07/27/14 5:00am

Lately, I’ve been noticing a shift in my relationship with my sons — actually, they’re starting to get on my last nerve. They mean well, but …

Let me qualify my opening words: Greg and Jeff hold the undisputed title as the “world’s greatest sons.” Both have seen me through the most grindingly difficult challenges of my life. Although they live on the West Coast (only “time away”), we remain a close-knit family. But lately, they’ve become a tad overprotective.  (more…)

06/30/14 10:00am
Father Patrick McNamara, the 'new priest in town' at The Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)

Father Patrick McNamara, the ‘new priest in town’ at The Church of the Redeemer in Mattituck. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)

I remember that September day well — a day that will live in infamy (for me, at least). I had just pulled in to the parking lot of my dentist’s office when I received a call from the vicar of our church, Father Nils Blatz. He wanted to visit with me that afternoon. Surprised and curious, my first thought was for his well-being. He assured me he was fine, but still …  (more…)

05/25/14 6:00am
San Simeon by the Sound Adult Day Care recreation supervisor Renee Genova assists residents during a game of badminton in 2011. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

San Simeon by the Sound Adult Day Care recreation supervisor Renee Genova assists residents during a game of badminton in 2011. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Even though she was calling from overseas, I could hear the incredulous tone of her voice. She was a gal pal from back then and we’d recently reconnected through Facebook.

Catching up with our lives, I told her that I’d left my job as a medical practice administrator when I moved to Jamesport. However, I continued to write and started a medical billing and consulting service.  (more…)

04/27/14 6:00am

doctors-without-borders

We’re bombarded daily with disturbing news. The newspapers and TV news programs are full of stuff that sends us reeling. We’re slammed with tragic stories about missing planes, mudslides, kids being shot to death for playing loud music and other senseless killings. Home invasions and robberies are commonplace, drugs are rampant and we have a Congress that acts like babies in dirty diapers. Whew!  (more…)

03/29/14 1:00pm

Driving to work, I heard a song recorded by the American rock band Imagine Dragons titled “Radioactive.” The refrain “I’m radioactive, I’m radioactive” struck a chord with me (no pun intended). Arriving at work, I felt a plethora of emotions: sadness, anger and the realization that, now that I’m widowed again, I indeed felt radioactive.  (more…)

03/03/14 6:00am

I arranged to meet my son Greg at the baggage claim area when I landed in San Francisco. While intently searching the conveyer belt for my luggage, I had one eye out for Greg. I spotted my luggage, but was startled by the tall, handsome man who tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mom!” With a shock of recognition, I threw my arms around Greg and started jumping up and down. (I tend to do that when I’m excited.)

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06/27/13 1:59pm

I write my columns while out walking, mentally, that is. This particular morning I was coming up with zilch. My mom was always good for a column or two. Although she was chronologically 92 years old, her attitude was that of someone half her age. And with Mom, there was always a story to tell. Nothing to tell of late; she died over a year ago.

Of course, there was my “sweet Frank.” He was my straight man and we often played off each other. But alas, he died in April.

Ah, me. I suppose I’m in a funk.

My doctor said that I am doing fine, grieving appropriately and moving forward. Well, maybe so. But forward to where? Does this grief thing have a destination? I feel better for a few days, then grief sneaks up from behind and — gotcha! — I’m in funksville again.

They say that when facing any loss we must get on with our lives. Really? This cliché makes me laugh, even now. If any well-meaning folk would venture to give me this advice, I would blurt, “What the h— do you think I’m doing?”

And the death business is really a business. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent a death certificate to the same agency. I mean, really, dead is dead is dead! I have a missing husband to prove it.

I had a spell last month when my normal weirdness morphed into a full-blown case of eccentricity. Here’s what I did in the span of a few days:

I’m meticulous about my finances (or lack thereof ). When I received an overdraft notice from my bank, Ifreaked out. I remembered transferring funds to cover my bills, except that I didn’t know where the funds went or, worse yet, to whom!

Upon discovering an empty shampoo bottle, I began the blame game (dreadful of me, I know). Turns out that I left the bottle uncapped and the shampoo spilled into the plastic container that holds my hair products. While using a few choice words, I flung the container into the bathtub and began rinsing it. Lordy, lordy! That bathtub produced more bubbles than the Lawrence Welk show.

During a torrential rainstorm, I drove to a friend’s house. Trying to alight from my car, I opened the umbrella inside the car. The umbrella got stuck in an open position and me along with it. Oy!

Lest you think I’m a complainer, many graces have come my way. At first blush, however, they presented in odd packaging. For instance:

I am continually amazed and humbled by the support of my family, extended church family and friends. They sustain me.

And to my readers: Although I don’t know most of you personally, I deeply appreciate your expressions of sympathy and concern. Your cards and notes arrived in my mailbox just when I needed them the most.

Upon receiving the aforementioned overdraft letter, I made a beeline to my bank. The manager was sympathetic, fixed the error, offered cookies and dispensed some sage advice.

My across-the-street neighbors materialize regularly with food, tend to my trash cans and have been there for me in ways that give new meaning to the word “neighbors.” Truthfully, they are more like family.

Quite by chance, I landed a part-time job at a charming assisted-living facility in Cutchogue. I was hired to interact with the residents and engage them in stimulating activities. And bonus! I enjoy it. One can say I was at the right place at the right time. But I know better.

Last week, I heard someone laugh; that someone was me.

While contemplating this column I came across the following passage: “Sometimes you have to just stop worrying, wondering and doubting. Have faith that things will work out, maybe not how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.”

And what do you know? This column just got written.

Hmm. Grace, definitely!

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

01/29/12 12:00pm

The soothing harmony of Simon and Garfunkel singing “The Sound of Silence” kept me company during the last leg of my drive home. My monkey brain, usually super-charged, uncharacteristically settled on the word “silence” — temporarily, that is.

I began to reflect on how noisy our world has become. The realization that most folks are inundated with all manner of things that beep or ring was disquieting. Another eye-opener: The only silence I experience is when I’m out walking; even then, I carry my cellphone and Sparky, my trusty recorder. (A thunderbolt of divine inspiration can strike at any moment, you know.)

On impulse, I turned off the radio and drove in silence. It was different, but not unpleasant. Then the thunderbolt: Could I fast from noise for one day? No phone, computer or TV — and me not talking. Seemed doable, or so I thought.

Once home, I scanned my schedule and carved out a day that wouldn’t interfere with my obligations.

When I mentioned my silent day to Frank, he looked concerned and asked, “Feeling OK, Ceil?”

“Yeah, why?”

“The silent thing — before you open your eyes in the morning, you’re talking.”

And he wasn’t the only skeptic.

My son Greg chuckled and said, “Mom, you can’t keep your opinions to yourself!”

Jeff, my younger son, condescendingly asked, “Seen a doctor lately?”

My gal pals clearly thought I’d gone over the edge. However, one friend optimistically said, “Ceil, go for it. At our age, we can be as weird as we want.”

My sister Nancy freaked out, shrieking, “We need to talk daily!”

Fast-forward to S-Day.

7 a.m. I awoke feeling apprehensive.

8 a.m. Coffee sans the online New York Times and this newspaper. Ouch!

10 a.m. Walking on the beach. The antics of the waterfowl were entertaining, the sound of the waves was mesmerizing and the sun reflecting off the water was simply dazzling. Ah, sweet serenity.

Lunchtime. It felt strange not to power up my computer; being devoid of the news was stranger still. I got the jitters. My monkey-brain taunted, “Heading for news-junkie withdrawal, are you? What if something newsworthy is happening?” I broke out in a cold sweat. Goodbye, serenity. I wasn’t making any noise, but the house sure was. The thump-thump of the washing machine, the constant hum of the refrigerator and the clank of the furnace kicking in were ear-splitting. I wondered: Are these the sound of silence?

4 p.m. Doubting Frank arrived home and said, “Jeez! Still at it?”

5 p.m. The phone rang. Frank answered, “Hello … yes, Greg, really!”

6 p.m. Dinner time. Frank seemed uncomfortable, whereas I was trying to suppress a major case of the giggles. After dinner, I retired upstairs; Frank watched the news.

7 p.m. In my study, watching the green light on my computer blinking seductively. I sorely missed my news fix. The phone rang again. Listening hard, I heard snatches of Frank’s conversation. “Nothing, Jeff. I’m surprised, too.”

8 p.m. I drew a hot, aromatic bath and lit some scented candles. The slogan “Calgon, take me away!” popped into my brain. It wasn’t a Calgon product, but it took me away.

9 p.m. Cozy in bed and reading. I rarely go to bed before 11 o’clock, but what else was there to do? The silence was so loud that I heard my heartbeat. “Yikes!” I thought. “What if it stops?” I tried not to fixate on my heart and instead reflected on my day. I concluded it was a mixed bag: I pulled it off, but the day seemed long and a tad boring. I missed too much of what made up my life.

The morning after.

7 a.m. I woke with a sense of relief and started chattering away — yup, even before my eyes opened.

Sweet Frank said, “Welcome back, I’ve missed you.”

“But you always say I talk too much.”

“It’s OK, Ceil, talk away.”

And so I did.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.