Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day (excerpt from my memoir, "Looking through the Naked Window")

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to ALL the Dad's out there. As the years since my Dad passed away in 1995 have gone on, and especially since my Mom's passing in 1999, I have celebrated their lives on these holidays. And with each passing year of reflection and celebration; there are discoveries, fondnesses, smiles and, yes, a few tears. I share with you just a few photos I have left of my Dad; some with my Mom and some without. Life and circumstances has it to where I have lost a lot of photos along the way. And, sure, while we have the memories in our hearts there is nothing like looking back and looking at your loved ones beautiful faces.

Also, I bring to you an excerpt from season one of my memoir, Looking through the Naked Window; remember with my memoir the premise is what if your life were a made for television drama series (or in my case made-for-cable), where books in the series are referred to as 'seasons' and chapters are 'episodes.' This is episode 17, aptly titled Father's Day, here in it's entirety...Enjoy & Thank you!


Episode 17:
Father's Day

What my lives in the theatre, work and school provided was a huge relief from the reality we were facing with my father's steadily, deteriorating health. Oh, but wait - there's grandmother, my dear understanding and giving Googles was seemingly going through the same exact ailments as my father. My mother and I also had to look after my great uncle Ralph, Googles religiously fanatical brother - a World War II vet.

So, I got very little sleep and my mother kept me busy, as I was sole runner for all involved, yet I somehow maintained enough of a business sense to get The Ecstasy complete, rehearse for both The Extravaganza and Lonely, while squeezing in a few much needed dates in between. That was a time when those so-called 'booty calls' meant so much to me, because it provided a great escape from the realities that were haunting me - even if I hadn't realized their pressing reality at the time. Blue and Ken were both great sounding boards for me during our late night, pre-dawn trysts at your local motel.

You see, as I came up, people like Dad and Googles, and even Uncle Ralph seemed indestructible. Sure, I am not stupid, I know people die, but I don't know ...I always thought I would have many years with my loved ones. You know, be blessed like some of my friends, who don't seem to know what they'll be missing when they talk negatively about their parents or grand parents. I shrug my shoulders and shake my head in disbelief when I hear such nonsense because in the scheme of things; we are so pressed for precious time and life is indeed short. Short in a sense that I was brought up to find good in everything and everybody, to pay attention to the details and to accept people for who they are.

A lot of my adult life, I would look at these people who are blessed to be well into their forties and fifties, yet pained by caring for an ill parent or better yet by having their parent's still in their lives. They don't know where I have been and while a friend of mine told me that was a sick way to think, to be jealous of such, I beg to differ. Yet that is the way of the world. What is a burden to one may not be a burden to others and so on. I just wish people could see what I went through. How I felt such a great sense of loss and sunk into a deep depression, - not once or twice, - but three times in my adult life. I am finally finding some sense of joy, but again - IT is a process.

The philosophies were instilled in me at a very young age by my parents, who for the most part, gave all of us kids our share of rough love. Looking back I don't think I would be the person I am today if it weren't for the foundation they laid for me. My father would get on my last nerve, always making me apologize to my mother when we'd argue. Hell, I only argued with her because she raised me to speak my mind. I did so with a sense of jurisprudence and with much conviction. She'd tell me if I thought something was wrong or someone was wrong, I should expose it. And I exposed my parents more often than not to their many oversights. However, my father explained to me one day that my mother also needed to be respected and she in turn would learn to respect me in time. He predicted that she and I would become "Judy's" or the best of friends.

Like he was gonna die or something... get outta here.


I honestly thought my father was just going through something... he was, but what it was would be devastating.

After many rigorous tests, trips to specialists, chiropractors and many painful, painful days there was a light at the end of my dad's tunnel. That year on Father's Day morning, bright and early at 6:30 am I drove my dad to the hospital for an MRI. I tell you, that was something that probably should have happened month's before, but I digress. What a way to spend Father's Day, which was a day he and I shared many fond memories over the years. That year, we had planned to go to breakfast, the Tiger's baseball game then meet up with Mom for dinner. We went on with our plans and I am glad we did - now.

My father labored through his soon-to-be revelation of a test.

Then we shared a nice breakfast and went to old Tiger Stadium. It was at the ball game that I witnessed my father found some comfort, at least for a little while. For some reason, unbeknownst to me at the time, I really paid attention to his every move that day; his singing the National Anthem and Take Me Out To The Ball Game, his enjoying a hot dog and beer, his telling me the differences in pitches, as he did so many times before, but this time it seemed to be worthy of a listen, his banging the empty seat next to him to cheer the home team on. He recalled how he and I celebrated the Tiger's winning the World Series in 1984 and how he was so happy he got to share that with me in his lifetime. He got to escape for a change and it was a wonderful memory.


On the flip side of a good memory...


Two days later, my mother received an urgent call from my dad's doctor. They were to go into his office bright and early the next day. My mother, at her most dramatic I am sure, mustered enough information from Dr. Jeffries to get him to agree to see them that evening. My mother had already grown tired of waiting until "tomorrow" for what she could find out today and spare another night of lost sleep due to worry. Her husband was in pain, whimpering like a damn child and she was downright angry about it. She wanted to know what the hell it could be that a simple blood test or x-ray couldn't pick up. What exactly was it that was making her 'bear' act more like a cub every day?


It was official.

My father had lung cancer; more tests would reveal that it was small cell carcinoma. The reason he was in so much pain, more so than usual for his condition, was that he had huge massive tumors, which had collapsed two of his vertebrae in his spine. Surgery was needed to prevent paralysis. This was very bad news. My mother and I thought my father had passed his highest threshold for pain already, but we would soon find out he hadn't even reached the halfway point.



I was for not really being there as much as I could have been for my parents. The more I heard about my father, the more I saw him suffer, the closer his surgery got, the more I dove head first into rehearsals. I drank myself stupid many nights trying to cope with my biggest fear, which was not so much my father dying as that seemed to be the inevitable. I saw the situation as hopeless and yet I failed to really let the reality of all the implications his impending death would have on my mother and I.


One night, near opening night for The Extravaganza, Lily and I were doing the sound check for The Ecstasy with Gary. Gary wanted to get it on with me again, for old time's sake. The funny thing is that Blue and Ken had both kept me as busy as could be and I had pulled a little shade during the recording of The Ecstasy. You see during that pivotal orgasmic moment on the recording, I whispered Gary's name in the background. I didn't do it out of spite, at least not when I did it. You could say I was spiteful subconsciously. I was just being funny and Scott, the engineer, hadn't even realized I did it. I masked it so well that, as many times as Gary played it back for sound check and for the sheer enjoyment of hearing my new masterpiece of the day - he never figured out my little prank.

Lily thought it was a hoot, a shady hoot, but a hoot nonetheless. The reason I did it, I told her, was because he had since gotten married, wanted to fool around with me and Lord knew who else. To top it off I couldn't see other people. Bullshit! I was dealing with enough, trying to keep my financial head above water with these productions, rehearsing two shows and dealing with the sick and dying members of my family. He certainly wasn't going to have yet another piece of me; I was already spreading myself too thin.


One night that week, where I was so harried with rehearsals, errands and doctor's appointments. Then there were the surgery preps for Dad, laundering soiled sheet after soiled sheet for Googles and a quick date here and a quick cocktail there. Not to mention the sound checks, casting calls and another rehearsal. There was also work, work and work. I was always running, running and running for my mother and Uncle Ralph. I always seemed to be in a tug of war and arguing with my siblings for not helping me out enough (at all). Only for them telling me my father was my father, not their father, but I quickly reminded them that our mother was our mother and my father raised them under his night that week, I haven't forgotten - I am coming to that - my siblings always made me feel like the lone Cassone. I admit, in my days of ultimate sins of the past, in moments of anger and spite, I even wished for them to be an abortion at one time or another. Am I wrong for that? Maybe.


One night, I came home and Dad had fallen out of bed. My mother couldn't do anything, but pace the floor and wait for me to get home. My beeper had been blown up on the drive home... The Extravaganza with Miranda's big debut was in three days and I was exhausted from all the energy I was forced to pump out on cue at a moment's notice from any taker at hand. So there I was, lifting my dad off the floor. The bulky weight of him, fighting gravity it took all the strength and patience I could muster to get him back in bed. It was exhausting. My father was crying because he felt ashamed for being so damned helpless. It was heartbreaking.

Then, I no more than caught my breath and my mother told me she hadn't been able to get Googles on the phone. She wanted me to go up to her flat and check on her. I took a chunk of chocolate cake up to her - not realizing what grim reality I was about to face. Upon getting up to her flat, I soon realized that Googles had also fallen. This was becoming more and more of the case and normally she would be able to crawl to the phone or pull herself up onto her bed. That time, on that day of all days, she had fallen down – hard - and couldn't get up. Now, I remind you she was a stickler for her pride and she had soiled herself. She was more worried about that disparaging fact than anything else. I mustered up enough strength to dig in, pick her up and carry her to her bed.

After all, I thought about what I had done to her credit card accounts; this was the least I could do. Guilt is a mother{expletive deleted for this post}! It will make or break you and will give you the strength to do the unthinkable. You see, I was always trying to do things for her to atone, but this was way beyond anything I had in mind. I will never forget how she clung to me and cried at her rescue. She seemed to have so much to work on with her very soul, at such an old age. Things were happening way too fast for all of us, and as I changed her soiled nightgown and looked away in respect of her pride, I thought, "What the {expletive deleted for this post} am I going to do?"

Not "why me?" Never "why me?" That's not good enough for where I come from, from what I am made of, but "what the {expletive deleted for this post} am I going to do, Lord?"


It was the night before The Extravaganza and my dad's tumultuous surgery would follow two days later. I was in quite the foul mood. Gary was kind enough to serve me drink after drink and with each passing cocktail the bitter bitch inside me showed her blistering cold face. I was outdone. I felt a bit betrayed that Diva Kingsley wouldn't be doing my makeup. There I was going through all of this shit with my family and she was no where to be found. I was on the brink of becoming what she was - a female impersonator - and didn't have a clue all of what it took. I still viewed the whole idea as an asinine joke. I still looked down on the likes of them unfavorably, due to Tiger's rejection of me.

I thought back to all the men I did oral favors for, but here I was practically in tears, sweaty and full of stage funk wondering where my favor was. When would I shine? When would a man love me? Just love me. Not want me to {expletive deleted for this post} and suck, just hold me and love me. I thought about how I had treated so many men so kindly, either with a kind word or gift or deed and how they mistreated me in return or just didn't take notice, or hell even dismissed me by making me feel invisible. Yet, I wasn't invisible when I was deep throating their manhood.

I certainly wasn't the man my father raised. Or was I? I had so much to say to him, but I couldn't bring it out. As expressive as I can be, again when it was for something or someone important... I was practically speechless and now that night before the opening I was drunk by rehearsal's end. I was drooling, sweaty and enebreated. Allen would be working the door the next night, yeah my third ex. He has been very supportive of me. He had the nerve to look down at me and tell me how disappointed he was in me. We went to the bathroom and in my drunken state, I pretty much told him to go to hell. I told him that he didn't have a clue what I was going through.

I mean, people go through shit, but I had so much thrown on me at once and all he could do was scold me and make me feel bad. {Expletive deleted for this post} him! I couldn't believe he did that. He always had a way to make people feel common next to him and he wasn't going to make me feel stupid, not that time. I told him he was kicking a dog who was down and to leave me the {expletive deleted for this post} alone, save it for Marshall (- his new lover of over a year at the time). Then, it turned into an argument that wasn't about what it initially started about. Has that ever happened to you? It's very powerful, if you can manipulate it and I did. It was wonderful.

Instead of hugging me and being a friend to me in a down moment, he thought he would just let me have it. Well, I wasn't having any part of it and people in the cast and crew were both shocked and appalled at our fierce argument. None of them could believe I had gotten that drunk on the set. To hell with them all, I thought. It was MY show, with MY money and MY ideas and it was MY father who was dying and MY grand mother who was sick and MY mother who was increasingly needier and needier and I needed some {expletive deleted for this post} attention!!!! And I got it, oh boy did I the time I left them all I had pissed most of them off and had showed my definitive ego. As I cried in my car, I was afraid I was too drunk to drive home. I actually questioned myself on whether they would show up and do the show the next night...

and you know what...

{in a whisper} I didn't give a damn...


Looking through the Naked Window, by Antonio Cassone is available for purchase at PublishAmerica

My Dad after work, relaxing.
My Dad's Army photo... he served during the Korean Conflict (War) in Okinawa, Japan.
A watercolor restoration of my dad's high school graduation picture, 1958.
Mom & Dad celebrating :>)
Dad on his way to or from work, per his usual.
Dad took time between errands one Saturday to strike a pose for my Mom :>)
Teddy & Dad
Dad & Mom celebrating...again :>) - never got old with them
one of the last photos of my Mom & Dad together