Spaghetti & Good News

Chapter 8

“Dinner’s ready,” called Nick’s mom from the kitchen.
Nick’s stomach was doing flips the moment he walked into his house. A sweet aroma filled the house from his mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce. He loved the smell. All he had to eat since breakfast were the apple and candy bar Johnny gave him. He put his laptop to sleep and went to the kitchen. His dad and mom and two sisters were waiting for him.
Nick grinned, “Sorry, I learned how to do a really tough calculus problem today. I had a breakthrough. For the first time I understand this stuff.”
His dad broke into a wide smile and said, “I want to hear more. Mom is going to say grace tonight.”
Nick, his sisters, and his mom and dad joined hands and bowed their heads. His mom prayed, “Thank you Lord for this meal. Thank you for the people who grew and harvested the tomatoes for the sauce. Thank you for our health. Thank you for Nick’s math breakthrough, and please let Tony’s interview go well tomorrow. Amen.”
The family made the sign of the cross then Nick said, “Dad, you have an interview tomorrow?”
“I didn’t want to say anything, but you know mom, she’s not shy about praying,” said Nick’s dad.
“Well? What is it?” Asked Nick.
Nick’s dad twirled the spaghetti around his fork and put it in his mouth, he chewed it and swallowed and took a sip of red wine. He placed his glass down and said, “This is crazy. I walked down to the coffee shop this morning to give mom some space. I got a small cup of coffee and sat down. Freddy O’Leary sees me and takes his coffee over and we start talking. Little by little I tell him the whole story. Freddy tells me the director of the town’s youth recreation position is open. I told him I don’t qualify. He says I qualify because I coach youth soccer, youth basketball, and youth baseball. He says I’m perfect for the job. I went to the Recreation Department and filled out an application. I beat the deadline by an hour. I got a call an hour ago. I have an interview tomorrow.”
Nick and his sisters got up from the table and went to their dad and hugged him. His dad loved to be hugged. Nicks mom watched the love her children were giving their dad and wiped away tears from her eyes.
After Nick and his sisters sat down, his dad said, “There are four other people they’re interviewing. It’s not a sure thing.”
Nick said, “Dad tell them not to show up, you’re going to do great.”
“Yah! Said his sisters in unison.
Nick’s dad said, “Tell us about your calculus breakthrough.”
Nick told his mom and dad and sisters about meeting Johnny Balboni in the alley. He told them how Johnny gave him an apple and candy bar. Then he told them how Johnny taught him calculus in a way he could understand it.
Nick’s dad said, “It doesn’t surprise me.”
Nick said, “It doesn’t?”
“No, Johnny came to the US with his parents when he was 14. He graduated from high school by the time he was 16. He was brilliant. He had a full scholarship to the best engineering school in the world, MIT. By the time he was 20 years old he had his masters degree. He stayed at MIT and worked on all kinds of projects. He never married, his work became his life. He never made a big deal about his career, he was always a regular guy when you’d see him. I think it was when he was fifty. He was in a car accident. They thought he was going to die. He had severe injuries. He was never the same after that. He never went back to MIT. He began to drift around and soon became what he is today.”
“He wants me to see him tomorrow, he’s going to work with me some more,” said Nick.
“Do it, Nick. It will be as good for him as it will be for you,” said his dad.
“Johnny told me to never give up,” said Nick.
“That’s good advice for you and for me, Nick,” said his dad.
Will Nick’s dad get the job? Will Nick do well on the SATs in three days? Will Johnny’s mind get better

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Life Is Tough

Chapter 3

Nick went around to the back of his home. It was one of the ground rules for Nick and his two younger sisters. Nick was six years older than Laura and eight years older than Stella. Laura was in middle school and Stella in elementary school.

Nick scuffed his shoes on the outdoor mat, another ground rule and opened the door. His mom stood in front of the stove working on dinner. Nick knew what he was having for dinner before he opened the door. It was Friday and Friday’s were always the same, the family was having bean soup. That’s what Nick called it. His mom and dad called it pasta fagioli.

“Hi mom,” Nick said taking off his backpack and setting it on a chair. He walked to the refrigerator, opened the door and stared into it.

“Don’t ruin your dinner, Nick. We’ll be eating when dad comes home from work. It’ll be another hour. Have an apple or orange. How was school?”

“It was okay,” said Nick reaching for a small to go box he knew contained two pieces of pizza.

Nick’s mom’s back was turned to Nick. She said, “If your trying to take the pizza, don’t. Dad wanted to eat it while he watched the Celtics play on TV.”

Nick didn’t know how his mother could always tell what he was doing, even when she wasn’t looking at him.

She said, “If you’re really hungry, on the top shelf, is a Tupperware bowl with three meatballs in it. Heat it up in the microwave for a couple of minutes. You know where you can find the bread.”

“Thanks, mom. I’m starving,” said Nick.

Nick made himself a meatball sandwich, put it on a plate, and said to his mom, “I’m going to my room to study.”

“Okay, but you need to relax a little, Nick. Give your brain a break. You have the whole weekend,” said his mom.

“The SATs are next week. I need to ace them to have real chance for a scholarship,” said Nick.

“You know you can always live and home at go to college in town. It’s as good as any other university,” said his mom, her back still turned to Nick.

Nick couldn’t count the times he’d been down this road. He knew he’d never win the argument. He said, “I know.” Then he walked out of the kitchen with his backpack over one shoulder, and the plate with his meatball sub in his left hand.

Nick sat on his bed. He placed the plate to his right, took his laptop out of his backpack and text his girlfriend, Cara. “Hi, want to study for the SATs with me tomorrow?”

Cara text right back, “Sorry, Nick. We’re all going to visit my nonna in Providence. We’re going to spend the night. How about Sunday night?”

Nick text back, “C U Then. Love U.”

An hour and a half later, there was a knock on his door, “Nick? Dinner’s ready,” said Laura.

“Okay, Laura. Tell mom and dad I’m on my way.”

Nick’s mom and dad sat at the ends of the table. Laura and Stella sat on one side and Nick on the other. Nick’s dad said, “Nick, it’s your turn to say grace.”

This was another family rule, no ate until the family said grace. The family joined hands. Nick said, “Lord, thank you this food and bringing us together to share it. Please bless the food and each of us. And, let me make a high score on the SATs.”

Each member of the family made the sign of cross. Nick’s dad looked at him, “Don’t worry about it, Nick. Do the best you can. You know you can always live here and go to college in town.”

“I know,” said Nick.

Nick’s mom ladled soup into each bowl. A platter of hard crust Italian bread was passed around as well as a small dish of parmesan. Nick’s mom asked the obligatory question, “What happened at school?” Nick and his sisters gave the obligatory answer, “Not much.” The meal was unusually quiet. Normally, Nick’s dad liked to talk about politics or sports, not tonight.

When the family finished the meal, Nick said, “May I be excused, I want to study?”

Nick’s dad said, “Stay for a minute, there’s something I want to tell the family. I already told your mom.”

Nick and his sisters looked at their dad. Their dad took a deep breath. He said, “Christmas is in three weeks.”

Laura and Stella nodded with great anticipation. Nick listened.

His dad continued, “It won’t be as great as other Christmas’s. I got laid off today. I wasn’t the only one. They cut two-hundred jobs. We’ll all have to tighten our belts until I can find work. Nick, if you don’t mind, I talked to Tino Martini. He likes you. It will be a big help. You can work Saturdays and Sundays and be on call for the week after school when he needs you.”

“It’s not fair, Dad. I have SATs, I going to train hard for the 800 meters. If I qualify for states, I have a chance at a scholarship.”

“Nick, life isn’t fair. Stuff happens over which we have no control. We have to pull together. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to work out,” said his dad.

Nick’s heart sank. “Okay, dad. I’ll see Tino tomorrow.”

“Could you go over now?” asked his dad.

Nick took a deep breath and nodded.

Are Nick’s dreams evaporating? What will his dad do?

Turning A Knockdown Into A Triumph

Know anyone who hasn’t been knocked down? Know anyone who hasn’t taken a hard blow? I don’t. Those who reach down and find their inner toughness, get up, shake it off, and become determined to make something good happen from what was bad. They have the courage to transform the moment into a beautiful, creative piece of human courage. You and I have the capacity to be that person. Dig down, dig deep, never quit. Turn the bad moments into good moments. This brief Ted Talk will inspire you to turn tragedy into triumph.

Quote for Today – December 1, 2017

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well. – Jack London

Nothing Can Stop You

What is holding you back? Nothing can hold back your determined spirit. Nothing can hold back your overwhelming courage to face whatever life brings. Nothing can stop you if you keep on moving forward. Nothing can stop you if you refuse to quit. Don’t quit. Don’t ever give up. Get inspired with the short YouTube video. Fight On.

Life Is Change – Create Good

Life is change. There is nothing we can do to prevent change from happening. It is as much a fact of life as the sun rising and setting. Each moment we are challenged to adjust and adapt to change. When we are open to change, we become its master. Change no longer drags us  kicking and screaming like a small child into a new reality. We move into our new reality and create good. Get inspired with the following YouTube video on change.

Quote for Today – November 20, 2017

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore. ~ William Faulkner

A Story Of Hope and of Courage

Stories of men and women who overcome adversity inspire me. Their stories are a continual reminder to me that no matter how difficult my challenges, how high the mountains appear in front of me, I am strong to fight on. This YouTube video is a bit longer, it is 12 minutes, but it will be worth every minute of your time. Jack Kavanagh is one of my heroes. After you listen to his story, he will be your hero as well.