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Tuesday, April 8, 2014



As a child, my grandmother who immigrated from the place very near where Padre Pio lived and also close to his church and hospital in the Abbruzzi area of Italy, talked to me about two Catholic saints: St. Maria Groetti, the young woman who chose death over forced sex with her neighbor, and St. Padre Pio, the mystical stigmatist and confessor.

 The memory became even more powerful because this was her only message/words I can remember her ever saying to me and I think she power pointed the saint-lesson even more forcefully  because she showed me photos of them both, although I'm not certain if it was one photo or two. This is the grandmother who was a selective mute, silent, self-contained, dignified, distant but powerful. This is the grandmother who woke up from the Spanish Flu to be handed a photo of her coffined 3 year old daughter who died of the same disease that ravaged so many in 1918. For the rest of her life, Grandma went into an even deeper silence although she hardly talked at all anyway since she must have felt so isolated since the Montanos were the only Italian speaking family in Saugerties. Her language became silence. Grandma would sit at the front room window in her priest son's room and say litanies of rosaries, hour after hour.   Real Silence. Mourning? Healing? Seeing Ula? I remember this .

And her beautiful son, my father, who was the real saint of the family, the real beauty, the one who gave his mother an insulin injection every day; the one who was the brains of the family and brilliantly kept over 25 people afloat and prosperous; the one who had a deep interiority that shone and demanded that you observe his silence and see the light coming from him; the one who kept it all together and used music as medicine; the one we all wanted as friend and advisor; yes, this father was the recipient of slack, dangerous and fatal medical care in PT when he was pushed beyond his 89 year old limits by a faulty and un-professional therapist and had an accident which was not then addressed properly.

This father became the recipient of a miracle as a result?  That is such convoluted thinking on my part!!! Was dad physically harmed by inefficiency so that he could have a hemmoragic stroke and be reduced to 24-7 bed care for 3 years and because of this,  merit a visit by Padre Pio? Remember that Padre Pio who was known for his bi-locations, had an  ability to be in 2 places at once, before and after his death. Was a medical faux pas a trade off because from that tragedy, my dad was visited by Padre Pio  on December 27th, 2001 between 1 and 4 pm at 9 John Street, Saugerties NY.

I would not have known about this miracle had I not brought a large Padre Pio  poster to the hospital to Dad's bedside on December 30th, 2001, a few days after his stroke. He energetically and happily took it from my hands and said in a voice that was compromised by non-word recognition because of faulty wiring in his medically damaged brain, for example when he called out to my mom, Mildred,  he called her Milicent . So it was no surprise that my beauty father began talking even more gravely and Italian-like and said, "Oh that's Joe Pio. He's the one who came to help me."
"I have made a pact with the Lord: when my soul has been purified in the flames of purgatory and deemed worthy to be admitted to the presence of God, I will take my place at the gate to paradise, but I shall not enter until I have seen the last of my spiritual children enter." PADRE PIO

Dad was home for 3 years. In fact he was buried on December 27th three years to the day he hit his head in PT. We brought a hospital bed into the living room and I was the doctor, nurse, care manager, daughter and detective...watching out for his best interests.  24-7 caregivers.
 Twice his sister Ula came to help. She was short, three years old,  and just a grey "presence" in form, walking from one side of the dining room to the other. Twice. Dad and I were at the kitchen table so in facing the dining room I was able to see her.  By that time nothing was a big deal!!! It was all equalized by the "unreal", Dad's favorite word. I never told Dad that I saw her at  9 John Street.
Dad was six years old when Ula died. ...Ula his sister, his playmate. I have old sepia photos to prove that they loved each other.
And after a relative visited with a baby he thrashed in discomfort and agitation, shouting after they left, "I didn't do it, I didn't do it"!!  "Think quick, Linda. We need a miracle of miracles," I said to myself, more courageous now than I had been when we could have discussed Ula and all of this 40 years ago. And intuitively, spontaneously, miraculously, happily I was able to remind Dad that she died of natural causes, the Spanish  Flu. "Nothing to do with anything you did Dad. She was sick and you were six years old and nothing you did harmed her." By then the gates were open and I added, "Just like I shouldn't feel guilty that Mitchell was murdered after I left him. Right Dad?" Confessions/absolutions. That day was a two-in-one at his bedside.


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