Modern Handmade Child

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


“A dozen balloons, stuck in a tree—just as planned-Perfect as can be!”
                                                                                                       By Alan P. Scaglone

Sometimes, you just gotta laugh—even IF it’s not appropriate or expected… sometimes, it’s just what the doctor ordered!
 So we had my brothers “Ashes to Ashes” Service—we spread his ashes in two places he would have wanted to be spread.
We put so much thought into this—one was at his daughter’s grave and the other was…a park where he and his daughters and cousins spent a lot of time.
I had organized the Saturday morning family gathering for 10am.
Just in time to go pickup the dozen lavender helium balloons.
Helium balloons? For a funeral or Ashes Spreading Service?
You’ve never done that?
We did it for my Aunt Ciria’s service—at the end of the service, we gave the balloons to each of the kids and stood in a circle and all said “We love you!” and let them go!
It was beautiful and…symbolic!
We were releasing our loved one just like the balloon…to soar into heaven, never to return to earth!
How fitting and freeing—everyone loved it and asked, “Can we do this for Joe?”
Sure…why not?
Just have to order the balloons and pick them up.
Thanks to my sister Kay for doing the ordering—that reminds me—I owe her for those balloons!
Note to self—send her a check! Sorry Kay…Check’s in the mail, I promise!

POINTS2PONDER  Why do we think everything has to be planned out and won’t be perfect unless it turns out exactly as planned? Sometimes, the funniest things in life are…impromptu!

So Bella and I get there early to set up. Something I always do—get there early!! Not something most people pride themselves on these days—promptness! But that’s another column!
I pull out the balloons and take them over to Joe’s daughter Nikki’s grave.
It just seemed fitting—he was coming back home to his little girl.
I wrapped the ribbon around Nikki’s flowers at her gravesite—for safekeeping, until everyone got there.
People started to arrive.
I greeted his widow Denise and her family.
I was able to share with her the love story of our parents Joe and Rose because they are also buried near Nikki.
It was just a beautiful Saturday morning.
Picturesque vista of May in Florida.
Sunny, bright, blue skies, slight breeze…
Did I say slight breeze?
All of a sudden there was a gust of wind…
And someone said “There go the balloons!”
And…there they went!
Into the big oak tree above Nikki’s grave—just high enough so that we could not get to them, but just low enough that they were hovering over us!
And I thought, “Joe—even til the end, you are calling the shots! You caused that gust of wind so you could mess with my plans of a perfect service!”
And I laughed—inopportune yes; Funny? YES and again-- YES!!
I laughed and laughed and laughed!
They stared and stared and stared!
Then I said, “Even in the end, Joe gets his way!”
Then… they laughed too!
And then…we had the perfect service…
With a dozen helium lavender (Joe’s favorite color) balloons overlooking:  our memories, our statements, our collective singing of Amazing Grace…and our parting prayer!
And it really was…perfect!
Just the way it was meant to be--
Lavender balloons…in the tree!
Guess our plans are good, but life has a way…of making other plans… and it all turns out… as it should… just perfect!
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm Just Saying

“To Everything There is a Season !”
                                          I’m Just Sayin’”
                                                                 by Alan P. Scaglione
For everything…there is a season!
You know the mourn, to laugh, to cry…for everything…there is a season!
And sometimes, the seasons overlap!
What’s a guy to do?
Can’t miss the good times…even IF you’re going through the bad times!
So…I was invited to my godson Shane’s surprise proposal to his girl Jessica!
It was at his brother Chris’s(my other godson) birthday party.
As you know, if you have been reading my column lately—I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate!
But…we do - for those we love - the best we can - because…we love them!
And I was NOT going to miss this moment in my godson’s life!
Just not gonna do it!
So we put our party face on—went to the party—socialized and speculated on what Jessica would do “When” Shane asked her!
We had the birthday portion of the party…down to the birthday presents.
At the end, Shane’s Dad pulls out a gift for his kids. T-Shirts!!
He gives one to the birthday boy. Then one to Chris’s wife Callie.
He then throws one to Jessica. Then one to Shane.
Their Mom says “Put them on—We want to see what they say!”
Chris puts his on. Callie does the same. Jessica’s says “No Photos Please!” We laugh!
Shane puts his on….and Jessica says, “Let me see? What’s yours say?”
Shane turns around and his shirt reads “Jessica – Will You Be My Wife?”
Everyone is shouting; parents are crying; Jessica is shaking – her mouth has dropped open!
Shane gets on his knee, pulls out this beautiful diamond ring and says, “Jessica, baby, will you marry me?”
We all have video going and cameras snapping; we have to capture this Once In A Lifetime Moment!
And we wait…for her answer!
And Jessica composes herself and opens her mouth and says,
 “Shane, it’s been a really rough week, and you should know now is NOT a good time…so, the answer is… NO!”
You could have heard a pin drop.
What do we do? AWKWARD!!!
No one moved. No one said a word. And that’s a miracle! Not even the kids!
Then Shane said, “That’s okay… I’ll just stick with the answer you gave me Tuesday Night WHEN I REALLY PROPOSED!!”
The two of them started laughing and…we knew… We had been PUNK’d!!
Yep—They got us!!
They got us good!!
And…I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The place went CRAZY!
Hugging and crying and laughing and “I’m gonna get you back!” – but more of the hugging, crying, laughing!
When we all simmered down—which took a while—Jessica told us how Shane REALLY proposed!
It was romantic and perfect and…the kind of story you tell your kids and they go “I’m gonna gross out!” and they laugh!

So…here we were… sharing a season of joy! In the middle of my season of mourning!
As if it couldn’t get better—In the middle of the crowd, Shane and Jessica asked their godfather (that would be me!)…
If I would do them the honor of performing the ceremony!

I cried…I am going to admit it…I did cry!
And I was even more surprised when Shane let Jess speak, and she shared that SHE was the one who suggested that I marry them!
Now…that did me in!
She’s a wonderful daughter, sister, mom and “about to be” wife – and add great goddaughter to that list!
So we all just basked in the moment of joy – they knew what I was going through – but they also knew…

Life is about seasons.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven!” Ecclesiastes 3:1

And sometimes… they overlap!
And I, for one… am just so glad they do!

Until Next Time
I’m Just Sayin’…
Brother “A”
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012


“Like the waves and the tide, Life Goes On..And It Should!”
                                                                                                       By Alan P. Scaglone

So I have to be honest, I am grappling with making sense of it all.
I just spent a week preparing and supporting my family while they went through this painful time of unexpected death, letting go and moving on.
I think it’s the last one that I am having trouble with.
I took care of them and made sure they had everything they needed. From pictures to Kleenex—it was my job as their father, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, husband…
To help them through this impossible task of grasping the concept of someone, NOT in their sunset years, leaving us suddenly.
And I was there for them—never asking them to be there for me.
But now…I have to admit…I’m having a little trouble with “moving on”—picking up the pieces—making some sense of it all—and carrying on without him.
Hey, don’t get me wrong—I’ve had a lot of practice. My mom, niece, father, best friend and now…oldest brother…all left us “before their time” as people say.
We trust in God, and that HE knows their time, so…it must have been “Their time” on God’s clock!
And I know from experience…Life goes on!
POINTS2PONDER  Why is it so amazing that, when we are dealing with a tragedy in our life, the flowers are still blooming and the grass is still growing—outside our window? Why is it just when we think we cannot go on or live through this heartbreaking period of our lives, we realize that…people are still going to the beach and going to work, planning weddings and having babies because…Life Goes On!
Speaking of the beach…my wife knew…I needed to go where everything just makes sense to me—for me, my calm place is…watching the waves, seeing the tide roll in…my feet wet from the water!
She knew I was having a day of mourning. I am allowed that. I know where he is, but I also know where he isn’t, and he’s not at the other end of his phone to call nor at his townhouse in Clearwater to visit.
 I was quiet…which she knows…is NOT typical me!
She said…”let’s go for a drive!” and we wound up at the Beach!
I walked along the shore, got wet past my knees. The water was cold…for a minute, but then…that State of Acclimate! And all was well…It really did calm me down.
Fathers were building sandcastles with their sons, mothers were putting sun block on their daughters, brothers were throwing Frisbees and footballs and young couples were arm in arm.
And it hit me…. “Life goes on…”
During all that I have been through in the past 10 days, this beach has been full of families doing what families do at a beach…sharing and enjoying some R and R – Rest and Relaxation!
And that’s the way it is supposed to be…
Kids need sun block and to be taught how to make sandcastles, boys need to throw Frisbees and footballs and those couples, they have to walk in the water arm in arm!
It reminds us that… no matter how rough the moment, and it may get pretty tough for a period of time…but, always…there’s a kid out there, on the shore, playing in the sand with his dad!
And I get it…Joe did it with his daughter while someone mourned a loss; now they are teaching sandcastle 101 to their son while I mourn the loss of my big brother.
It is as it should be…
Life goes on.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm just Saying by Alan P. Scaglione

“A life well lived—We are better for knowing you!”
                                          I’m Just Sayin’”
                                                                 by Alan P. Scaglione
My Nana Josephina always said “you know how well you lived by those who come to your funeral. They don’t have to come because you are not there. They only come, because you were there—in their life!”
How true Nana, how true!
We gathered together Friday to celebrate the life of my brother Joe.
As a family, we had spent the week preparing for this day.
From Monday’s “all day seminar” at the funeral home – he actually sent us out to grab lunch because “this was gonna take a while!”
And it did!
Then on Tuesday, we started working on the particulars: the program for the funeral, the eulogy, “who did what when”.
It’s really difficult to make those decisions WHILE you are also trying to adjust to the loss of your loved one.
Wednesday, so many family members flew in or drove in—the day was spent getting them situated, accommodated and acclimated.
Then came Thursday—two different family gatherings-
One with my brother’s wife and her family, in the afternoon.
It was great to get together and to reminisce about the Joe they lost—they knew a man we didn’t know existed.
They told us stories about his life apart from us—and we were so thankful to hear what a wonderful life he had with them.
We bonded as a family, one family, grieving the unexpected demise of someone we all loved and adored.
Then came our family gathering Thursday night—the nephew and 5 nieces, the cousin and her family, and the remaining brothers and wives.
We listened as the 3 nieces gave us a preview of their rendition of “Peter and John” a song Joe had written for them many years ago.
We cried and laughed as they sang and …. Even sang along on the “FaLaLaLaLa” part!
We were touched again as the kids shared their memories of Uncle Joe—they started to cry—we adults started to cry harder.
His loss was so painful to them—they just thought he was going to get better—but, 5 weeks in the ICU later, he never did!
We brought out old pictures of Joe and his  beloved daughter Nikki, and we all agreed that he and Nikki being back together was the only good part of any of the pain we were enduring—and then we passed more pictures of family times and family who are now reunited with Joe—a helpful healing time.
In between the two family gatherings, Thursday was also the prep day – approving the program, finishing the eulogy, practicing the songs, coordinating with the pastor.
Never realize just what goes into planning a memorial—until you are “planning” a memorial.
Friday morning, 10 am- we were surprised by all of those who turned out to celebrate a life well lived.
The nieces brought the house down and caused the crowd to clap and sing along to “FaLaLaLaLa” – Peter and John was a resounding hit!
I spoke the eulogy- recounting stories and “Did you knows?” about my brother. Sharing the time he kissed me on the cheek and shook his head yes that he was proud of me. We laughed, we cried—but we all shared this man we loved so deeply.
The pastor reminded us what Psalm 116:15 says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of his saints!”
Then…the miracle happened!
No, he didn’t suddenly appear and was raised from the dead!
 BUT…he did come alive in that room…he really did!
We opened the floor to family who wanted to share a moment- the nephew, the nieces, the cousin, the brothers, the sister-in-law, the daughters, the son-in-law, the brother-in-law…we all told of the way Joe touched our lives.
Then…we opened it up for friends. Hands went up everywhere! The young man encouraged by Joe not to give up! The co-worker who Joe encouraged to sing, and she said “I’m doing this for Joe!” and broke into song…and brought down the house! The lady who called him “Mr. Joe” and said how he always made her smile as they talked about grandchildren. The church member who Joe encouraged to just “sing with him!”  Then there were the musical friends who played guitar with him, swapping songs. Then the young man who said Joe was like a grandfather to him!
And then, his wife spoke! She thanked everyone for sharing Joe with her, even though she was the one who shared him with us!
The pastor concluded with a statement that “you never know a life has been well lived until you get to end of it and see…how well it’s been lived!”
And two hours later, we looked around and saw Joe, alive in the people whose lives he changed, by his songs, his words, his love!
And we realized— you really can judge a life by the people who come to your funeral!
And I had to wonder—who’s gonna show up to mine?

Until Next Time
I’m Just Sayin’…
Brother “A”
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