Eulogy for my Sister


Spoken for the wake of my beloved sister JoAnn –

In the conclusion of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell tells us it was Nietzsche who said “Live, as though the day were here.” He goes on to say; That every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moments of the tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

Jo-Ann, today we hear your silence. A voice that speaks in our memories of your trials and your victories, as living proof of all we’ve seen you stand up to. Not only a disease, but your love of family, of life, and your voice for the law, equity and justice. A voice that will long echo your story … A young mother who knew, in her time, education would pay her the best dividend. You worked and attended Law School full time, not just chasing, but grabbing hold of your dreams … all the while knowing, as you often said, for a woman it was: “Another day, another 78 cents.”

You told me not long ago, in the midst all those therapies, that each day you had a choice; Stay in bed, or get up, put your feet on the floor and face the day. Gathered here, are many witnesses that every day you chose Nietzsche’s advice.

By God’s grace, you and I became brother and sister. We grew up in one of the best examples of a dysfunctional baby boomer family, and we remained lifelong friends. I have celebrated your joys, known your darkest fears, shared your remarkable dinner table, and felt your deepest sorrows. There are no regrets where love lives in the heart.

We laughed often, cried together, and yes, we argued a bit … I was blessed. Not with the quiet blessing at a dinner table, but a hard won blessing from all the bits and pieces of a lifetime of love that now lives forever in my soul.

Sis, you have opened my eyes to a truer understanding of our reason for being… To live every day as Spirit meant it to be … Full of breath, of heartbeats, and emotions. Seizing every day with a love for all life has to offer, always remembering that – “The sky would have no rainbow, if the eyes had no tears.”

I love you … and I will truly miss your voice …

Link to Remembrance of JoAnn R Sensale

The Patriarch

This is the transcript of the eulogy I gave at the funeral service for my wife’s father who passed four years ago today.

Victor surrounded by Family 2007

Victor surrounded by Family 2007

Admiral “Bull” Halsey said after the Battle for Midway Island that “…there are no great men, only ordinary men, forced by circumstances to do great things”
Some warriors never see the battle field, but instead they are given life, and all the ordinary circumstances that will make them extraordinary people… That will make them heroes to families who sit in places like this today – recalling all the times they spent together. Times with their husbands, fathers, grandfathers, friends and neighbors. Memories, that in their minds will always be larger than life.
I think then that heroes are ordinary men who accept the circumstances of their own lives and do great things …

the Seasons of Life

There are so many things we’ll still see
steely eyes, compassion and anger
Hallowed hands that shaped our lives
Sunny days of youth, bus stops and beaches
life, in all the places where we grew ~
The birthdays, marriages, and christenings
Learning, laughing and crying out loud.
All the ways we were family,
And times we wondered if we were friends?

There’s a voice we’ll still hear in many words:
The war is over, you’re going home –
to Roses, to children dancing
and Maggie’s back in town.
Beaches where oceans will whisper – just float!
And telephones ringing
waking with sarcasm stinging
Lennon sisters swinging
Miller’s band
and Mets games on TV.

And the scents of the seasons will linger
Christmas evergreens and sugar cookies
Thanksgiving turkeys, apple pies
lilacs, lilies, roses red ~
and new mowed summer lawns.
The smell of sweat
that burns the eyes
as sawdust flies
building our lives
and our families

Yet, most of all our hearts will keep
each day and every way we felt
Our pride, returned with pride
Each hurting from a fall
The comfort of the arms and hands
The jester and the smile
All of this was his to give
The Patriarch
Who kept us all within his heart
Who now, forever, and always
will live within our souls

In the film “Eat, Pray, Love” – they talk about the Italian word ‘Atraverssiamo’, meaning “let’s cross over”
Today, we all cross over into a new place, one where we follow the way Vic lead for us, the way an ordinary man does extraordinary things. Rises at 5 AM to take a train to NYC, to drive a bus, walk a beat, working split shifts, to raise a family. Spends scores of years doing the ordinary things that when I look around me here, I see have turned to into extraordinary achievements.
And, I know that when I listen in the quiet of my mind, I will hear the sounds of seabirds, carried on the wind, where he rests along the shore, of an ocean we call – Eternity …

May the Almighty grant his soul eternal rest,
and may this family always be blessed with
his strength, his peace, and his love

Thank you Victor, for all you have given to this world,
Peace be with you always,

Ties that bind

Tuscany Courtyard for Alex

Once was a day
A moment to find
All places do pass
when leaving behind

For days in between
Love letters we send
A word or a touch
Of parchment and pens

Not many remain
Where suns have set
From youth and its traces
We’ll never forget

These are the ties
Toasted with wine
Forever pours out
binding through time


Hands around the world


In my mind I imagine this blog, and all the others I follow on a daily basis, as hands that reach out and touch each other circling the globe with a new way of thinking, a New Thought if you will, that is ushering in a time on the planet, that will be like no other. I find in people’s words a theme that runs through so many nations and cultures – that Love is our destiny. A love that runs deeper than the heart can know, higher than the mind can reach, one that finds each and every one of us connected by Spirit. We are a family – The Human Family – Spirit Man – the ones who walk between worlds, and share the very breadth and depth of our existence, through a web that the Hopi Prophecies predicted hundreds of years ago;
Someone dies and we are all saddened, one is born, or celebrates a birthday, and we are all filled with joy, one is hurt, and the outpouring of compassion is enough to heal the most incurable wound. I could never have thought that entering the blog-o-sphere would be such a rewarding, no that is too selfish – such a sharing, and caring experience. So on this night March 27, 2013 – somewhere in time – I am sending this tiny flash of thought to remind us all of these simple truths, and to say thank you, and offer blessings that I know at the very moment you are reading this are circling the globe with Love and Light!




In passing, there is a hollow sound
left as life has withdrawn
Time winding down, wondering why
the leaves on the wind have all gone

Love remains softly beside the bed
time that was once and always before
Vinyl holds songs silently playing
in echoes now heard evermore

Floors growing cold, memories faded
grasses turned brown and frozen the soil
Attics are emptied, home soon forgotten
passing in moments, a lifetime of toil

Memories surely are written on hearts
in colors of lives that were built
Wrapped round our souls the patches remain
familiar the stitches sewn into our quilt


No Charge … (at Mother’s Day)

Her young son learned about work
and earning a living
So he ran home from school
sat down and wrote a note

Dear Mom,

For Services Rendered:

Take out the garbage – 25 cents
Make my bed each day – one dime
mowing the lawn – one dollar even
washing the car – one dollar more

Thinking about his piggy bank then,
He added another few bills –
By delivering A’s and B’s at school
A dollar and a half will do …

Mom got home from work very late,
and found her little boy’s bill –
Reading his words she offered her child
Just one more lesson to learn

On the page with his list she wrote
the things that a mother
gives with her heart;
without ever question of cost;

Carry a baby 9 months – no charge …
Birth in a labor of love – for free …
10,000 feedings, diapers, and baths
Given without any fee

Midnight to morning rocking a baby
who can’t seem to sleep – no charge …
Lotions for sunburn, lunch and snacks,
all through 1st grade – for free …

Enough was enough
so she finished her tally
and balanced the books
without keeping score

My darling young man,
when your own will son ask
what have you given, for me to keep?
Your answer can only be what I give you;

Love, my dear one, is always given for free …

This story was inspired by a sermon given on Mother’s Day at our church many, many years ago. I recalled my mother talking about it time after time. I was very young but do know our Pastor at the time was an eloquent speaker, and I hope these words have captured the spirit of his words …