Friday, July 19, 2013

It was the Best of was the Worst of Times...

It was the Best of was the Worst of Times...

This Charles Dickens' line seems to sum up my life of the past 7 years.  These few years or so have been both amazing (birth of my 5 grandchildren) and heartbreaking.  In this short period, I unwillingly became a divorcee after 36 years
Mom and Dad (Anthony & Jean Pitrone)
of marriage, I lost my mother to the debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis, and then a few short years later, I lost my dad.

I never expected to go through a messy break-up after 40 years with one man, nor had I envisioned nursing my parents in their senior years. 

I had my sisters to rely on during these difficult times.  If it weren't for them, I don't know how I would have made it through my divorce. 
Nine Pitrone Siblings with their dad
And the care of my parents?  None of us sisters could have remained sane giving the care we did by ourselves, but together, it was manageable for 6 years (my mother for 3 years and immediately following, my dad for another 3 years). 

We had some minor challenges, but we gave the most loving, tender and compassionate care to our parents. 

For those 6 years, it was us siblings who took care of the doctor appointments, medications, shopping, finances, cleaning house, dinners every night (breakfast and lunches, too) and even the all-important recreation (making sure our parents could get out and still experience life, no matter how difficult).  We were fortunate to be able to keep them in their own home.  My dad lived to be 100 and my mom to 87, so I always thought longevity was in my genes...

Joe Pitrone

Then the worst of times struck again.  It's never easy. You expect your parents to go before you, but never a sibling.

My oldest brother Joe was taken ill with a bone marrow disease.  He had his ups and downs during his illness (he had two stem-cell sister Janet was his perfect match), but never in my life had I seen a person accept his fate with such bravery, courage and humor.  Joe has set the bar high for the rest of us.
Joe was a successful business man, a friend to many, and had traveled the world numerous times over, experiencing things that most only dream of.  He lived 3 life-times in his short 70 years.  He also was the definition of patriarch to his large family of 4 girls and 12 grandchildren. 
Typical Joe and Jeanine
As for Joe and Jeanine as a couple?  
They were the best.  They were the perfect model during their 50 year marriage....I know....I know...a lot of that is due to "Saint Jeanine" some would say.  But Joe, too.  He did many little things that many men never think of doing.
I remember many years ago when Joe had all of us (yes, about 20 of us) over for a spaghetti dinner......made by him and him alone.   Even then, as a teenager, I thought, "Wow, Joe cooked?"
He would also re-arrange the furniture in his home by himself!  I thought "What man does that without being asked?" 
Joey hocking tickets at the
Kid Rock Concert we attended

More recently, when Joe and Jeanine were waiting for the finishing touches to be put on the beautiful lake house they were building, I was blessed to have them stay with me for a couple weeks. 

I was going through my own divorce at the time, and they helped me through that, too.  It was during that time I got to know Joe so much better.
One night Joe insisted that I go with them to the movie titled...."Knocked Up." I  didn't really want to go, but I caved in to his insistence. Although the movie was down on the list, way waaay down, of my favorite flicks, Joe showed me that even the most mundane or littlest things could be fun.  I am so thankful that Joe and I bonded during the past 8 years.
Family Boat Trip
And Joe planned the best family trips.  No one will forget when we, yes all 36 of us, ages infant to 76, became "Boat People"  aboard 6 houseboats for a week on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Canada.  Even with the threat of a tornado after sailing off, Joe had his daughter, Jodie, jump in the water to get the fun started.....making sure we all had a good time....and we did!  

If Joe planned the fun times, we'd ALL show up knowing we'd have a good time and the event would be successful.
One particular sweltering hot summer night Joe and I talked until the early hours of the morning on my front porch.  I treasure that night.  We were going to "share" a bottle of wine, but Joe ended up drinking it all! 
Joe and Jeanine with their 4 girls
and our dad on his 100th
I've never seen anyone who could get so much accomplished as my brother.  He never stopped!  Up early and on the go.  I would wear out just watching him!

Joe's larger-than-life personality will always be the guiding-light for his kids and grandkids. 
He had a big influence on them, his brothers and sisters, and everyone with whom he came in contact.
You will be missed brother Joe.


  1. Very nice tribute to your brother. He was a great man,and your parents were great people to raise the loving close family you have today.
    Angel Mazzella Sims

  2. Awwwa...thank you Angel for your nice comment. Happy you got to know the family...and we're happy to know you and your great food!


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