To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.

-Victor HugoScan 2


My parents fashioned an enduring love that grew strong through lean times. Amidst the chaos of the Depression and war, they forged a sturdy bond.

Like trapeze artists, they trusted in each other, performing their routines day after day ~ letting go, holding tight, somersaulting into a life together. While my father excavated quarries and moved mountains, my mother stayed at the boarding house and learned to knit. While he experimented with explosives and single-engine planes, the housekeeper instructed my mother in the domestic arts. She painstakingly recorded every word ~ how to make War Cake with lard and raisins, how to can beets in cider vinegar and water, how to keep the fat at just the right temperature for frying Salvation Army Doughnuts. In perfect Palmer script, the teacher fresh from Normal school penned the recipes in her spiral notebook and read them aloud in the evenings to the daring construction worker that stole her heart.



It’s quiet today at the church. The sky is the color of grief. A scent of wintergreen rides on a gust of sharp spring air. Sorrow inches down the narrow aisle; in the pews, bodies shift and touch. A wash of candle light stipples the two drab olive caskets.

Enskyed in Heaven’s vault, their simple vows, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, are ones they will honor for endless time.


What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life–to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?

-George Eliot

Toni 6/4/15

#TBT: For years I’ve listened to Iris Dement sing “Childhood Memories” and thought “you were one lucky kid, do you know that, Iris?” to finish each day with “If you’ve forgiven me, than I forgive you.” Alternate Title to this #TBT: 7 Kids and One Mum (I’m not sure why Dad isn’t in this picture; but that’s perhaps a metaphor?)


Fireflies inside of a mason jar.
Acting big behind the wheel of daddy’s car.
Playing church around the old piano stand,
You were quite a preacher and oh, we sang so grand.
I remember every night what we would say and do:
“If you’ve forgiven me, then I’ve forgiven you.”
And now when life begins to get the best of me,
I reminisce these childhood memories.

We built a raft and traveled all around the world,
And stopped for penny candy at the corner store.
You let me fly your kite but when I dropped the string.
I thought my life was over, but Mama rescued me.
When I was just a kid you taught my prayers to me.
Then you turned around and you told me about those birds and bees.
Come what may, you’ve been endeared to me,
Because we share these childhood memories.

Instrumental bridge.

Well, time, it moved so fast; those days are over now.
We’ve all gone our separate ways, but still somehow,
I often need to telephone and talk to you,
To see if you remember things the way I do.
It won’t be too much longer `til we’ll be old and gray,
And winding up our travels here on life’s highway.
But no matter where I roam, I’ve got you here with me:
When I reminisce these childhood memories.


To end.




dad in foundryDad, seated

My Old Man and Me

Americus Bruno baby

July 26th is my father’s birthday. If he were alive, he’d say he’s 94, 95 or, maybe, 96. During the Depression and wartime, he adjusted his birth certificate accordingly because he was underage when he first began to set off dynamite charges for the road crew in upstate New York. After I came along, he became a foundryman and made a life on a few acres outside of town.


Every July 26th, my mother dressed for Mass, followed by dinner with the St. Anne’s Society ladies. But for dad and me, it’s T-Day. My father expects his garden to produce ripe tomatoes by his birthday and he gets them. We share the salt shaker and eat those beauties, warm and juicy off the vine. This is Our Time, the season we spend outside doing Interesting Stuff.


I watch him concoct nutritious plant sprays that peel the skin off his face and arms. Don’t tell your mother. I see him mix noxious solutions that, when poured into the ground hives of bees, send clods of our backyard over the hill and onto neighbor Henry’s porch. Let’s keep this between us. I’m there – hold that ladder still! – when he becomes airborne while rescuing discarded sheets of fiberglass awning from Joe-Across-The-Street. I hold the tools – where’s that wrench? – while he cobbles together a grape de-stemmer for our family winemaking, shovel cement so he can construct a three-tier Roman fountain complete with statuary, and lug bricks for the outdoor kitchen that boasts an arched beehive oven, grill, and sink with running water.

Dad work photos

He’s pretty much unstoppable and I’m his Right-Hand Man Kid.

I steady the mold for the lighthouse he erects in the front yard, arrange patterns with flagstone for patios, and sort rocks for walls.

cellar art

I get to fiddle alongside him as he turns wine barrels into coffee tables and fusses with wood, clay, plaster, paint, and marble.

We root around in the garage and scour his cache of odds and ends in search of the elusive nut, bolt, or screw to repair and reconstruct all manner of engine-powered machinery. Like I said, Interesting Stuff. And a mother lode of memories.

Toni 2/5/15