Today we are going to take a little break from Ecuador and say Happy Birthday to someone who is very special to me.

My Monica

Today was her birthday. She was my wife for thirty-eight years. We meet while we were attending high school. In the beginning she wanted nothing to do with me. She had dated other boys, all of them taller than I. Most of them were not Italian even though she was all Italian. Some were very skinny and one that I remember was tall and very muscular, others were of average build. I was under her six-foot requirement by three inches and no one considered me skinny or average. I shopped in the husky boys section.

She was a friend of my next door neighbor friend Carol. I was one year ahead of her in high school, but we did not attend the same school. She attended an all girls’ high school. I had attended an all boys’ high school for just my freshman year and was now attending a public high school. When I first saw her I thought she was nice and pretty, so I asked her out. I know this may be very difficult to understand but Monica said NO, to me. How could she refuse me? Did she not know that I was the man of her dreams? Yes as I remember I was the best available guy of all the guys in the city of San Jose, California. Yet she said no to me!

In fact, she refused me not just that time but at least three other times after our first meeting. I also remember an occasion when I was attending one of her school dances (with another girl who did not say no to me). I saw her sitting at a table with her date and decided to ask her to dance with me. I excused myself from my date and approached her table. After saying hello to her, I asked her for the next dance. Again I got a look, that over time I would come to understand, and she said NO! She even went on to explain that she was at the dance with the boy sitting next to her. She said his name but it was not important to me so I do not remember him.

She said that he was her date and she would not dance with me. I looked this boy in the eyes and with a very serious and piercing look asked “Do you mind if Monica dances with me?” He replied that the decision was hers to make not his. So I turned back to Monica and with a big smile explained that her date did not mind if she danced with me, so let us go out and dance. Again, the look, and then she said no. I returned to my date for the dance and enjoyed the dance. I did think about Monica during that evening and that look but it did not stop me from having a good time.

I truly miss my girl Monica. She passed away in 2005, but her memory is with me always. She was the one I loved and the one who taught me to love. She will always be deep in my heart.

Happy Birthday Honey! I miss you.


Casolary Gathering – The End

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Our hostesses, Cindy and Missy, went over the top in making everyone feel welcome, happy and comfortable. The food was so special and wonderful that my diet went out the window so fast all I could say was “I’ll start again tomorrow”. It was amazing to see Cindy and Missy flutter about making sure everyone was enjoying the day. People were swimming in the beautiful pool and they were sitting in small groups laughing and talking. Everyone there was having a great time. Cindy and Missy had done an excellent job in picking up the gantlet from Joe and Arlene.

I also felt sad about John and his wife Terry who were unable to make the gathering. Yet even though they were unable to make the event their son Michael did arrive and attend. It would have been nice to see John and Terry but I for one could sure understand how other things can interfere with this gathering. After my departing the party a little early and on my drive home my thoughts drifted to the Casolary’s unable to ever attend the function again. I thought of my wife Monica and how she and her brother Ricky would dance down the yellow brick road. I thought of Donna and how happy she was (in fact I thought she was aglow with joy) the very first time she brought her son Mathew to the gathering. Of course Joe was in my thoughts not just as the past host of the gathering but as the man with some of the best jokes I ever heard. My thoughts of Harry (doc) and Mary were tugging at my heart and I knew that I had left the party at the right time for me.

Thanks to all the family members who attended. You all made the event special and something worth doing forever. To the few who could not make it this year, I hope to see you next year! To all the direct children who were able to attend thank you ever so much. To the children unable to attend I again hope to see you next year. To the grandchildren and great grandchildren this is a gathering that will provide you with a proud family history and an event that must be continued. I love you all!

Casolary Gathering – continues

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This I hope sets the stage for my return to the Annual Casolary Gathering at Missy and Cindy’s house. I am sorry to say that I had forgotten just how long this gathering normally lasted. After reading the invitation it stated that the party would start at 1:00 pm with snacks and dinner. I missed the section about bringing your swim suit and how you could swim in the pool. I had not been to Missy and Cindy’s home and I did not know they like Joe and Arlene had a pool in their backyard. I guessed that the party would end around 5:00 or 6:00 pm. This was my expiation heading to the gathering.

We arrived at the party around 1:15 pm and I noticed that we were among the people who had arrived first. This was unusual for me and I was a little confused. Pushing the confusion out of my mind I started becoming social with all present. I was talking to and kidding with all of my family members. Just like all other family gathering teasing, kidding and joking among the family members continued throughout the discussions. We did not talk about the news or politicks we talked about each of us and the fun we had or plan to have. I also visited the appetizer table again and again. Dips with both chips and crackers, stuffed mushrooms, nuts, pizza, ham rolls, soft pretzels were just some of the items I remembered being devoured by me.

Again I was made to feel so welcome and comfortable I could not understand why I had not attended after Monica’s passing. I noticed that everyone was making Marti feel just as welcome and comfortable as me. She was being treated as just another family member. We even had an exciting discussion about our colonoscopies. We found out that there were two nurses who complemented Ricky on the beauty of his colon. (note to me > Next time I have my colonoscopy I want the same drugs Ricky was given). The party was a most wonderful event.

Casolary Gathering – continues

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Cindy and Missy had a very difficult task ahead of them. They had volunteered to attempt the first Annual Casolary Gathering after the numerous memorable and successful gatherings at Joe and Arlene’s home. Talk about a tough act to follow. This would be a monumental task.
Marti and I planned to attend the party starting at around 1:30 pm and heading back over the hill at 5:00 pm. I had just started to return to the gathering after an absence of four or more years. My reason for not attending had to do with the passing of my wife Monica Casolary. I had chosen to hide from contacts that made me feel sad because she was no longer with me.

In fact I had started to return just three years ago. The first time I returned I was made to feel so welcome that I realized that I had missed these people. I did not stay very long but after leaving I was able to realize that the joy of seeing my family friends greatly outweighs the sadness pangs from missing my lovely wife Monica. The second time was a combination birthday party (for Jim Heath) and the Casolary gathering. I did not consider this gathering as much a gathering for the Casolary’s as a birthday party for Jim Heath. It was a great party and it was the first time I brought Marti to a family gathering. Again the welcome I felt and the positive and warm welcome provided to Marti made me feel like a family member more than a member of the in-law clan. I felt I was a Casolary and I was proud and so happy!

The Casolary Gathering – continues

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The Casolary clan is Italian. Both “doc” and Mary were children of two Italian parents. This fact made all eight of their children Italian. I bring this fact up at this time to better explain why this event had so much food. I have attended both Italian and non Italian parties and it is just my opinion that Italians provide much more food than is needed for the event. I do not know why but I can suggest the following as reasons. Italians are just bad at estimating how much food each person will consume. Italians plan that they will be sending food home with their relatives. Italians do not know how to make pasta for two. Italians will not purchase serving trays or bowls that are small or dainty. Italians just like the rest of the world will not let someone leave their home thinking they must stop to nourish their body. Italians believe that it is normal that once you eat you should be hungry three days later. Should you not agree with any of my thoughts please feel free to add one of your own.

Well back to the “2001 Annual Casolary Gathering” the major difference this year was the location of the party. After years no after decades of this event taking place at Joe and Arlene’s home this year it was to be held at Missy and Cindy’s home. The reason for this major change was that my brother-in-law Joe had passed away after a tough fight with cancer. I will always remember Joe as a wonderful person, father and partner to Arlene. Of course, I will also remember Joe as the one person who truly evolved the Casolary party into the Annual Gathering of the clan.

Casolary Gathering – continues

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Now that I have provided a little background about the clan I will try to explain about the creation of the actual event. Going back in time we find that Mary the wife of “doc” and the mother of the eight Casolary children was first to pass away. With the passing of Mary “doc” realized that he was in the winter of his life. So he began to establish items that would continue after he was called to return to God. I can remember at least three main items. The first was that he wanted his radio service to continue long after his passing. The second was that he wanted to continue providing birthday gifts to his children and grandchildren for as long as the lump sum of money could last. His third item was the creation of an account to fund a party that would occur once each year for all of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to attend.

This third item became known as The Annual Casolary Gathering. Under the supervision of “doc’s” son Joe the event began. Once each year during the summer time Joe and Arlene would open their home to a gathering of the Casolary Clan. It was a very special time starting from the very first time it was held. There was swimming, drinking, eating, and lots and lots of talking. Small groups would form, and the sound of laughter and talk would explode from the group of people. The group would break apart and people would either join another group or create another group with different family members. From the start of the gathering there was food and the food would continue until the end of the gathering.

The Annual Casolary Family Gathering

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Each year for a very long time there has been an Annual Casolary Family Gathering. I first attended the Casolary Family Gathering when I was dating my soon to be wife Monica Casolary. The first event I attended was not known as the Annual Casolary Family Gathering. The name came much later in time but the Casolary’s always had reasons to gather and enjoy the company of brothers, sisters, in-laws, cousins and friends. The Casolary clan as I knew them comprised of the following: Harry (aka Doc), and Mary or dad and mom; daughters and sisters, Mary, Monica, Donna, and Michele; sons and brothers Joe, Mark, John and Ricky. I also remember two grandmothers Christine and ? .

The Casolary clan was a wonderful group of people that I was lucky enough to join. I became a member because I feel in love with and married Monica Casolary. This act of marriage made me a member of the clan and with the birth of my two daughters my place in the clan was secured. I noticed that over time the clan just grew and grew larger and larger. Once someone became a member they did not lose their status. Each person would be a member of the clan for the rest of their life. The person could choose to become a less active member but once a member they were always welcome back into the clan.

I for one was part of the elite in-law group of the clan. This group was responsible for adding new blood to the family. Today this group consists of the following people. James Heath the husband of Mary Casolary and the longest member of the in-law group. We all have lots to thank James for as he was the first to join and it was he who had to forge the path that most of us in the in-law group choose to follow. Arlene married Joe Casolary and entered the clan before myself. I soon after Joe and Arlene married asked Monica to become my wife. Lucky for me she said yes and we were married and I too became a member.

John Casolary married Terry, Rick Casolary married Felicia, Donna Casolary married Brian, and Michele became Cindy’s life partner. Will all of this activity you can see how the clan grows. Children of the couples added to the clan and as you can guess they will find life partners and then they too will add more people to the clan. At this moment in time the total number of children that were added to the clan by the original eight Casolary children were 2+2+3+2+1+2+1 or 13 children. Grandchildren are still being created so at this time I will not try and identify the number.

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