On one of her trips to India sponsored by the Temple, Jean met a young man there, George Prem. Although she was much older than Prem, as we all called him, there seemed to be a special attraction between them. Prem’s family are all well educated, and he too has had schooling in treating those in need of special education. I don’t know how much time they (Jean and Prem) actually spent together while in India, but apparently both became interested in getting married. They wanted to marry here in the U.S. so that all of us in the family could be present, but the immigration authorities did not allow this. Accordingly, they married in India and them Prem was able to emigrate here as Jean’s husband.
They came directly to my house by bus from New York City. My first impression of Prem, when I met him at the bus station, was of a young man who was all smiles, white teeth and an infectious laugh, yet showing much apprehension as to his new surroundings, and worry as to the Pappalardo family he had yet to meet. We proceeded to my house where he and Jean were made comfortable occupying the master bedroom and I was in the little guest room. They were happy to be here, and Prem was looking forward to meeting all of the family. Jean already had an apartment in Los Angeles which is where they planned to live. They stayed with us for about six weeks, and then left for their home in L.A. They were now Mr. and Mrs. George Prem.
But unfortunately, like her first marriage, this, too, ended in divorce some years later. It is interesting to know, however, that despite their divorce, they seem to get along better now than they did before. Human nature becomes a bit difficult to analyze sometimes. As far as my relationship with Prem is concerned, it has always been warm and cordial. He, likewise, has always treated me with much respect, and generosity as well, and particularly enjoys my humor, which inevitably ends up with his contagious laugh in response. He calls me Mataji which translates to “Mother dearest”. Since hearing it for the first time, I have become very attached to the word and its meaning.
The beginning of 1988 developed into what could be aptly described as “the beginning of the end”. It concerned my sister Rose (11 years my senior). She had just lost her husband the year before and never had any children during their marriage. This left her completely alone in her little house in Holiday. She had no car and gave up her license years before. I managed to visit with her for a few days whenever I was in Florida. The last few visits I had with her, I noticed that she was forgetful at times, had lapses of memory, and her conversation drifted into other subject areas, without making much sense.
In early January, she phoned me, seeming to be quite upset and wanting to know the name and telephone number of the hospital our mother was in. I explained to her that Mom had died and had ben gone over 40 years. She insisted that I was wrong. I tactfully was able to get her off the subject, but before she hung up, and without any reason, she said, “OK, I’ll be waiting for you to come down tomorrow.” After that conversation and closing remark, I was very concerned and worried about her being alone and in such a confused mental state. Without hesitation, I made plans to fly down immediately so that I could stay with her for at least a few weeks. I noticed that when I arrived she appeared pale and thinner, and seemed to be unsteady on her feet. I walked to the store each day to shop and buy food, and cooked as well. She seemed to enjoy my being there, and I managed to get her to laugh with some light conversation and a few jokes. The big treat for her was our card games each evening. We played 500 Rummy. But the time soon came for me to leave, which upset her very much. Rose had a very kind neighbor, Jeanne Peters, who promised to look in on Rose whenever she could. She had a very ill husband who lived on oxygen, so her free time was limited.
After that first trip down, I flew down 3 more times because of the various trouble alerts I received from her by phone, such as her calling the cops to look for my father who was lost, or being threatened to have her electric shut off because of non-payment of bill, etc. In nine months, I had already made four round trips to Holiday. Time and money were both going out the window and Rose was not getting any better.
I had always tentatively thought of perhaps buying a little inexpensive place in Florida some day, but had no definite plans as to when. With the latest turn of events, I made a definite decision to move to Florida so that I could be with my sister. I could no longer go on with these troublesome telephone calls, nor bear the expense to fly down each time that I was alerted on the phone.
Accordingly, I moved out of my apartment and had my furniture stored here in the Scranton warehouse. I went down to Holiday in July of 1988 by car, via autotrain. I had planned to arrive at Rose’s on a Friday, but the last minute I changed the time of arrival to Thursday instead, which was the day before. The change in plans proved to be a miracle for both Rose and myself. Leaving the train terminal at Sanford (near Orlando) I arrived at Rose’s house around 2:00 pm. When I walked in, she was extremely happy to see me, but still looked pale and thin. I did not unpack my car which was loaded with luggage, boxes, etc. Instead I sat and chatted with Rose over several cups of coffee, filling her in on all the news of our family and the trip down as well.
After an hour or so, I prepared the supper for the two of us, after which we played our usual game of cards. We both went to bed at 11:30. The bed in the guest room where I slept felt very good, after riding autotrain the night before. Suddenly at 2:00 am I heard moaning, and my name being called. I was in a deep sleep and still feeling groggy, but managed to find the room where Rose was sleeping. I found her on the floor, unable to talk. She had just suffered a stroke!! The miracle was that I was there. Had I arrived on Friday as I had originally planned, she would have been on the floor unattended for 12 long hours. This was the beginning of my life in Holiday. Somehow, I knew that I would handle the difficulties that had already appeared, but I couldn’t help but wish I were a little closer to my family, whom I know, would have already been at my side, ready to give a helping hand.
According to the doctors at the hospital, and after the necessary tests were made, it was official that Rose definitely had Alzheimer’s and from here on in, her mental state would deteriorate. She would be in need of special care, and accordingly, they strongly recommended a special type of rest home where such care is given.
My life in Holiday from that very moment would be filled with hard knocks, hard work, challenges, responsibilities, decisions, as well as constant anxiety and worry concerning my sister’s depressing illness. I followed through with having Rose admitted in the rest home as was recommended. I managed to visit with her every day except Sunday. On good days I would take her for a ride, and sometimes take her out to lunch nearby. But soon this had to stop as she found it difficult to walk sometimes, and also became incontinent and uncoordinated in her eating.
While living in Rose’s house, it seemed like an avalanche had hit it. Everything began to happen at once. The roof had to be repaired not once, but twice, the septic system backed up and had to be repaired, the refrigerator and the stove both went dead about a week apart of each other in time. The interior of the house needed painting after years of neglect. My brother-in-law Tony was unable to do anything around the house after having suffered a stroke years ago. The result was that Rose complained about the condition the house was in, but Tony seemed to disagree with her completely and so it remained until I ordered it done, about 6 months after I arrived. What a difference it made. It was so bright and cheerful in comparison to the drab colors (and soil) that were on the walls.
As for finances, Roses’ money that was used toward her care at the rest home at first soon ran out. Since I had signed all papers concerning her various admissions, I personally became responsible for all her bills, which included the monthly costs of the rest home, then later the hospital, and then even later a more expensive nursing home as the rest home she was first in was no longer equipped to take care of her needs. At the very end, I took care of her funeral expenses as she only had a $500 policy, hardly enough in this day and age.
In addition to these escalating expenses which seemed endless, there were also the expenses of commuting twice a year (summers and the Christmas holidays) so that I could visit with all our family. Coming home was like getting a shot in the arm. It was a wonderful feeling being able to see all our children and grandchildren. Considering the stress and pressures I had to contend with while caring for my sister, these trips home were very therapeutic for me, but nevertheless costly. Added to all of this, I had a modest rent to pay to my friend Ann Stack, from whom I rented a small apartment which was in her home. It was my “little home away from home” but it was handy and convenient for me — only 1 mile from Peter and 2 miles from Sal. Ann and I had a great time together, and we both enjoyed each other’s company.
In short summary, my long stay in Florida allowed me to minister to my dear and loving sister, who was desperately in need of someone to care for her – and that someone was me. Her lengthy and expensive confinement, however, did create a financial monster over me, as it not only wiped me out completely, but it burdened me with high credit card balances still unpaid. It is here that my loving family, children and grandchildren, have all stepped in with a well-executed plan to assist me in this crisis. They are contributing monthly to a “relief fund” which in essence is paying for extra expenses as well as payments towards the credit card balances. This truly has been a blessing and a relief to me as well. It is no wonder that I continually brag about all of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They are everything I’ve said they are – wonderful, kind, generous, intelligent, loving – and yes, even good looking!
On May 1, 1994, with the hard work, coordination, and abilities of my family to move furniture, I was fortunate to be settled once again permanently in the Poconos – and back at 333 Greentree Drive as well. This time the apartment is E-12, and a one-bedroom in contrast to the 2-bedroom one I formerly had in C-5. The one bedroom is more reasonable in cost and better suited for my budget. The conveniences are identical to the larger apartments. This development is well taken care of and very convenient as to its location — close to the bank, post office, church and stores. I couldn’t ask for anything better, and thanks to my family, I am enjoying a serene life here in my very comfortable home.
My closing statement in this journal touches the hearts of all of us — the untimely death of our Paul on August 28, 1994. We were all shocked when we learned of the news, since he seemed to have been making progress while waiting for his heart transplant. But we must all agree, that as short as his life was, he seemed to have lived it fully and well. He shared the beauty of his heart and his mind through his art and his paintings, which captured in every detail, so much of the landscape in which we, as a family, lived with and loved — our home and the Shawnee Valley.
He was fortunate, for as short a term as it was, to have had Lisa as the loving and caring wife that she always was to him, and Darice Joy, whom he dearly loved and whom he always kidded with, with a style of dry humor that was strictly his own.
It was very gratifying to hear the many heartwarming tributes that were given and said in Paul’s memory by the many friends whom he knew. The long line of people who came to the viewing to pay their last respects was impressive to witness.
Last but not least, the hard work and generosity which the Arts Council contributed towards the art exhibition in Paul’s honor, was definitely a labor of love which can never be forgotten.
We can all be proud and grateful to know that Paul, in his own quiet and gentle way, touched the lives of many people, many of whom we will probably never know.
– – Great-grandchildren
Frank Piazza, 1937
– Denis Ann, 1957 (married to Barry Stewart)
– Jean, 1958
– Mary, 1960 (married to George Tedder)
– – George W. Tedder IV, 1993
– – Salvatore F. Tedder, 1995
– Salvatore, 1964
– Danielle, 1966
– Gina Mary, 1963 (married to Nick Mistishen)
– – Emily Maria Mistishen, 1995
– Salvatore, 1964
– Susan, 1965
– Daniel, 1968
– Kathleen, 1971
– Eileen, 1973
– John, 1966
– Darice Joy, 1981
– Christopher, 1984
– Alexander, 1986
– Peter, 1988
– Aaron, 1993
– Matthew, 1986
– Mary Catherine, 1991
As the chart indicates, our family has been blessed and increased with 19 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, all of whom have added much joy to all of us. Dad and I always enjoyed each and every one of them from the time they were little, and took delight in watching them grow. We were always happy to see them at play outside whenever they visited with us. The grounds around our house were spacious, and there was always enough room to do almost anything.
It has been almost 21 years since Dad passed away, but I know if he were here with us now, he would be proud (as I am) seeing the fantastic progress and achievement his “little grandchildren” have made in their lives and careers, now that they have grown and live independently.
Our younger group of grandchildren who are presently in school seem to be following the same pattern of excellence in their grade achievements, just as their older cousins did before them. All of this makes me very proud. Positive results will be their rewards, I am sure.
And now, other thrills have been added to my life — the thrill of being a great-grandmother to 3 beautiful great-grandchildren. George W. Tedder IV, Salvatore Frank Tedder, and the very latest addition, Emily Maria Mistishen. I have had the good fortune of being with George and Baby Salvatore for several months this past winter, and I must say I enjoyed every minute. I have always been attracted to babies and young children from the time I was a youngster, and nothing in that regard has changed. While staying at Mary and George’s house, I felt very much at home, and Mary and George both treated me royally. In addition, I was spoiled some more on my visits to Denis and Barry’s as well as Jean’s with large doses of TLC.
All my grandchildren have shown me much respect, love and generosity, and I will always be deeply grateful to them for all they have done and are continuing to do.
As for my third great-grandchild, I have not seen her yet (she was born on June 20, 1995) but we will all see her July 15th as there will be a Pappalardo family reunion at our son Sal’s house and Gina and Nick plan to be there. The big thrill is Jean in coming from Hawaii and she and all of us are looking forward to this get-together. This is what families are all about.
My prayer is that all of our family will always continue with love and unity as they have always done and practiced among themselves. It has been rewarding to watch them as they interact with each other, and best of all, to listen to the humor that always seems to be a part of it. That is what makes life beautiful!