of the utmost importance to her.  She was a very proud American.

Voting rights for all Americans were very near to my mother’s heart.  I sat at my mother’s elbow hundreds of times in G.O.P. campaign offices which she ran. I listened to her when she spoke to people on the phone during election times.  When speaking to someone who had clearly told her that they were a Democrat and they were voting for the Democrat, she would always say: Thank you for your time and remember, it is important to exercise your right to vote no matter the candidate.  If my mother were still alive and heard the words out of Pennsylvania state House Republican leader Mike Turzai’s mouth about making it harder for Democrats (primarily blacks  & other minorities) to vote, she would have dropped dead. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuOT1bRYdK8).

Respecting and taking care of our military was extremely important to my mother.  She never, ever missed an opportunity to thank any military person she saw anywhere she was.  Often times, her thanks came with tears in her eyes, because she knew of their sacrifices, having been married to two veterans and having a son-in-law Vietnam vet.  When the Republicans last month voted down the veterans’ job bill, my mother would have said something I heard her say more than once in my life, “That is the biggest case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”  Then she would have dropped dead.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/09/23/senate-gop-obstructionists-throw-veterans-under-the-bus-vote-down-bill-to-help-vets-in-need-of-jobs/

On overturning Roe v Wade.  My mother, though quiet in this view, did not believe Roe v Wade should be overturned.  She believed that in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother, abortion should be legal.  My mother knew that I wouldn’t be alive if abortion wasn’t legal in the case of the life of the mother.  She would not want to see Roe v Wade overturned.  Since this hasn’t happened (yet), she would not be dropping dead at the possibility, but she would drop dead if she lived to see this.  Though, I can say with some conviction that Todd Akin’s statement about legitimate rape and shutting “that whole thing down” could have easily caused her to drop dead. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fetFNTgqE6o)

My mother volunteered her time to the elderly, to orphaned children, and any lonely person she ever met.  She gave of herself without complaint throughout her life.  She cared about the poor, the underprivileged and believed that compassion for others was the rule and not the exception….

The turn the Republican party has taken would have horrified my mother~and made her deeply sad.

The news of my mother’s death was announced at the Republican National Convention in 2004 on national television, and it was mentioned how much she would be missed. Barbara Ladesich, would not have recognized her G.O.P. today; she would have missed the party she used to know.

On the primary election day in Missouri, 2004, my siblings and I buried our mother’s ashes in an elephant cookie jar.  Now we are having second thoughts…

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I’d Be Dead

essay, non-fiction 7 Comments »

It’s about balance.

Just over 20 years ago, I married Mike, whose wife had died very young and very suddenly. Mike and Susan had two young children when Susan died.  Michael was then 8 and Mary was then 4.  Having lost a parent at a very young age myself, I speak with authority on knowing how devastating this loss is…young children who experience a parent’s death are catapulted out of childhood into a strange kind of adulthood in the body of a child.  No longer is there the youthful comfort zone of “that can’t happen to my mom or my dad.”  That door is slammed early and forever.

I eventually adopted Michael and Mary and love them with all my heart and am extremely honored to have been the woman who was chosen to pick up the parenting after Susan died. I also knew Susan and understood how very much she adored her two children, how she wouldn’t have left this earth at if all possible.

Three years after marrying a family, and life moving forward again for Mike, Michael and Mary, I became pregnant.  I jumped up and down as I watched the pregnancy stick show positive.  And at the same time, anxiety shot through my nervous system as I’d miscarried twice before.  This time I made it past the first trimester, a huge relief for both Mike and me.  Then I shared with Michael and Mary that a new baby, either a new brother or new sister was on their way.  We were all happy and excited.

Late in the middle of the night, in my 14th week of pregnancy, excruciating pain in my lower abdomen woke me and paralyzed me.  Our neighbor, Jan, came to our home to drive me down and out of the mountains to the hospital in town.  Mike stayed home with the children.

Once in the emergency room and after the nurse removed the blood pressure cuff, she loudly called out the blood pressure reading 62/58. Suddenly everything moved in a rapid-fire rush.  Two different techs inserted I.V. lines for fluid and nurses and doctors were prodding, running ultra sounds and talking to me, asking me to count, to say my name, say where I was, etc.  All the questions confused me as I felt very conscious, in pain, but very conscious. I kept repeating that I was pregnant and didn’t want to lose the baby.  Jan, looked at me and whispered that she had to call my husband, that he needed to be there…then I began to get frightened.

By the time Mike arrived at the hospital I’d been through several tests, one of which showed that I was bleeding to death internally ~ definitive reason unknown.   The look on Mike’s face is a look I will never forget…he whispered, “We can try again.”  I went into emergency surgery knowing I may lose my much wanted pregnancy.

As it turned out, I was not only carrying a pregnancy in my uterus, but I also had been carrying a pregnancy in my fallopian tube, otherwise known as an ectopic pregnancy.  The ectopic pregnancy caused my fallopian tube to burst, the cause for bleeding out internally.

I am blessed that I carried the pregnancy in my uterus full term.  I was very saddened to learn that nothing could be done to save the life of the ectopic pregnancy: leaving the ectopic pregnancy inside me would have killed me and the pregnancy in my uterus.

Now Roe v Wade and legalized abortions are in question.  In some circles on the right, “there is no exception for abortion in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.”  In fairness, one can  find plenty of articles stating that many people, including pro-life draw the line in circumstances when the life of the mother is at risk.  One can also  find a plethora of articles supporting “the no circumstances for abortion” view held by many in the pro-life movement.  Further, one can also find dozens of articles where the life of the mother consideration, the case of rape or incest are simply omitted, leaving these situations unclear at best.

Then there is H.R.212 Sanctity of Human Life Act – Declares that: (1) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human and is the person’s paramount and most fundamental right; (2) each human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and (3) Congress, each state, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have the authority to protect all human lives.  If the law goes down the road that life begins with fertilization, it stands that abortion in any case equates to murder.  I don’t think this risk, though some may believe this risk is small, is worth the ramifications.

In my case, if H.R. 212 Sanctity of Human Life Act had been voted into law, not only would I not be alive, nor my unborn son, but my two older children would have lost a second mother and my husband would have been widowed twice.  You may argue that it didn’t happen that way for me (for which I am very grateful).  Rest assured, I have not been the only woman standing in those shoes and guaranteed, someone you know, friends,  sisters, daughters, granddaughters and other mothers will find themselves in similar circumstances in the future.  And if the future brings in three conservative Supreme Court Justices in the next four years, those who experienced what I did, may not have the choice of life for themselves.

Do we want to turn back the hands of time and prevent women who have been “legitimately” raped, or who have been the victims of incest or the women who have life threatening pregnancies have no choice?

I know that tensions run high during political campaigns.  For many of us, things which we hold dear, are at stake.  Therefore a great lot of us take the campaigns and that for which they stand very personally.  At the same time, I think that some people are very quick to judge others.  Some are very fast held to their beliefs without thought.  Now of course this is my opinion.  But sometimes I think that people aren’t thinking issues through.

And finally, what business is it of the government (or anyone else but the woman, her family and God) on whether a woman takes control of her body?  Think, please think….Don’t let there be three new conservative supreme court justices take us back to the days of coat hangers and knitting needles.  What is it that is said about judge not?

This is one of the reasons that I think sharing our stories with one another is powerful.  Powerful enough that we might possibly be capable of compassionate understanding.  No. It doesn’t always mean that we will agree, but it may shed insight and possibly, just possibly, may let someone see an issue from a different point of view, see some balance.

There are many reasons I am voting for President Barack Obama. His concern for women’s reproductive rights and, thereby women’s healthcare, are only two.

Note: I’ve written this piece from my heart. If you choose to respond, please do so through your heart.  Any hate speak or hate-filled responses will be deleted. Hate is part of our divisiveness and I want nothing to do with hate.

In peace,

nannette rogers kennedy
October 2012

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Include or Exclude

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Inclusiveness or Exclusiveness ~ which is better for society to come to a place of peace and compassionate understanding? Don’t most of the religions on the planet teach compassionate understanding? Just thinking….feel free to add to the conversation.

Peace, nannette

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Honey & Piper

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The first day my granddaughter was old enough to repeat words, she began calling her grandpa (my husband), “Honey.” It is the sweetest and most endearing name for a grandpa. She heard me call to my husband and I call him “Honey.” From that day on, Piper calls him Honey. “Hi Honey.” “Where’s Honey?” etc. Here Honey and Piper, two peas in a pod, fall asleep while watching TV.

 

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