Archive for September, 2016

A Totally Unforgettable Anniversary Party!

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Maddie and Joey’s 22nd wedding anniversary was very special to them, and they wanted to share it with their immediate family! These excerpts are from the concluding chapter of my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale.” You will remember that the novel is written from Madeleine’s point of view. Let’s read the end of the book together.

“In a few weeks Joey and I would be celebrating our twenty-second anniversary. Up until now, we just went out to dinner by ourselves each year to commemorate our anniversary, but this year we wanted to do something special.’

‘It doesn’t have to be expensive,’ I said to Joey.

“‘No, it really doesn’t, honey,’ Joey said. ‘We could have it at a nice restaurant, and everybody could order whatever they wanted. With just the immediate family, it couldn’t be too pricey.’


“‘It wasn’t difficult to plan our anniversary party since it was small and relatively simple. We were basically just going out to dinner with our loved ones.

“‘ It was wonderful to spend these few hours with those whom we loved most in this world. The children all looked adorable, of course, and I must say the adults were dressed in their Sunday best as well. Tommy and Francesca took turns at the camcorder and caught us in natural poses as we ate our delicious dinner and socialized.

“When we were relaxing from the main meal and waiting for our dessert, I took a moment to give my brief speech. As I started to talk about love and family, Jessie came up and kept waving an envelope. I couldn’t understand why she was interrupting my speech, which was really going to be brief anyway, but I stopped talking in mid-sentence and said, ‘What is it, Jessie?’

“‘It’s for you and Dad,’ she said, inviting Ross and Joey to come up, too. When we were all standing in front of the rest of the family, Jessie said, ‘Open the envelope, Maddie. Please.’

“Joey and I looked at each other, completely unaware of what was going on. When I opened the envelope, I took out a card with what looked like a negative of a picture inside. When I looked closely, however, I saw that it was a sonogram with a circle around a tiny head and body in a fetal position. My hands started to tremble as I gave the sonogram to Joey. Tears filled my eyes as I hugged Jessie for dear life and then Ross. Afterward, Joey hugged his daughter and his son-in-law, too.

“Everybody clapped and screamed, ‘Congratulations!’ to Jessie and Ross as they started to tear up, too.’

“‘God bless you both!’ I said. ‘I knew that it would happen, but I’m glad it’s now. Another grandchild,’ I said, squeezing Joey’s hand. ‘How blessed we are!’

“As I gazed at my beautiful family, tears still in my eyes and in danger of streaming down my face, the unconditional love in my heart seemed over-powering, strong enough even to demolish the pre-fix on step-mom!’

“It had taken many years, but I had finally learned what it was like to be a mother and a grandma, and I loved every moment. No one could take away the maternal side of me that had blossomed, and I knew that with such love in my heart, I would always be able to face anything in the future with patience, courage and strength.'”

A Well-deserved Retirement Party

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Some family members had reservations about Maddie’s retirement. Ross, for instance!

“‘Won’t you get bored, Maddie?’ he asked.

“‘I hardly think so,’ I said. ‘I’ll be able to start fulfilling my childhood dream of being a writer. I’m going to revise two of the novels that I wrote years back, and I think I might even freshen up my Master’s thesis on Robert Browning to make it read less like a scholarly work so that it might not seem so intimidating. And then I’ll find a publisher for those books plus all the others that I intend to write later On. You know, Ross,’ I said, laughing, ‘my retirement is going to be a very busy one. It probably would be more restful for me to continue working.’

“‘It looks as though you have the rest of your life all planned out,’ Ross said.

“‘As much as anyone can plan anything in this world. ‘

“‘Then retire with my blessings,’ Ross said. ‘Jessie and I just want you to be happy.’

(Maddie was more worried about Joey retiring. He had no hobbies or real interests, except for his love for his family. Was retirement a good idea for him, I wondered. I knew it would be quite a challenge!)

“Meanwhile plans for the retirement party were underway, and I was actually doing the legwork and the organization all by myself. I was able to find an inexpensive but highly recommended DJ as well as a fantastic caterer. It didn’t take me long to find a magnificent light pink cocktail dress and satin shoes dyed to match. My hair stylist, Yvonne, even came up with s sensational new hairdo for me and a nail polish to match the color of my dress and shoes perfectly….

“As usual, it was easy for my husband to look handsome and well-dressed with a trip to the barber shop and a new black pin-striped suit.

“Francesca and Tommy bought us a huge album and filled it with pictures of Joey and me at our respective jobs over the years. My sister must have helped them find some of my old photos, and they must have looked at their own albums to find Jowy’s to pictures. They also included pictures from our wedding. In the back of the album there were enough pages to allow everyone to write something personal to Joey and me. What a lovely idea, I thought!

The food lived up to the sterling reputation of our caterers, and the flowers reflected equally well upon the florist. Most of all, I remember dancing most of the night away, and, when not on the dance floor, mingling with all our guests.

“Joey and I were ready to begin another phase of our life. It was about time, I thought, as I kept smiling, talking and, of course, dancing.”

Later:, The Unforgettable 22nd Anniversary Celebration!

Babies and a Giant Step Towards Retirement

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Towards the end of my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale,” there are three very significant occurrences. Madeleine and Joey become grandparents; finally, Maddie gets an acceptable retirement package, and something long hoped for becomes reality at Maddie and Joey’s 22nd anniversary party. Let’s scrutinize each of these benchmarks in the life of fictional characters, Joey Russo and his loving wife, Madeleine Cooper Russo.

Let’s talk about babies first! We’ll go fully into the retirement and anniversary parties in the last few posts on this special novel of mine. (Of course, my novels are ALL special books to me!) Now let’s hear about the births and early years of the three grandchildren of Joey and Madeleine!

“A few months after Jess and Ross returned from their two-week honeymoon tour of the eastern border of the United States, a blessed event occurred. Baby Nicole Alyssa was born on December 31, 2000. By just a few hours, she missed being a 2001 baby!

“She was six pounds, eight ounces with a nice layer of dark, straight hair and big blue eyes that seemed to focus immediately upon everybody, although I knew that that was not really possible fot a newborn. She was lovable, sweet and not much of a crier, maybe because her every need was always attended to before she could ever possibly react.

“At first Frannie was nervous about my holding the baby since I had not had children of my own. I tried to explain that I had helped take care of my nieces and nephews when they were babies, but Frannie was a new mom, and only those who had had hours of recent experience with newborns were allowed to attend to the baby’s needs.


“Eventually, I held Baby Nicole. Of course, she was months older before I changed her diaper, but that was all right. I understood how nervous new parents are, and I could see how much easier it was for Frannie to trust someone who had had a great deal of experience with newborns….Even Katie, who hadn’t taken care of a newborn since Tommy himself was a baby, was not allowed to go near Nicole for months, too.”

“Thank God, the babies kept on coming! Lori-Anne was born on August 3, 2002, followed three years later on December 10, 2005 by Brian Matthew Russo. I couldn’t believe how happy I was to be a grandmother. As Nicole and Lori began to grow from babies into toddlers, I found that I could do more and more with them. We could color, work with clay, do simple puzzles and watch videos together. Their innocence and sweetness sometimes brought me to tears.

“Brian, three years younge than Lori and five years Nicole’s junior was for a while considered just a baby by his older sisters, but I enjoyed watching him go through the newborn, baby and toddler stages once his sisters had passed through them and considered themselves big girls. Each of the children was indeed unique, and no one could be so special to me as they were.

“At this time my teaching responsibilities seemed to be expanding and intensifying. At the same time the number of disruptive students in my seventh grade classes was rapidly increasing. The combination was overwhelming. In my heart I knew that it was time to retire.

“For years I had been looking for the right retirement package, but now, after having worked forty years, there was no need for me to wait any longer. I would be getting a more-then-adequate pension at this point as well as my early social security benefits.

“I put my retirement papers in during the winter of 2006, and the following July 1 was officially retired from the school district by which I had been employed for forty years.

“My copy-cat husband put in his papers the same year, and his retirement was official at about the same time. All we needed was a party to celebrate, and you can be sure that I started to explore that idea immediately.

“I had never thought about Pellegrini’s, the hall where Joey and I had gotten married, for a retirement party, too, but actually, it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was a large room downstairs that could easily seat forty people, just the right size for our relatively small party. After all, we would be inviting only immediate family, brothers and sisters and a few close friends.”

More about this wonderful retirement party and our unforgettable 22nd anniversary party in a later post!!!!

Another Grandiose Wedding

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

“Meanwhile, Jessie and Ross had set their wedding date for October of 2000. They didn’t want a big engagement. In fact, all they wanted was to go out to a nice restaurant with the immediate families on both sides.

“Of course, a few months before the wedding, Jess knew that we would make a bridal shower for her, too. She just wouldn’t know the date or time.

“Everything went smoothly as far as the special engagement dinner at a posh restaurant in Manhattan. Of course, in addition to our side of the family, there were Ross’s parents, his sister, Elizabeth, and her family, as well as his brother, Edwin. Thank God, we all got along well. By the end of the evening, I felt as though I had made many new friends.

“The wedding itself was as incredible as Fran and Tommy’s, although it was unique to this bride and groom. The church was located in Levittown, and the reception was held at at an exquisite hall, even further out on the Islsnd than Huntington, where Frannie and Tommy’s reception was. In fact, if we had gone just a little more out east, we would have wound up somewhere in the Hamptons.

“Jessie looked gorgeous in her silk designer dress with the longest silk and lace train that I had ever seen. She looked absolutely regal and graceful in her stiletto white heels and a delicate silk headpiece with an imported lace veil. During the ceremony, I held Joey’s hand, and we both teared up.

“As a step-parent, the only thing that bothered me just a little was the fact that I was not a part of the bridal program that all of the guests received. It contained, in addition to pictures of the bridal couple, other photos of the bride and groom with their respective families. I was the only immediate family member who was not included. To me, it felt as though Jess didn’t think of me as part of her life. Even when the wedding pictures were taken, I was asked to be in only a few. Because I had really thought that Jess liked me, I couldn’t understand why I was left out of so much family joy.

“But then I realized that Jessie might have been ashamed that her father and mother had been divorced. She might have wanted it to look as though her immediate family was just like everyone else’s. Therefore, I couldn’t be part of it, in her eyes. Yes, I thought to myself, it’s s kind of denial. I told myself not to let this omission ruin this otherwise wonderful wedding. I prayed to God for the strength to let this go and enjoy the wedding. It was hard for me, but I managed to get through those few moments of sadness and let the happiness of the occasion shine through.

“Jessie had asked me to say something personal at the reception, which, I knew, was an honor. I had prepared a heartfelt speech about the love I had witnessed between Joey and Jessie. I included how elated I was to be part of her family. When I was finished, Jessie came up to me and kissed me, as did Ross. Somehow, everything seemed all right after that.

“The reception was incredible. It was refined to the point of seeming like a total wedding. Joey and I enjoyed the dancing, the socializing, the champagne toasts and the fabulous food. Most of all, we were grateful for the joy that all of us in the family were sharing.”

Retirement For Two And A Baby???

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

“It is true that all of the Russos were busy the next few years, but Joey and I were spending our every free moment trying to plan and prepare for our retirement. I was looking into every possible retirement package available. I couldn’t wait to begin the writing career that I had put on hiatus for years. I also looked forward to having more time to myself for reading, studying the Bible and numerous other projects.

“On the other hand, Joey, although he was tired of his job, was not sure of what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He had been used to doing auditing for the same bank for years, and then, all of a sudden, in 198O, he was given the choice of being laid off or taking, either a messenger job or filling an opening in the mail room, both of which would be a big step down. He decided to take the messenger job, but for a man in his forties, which he was at that time, the stamina required was too much for him.

“Ever since we were married in 1989, I remember Joey coming home from work at six clock, eating his dinner and going to bed at 9:30 in order to get up at 6:00 A. m. and starting the whole routine all over again. He was in a rut and miserable!

“Yet, if he took the small package his company was willing to give him, Joey would not be able to contribute very much to the monthly expenses, and, in addition, he did not know what he would do with all the spare time. He was getting more and more depressed.

“While Joey and I were getting ready to deal with these problems, we were surprised with some good news for a change. One evening in the spring of 1999, Tommy and Fran came over unexpectedly. They had just bought their own house and were starting to move in. When we saw them, we thought perhaps they needed our help with something house-related, but we were wrong.

“After Frannie and Tommy had both kissed me and high-fived my husband, we all sat down. Then Tommy looked at Fran, and she took out a large envelope, the type that usually has s greeting card inside.

(Frannie then gave Madeleine the card and asked her to read it aloud.)

“The card said, ‘Congratulations, grandparents!’ and there was a picture of a mature couple holding a little baby. I was so elated I almost dropped the card, but I managed to hold onto it and hand it to Joey. I waited until he looked at it before I screamed, ‘I can’t believe it! Congratulations!
Congratulations!’ I repeated as I kissed first Frannie and then my step-son. I’m so happy for both of you!’

“‘As soon as I was finished hugging them, Joey gave first Tommy and then Frannie a bear hug. We all had never been that happy in our lives, for, as we all know, a baby is a miracle and a blessing. To me, it was a sign of great encouragement from God. It was as though He were saying to all of us, ‘Keep going. Keep enduring. I will bring good things to cheer you on to the end of this system onto a much better world beyond.’

‘We expect the baby in December,’ Frannie said.

“‘We couldn’t be happier,’Joey said as he squeezed my hand. ‘So what do you think of being a grandma?’ he asked.

I smiled at Frannie and Tom. ‘I can’t wait!’

“‘Of course, the baby will call you ‘Grandma,’ Frannie said. ‘I wish I could have called you ‘Mom,’ Maddie, but I just couldn’t be the only one, seeing that Tommy and Jess call you by your first name. You do understand about that,I hope,’ Frannie said.

“‘I do,’ I said, although not being called ‘mom’ by any of the children had hurt.

“‘But our children will call you ‘grandma,’ Tommy said, ‘and I hope that will make up for our not being able to call you ‘mom.'”

“‘All I can say is that I’m honored,’ I said.”

A Life Saved…

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

A great professional oportunity awaited Tommy in my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale. But would it really be good for him?

“He had been looking around for another job that offered a higher salary and even more benefits than he already had. He had found just such a position advertised in the New York Times. The company was located at the World Trade Center, which seemed a plus to Tommy because it was such a prestigious building, and it later turned out that one of his colleagues had already accepted a position there and was beginning work there in late August. When she heard that Tommy was interested, she put in a good word for him and even helped to get him an interview.

” All of us except Joey thought that this job would be perfect for Tommy. It offered him much more money, almost as many benefits and added prestige, not only because of all the corporations that would be housed there, but also in terms of the huge promotion that he would get. Tommy was all set to ace the interview and get the job when Joey insisted on having a heart-to-heart talk with him.

“‘It’s a bad idea, son,’ he said. ‘Don’t even go for the interview. Just forget the whole thing.’

“‘Forget the whole thing?’ Tommy asked. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Dad. I told you it’s the oportunity of a lifetime. Only a fool wouldn’t take it.’

“‘Then be a fool!’ Joey said, raising his voice. ‘You’re established at your company. You have incredible benefits, and you’re comfortable there. Your bosses respect you. You get great bonuses every year. Why make this change?’

“‘It’s just like you, Dad,’ Tommy said. “You’re reactionary. You don’t believe in change. You don’t even believe in progress! I feel sorry for you.’

“‘Feel soorry for me all you want, Tommy, but don’t take the job. I have a bad feeling about it.’

“‘So now you’re letting your superstitions prevent me from moving up and making something more out of myself.’

“‘Don’t take the job,’ Joey continued. ‘They love you where you are. You have job security. You make a good salary, and whatever promotion you’re going to get, nothing could compensate for the benefits you already have. I think you’d be a fool to give up this job.’

“‘It’s just like you, Dad,’ Tommy said. ‘You never take risks. You’re petrified of change. I feel sorry for you,’ Tommy repeated.

“It was ironic, but despite Tommy’s anger towards his father, he listened to him in the end and never went as far as even scheduling an interview.

“It was sadly ironic when the tragedy of September 11th occurred just a few weeks later. It turned out that Tommy’s colleague, who had indeed accepted the position at the same insurance company , had had an office on the one hundredth floor. The poor young woman was among the missing. Tommy, like the rest of us, was depressed for his former colleague and the more than three thousand me and women who had died in the tragic terrorist event. He never talked about it with Joey or me, but every time he looked at his father, there was an expression of deep love and gratitude on his face.

“I remember how he hugged Joey one day several weeks later when we visited him, Fran and Baby Nicole. Although not an actual word was spoken, I knew that Joey could feel the ‘thank you, Dad’ in every cell of his body. Looking at both of them while holding Nicole securely in my arms, I could feel my eyes tearing up and a a sense of relief and joy that our Tommy was spared.”

A Glorious Wedding!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

“After their engagement party, Tommy and Fran focused upon their wedding. The date was set. When the final plans were made, the long-awaited day would be in June of 1995, followed by
a honeymoon in Hawaii. In between wedding plans, Tommy worked hard at his job and was promoted twice. As far as Frannie, she was in her last year of college majoring in design.

“She showed great promise in fashion design and was even given,
along with two other young women, an award at graduation, which included a three-day trip to Paris. Later, when tickets were allotted to each graduate, Joey and I were disappointed that there weren’t enough tickets for us to attend Frannie’s graduation. Even when her school sponsored a fashion show for graduates, we also were not included, with all the friends and family ahead of us on Frannie’s priority list. But at least Jessie was included in all the events. After all, she was going to be Frannie’s sister-in-law, and, of course, they were
close in age.

“Jessie was Frannie’s maid of honor. While the bride and groom were immersed in their wedding plans, Jessie was involved in fulfilling her bridal party obligations. As maid of honor, she had so many responsibilities that she prepared a check list and, as she completed each bullet on her list, she checked it off and sighed a sigh of relief. She actually looked more nervous than Fran, who always seemed to have everything until control.

On the day of the wedding, Fran, Jessie, and I all went to our own beauty salons. The girls had cosmetologists apply their make-up, but I did my own. Tommy, Joey and the men in the bridal party had only to worry about their tuxedos and getting a haircut. They didn’t know how fortunate they were, I couldn’t help reflecting.

Tommy and Frannie were married at the same church where Frannie had been baptized twenty-two years before. Her mother and she knew the priests well and selected, yes, that very priest who had baptized Frannie to marry Tommy and her as well.

“Before the wedding ceremony, of all people, my husband, Joey, got cold feet. He was supposed to read a Scripture from Genesis but at the last minute, grew so nervous that he told Tommy he couldn’t do it. Tommy didn’t know what to do at that point, but then he saw me.”

(Naturally, Madeleine was happy to help and read the Scripture from Genesis really well, even though she was nervous.)

“The ceremony was beautiful. Tommy and Frannie both looked regal, as did the rest of the bridal party. Jessie looked beautiful but a little nervous up there as the maid of honor , but after a while, even she looked relaxed. All was going so well!

“After the wedding and the pictures, we all got ready to go to the catering hall, which was way out on the Island. When Joey and I arrived at the hall, we took an elevator to the top floor, where the reception was to start momentarily.

“As soon as we could, Joey and I started dancing, and we hardly ever stopped that whole evening. As far as the band, our dancing, the relatives and our friends, everything was incredible! At my own wedding I hadn’t eaten very much, and neither had Joey, but now we found ourselves making up for that.

“First, we enjoyed the cocktail hour, and then, one by one, the incredible five -course meal was served, including a delicious salad, an unusual pasta dish, a choice of three main entrees, fruit salad and three choices of cake with assorted cookies and, of course, coffee. And that was long before the wedding cake was cut! …

“It was a wonderful evening….

“When the wedding was over, Tommy and Fran were going to a hotel nearby for the evening. Then, they would pick up their packed suitcases the next afternoon, following which they would board a plane, first-class, to Hawaii. That was surely an evening to remember!”

An Engagement Party and A Graduation Celebration!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

It seems that good and bad events in life appear in clusters! So it was in the life of Madeleine and Joey Russo! Following the death of Maddie’s beloved mom, Joey’s 88 year-old mother was rushed to the hospital with a serious cardiac problem. However, within a week or do, her condition improved greatly, and she was discharged from the hospital.

But then good things were on store for the Russo family! Imagine! An engagement party and a graduation celebration! Let’s join in on the festivities!

“‘What could I say about the children’s gala engagement party? My Aunt Sylvia and Uncle David summed it up when they asked, ‘What coild they do for their wedding to top this?’ This was a good question, to be sure. Frannie looked beautiful in s lavender strapless gown with stilettos and a handbag to match. Tommy was quite handsome in his classes black tuxedo, creamy white shirt and black silk tie to match. The rest of us dressed as though we were attending a wedding. I actually had several fittings on my pink satin gown with pink satin high heels and, yes, a pink satin purse to match. Joey, in his black tuxedo, reminded me of the handsome groom that he had been just about four years before.

“Thank God, everything went smoothly. Even when I met Katie, Joey’s ex, for the first time, I got through that experience with flying colors. Whatever anxiety we both might have felt inside, we hugged each other, beginning our relationship on the most positive of notes. Katie was an exceptionally tall, attractive woman with blond hair like Jessie’db and a trim figure. Her escort was an attractive, middle-aged man with whom she danced the night away, in between hugging Frannie, Tom, Jess and Ross.

“When all was said and done that evening, the main difference between this engagement party and the wedding to come was that, when the magical evening was all over, Tommy and Fram were still not married and wouldn’t be for another two years!

“When we all met at Leon’s, a new, local catering hall, just two weeks later for Jessie’s graduation party, we thanked God that it was another joyous occasion. To have a break in all the life challenges that Joey and I had already encountered in our marriage was something that Joey and I were grateful for beyond words.

“The food was delicious. There were three choices of entrees, a huge fruit platter and then a wonderful Viennese table, usually found at weddings, but since we all had a sweet tooth, Jess insisted on one. In fact, she had insisted on paying for it herself.

“Her graduation cake was basically a strawberry shortcake with the most delicious whipped cream filling and topping. On top of the cake were the words, ‘Have a Happy Graduation and a Wonderful life.’

Joey and I held hands as we looked all around us at family and friends. ‘It is a good life,’ I said softly to Koey.

“‘Yes, it is, honey,’ Joey said as he kissed me lovingly.”

Our Jessie Meets Someone Special!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

So many important things happened after her mom’s death that it seemed to Madeleine that her life was moving fast forward! The first event involved Joey’s mom, who had been in and out of the hospital for cardiac problems. Maddie prayed that she would be all right. There had been enough sadness and loss with her own mother’s death.

“Several months after Mom died, Joey’s mother was in the hospital, and our kids, along with Francesca, went along with us to visit her. There had been enough death in the air already, and we all prayed that the senior Mrs. Russo would be spared. She was eighty-eight years old, but she had always been in pretty good health for one her age. Now she was experiencing some heart trouble, for which she was being treated in the hospital. She was supposed to be discharged in a few days, and we all continually prayed that this would happen.

“In between hospitals and consoling me about my loss, Jess had a full class load at Queens College. She was doing extremely well with a 4.0 cumulative average. What we didn’t know is that she had met a young man at college in whom she was seriously interested. She brought him to the house a week or so after Joey’s mom had been officially discharged and was doing comparatively well at home with her two health care workers, ( one for the day and the other for the evening). At that point, we were all ready to meet someone special and have a pleasant evening.

“Jessie’s new boyfriend was a graduate student, whom Jessie had met at a meeting for special education majors. He was a handsome young man with light brown hair and warm brown eyes to match. Even at about six feet tall, he didn’t tower over Jesdie, who, although petite like me, always wore high heels. With Jessie’s blond hair and blue eyes, the contrast between Jessie and Ross was most attractive, I thought. They truly made an adorable couple. I couldn’t help
noticing that, except for his being a tad more husky, Ross looked a lot like Gino, my step-daughter’s ex-boyfriend. However, I soon learned that there were marked differences between the two men.

Ross was older than Gino and much more focused. He didn’t drink as much as Gino had, and he never smoked. But he did have a fantastic sense of humor and he chose to hardly ever be completely serious. He was the kind of person who kept you guessing, and I liked that. I guess Jess did, too, and I was happy for both of them.

While the family was getting to know Ross, Francesca and Tommy were planning their wedding. And what a wedding it would be! They booked a hall for June 17th of 1995, and for the type of wedding they wanted, three years were not even enough to do all the preparation. In addition to planning their wedding, they were working on a spectacular engagement party for June of 1993, just a year away. When they weren’t working on engagement party plans, they were involved in wedding preparation. To me, they were adorable, too.

“I was really getting to like Francesca. She was so much in control of things, and I liked that in a person. I wished I had been more like that when I was young.

“Joey and I insisted on taking Frannie’s parents, Mr. And Mrs. Espodito, to their favorite restaurant so that we could get to know each other better. It was hard to get the Espodito to allow us to treat them, but we finally succeeded. We all got along together very well.

“‘So before we know it, we’ll be going to an engagement party.’ Frannie’s mother, Jean, said.

“‘yes, we’re really looking forward to it,’ I said with a smile.

“‘They’re very young,’ Frannie’s father, Frank, said.
‘I worry about that sometimes.’

“‘Yes, they’re young,’ my husband said, ‘but they’re mature, and they don’t intend to get married until June of 1995anyway. Frannie will be 22, and Tommy will be 23. If they’re still as much in love then as they are now, I have no problem with their getting married at that time.’

“‘Bravo!’ I said, clapping. ‘I fully agree.’

“With that we had a champagne toast, and as we clinked each other’s glasses, we could see only wonderful days ahead for the children and for all of us.”

After Her Mom’s Death…

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Madeleine was depressed for quite a while after her mom’s death, but she tried very hard to keep the promise that she had made to her mother to be strong and continue to be there for her two step-children. Her beautiful cat, Skye, needed her, too, since he, at eighteen years of age, (and afflicted with cancer for the third time in his life,) needed tender, loving care now more than ever!

Because of his age and the aggressive nature of his cancer, the veterinarian did not want to operate on him. He felt that Skye would not live through the surgery. Maddie couldn’t put him to sleep, so Skye had vitamin shots a few times a week
and lots of love until he passed with his family around him.

Yes, these were difficult times for Madeleine and her family. Little did they know that Jessie, Maddie’s step-daughter, was suffering in silence with her troubled life! She was in a rut, pertaining to her job, but, even worse than that, she was breaking up with her boyfriend of several years. Let’s go back to my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale.”

“Skye lived another few months, during which Joey and I gave him all the love that we had to give. The family had a little ceremony for him after Skye died, which helped me considerably.

Meanwhile, “Jessie received acceptance from Queens College in the spring of 1991. She would begin classes the following September, and she decided to give her boss notice over the summer. I could see the difference in her attitude. She seemed hopeful and positive about her future. Yet, something was definitely wrong with her personal life.

“At the same time that Tommy and Francesca were saving money and planning for their future, Jess and Gino didn’t seem to be going anywhere. They had no mutual goals, and they could easily be described as drifting.

“One evening I heard some loud voices outside. Joey and I went to the window and saw Jessie coming out of Gino’s car. She was visibly upset and actually crying, which was totally unlike Jessie, who was very private about her feelings.

“‘If that’s the way you want it, it’s fine with me!’ she yelled into the car as she approached our front door.

“‘You’re the one who’s making the rules, Jessica, not me! Don’t blame this all on me. You suddenly want to be a big shot, and you’re giving me ultimatums. Well, I won’t have it. I don’t want to make any plans. I’m not ready. Find someone who wants what you want. It’s definitely not me!’

“‘You’re an immature idiot, Gino. I don’t think you’ll ever grow up, and, you know, I don’t care. I don’t care at all what happens to you!’ She screamed as she opened the front door and then slammed it behind her. Then I heard her run up the stairs and into her room, sobbing the whole time.

“‘Wait a while,’ Joey said, holding me back as I tried to get Jessie to let me in. ‘Give her a few minutes. I know my daughter. Right now she wants to be alone. When she stops crying, we’ll knock, and I know she’ll let us in. Jessie needs to compose herself first. She is a young woman who must have her dignity.

“‘Okay,’ I said. ‘I just don’t want her to be alone when she’s so upset.’

“‘I know, honey, but just listen to me. Let her have a while to herself.’

‘I felt powerless to help this young woman, whom I had grown to love so much, but I waited, as Joey said. And as I waited, I hurt inside.

“‘Now you know what it’s like to be a parent,’ Joey said, and I
nodded to him in between brushing away my tears.”