Mothers: The Determining Factor

A Heritage of Mothers


Only my husband still remembers that when I was a teenager, I said I wanted to have six children. SIX. Also, recently my daughter and I asked each other what we thought we would be if we didn’t become writers. She told me she would have gone into child care.

I believe that someone can only come to these kinds of conclusions when they have been born into a long heritage of absolutely wonderful mothers.

This is a true test.

I’ve since come to realize having an adept and caring mother is the most defining factor in a person’s life.

I didn’t go on to have six children, but that’s not the point. The point is I had such


an outstanding mother that, if practicality had warranted, I thought I might have inherited

the ability to mother more and more and more children… just keep ’em coming. And she’s the reason why. Because she was this amazing example, who to this day can make me feel better just with the sound of her voice.

A lot of Mother’s Day messages talk about all the sacrifices and such that they acknowledge their mothers made, etc. Well, of course, my mother made sacrifices up the wazoo. But she never made it feel that way for a moment. She made it feel like she was just having the gosh-darn most rollicking fun time with us, even when we drove her crazy. I don’t know too many people who laughed more. And we still have fun.


A Message from Jason, 9/11


I am a huge fan of Guideposts. Yet I’m not a huge fan of eNewsletters.  You’d never know this, because I receive an electronic heap of them per day. SmartBriefs, trade newsletters, Chicken Soup newsletters since I am a former contributor, spam eNewsletters … up the wazoo.  So many go unopened that a majority now end up in my spam file. I’ve been too distracted to go into them and unsubscribe.

A Guideposts eNewsletter appeared in my spam file yesterday.

Eh, I thought. Maybe I’ll read one today.

I clicked on “This is not spam.” The newsletter moved to my inbox.


My cousin Jason DeFazio worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001, he was 29 years-old.  He had gotten married three months before. Much of mjason micheley mother’s family was at his wedding, laughing and celebrating with him. On September 11th, his wedding pictures hadn’t even come back from the photographer yet.

The last his mother (my mom’s first cousin Roseann) heard from him, he was in a stairwell.

That was all.

His family held a service for him in October.  Around the room, his wedding photos were displayed in frames on bakers racks. “This is all I have of him now,” Roseann said to me as she walked me through the sets of portraits. She had nothing to bury. She didn’t receive a physical scrap of him back. This is difficult for an Italian family. We want visceral closure, backed with physicality. We want something and somewhere to visit, to pay our respects.

I held Roseann’s hand. I wanted to repay her. I hadn’t spent a lot of time with her family in Staten Island, but almost 15 years before, my aunt had died of Lupus. Still a teenager, and one who identified fiercely with my Aunt Joanne, I was devastated enough to develop allergy symptoms that mimicked her disease, which continued for months to come.  Roseann came out to Long Island for the funeral and held my hand. She told me stories about when she, Joanne and my mother were girls. She stood in my grandmother’s basement and took my mother’s hand and tap danced on the concrete floor like they did when they were kids in dance class, and made my mother laugh. It made me feel like my beautiful aunt would not be forgotten, did not go into the ether. Note, that “Chicken Soup for the Soul” contribution I mentioned was about my aunt.

Right now, I don’t feel like being eloquent. I feel like figuring out what this is supposed to mean. I Google Jason’s name and see a plethora of photographs of him that make me cry, even though he was not a cousin that I spent time with. It still makes me want to repay Roseann more. Like the world owes her more.

The crux of the newsletter was that Roseann was receiving messages from Jason. I can’t help but wonder what message I was meant to discern when I randomly rescued an item from a spam file that turned out to be a posting about my own relative. Except that maybe I should write about him.

This is the story Guideposts sent around:

A Message of Comfort from a Loved One Lost on 9/11Marquee_GreenAngel




My Mother Sprayed Me With Whipped Cream


Here’s my gorgeous mother.mother029

I’ve had a secret that has sustained me for years, knowing that I’d be able to fake my way through being young longer than anyone has the right to. I always knew I’d have this extra time. Because many of the women in my family (well, the men, too, but especially the women) age V E R Y… S L O W L Y.

This is my mother, who when I went away to college, had a smaller waist than I did (and I was tiny!). This is a woman who squirted me and my brother with whipped cream one day when we wouldn’t shut up. This is the woman who my first date asked out before asking me out. (Why did she let me go out with that guy?) This is the woman who is so excited that they are bringing back the X-Files that she has the TV Guide article about it taped to the wall in the guest room at her home in a 55+ community.
And just so you know, MY GRANDMOTHER was on a tap-dancing squad at the age of 70-something.

Bless them both; I always knew I’d have extra time to still be m

And have you met my mother-in-law, who retired to a four-bedroom home in the Poconos big enough to fit all of us? On purpose.  She was going to open a bed-and-breakfast, but decided instead just to cater to us. And ten grandchildren.

Read this story about her that I pitched to Child magazine approx. 15 years ago; it kinda says it all. They were looking for a story on long distance grandparent relationships. My kids and all my nieces and nephews are in this piece, some of whom are in college now, or going this fall. The magazine sent a photographer up to the house in the Poconos, which we all called Peachtree. Grea_grandparents_two_pix1at stuff.

Note this article included a preamble by PENELOPE FREAKING LEACH.  She is listed now as the author of the article, but that’s wrong.  It was written by a staff editor; I spoke to the writer personally.  The introduction by Penelope Leach does not actually appear in this online version.  It was marvelous, however.


So, about your mom? … let’s hear it.