Forgive and Forget.

My mother made sacrifices, even as a child. Money was tight and when her father left it got even tighter. I don’t know if she was forced to quit school or she volunteered but her education stopped at 8th grade. It was an embarrassment to her although she was the smartest women I knew. She left school and had a job soon after at Safety-Back, a factory that made clothing. She helped support her mother and worked so her sister could finish Catholic school.

She didn’t talk about those day often but occasionally mentioned that she would have dinner and a hot bath ready each night for her mother when she came home from work. My grandmother did the work of a man, shoveling coal. It was wartime so it was commonplace for women to have jobs that men normally held.

While all the Italians in the neighborhood were vacationing in Atlantic City one summer, my aunt met Dante, a born and bred Philadelphian. He was like a comic book Italian, gold chains, loud and boisterous, and a show-off. They soon married and she moved away. We couldn’t afford vacation but we did visit her and her family once a year. They lived in Brigantine, a small town near Atlantic City. When I became an adult, I took my mother to visit numerous times. She was a gambler and loved the City.

When my father became ill and it was determined he needed a nephrectomy in Pittsburgh, my mother called her sister. It was a frightening time for all of us to hear the word “cancer”. I was at my parent’s house, making a schedule for my children on times they would stay with my mother. I could hear her on the phone, telling her sister that “Anthony has cancer”. Carla is taking him to Pittsburgh and staying”. My mother was in poor health and couldn’t travel. Her sister said “I hope you don’t expect me to come there, we’re in the middle of flipping a house.” All I can remember is my mother crying.

I sent an email to her sister with just a few short words. “You’re the worst sister on the face of the earth”. Not long after, my mother died and she came for her funeral. I sat two feet from her and didn’t utter a word. I walked into my parent’s kitchen and she was rearranging things on the table. I told her not to touch my mothers’ things. It’s been 14 years and I haven’t spoken another word to her.

Forgiveness is hard for me. My mother’s tears were hard for me. How am I able to cut someone from my life like they never existed?

Ironically enough, I went to see a show in Atlantic City last year. I decided to go to Mass and the time that suited me best was a church in Brigantine. As I walked in, I saw her sitting in a pew. I sat in my pew in front of her and never looked back. After Mass her husband greeted everyone as they left the church. He told me to “have a wonderful Sunday.” I decided to grab a coffee before the drive back home and went in to a Wawa’s. There he was. When I left the store, I could see her sitting in their car, waiting for him. I got in my car and left. I doubt they recognized me.

Was it a sign from God that I need to forgive or was it just a coincidence? When I think about that day, I question whether or not I would do anything differently. I would not.

Life is full of hurts. You have your heart broken so many times it’s a wonder it still beats at all.

Years ago, I decided I wanted to build a website and write a blog. It was an outlet for me. My children were grown and they didn’t require 24/7 constant monitoring. I had time and I had things I wanted to say. I’m a nerd so the website wasn’t difficult to get up and running. My initial writings were about my daughters and Mason. Funny texts they would send, stories about them growing up. I wrote about my parents; I wrote about my friends. It was a humorous site. My friends read it; their friends read it but it was anonymous. I paid to protect the site since I thought that being shielded meant I could say what I wanted to without repercussion.

I advanced in my position at Altoona Regional Health System and became a manager. It wasn’t a role I sought out. I was recruited for the position and I debated a long time before I accepted it. It didn’t take me long to realize I was working for a corrupt system and it was disheartening to me as a nurse. I worked in healthcare. The patients and their families needed to come first, to be the priority as to why the building was standing and why it was there for the community. It doesn’t work that way at all. You’re “gifted” a $750,000 C-arm but you’re required to use a lesser quality of pacemaker for your patients. Nothing is free.

I soon began writing about the imbeciles who ran the hospital. I never used any names but if you worked there, it would be crystal clear who I was talking about. Two people who I worked with in the hospital knew about my website. My best friend Dana and Dawn Lidwell. As it turns out, Dawn and the band of fools (DeeDee Murray, Nancy Sell, Judy Nocita and Beth Kravitz), didn’t like the fact that I was now their boss. They went on a girl’s trip and discussed my blog, reading it many times and finally decided to make upper management aware it existed. I was called to Human Resources in a room with a hidden camera. I was there many times before but sitting in another seat, firing people. That day, I was the one being terminated.

Weeks following the dismissal were tortuous. I gave myself a few days to get things in order and formulate a plan. I filed for unemployment. I applied for every job available. I was overqualified for all of them yet I didn’t get a single offer. It was apparent I was blackballed. I had no other recourse other than to move and apply for positions in another city. I was hired immediately with UPMC East in Monroeville. I packed my belongings, said goodbye to my family and moved to Pittsburgh.

Do I forgive the ones who caused me so much pain? No. Will I ever forget how lonely it was, being away from my family? No. Will I ever forget how one person, or 5 in this case, destroyed the reputation as a nurse I built over 20+ years? No.

Forgiveness is one of the most difficult attributes to achieve and I’m not there yet.