Tag Archives: Family

Death Penalty vs. Life Imprisonment – A victim’s family viewpoint

I recently saw a Facebook posting from Rich Pollack whose daughter, Meadow, was gunned down along with sixteen others in a Parkland, Florida high school.

The question Mr. Pollack posed was;  if given the choice, what would you choose – life in prison or the death penalty for his daughter’s killer?  I scrolled through hundreds of comments, all which varied.

I had a more complicated point of view and offered my opinion in the same thread.

This gave me pause as to how many people actually realize what a victim’s family struggles with when asked this very question by a district attorney who is prosecuting their loved ones case.

It may seem like an easy decision but it is far from it.

Our family suffered an unimaginable loss in 2003 when my brother-in-law, Vinny, was targeted and murdered with a single gunshot in the head as he was walking to work in Midtown Manhattan.

Our family, like other victim’s families, learn to live with the pain. The anger does eventually lessen and there will come a time where the celebration of life overshadows the consumption of vengeance.

Having lived through the devastating murder of my family member, I thought I’d offer my perspective.

For my family, we chose life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That is a long time living in a small jail cell separated from society.  This choice was made for the benefit of our own mental health. Sentencing day was the last time we ever saw the murderer or ever uttered his name again. In a sense, he was dead to us forever and we never looked back.

There was freedom in knowing the government was locking him up and throwing away the key.

The death penalty is a complicated, emotional road that doesn’t truly end until the murderer’s heartbeat stops in chambers. There will be stays, appeals and court dates which only rips the bandaid off time and time and time again for victim’s family.  These inevitable court dates would cause the family to come face to face with the killer each time. It’s an emotional burden that wares on your despair causing endless pain.

This path never allows the family to heal.

It may sound strange and hard to understand for those who have not been in our shoes but we were not ruled by the old adage, an eye for an eye. The murderer chose to act like an animal and end a life.

We are civilized people who are not willing to contribute to taking a life so easily as this killer did.

It is never as easy as just saying the death penalty or life in prison. It is a daunting journey no matter the choice made by the victim’s family. Truth be told, no matter the sentence imposed, it will never bring back our loved ones.

It comes down to not letting these murderers consume the rest of our lives while still ensuring justice for the slain.

Peace and love to all those who have unfortunately walked in my shoes.


Open Letter to My College Bound Son

Where do I begin? I have loved you your whole life and will continue to do so til my last breath. You have been so fun to have in our household. Your quick witted sense of humor, even dumb humor at times, always made me giggle. As an infant into adulthood, your easy going personality along with your permanent smile made parenting you so easy.

As you prepare for college there is so much advice I need to dole out to you. Murphy’s Law is for you to rebuff my advice as annoying or try to blow me off so I feel the best approach is through a letter. As I did with your sister, I will put this in an envelope and pack it up with your belongings as you move into your college dorm. When you long for a piece of home, or need that comfort of a mom’s love, you can read this letter. Know my heart is always with you.

Well, I must admit on your last day of school, I couldn’t stop crying. I wasn’t quite sure what I was crying about but it wouldn’t stop. Then it hit me. I’m crying because for the first time, I will not be physically by your side to problem solve with you or jump to your rescue. Letting go of you is way harder than I anticipated.

There a thousand things I love about you. I love the way you take life a day at a time and you never really sweat things. I love your fierce loyalty, honesty and humbleness. People gravitate toward you for a reason. You are warm, welcoming, accepting, compassionate, and genuine.

When you wake up in your dorm room for the first time sans your family, there are things you should be reminded of to keep you grounded. You now share a room with someone. Keep it clean! Be considerate of your roommate by picking up after yourself. After long days of classes and nights out, no one should have to walk through a mind field of dirty clothes or garbage, including you. That’s your first order of business!

For the love of God, set your alarm. I won’t be there to gently wake you up every morning ensuring you get to class on time. Make sure your alarm is set ALWAYS. You are now paying for college. Make sure you get to your classes as it’s on your dime now. Don’t hit snooze and say, I’ll just miss today. Nope, the more you miss, the more you have the potential to fall behind. Even on the coldest of days where you don’t want to go outside, get to class. Even on days that you may be hungover, get to class. Even on days you have a cold, get to class. Your sole job in life right now is to get to class, study, get good grades and PASS!

The time has come. Laundry time! Yup, don’t wait til your down to your last pair of underwear or shorts. Figure out a schedule and do laundry weekly. Knowing you, you might even skip the underwear just not to do laundry but suck it up buttercup. Laundry needs to be done and you’re just the guy to do it. Here’s the second piece to this puzzle. FOLD YOUR CLOTHES! Since I know you won’t be ironing and looking good is a priority, wrinkled clothes won’t work for you. Fold your clothes and put them away, just not in a pile on your desk or in a corner of the room.

You successfully completed high school and somehow with doing minimal homework. That comes to a halt immediately. There is no more skimming by. Your smarts alone won’t get you through college. Homework needs to be done and papers need to be written. Being a minimalist will be a detriment to you in college. Work up to your fullest ability proving to your professors that you are up to the task of college work. If you have an exam, STUDY FOR IT! Skip the night out with friends or a frat and choose school work over partying each and every time. There will always be another party or another gathering. That exam, well, there will NOT be another time. That exam counts toward your GPA.

Priorities, priorities, priorities! You are now living on your own for the first time. No one there to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You are solely responsible for every decision you make and will deal with the consequences of those decisions both good or bad. Make smart choices. Parties and socialization are definitely the fun part of college but never forget you are there to earn a college degree. Academics are the priority. The end.

You’ve been a relationship for all of your high school life. Perhaps this relationship with continue in college and maybe it won’t. Decide what is good for you and what feels right. That relationship shouldn’t feel burdensome at any time. Your gut will tell you if and when you need to end it. Know it will be a lot of work to continue a relationship with you both being in separate colleges. I don’t want you to ever feel like you are missing out on something because you are bogged down by a long distance relationship. Keep in mind you will be exposed to many new people and people with different experiences. Be open to them and don’t pigeon hole yourself in a corner because you have a girlfriend. I’m not saying to cheat on her. Don’t ever do that! But every once in a while, take a step back and decide if it’s what you want. At this point in your life, it IS all about you.

For arguments sake and just to cover this topic, let’s say you end up single at some point in college. Be the guy that opens the door for a girl. Be the guy that isn’t a douche. Treat each girl respectfully. Don’t ever make them question where they stand with you. Be clear. Be kind but direct. Girls are emotional by nature and last thing you want is to have a girl cry over you. Be a gentlemen at all times and ALWAYS do the right thing by a female. Remember…if a girl says no, it’s no. Walk that girl to her dorm. If you are out at a bar with the a girl, make sure she gets home safe. Be the guy that every girl wants to bring home to mom.

At this point in your life, you may be unclear as to what career path you want to pursue and that’s ok. This is the time to figure things out. Explore everything! Take classes that interest you. You are going to spend your entire life working, make sure you choose a career you love. If you choose one major and decide it doesn’t interest you, now is the time to make that change. Figure out who you are and what you want out of life. I will be here to support your decisions and bounce things off of. There are tons of resources at school. Tap into them. Speak to your advisors and professors. They are your best educational resource. These people and these programs at school are here to serve you. Don’t be shy, step up and ask.

I’m excited for you to be attending a big sports college. Go to games. Enjoy everything that is at your fingertips. Cheer on your teams and have school pride. If feels good to be part of something. You are an enormously talented athlete and excel in all you do. You ARE good enough to play college baseball at Cortland. Should you change your mind, go to “walk-ons” and try out for the team. You will meet guys just like you that love to play ball and are the best. They will push you to do better and there is a brotherhood with baseball players you can’t find anywhere else. They become family for life. Think about that. If you choose not to play, it’s ok but stay active. Have pick-up basketball or football games with friends. Play softball or wiffle ball. Join the club teams. You are an athlete. Continue to be one!

Call your mother! Your life will be busy with school work, parties and friends. It is easy to get caught up in college life but remember there’s one person waiting to hear all about. She’s waiting to celebrate your successes, offer advice or just listen as needed. ME!! I want to hear all about your life as I won’t be there to see things first hand any longer. Know that you can call or text me at any time. I will always be here for you. I will be at Cortland in the blink of an eye should you ever need me. I’m only a phone call away.

Lastly and most importantly, be a good person. Be kind to everyone around you, student’s, staff and strangers. Befriend someone that might seem like an outsider. You never know how your actions or words can impact a person. If you see injustice at any point, I want you to stand up and speak up. If you see someone being bullied or treated like crap, you be that person to stop it. Do not be a bystander in life. You are an amazing kid and have always taken on the role of a leader. Continue to do that. Be someone that others look up to. Use that attribute for good…always.

Know that although you are at college, this is always your home. You are always welcomed here at any time. That no matter where your travels or life journey may take you, we welcome you home with open arms always. We are your comfort zone. We are the ones who will ALWAYS have your back no matter the circumstance. We are the ones who love you unconditionally. We are fiercely loyal to you and love you so much.

I wish you nothing but success, health and happiness in the next chapter of your life. You have always made us proud and I know you will continue that. You are the light of my life.

Mom xox

Bashing the Ex. Is this ever a good idea?

Like any good blogger, I’m inspired by real life events.

Today’s events are brought to me and thus you, via Facebook statuses. It’s actually a pretty regular occurrence in my newsfeed from Facebook friends or in most cases, acquaintances.

It’s the dreaded status that causes me to cringe as I read through it. What am I talking about? It’s the Facebook bashing of their ex-husband (have to be honest, never saw a guy bash his wife on my feed…yet. Good job guys).

Now, I’m not a naïve person nor are those privy to reading these public, written outbursts. Divorce pushes many emotions to the surface such as anger, bitterness, sadness, resentment, disbelief, and fear. I think I’m a reasonable person and understand this.

Whatever the intent of the writer on the reader may be, I still don’t get the public shaming or airing of dirty laundry.

Marriage is daily, constant hard work. No one knows what takes place behind closed doors and personally, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know the details of the demise of the marriage. I have enough problems of my own lol. It becomes burdensome and uncomfortable to read such statuses.

There isn’t a person I know who takes divorce lightly. There had to be some significant issues in that marriage for it to end.

Here’s where I differ from the women who take to their social media to publically whip their ex’s. Regardless of the circumstances of what caused the breakdown of your marriage. Regardless, whether you think this guy is the biggest dick in the world. You have children together!!! At one point in your life, you loved this person. Because you have children together, you are forever connected.

When I awkwardly read the statuses airing personal, intimate issues, I notice that most times the children are Facebook friends with the parent spewing such rants. I’m not sure how this is beneficial to the kids. If children’s well being comes first, how is this in their best interest? I swear, I don’t get it!

Well, now’s a good of time as any. Why don’t I get it? Who am I to judge? Well, I just went through a divorce. I guarantee my friend’s jaws just dropped reading this. LOL to that! Hi guys! I guess this is a public outing of me.

I can’t imagine talking disparagingly about the father of my children. I’ve spent half my life with him and my kids deserve a quality relationship with him, without it being tainted by any negative remarks from me. My relationship with him is separate from his relationship with the kids. Go ahead, read that last sentence of brilliance one more time.

I, like every other parent, want my children to thrive and be happy.  If my kid’s dad is happy, my kids are happy. I wish him health and happiness always. Why wouldn’t I? He’s an extension of my kids. We divorced each other, neither of us divorced our kids.

The onus is on the parent. We are the role models. Children model our behavior both good and bad. Choose wisely.

Lastly, I can guarantee whatever reaction these women are trying to illicit; most likely it is having a negative effect and alienating many. There are the few commenters who encourage the public shaming which seems to be a driving force for the bad behavior to continue.  Not a fan.

I wish everyone who participates in public shaming their ex on social media,  for the sake of their kids, their Facebook friends, anyone exposed to reading their bullshit statuses would just STOP and STFU.  Here’s my unsolicited advice for anyone out there reading this and more specifically, are guilty of the above. Thank me later.

I get that things will happen during the divorce that will infuriate you, but rise above it.

I get that you may have been hurt or blindsided, but rise above it.

I get that you have fear of the unknown, but rise above it

Bottom line is for the sake of the children…rise above it all! 



I Want To Like Football, I Really Do

I want to like football. I really do. Each year, I set a goal to like football and each year it’s an epic fail.

I feel forced to like football because, well, that’s mostly what’s on TV from September to February. As I flip through the stations, football clogs the airways. So like a good American, I succumb and land myself on a football game, like today for insistence.

As I type, the Jet’s vs. Steelers game is on. Here’s a peek inside my mind. (I convince myself you’re interested). First thing I notice are the uniforms. My likeability of a team depends on how pretty their uniforms are. I’ve decided I’m partial to the Vikings and the Saints because of their colors, logos and uniforms. Seems like a reasonable way to pick a favorite team, for me at least. I also notice cute guys in uniform and I’m not mad about that. (My list isn’t necessarily in order lol).

Here’s where things fall apart for me. I’m watching and watching and watching. Guy gets the ball. He runs as hard and fast as he can into a crowd of big guys, (correction, not big guys but abnormally large, strong, Adonis men) that want to pummel him, jump on him, land on him, tackle him and hurt him. Me personally, I’d run and stop just a foot short of the gathered crowd, throwing my hands up in surrender to sacrifice myself avoiding my imminent doggie pile tackle. Each play is only seconds long, and then repeat. Complete snooze fest over here for me. My only moment of reprise is when a player scores a touchdown and does a little dance. Not even the biggest football hater can deny that’s fun to watch.

When my youngest boy started playing football last year, I thought things would surely change for me. After all, I was watching my son play and what’s better than that? Well, I tried. I did. I tried being interested. I watched play after play never peeling my eyes away from #95, my little guy.

While I watched his every play and endured almost two hours of watching a sport I clearly didn’t understand nor liked, I still couldn’t tell you one thing that happened in that time frame. What I can tell you is that it made me happy to watch him play despite not knowing fully what was going on. In the end though, who cares? I was there to watch my son play, have a good time and succeed. All which were accomplished.

So while my love of football may not fully evolve, I’ll still appreciate those that play the game, love the game and are committed to the game. I might have to admit that I’m the girl that will always be the fair weathered football fan who simply tunes in once a year during Super Bowl tethered to the TV to finally watch the much hyped about commercials and half time show. Maybe next year I’ll like football. Bring on baseball season.



The “C” Word

Cancer. The scariest six letter word I know.

Each of us easily associates a person with this disease. Hearing this word conjures up an image in our head of a beloved family member or friend. Even if this disease hasn’t directly affected our own family, we know someone where it has devastated their entire family.

What happens when you’re on the receiving end of a doctor telling you, “I’m sorry. The biopsy came back and it’s Cancerous”?

God Forbid.

But what happens when this becomes your reality?

Four months had passed with what I thought was a cut on my nose. It bled often when I came out of the shower. Some days it looked better than others. It was noticeable because there was a strange indentation. The details are necessary so you can do a quick mental assessment while reading this to determine if this describes anything on your own body.

At the urging of my daughter and a friend, I finally visited the doctor. I had blown off going for so long because I thought it was nothing. Scratch that. Truth be told, I blew it off because deep down I knew it was something. I didn’t want to hear those words. I didn’t want it to be me.

Basal Cell Carcinoma. In laymen terms, Skin Cancer. Cancer lives inside my body.

When sharing this news, most people told me “oh, that’s not a big deal. Tons of people get that”.

While that should ease my mind, it doesn’t. Cancer exists where there was none before. 40% chance of it coming back.

I have Googled the shit out of this and have learned there is a 98% cure rate through Mohs surgery.

In light of this good news, I count my blessings. I suppose this is the “best” kind of cancer to get or so others have told me. To me, it’s a ridiculous statement. Cancer is the fucking devil! I don’t want any kind. I appreciate the fact that my Cancer (scary that I now have to call it my own) is probably one of the mildest versions while others have suffered incredibly from this body eating disease. I am grateful.

The surgeon will chisel away a portion of my beautiful Italian nose. (I’ve never loved my nose so much before or been so keenly aware of its existence). I’m told I will be stitched closed with at least fifty stitches and a skin graft.

Why oh fucking why, does this have to be on my face? Please indulge me and let me be vain for a brief moment. After all, I have Cancer. It’s a free pass to bitch (says me). I pride myself on three things: my face, my hair and my legs. Now I’m going to have a mangled Elephant Man face. OMG!!! I am a woman. Looks matter. May my legs and hair forever look good. Say it with me, “amen”. Meltdown over.

Lastly, I offer one piece of advice to those who have endured reading my killjoy blog thus far. When someone has Cancer of any kind, no matter how minimal you may perceive it to be, please don’t say “it’s not a big deal”. The most comforting words I can hear is “that sucks”. Empathy is like comfort food in this situation.

So in closing, I’d like to channel my girl, Gloria Gaynor, and tell you, I will survive. I’ll add this experience to my arsenal of stories and triumphs. Fuck Cancer!


New Year’s Eve: Resolve to Repent

Like any good party animal, I’m spending my New Year’s Eve snuggled in bed with a good book. For tonight, I’ve traded in my stilettos for slippers. While I’m all for a good party, and lots of dancing, the thought of sharing the road with drunk drivers is enough to keep me home year after year. I think the switch was flipped the day I became a parent. So instead, I stay home and I pass the party torch onto my kiddies.

I lie here contemplating my New Year’s resolution. I can’t lie; I don’t ever remember keeping one after it was made (quitter on my dad’s side).  I’m going to decline the “diet” resolution because that is never kept passed sunset on New Year’s day. I’ve succumbed to the sad fact that I’ll never be a size two. My love for food coupled with my Italian genes won’t allow it. I could commit to the traditional “being a better person”, but truth be told, I really don’t suck as a person (says me).

After much thought, I’ve decided I will try and curse less. Hey, I’m a realist. Eliminating cursing completely is nearly impossible for this f bomb dropper. It’s a horrible habit I admit but adding “fucking” to any story seems to spice it up and grab the listener’s attention.

If I can’t get it right for New Year’s there’s always the back-up known as Lent. You have to love the Catholics anticipating the quit in all of us, allowing us to sacrifice something for just six weeks.  Short term goals seem more attainable anyway. I suppose its better to have some resolution as opposed to none.

So in anticipation of the New Year just a few hours away, I just want to say happy fucking New Year. May all the bad shit you experienced this year open the path for better things in 2014. I’ll pray my resolution sticks, but if it doesn’t, I’ll be sure to repent in March during Lent. I fucking love do-overs!

My Fear of Santa

It’s Christmas time which means my social media newsfeed is flooded with friends posting pictures of their kids with Santa.  It’s amazing that every kid is smiling with Santa that is until today. All it took was one photo of a friend’s kid crying his eyes out on Santa’s lap to provoke a childhood memory and here it is.

Every Christmas Eve my family along with cousins would pack the car and head to Connecticut to spend Christmas with my childless Aunt and Uncle. I suppose my Aunt was trying to create the most memorable, authentic Christmas each year. That meant a visit from old St. Nick. One would think that it was really sweet that she went through great lengths to pull in the big guy. Yeah, well everyone might think that but me. I was terrified of Santa Claus.

My annual nightmare began with the sound of “reindeer” bells. And like a bunch of nutjobs posing as my relatives, they would yell “Santa’s here”. That was my cue to dodge under the thick, oak dining room table where I clung to the base.

And I wasn’t a complete idiot at the age of six or seven, I did hear them snickering and saw them pointing at me. What kind of sicko adults think it’s funny that a child is scared shit of some random man dressed in a red suit trying to get me to sit on his lap? A little empathy would have gone a long way but nope, they were old school.

Each child in attendance would sit on the fat guys lap where they were handed a present. They opened their gift in delight and each would boast about their new toy. Then it came down to me. Love was sucked out of the air when little Wendy was involved. Not sure if that is entirely true but that’s how it felt.

I was told if I didn’t get out from under the table and see Santa then I wouldn’t receive a gift. No brainer, no gift for me! That was easy. Actually it was anything but easy. I was tortured by every adult in the room to come out. I’m all about problem solving. Wouldn’t it have been easier for the scary, old guy to leave and set my present by the door? Come on ding-dongs even a kid could figure this out.

Nope, it’s the Italian way. Everything is a threat. If you don’t eat your dinner, you will not get dessert. Looks like no dessert for me. I absolutely loathe that rational and I have never used it on my own children. Why force someone, even a child, into doing something they are uncomfortable with or making them eat something they hate. I just don’t get it. What does it prove other than you are a bully?

Sorry for the rant, back to the story. So year after year this went on. It took my aunt and uncle getting divorced to stop the insanity. Believe you me, no one was happier they were divorced then me. That meant no Santa harassment.

My kids all seem to have tolerated the annual picture with the white bearded man through the years. Christmas is all about miracles and being grateful. I’m grateful my fear of Santa isn’t genetic.