Reading My Work: A Gift for a Friend


For my good friend Andy Marino’s 60th birthday, his wife Dianne asked that his friends bring artistic presents to the celebration. There were gifts of songs, heart-felt testimonials, music, love and friendship. I read from a work in progress, FROM MOUNTAIN ROAD TO EASY STREET, a fictionalized memoir I hope to complete this year.

Part 2 of Reading My Work: A Gift for a Friend is HERE.

Thanks for watching!

—A h/t to Deb Brozina for the great camera work on a non-existing budget : )



Today was one of the Ten Best Days of the year for us, weather wise, in Hudson County, New Jersey. The combination of soft breezes, cloudless skies and the agreeable temperature combined to coax more than a few of our neighbors out of their houses. We were persuaded to go for a stroll as well.

Leading Mom, Dad and dog Celeste on our regular loop around the reservoir was our son Nicolas, in the stroller, pointing straight ahead, like the baby general that he is. We came across folks raking the fallen leaves, others cleaning their cars, and some strolling, just like us. Celeste was happiest of all. She loves having the family together, and if we’re together outside, even better.

I was aware that as long as I am able to live in the moment — which I admit I seldom can — today’s walk was perfect in every way. And for the amount of time that I could hold that reality, there was neither fear nor lack but a deep recognition that all was well with the world. My steps were bathed in appreciation and a certain joy as I went walking on a late fall afternoon with my loved ones.


Later, as I was rocking my son to sleep, all of the news of the last few cycles came up in my awareness. The images of destruction and death and loss from the recent suicide bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the senseless shooting at Fort Hood in Texas pile up in my brain. I was shaken. I try not to inflate my gratitude by comparing to those who are suffering today, not being able to know the depth of their pain. But I can’t resist the thought that a parent, who held a son yesterday, like I am holding Nicolas tonight, will not have that privilege again.

On some nights when she takes a turn putting our son to bed, my wife sings James Taylor songs as lullabies for Nicolas. For me, using Om as I rock back and forth on the comfy chair in his room, has worked really well for the last couple of years. It doesn’t immediately put him to sleep, but it does calm him down. Lately, Nicolas has been joining me in the omming. I’ve also been teaching him the word amen. He’s got the first part down.

Tonight, the sacred mantra in Nicolas’ room is a prayer of intercession for those enduring the inexplicable horror wrought by the lost and the frightened on the innocent. Om is also a prayer of gratitude for us able to enjoy a family stroll. Tomorrow’s weather forecast looks even better…

A Father Named Mom

Joy and Pride copy
Joy (l) and Pride (r) share an apple.

That’s me!

So named by my 3 year old son, who apparently believes in the economy of parental naming. He calls both his parents “Mom.” And he has been doing it since he started calling us anything, a couple of years ago.

My son has the best sense of humor of any 3 year old I know. His Mom agrees with me on this. Granted, I don’t know too many kids that age — most of my contemporaries have kids in college or grandchildren — but of the ones I know, he’s definitely the funniest.

So the first mistake here was laughing in front of him when he called me Mom that memorable first time. I was just grateful that he was calling me anything. You would be too. When you hear your only son, born on the year of your fifty-first birthday, address you, you go softer than at any other time in your entire life — even if you’re being called by the wrong parent designation.

I laughed the second time also. The third and on and on. I even told my friends, in between chuckles, that the kid was calling me “Mom.” They thought it was funny as hell. And I continued answering to Mom until about a year ago. That’s when I got him to call me by my rightful name: Papa. Which he did, just that one time.

When I insisted, he smiled and called me Mom again. His sweet, mischievous little face thoroughly enjoying his power. The toddler wheels turning: “Mom = funny! Papa = predictable — not funny. I’m sticking with Mom, sorry.” I try reasoning. No go. I called him by a name other than his own, hoping to teach him a lesson about identity. No go. Toddlers have little room for reason. Instinct and spontaneity are their main tools. That and cuteness, of which this kid has deep reserves.

So that’s one of the games that my son and I are playing these days. He’s enjoying this one more than me.

We’re also beginning to play catch. “Mom” is enjoying this one more.

Nicky running