Christmas 2006

Family & Friends,       

We're all again very thankful to be together this holiday season. Its been an event-FULL year! I tried to 'encourage' Dom's help in getting this ready, but he was a little busy, so I'm on my own, and it's getting a little late and needs to be mailed today – the house needs cleaning, there are clothes in the dryer, Taro's cage needs cleaning, and there is still some garden work to do while the weather is still warm. So....enough excuses. Reading expectations should be lowered!

My mom passed away on January 29th. As many of you know it's one thing to know a death is expected to a loved one, quite another when it actually happens (now I know why I kept putting off this newsletter, this was a 'topic' I wasn't looking forward to). I was so happy she could be home her last few months. The week Domenic was here for Christmas she was up & around. One day she even came to the kitchen to help clean calamari so we could make sauce – it was a great thing to see. She kept here sense of humor to the end, after Dom left she spent more and more time in bed and told me, “I'll just wait here till I die” -- it sounded funnier in Italian!

I was so very glad that Dom could be here for the funeral. It was something I didn't want to do alone and I was happy to have him standing by me. Many of you know we prepared some posters full of snapshots for the calling hours – it gave us a chance to remember all the good times. Thanks to all of you who helped and took the time to be there. We still have aunts & uncles in Italy – she still has 3 sisters and 2 brothers. Dom & I took some pictures of the wake and funeral and sent them there. They appreciated that – although a few complained the prayer cards were in English – “mama mia! Italians are never happy!” Most of you already know that...

It always seems so hard to believe she is actually gone – at times I find myself coming home and calling out, “Mama, I'm home” -- as I did so many times before. So many happy memories come back of the good times we had together as family. I was so very fortunate. Calling out and talking to her out loud also affirms my faith she is still there, and can still hear my call. That God loves each of us & life is eternal. Mama & Grandma, we love you! A friend of mine from high school, Steve Tricarico, prepared a great photo collage. There is a picture of it for you to see at the family web site,   -- Dom is the webmaster.

Okay, a lot more also happened. Dom came to Lyons for Spring Break and we started to work on the home and rearranging things together. We finished all the early planting in the garden. It was some nice weather and we got to take our bunny, Taro out. Oh – and that leads to another death! A few weeks after Dom left I noticed the rabbit wasn't eating. I took him to the vet and was really ready to spend whatever it took to save the little guy for Domenic (come on God, one death in a year is enough!) -- I explained how important the rabbit was to me and my son, and the vet (in a wonderful bed side manner), explained to me, “John, rabbits are 'prey' animals. When they get sick they usually die... not really much can be done. Just take him home.”

When Dom came for the summer, Aaron, from the local farm supply store, helped us get a new bunny who we also called Taro (or sometimes, Taro 2, new Taro, and also Bun-Bun Boy!). Dom thought we should give him the run of the house and toilet train him to use a box in the kitchen. I breathed a sigh of relief that Mama wasn't around 'physically' – or she would have never approved! The only problem was electrical cords, but Dom wrapped those using some of the insulated foam tubes they sell for hot water pipes. For those of you considering this for your rabbit, we do have one tip. They can still get into stuff and don't respond well to “no” or physical violence. What we found worked wonders was keeping a small squirt gun filled with water near by. Whenever he would try to chew on something we would spray him. It was entertaining for us, and he really didn't know where the water was coming from, but he would stop!

We had a nice trip down to the Mt. Savior Monastery again,  , and Br. Pierre gave us a private tour of the pastures on one of those 4 wheel drive carts – it was a lot of fun. We got to see first hand, what a baby lamb looks like after it has been killed by Coyotes – actually very clean eaters. They being at the 'butt' end and eat their way into the abdominal cavity and lungs – I'll try to have a picture at the web site for you!

Dom & I (mostly I) experimented with making home made strawberry and blackberry liquors at home – they turned out pretty well! We had another 'Picnic Under the Grapevines' for all the first cousins and it was a very nice time – again pictures at the web site,  We finished a few home improvement projects around the house, extending the patio a bit and putting a simple floor over some joists to increase some attic space for storage. They were both messy jobs, but somebody told Dom he had to do it! Another great time with Dad!

Of course, for me, no year would be complete without time behind bars. I really got my wish and spent four months in jail (July 31-Dec 1st) for contempt of a support order. I tried to make it more 'sporting' for them by refusing to voluntarily eat or drink, after losing about 30 pounds and getting into some serious dehydration, they realized I was serious and stuck a Nasal-Gastric feeding tube in me (try living with one of those beauties for 4 months!). Besides a little juice and broth I took by mouth to keep the tube clean, they were dripping in eight cans of Carnation Instant breakfast a day. After four months, I felt pretty good. I actually wrote Carnation and told them I would be happy to do a commercial for their fine product – they never wrote back, maybe the jail bars bothered them?

Actually, it was a very serious time. I appreciated the visits in jail from Mary & Phil Paliotti, and also my cousin Cheryl Kwiek (she also picked me up the day of my release and took me to Friendly's for my first real food – a Reese's Cup Sundae!) Phil and Steve Tricarico did a great job of looking after the house, and a friend of Aaron's looked after Taro the Bunny, who is in good shape! Many, many people in my parent's groups and others were a huge help in bringing publicity to the effort. I got over a 150 letters while I was in jail, mostly from folks I had never met. I am truly thankful for all their efforts and prayers on my behalf.

There was a lot of news coverage. To see some of that and get the 'whole' story go to http://www.AKidsRight.Org/support_jm.htm  Probably the most interesting thing was a visit by a small movie producer from California who came out to interview me with two cameramen. Part of my story will appear in a documentary they are making regarding Family Law and the support system – you can even see a picture of me in jail on the home page of the web site for the film,  This may never make TV or a real movie screen, but I wish them well in their efforts!

Oops, it's almost 11 and the Post office closes at 12. I'm also running out of space, so I guess we are done! Good Family, Good Friends, and a Loving God, what more important things are there in life? Sources of lasting joy and contentment? Oh – maybe one more important thing. I'm still driving an 88 Dodge Caravan with 260,000 miles, hint-hint, if anyone wants to drop a pair of new car keys off at the house on Christmas eve. I promise I won't say you have spent too much!

Our Best Wishes for a Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

-  John & Domenic Murtari

© John and Domenic Murtari 2011