And then came Joey
The final piece to the puzzle of the Marvullo family, I want you all to know as we arrive at the adventures chapter of my life… again I am using this as an introduction for my children to always know where they came from and the pain and humor in all of our lives…..
October 1981 came King Joseph. Joseph is a Junior named after our Father and the many, many Giuseppe Marvullos before him. Laura and I were thrilled with our new addition mostly because we could not wait to dress him up and boy did we.
Life changed drastically for me as Joey grew up. I was relieved of the many things Dad MADE me do- looking back I enjoyed those activities. Joey became Dad’s fishing partner, hunting partner, yard work partner and all around best buddy. Joey was always full of energy and full of…. well we will get to that point later.
Watching Joey grow has been amazing in ways I don’t think I could have ever imagined. Being an older sister I was excited to now be able to boss two people around, teach him how to sneak his food at the table to the dog and eventually, I thought I would show him how to drive a car and drive my parents crazy. I thought I would be the one to teach him to take on the world and be a first class baseball player. I imagined it all. But, I imagined it all very wrong.
At a very young age I became a Mother figure to Joey because my Father’s drinking seemed to take most of my Mother’s time and energy. In 1986, just a few months after my Mother’s beloved NY Mets won the world series, my Father became very ill with at the time was an unknown type virus that was shutting all his organs down and was hospitalized for over a month. I can remember it like yesterday we were all at a family friends house (Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Dawn) and Mom came to pick us up the priest had given my Father his last rites and we went to say goodbye. I can remember her holding onto Joey so tight as if he was the only child. I guess she felt he was his namesake and the only other man in our family that was to be left. The days passed and slowly, Dad got better but Joey at a young age was thrust into manhood as my Father recovered.
Joey became one of the top athletes at school. He was Captain of the wrestling team and Captain of the football team. He dated the prettiest girls and all the local parents were in awe of his talents. He was on top of the world and we were so proud to watch this all unfold. Then came Cortland College, the first child of the family to go away to school. My parents were beaming with pride. Well beaming until Joey drank and drugged his way through freshman year and took what we called the most expensive vacation ever. He attempted Community College and his life began to spiral out of control never keeping a job, loosing relationships and dealing with depression. Then at the ripe old age of 21, Joseph watched, literally watched, as my Mother lost her life at home so suddenly on that Thursday evening in February 2003. Things got even more out of control and my little baby brother drank the pain away.
Laura and I tried the best we could to keep him out of trouble but it was out of our control. Just like my Mother said about my Father “when he is ready for help he will get it, ” he was ready in 2006. On the night of my husband’s birthday we reached out to Joey to come celebrate and he said “I need help.” Donald went to pick him up and we called my Dad whom at this point was living in Florida and he got on the next flight to New York. Who could of imagined that twenty something years later my Dad would be bringing his only son to the same rehab that saved his life. He returned home and lived with me, on my couch with few clothes and half my coat closet for storage. He had lost everything but was ready to rebuild. I again was his Mother worrying about his every move and making sure he was diligent in attending his AA meetings. All with the help of my sister we got him through and he is now approaching his 8th year of sobriety.
On a much lighter note lets discuss what I love about Joseph:
- “what are you talking about” the statement that is forever coming out of his mouth.
- As some would say he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves.
- “hum kkkkkkiss nhjki abba abba abba doooo shhhhheeee aaasssskkkki dododod” the sound of Joey’s voice while talking to him on the phone. He is clearly a MUM-BELL-ER.
- He loves farting just about as much as my Dad. Farts are always funny – even when you fart into a zip lock bag, place it in the freezer and save it for your nephews.
- Farts can also be Christmas gifts for your nephews, farting into their stocking and saying “Merry Christmas” is always the best gift one can give.
- I love how he loves my sons totally and unconditionally.
- Cosmo Kramer JR… quirky yet lovable.
- his new found purpose and passion the 12 steps and taking it one day at a time.
- he is completely full of crap most days and I absolutely love calling him out on it and his answer is always “what are you talking about.”
- Love how Laura and I have truly become his mother mostly because we buy him things for Christmas like white tank tops and boxers. That is what all good mothers buy their adult sons for Christmas.
Here is a look at what 8 Maple Street, Glenwood Landing looks like now…. minus one, but filled with love and understanding. Some with long hair and some with less hair. Some skinnier, some a little more plump. Some grey hairs and some needing glasses. We made it through.
Laura Frances Marvullo Campaner
Born in 1979 she came into our family and since that day tried to steal my thunder right out from under me. An only child for 4+ years, Janice and Joe gave me a sister, truly God’s greatest gift – Well, now I know that – back then not so much. Laura was named after our Great Aunt Laura Marvullo and our Nanny Frances (Avalon) our Mother’s Mother.
Our sisterly adventures were like I am sure many other families. WE ALWAYS shared a room and most times a bed. We fought over toys and who will get the front seat of the powder blue, white leather interior Cadillac with the 8 track player. She was what the family called a silent but deadly child. She was found once painting our beautiful white pedestal bath tub with Mom’s nail polish and finished it off by “brushing” the rug in the bathroom with Mom’s mascara. I got in trouble for that one too cause “Law would neva do that.” I was always the screamer and she was silent all the time. Always leaving me to be in trouble and punished for everything, cause I was louder and she smiled and was the sweet girl who would never be naughty. YEAH RIGHT! She once caused a huge fight in the car that while Mom was driving smoking a cigarette and holding a cupa cawfee she did the old – One hand driving and one hand beat your kid maneuver. I got beat cause she was smart enough to duck – she was always smarter. We never fought over clothes – I was forever pleasantly plump and she a size zero. Her and my father were both so skinny that while Mom would do the wash she would mix up some of their Jean shorts. Cause ya know back then Joe M was stylin with his cut off “dungarees.” Take a look who had the nicer dungarees? I was more concerned with Sun-in in my hair and cool shades!
Laura has always been there to annoy and criticize me. Indulge in monumental huffs, stand with what we are now calling “bitchey resting face” and complete her comments with snide remarks. She would Monopolize both the bathroom and the TV we only had one of each growing up. Laura is the only other person on my crusade to find and destroy all of those family holiday Sears portraits. You know the ones in which one of us always looks sufficiently more awkward than the other but you are mutually as embarrassed about it and therefore out to destroy them all. As sisters we also share the humiliation in having to wear matching dresses during the holidays and have elderly relatives ooh and ahh over how much you look alike. I think we need to do that again… Let’s get matching dresses for the next family party and see if anyone says anything. How lucky are we to have another human with which we can be incredibly weird with.
things I love about Laura Fran:
- Her ability to flare her nostrils. Ask her about it someday. It’s a true talent.
- That lovely huffing sound she produces.
- how she loves my children.
- How she tries to save the environment by doing things like moving to tubeless toilet paper. I applaud her efforts.
- Her commitment to all things family ours and my husbands.
- love how she silently appreciates all I may have taught her through the years – through her actions and not necessarily her words.
- Her walk – ever watch her walk?
- the sound of the wooden spoon on the side of the pasta sauce pot she makes. Sounds just like Janice.
- When she calls to say that picture someone posted on FB – we really do look alike.
- Her love of Michael’s…..many many Michael’s…. Until she met the ultimate Michael and gave me one of the greatest joys another Michael. Michael Joseph (MJ) my new love.
When catastrophe strikes, sisters are also there. Defending you against all the hurt and the pain. I guess in 1979 Joe and Janice’s plan was a pretty good idea – Giving me a sister.You always have a built in best friend… one whose been your partner in crime for your whole life. If that’s not the most supremely, amazingly, super duper, far out, awesome thing, I don’t know what is.
The original Joe the Plumber….Here is a photo of my Father “post” Janice. Ya see Janice would never allow the Harley and certainly not the pony tail. Practically children themselves when I was born — they were both 23 — they were thrust into adulthood while still, in many ways they were kids. I believe my father’s midlife crisis missed all the typical marks. There was no Rogaine, no convertible, and unfortunately for me, no round-the-world family cruise. His path to middle age can be summed up all by the sudden loss of his teenage love Janice Vesloski.
Dad was a hard worker, spending my younger years as a business owner – J and J Heating (Janice and Joe). A plumber by trade he later worked for Pall Corporation in East Hills. The business went under sometime in my Elementary school years. Mostly because or at least I think Dad’s love of Miller beer.
Dad’s drinking got worse and worse and came to a head sometime my freshman year of High School . I was told many times that “Your father has to want to do it for himself. When he hits rock bottom, he’ll make changes.” Well Rock bottom hit and Mom sat us all down and said “Daddy’s going away for a little while.” And she sent him to a rehab program in Upstate New York. I still have the letters he sent me from there. He asked me to take care of my Mother and my siblings and that he was getting better for us. Shortly after he came home his new passion was educating himself on Employee Assistance programs for those with drug and alcohol addictions in the workplace. He started a counseling center in Sea Cliff to help those who were trying to become sober and his life’s work after that surrounded the AA program, the 12 steps and taking it one day at a time.
Through the years I watched my dad throw himself (compulsively, I may add) into many passions. Once, he invented a new product he called “the chum buddy” in our basement, a fishing lure that he and my Mother would drive around the Island and sell (I can still smell the plastic being drilled out). He had tee shirts made and even got some vanity plates for his Chevy van.
Some may call him Cosmo Kramer…though eccentric, Kramer was friendly and kind-hearted and filled with quirkiness – Pretty much sums up Joe M. Unfortunately what I often saw was his inability to transform those passions into a measurable result. I always wished my dad given more time to his purpose — why he did what he did, why he wanted what he wanted — his passions may have resulted in a more favorable and desired outcome. There was something he was always looking for… I think he still is still looking…..
Dad always taught us very important lessons here are just a few:
- How to make a mean clam chowder and english muffin pizzas.
- A fresh unwashed tomato from the garden is best shared with your Dad.
- Farting is always funny. Even at the dinner table. Actually, especially at the dinner table.
- You can be mad at someone and still love them at the same time. This can be very confusing.
- Marry your best friend.
- Religion was praying to God the Yankees would get the win.
- Swiss cheese is to be eaten on wonder bread with mayo and fresh tomato.
- My father taught me about JUSTICE. “One day you’ll have to teach someone, and I hope they give you grief, just like you did me.” and I did.
- When you turn 18 and your eligible to vote – Vote for the vowel. If the man’s name running for office ends in a vowel its likely he is Italian and he is the one you should pick.
- Listen to your Mother.
While my childhood was often filled with anxiety and tension, there were nevertheless some beautiful times with my father. Looking back, what I can be most thankful for are the lessons I’ve carried with me.
So as I begin to set off on this new journey I must first like to thank my family. Joseph, Janice, Laura and Joey. For they are my first family. But most specifically Janice the beautiful woman who gave me life and to whom passed away at the age of 50 in 2003. Only 12 years older then I am now.
Back then I did not have my Xanax prescription so I needed to find humor in all that I did and all that was happening around me. Spending each day with my mother– whose favorite activity is counting the calories I consumed, drinking cawfee, smoking Virginia slims and of course screaming. Screaming was the normal “talk” in my house. Dinners were loud and if you talked the loudest maybe you were heard. Dinner – lets talk about dinners. My Mother was the worlds worst cook. She made a mean meatball but other than that – I thought all meat was grey and all vegetables tasted like butter and they came from a can. Ham steaks were a weekly regular on the menu and let us never forget the pan fried hamburger on wonder bread with ketchup. I can still see the blood from the hamburger running through that white bread that was just defrosted from the freezer cause god forbid you ever waste a loaf of bread before it turns green you gotta freeze it. Mashed potatoes, they were always OK. But while on my plate they formed the barrier between the blue/grey steak and the buttered green beans. Hunger would always win and I had to eat.
House cleaning was an expertise of my mothers. My Friend Kelli would always say “come to Christina’s house drink a glass of iced tea and Janice will clean the glass and put it away before you were even done.” Clearly I did not get this trait from my mother. Today I found a sock stuck under Danny’s dresser to the floor with some gum. I have three sons that have trouble figuring out the relationship between socks and sock drawers and my youngest who has a habit of dragging miscellaneous crap underneath the couch and his dresser leaving it there to collect dust. The work of managing a household while caring for three kids a husband and a dog is next to impossible. My kids are tidiness-challenged and I know Janice would never have let that happen.
Work- Janice did not work in the outside world till my little brother Joey was in I believe 1st grade. Her job was to take care of us kids and my Father. Thinking just the other day when I got an E-vite to my Godson’s birthday party. My mother had to call each kid to come to my birthday parties… No Face Book, no texting, no emails. She had to sit on the phone and call all 47 first cousins, my Aunts and Uncles etc. No wonder she had no job…. being a housewife was a job back then. So I’m trying to come to terms with it, I will never be the house wife she was. I try and come to terms with in the same way that I have been trying to come to terms with my muffin top. I have that and she did not.
Good House wife – Bad cook.
My mother was a good mother and I was a good daughter.
OK so I am taking a shot at this whole blog world. I know nothing about technology, but a whole hellava lot about raising three boys. The daily adventures of John Joseph age 12, Daniel Peter AKA Danny Boy age 10 and Christian McKenzie AKA Chrissy Mac age 8 have brought me to use this blog as a new age way of providing them with a baby book. A way for them to look back and show their kids that all kids are created equally except for them. Will you join me on this adventure called Motherhood?