A Small List of Things

I realize I haven't updated this blog in a couple of weeks.

It's not because I'm running out of things to say.

Truth is, I could talk about my mom for the rest of my life if people would let me.

It's just that, we're closing in on the 6 month "anniversary" ( God, I hate using the word "anniversary" for something like this) of her death and I've been feeling very dull and very numb about it.

About everything.

You always hear that "Time heals all wounds".

What people don't tell you is that it's is a double ended sword.

Not only that, but it's also a lie.

A big ugly lie.

When my mom died...when I first got that phone call from St. Catherine's Hospital...when some faceless nurse who I didn't know, never met and who didn't know me, gave me the news that destroyed my life, it was as if a knife had been driven through my heart.

It was immediate and it gutted me from the inside out.

Time has done nothing to remove the knife and "heal the wound".

All it's done is allow hardened gangrenous skin to grow around the blade.

Every day when I wake up, that knife is still in my chest.

I look in the mirror and I see it clear as day.

It sticks straight out and all I can do is figure out which shirt hides it best so nobody will notice.

That knife will never leave. It will always be there. Forever.

Time will not fix it.

Time can only force me to find ways to deal with it. But by doing that, it's forcing me to remember why it's there in the first place.

But it also forces me to remember my mom and remember the person she was.

And if there's going to be any kind of silver lining, that's probably it.

I have a lot of stories on this site, but I have a lot of memories that are just brief snippets of time.

Something she might have said or did. Little things. Sometimes so small or inconsequential that they barely registered as happening at all.

Things that stand out to me now that help add depth and texture to the portrait of Carol Versandi as a real person. Not just this "thing that once was".

So that's what this is.

Just a small list of things.

Things that were specifically Carol.

Things that if you knew her, will make you smile and say "Yup, that's Carol!".

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

We used to go out to dinner at a place called Zan's Kosher Deli.

Every single time we would go, she would order the same thing.

Matzoh ball soup and a salami sandwich with no bread (yes, I realize a sandwich without bread isn't really a sandwich)

But she only wanted the waitress to bring her half of the salami sandwich and wrap up the other half to take home.

So basically, what she ended up with was a big white plate with nothing on it except 7 or 8 slices of naked salami and a brown paper bag with 7 or 8 slices of salami in it.

They would always ask her if she would just rather order half a pound of salami from the deli counter, since it would be cheaper.

She always said no. She liked doing it this way.

But that's only half the story.

Since I would always order a reuben, the waitress naturally assumed that I too, wanted only half and served without bread.

No matter how many times I told them beforehand that I wanted the full sandwich and I wanted it on bread like a normal person, it always came out the same ridiculous way.

On a plate, cut in half, without any bread.

Every time.

Without fail.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Years ago we went on a camping trip.

I forget where exactly. I was a kid. 6, maybe 7 years old.

All I remember is that we were in the car for hours and got lost.

It was raining so we ended up stopping at a motel for the night.

Since we had all the camping gear with us, my mom decided to set up the tent inside the motel room.

We spent the night inside a tent in the motel.

"Camping"

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

For a while my mom was a big Perry Como fan.

She would play his records and sing his version of "It's Impossible" endlessly while washing dishes or doing laundry.

One day her friend Barbara called her up to tell her that Perry was going to be playing at a local venue and asked if she wanted to go.

"Absolutely" my mom said.

The night of the show, Barbara came to our house, picked up my mom and another friend of theirs and off to see Perry Como they went, leaving my brother and I with a babysitter.

An hour later they all came back.

The babysitter asked "How come you're back so early? What happened?"

My mom said "Jesus Christ Perry Como is old. We couldn't take more than two songs!"

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

My mom once convinced someone to let her buy a matching set of table lamps at a garage sale.

Even though they were part of someone's living room set and weren't for sale.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

My mom used to like going crabbing on summer nights.

We would go to Northport Village or Captree State Park at night with crab traps and use chicken drumsticks as bait.

Whenever we had a crab in the trap, my mom would stand there as I pulled it out of the water and up onto the dock.

She would then make me open the trap and set the crab free.

More then once people would come up and ask her what she was doing.

Why was she constantly throwing these crabs back?

Her response, "I don't want to catch them. I just like feeding them".

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

One of my favorite breakfast cereals is Lucky Charms.

But growing up, I wasn't allowed to have any. It's not that my mom was overly concerned with the sugar content or lack of health benefits. It's just that she would sit on the couch and fish out all the little marshmallows and leave a box filled with bland flavorless oats.

She was a perfectionist. She wouldn't miss a single one.

She said she hated the taste of the cereal but loved the marshmallows so that was the part she ate.

Years later, after I had moved out and gotten married, as a joke, I bought her a bag of just the marshmallows.

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(You can buy a pound of the dehydrated marshmallows on Amazon here:http://www.amazon.com/Hoosier-Hill-Charms-Cereal-Marshmallows/dp/B00FC9UPVI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405974609&sr=8-1&keywords=cereal+marshmallows)

She looked at it, somewhat dejected, and said that she didn't want it because she felt it was cheating.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

My mom almost never put personal belongings or material objects before or above her children's happiness or the life of a living creature. Obviously, within reason. But it was rare and necessary when she did.

• My brother's hamster once got loose and hid inside my mom's brand new couch.

Brand new, as in she had just gotten it two days prior to this happening.

After about an hour of unsuccessfully trying to lure it out with food, my mom grabbed

a knife and cut open the fabric that housed the frame.

Just to give this little hamster a better chance to escape.

Even though I'm sure it would have come out on its own eventually.

My mom's reasoning..."It's just a couch. We can get another couch"

• The house I grew up in had a slight incline in the side yard.

One summer afternoon, some friends and I cut open some garbage bags,

taped them all together and created our very own ghetto slip and slide.

My mom came home from work, saw what we were doing and immediately went back out.

She came home with a giant roll of contractors plastic. The kind that was used to cover furniture when painting a house.

She helped us unroll it down the length of the entire lawn, hosed the entire thing down

with soap and water and now had the largest slip and slide in the neighborhood.

We kept it out all summer long. Every kid in town came by at one point or another.

One day one of the neighbors said to my mom,

"Why are you letting them destroy your lawn like that?"

My mom told her, "It's only a lawn".

• All kids draw or paint on walls at some point.

It's pretty much a given. But my mom actually let me. She didn't just let me, she encouraged me. She acted as though I were a famous artist creating my masterpiece.

When someone said to her, "Why do you let him draw on the walls?",

she would say "It's only a wall".

It's only a wall

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Carol Versandi wasn't just my mother.

She was a part of me.

Just like this knife sticking out of my chest is a part of me.

I may not have her anymore, but I have her memory and I will

continue to talk about her until I draw my last breath.

And after that, I will tell her to her face how much I've missed her.

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