To explain to my son.

As a father I have learned that raising a child requires a great deal of understanding, empathy, insight, courage, love, compassion, and a total devotion. I realize that my son is growing and experiencing new things everyday and is experiencing some difficulties as can be expected. We have also been through family tragedy which has affected us in a way that has taken time to understand and cope with. I have tried on occasion to ask my son about his feelings on Pop and not seeing him and all the fun times we shared with him. This has been one of the hardest things I had to talk about with Matthew and I sometimes don’t really know how you talk to a child about such a thing. To explain death is hard enough but to discuss suicide is a whole other matter and I am still trying to understand it myself. I have a love for my dad that is very strong and I understand his pain, so deep down I can sympathise with him for this pain and isolation he felt and why he succumbed to his feelings. I however can not explain it to my son and he feels that Pop is just travelling and resting. He does not accept that he is gone. He also does not like to hear about death which I certainly can understand as this is very traumatic for a child and for an autistic child it is far more traumatic and can affect them in a way that can be life altering so we must allow him to deal with this in his own way and really not discuss it as he gets very upset.

We have had similar reactions for the September 11th tragedy as Matthew was a toddler when that tragic event took place and he had seen the brutal images of the planes crashing into the towers and seeing them come down in news broadcasts over the years and those are very frightening images. I also have a very difficult time discussing this with him and his reaction is similar as he says that it never happened and it was just a movie and the towers still stand. I know the reality but I will let my son think the way he wishes on this since I am very concerned for his mental well being. I do however try to explain to him that we live in a world where we have to be very careful and unfortunately we can not be so trusting. It is a very sad reality and it makes us realize that there is a lot of pain and suffering and we can not always shield our children from this.

I have seen such sadness in the eyes of young children from news reports and commercials addressing the problems of starvation and poverty in the world and in our own country. It’s enough to make you cry and feel that we should be doing something to help but we are trying to survive ourselves as the world we live in is so competitive and it seems difficult enough just trying to make a living. The times we live in are so stressful and is leading to crisis, breakdowns, depression and distrust in all that we were led to believe. We are losing trust in the people we vote into office and feel we will pay the price as will our children and their children. It is a very dire situation and it seems that we will feel the effects for quite some time.

So as parents my wife and I try our best to talk to Matthew and help him in dealing with the difficulties he encounters. We have him on medication and visiting with a psychologist and a psychiatrist. For me it seems he’s a bit young for all of this but I feel we need to help him and the most important thing in understanding an autistic child is trying to let them know that they should discuss their feelings and communicate so we as parents can help him. We are certainly encouraged by his progress and intelligence. We know that socially and emotionally he needs to grow and experience more so he can improve in these areas and that is the main reason we are seeking counselling treatment for him.

I remember having discussions with my parents as a child and I had their trust and they had my trust and that is what I am letting Matthew know is that he can talk with us any time and we will always be there to help him. I would do anything to help my son as he is the shining beacon in our life and he gives me the strength to face another day.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Quiet times and internet surfing.

I’ve grown to appreciate times of peaceful silence and the times I have to myself as I can gain perspective and realize how lucky I am to have a loving wife and son. I am so in love with Maria and Matthew and they give me great joy. I feel it is healthy to have times where we can be alone occasionally and think of all that is important to us. I much prefer our times together but given my work schedule sometimes I am home late when my wife and son are already asleep. During these times I reflect and do research on various issues that affect us personally.

I have used the internet a great deal to learn about autism, epilepsy, parent support groups that meet to discuss such matters, schools for children with disabilities, camp and after school programs and legal planning for children with disabilities. I am amazed how much information is literally at your fingertips and how much I have learned over the years. I am always learning as we know Matthew’s condition will be something that will affect him throughout his childhood into his adulthood so we need to properly plan for his future and also save for his educational needs after high school.

I have also learned that there are places that train dogs to help children with epilepsy and also children with autism. They are trained to come to the aid of these children in the aftermath of a seizure or autistic meltdown and they may even be able to detect when a seizure is imminent. We have considered this as an option for our son if his epilepsy became more prevalent. The thought of having a family dog even if not trained may be a good idea for our son as a companion. Matthew seems to enjoy befriending dogs as he enjoys visiting with my sister who has 3 dogs of differing sizes and he enjoys playing and interacting with them.

I also use the internet as a social utility with the advent of Facebook, MySpace and Youtube I have been able to connect with family, old friends and new friends who are in some way affected by autism, epilepsy or both like us. I find it helpful to connect with others as it takes my mind off my worries and concerns for a little while and allows me to write and converse. I have also enjoyed getting back in touch with old high school friends both male and female and have been touched by some of them as they had helped me in dealing with the loss of my dad. I was able to write things in tribute to my dad and had a lot of friends leave me comments that helped me through it and one of the girl’s from my high school was so helpful with her support and writings that I was excited to meet her and her husband at our high school reunion and she really touched me when she gave me a big hug. She said she was looking forward to seeing me and made the trip from Tennessee so she could comfort me in my time of need. She literally brought a tear to my eyes as she made me feel special. I was so happy to reconnect with her and owe it to Facebook.

I also enjoy spending time with my son and we watch his favorite movie clips on youtube and some of his favorite music artist’s videos. He also enjoys watching domino videos and we get quite a kick out of watching them.

Since we started accessing the internet it seems that it is a daily part of our lives and when we are not able to access it we can get a bit frustrated as it now seems like a necessity now that we can do so much more nowadays.

I told my wife about Facebook and how I have been able to connect with so many people and she seems reluctant but I feel if she signed up she would be able to get in touch with her family and friends from the Philippines. It is amazing how far reaching the internet is and how much you can benefit from using it.

So when I have some alone time I will have my rhapsody playing in the background with my favorite music as I search the internet to learn how I can help my son and family and make a few more friends in the process.

Edward D. Iannielli III

It all starts with family.

The love and support of family is so important in growing and developing and becoming independent. I grew up with all the love and support I ever needed and a lot of guidance and parental advice. My parents were always there for my sisters and I and they would always make themselves available to us and they would respect us and also let us make our own decisions. I felt that I could talk to my parents about most everything with some exceptions as I believe there are somethings I just kept to myself and wished not to talk about and I respected my parents and knew I could always talk with them no matter what and that was very reassuring to me.

Maria and I talk to our son and let him know that we are always here for him and will always listen and advise him as he grows. We want him to know that we love and support him and will do all we can to provide him the best we can as parents. We want him to grow and develop and have self confidence and feel good about himself. It is so important to teach your kids that they can follow their dreams and they can strive to be their best.

As a young family we try to spend as much time together as we can and do realize we all have busy schedules so when we do have the time to spend together we feel it is important to involve our son and allow him to decide on some fun things to do for the day. I enjoy when we take day trips to the museum or aquarium or family outings to the beach. Matthew loves the ride out to Montauk point which is always a fun trip to make. We also enjoy catching a baseball game together to see the Mets, Yankees or the Ducks. I prefer going to Duck games because they are much closer and much more friendlier on the wallet and Matty enjoys the activities there and I think the quality of baseball is great. We also enjoy seeing movies together and for the couple of hours we are there it is an enjoyable experience. Another fun thing we like to do as a family with our son is bowling and miniature golf. When we go on family vacations we always try to find a miniature golf course which is something Matthew always enjoys especially the well designed courses with themes.

This is a nice time of the year to take some day trips and we always enjoy driving upstate to go apple picking or drive out East on the Island to go pumpkin picking and hay riding. With the changing season it is a beautiful time when the autumn leaves change colors. The colors of the leaves as Matty reminds me are brown, yellow, red, orange and light green and it is fun to see the changing colors and to take pictures.

This is a nice time of the year as we all start preparing for the holidays and we look forward to getting together with family relatives and ringing in the holidays. We also relive the memories of past holidays when we remember our parents who were so special to us. Matty still likes to write his Christmas wish list to Santa Clause and he looks forward to his visit on Christmas Day.

It is important that we teach our son the real meaning of Christmas and not focus on all the commercial aspects of the holidays. We teach him that Christmas is the birth of Christ and that it is a special time to get together with family and friends.

The first introduction to the holiday season that Matty enjoys is Halloween because he enjoys giving out candy to all the kids in the neighborhood and counting how many kids came. After he gives out a generous amount of candy he looks forward to mom or dad taking him around the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. He enjoys picking out his costume and will probably choose SpongeBob for his costume.

Another holiday Matty likes is Thanksgiving and he explains to us that the meaning of this holiday is the friendships formed between the Pilgrims and the Indians and how they gathered together to feast and celebrate in 1620 at Plymouth Rock. One thing he loves to watch on TV is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and he enjoys watching all the floats. He would love to see them being made the day before and has asked me if I could take him sometime and I tell him I will try my best to take him.

As we celebrate another year passing we realize how important it is to spend time with our son together and enjoy the good times and see our son doing well in school. We try to teach him to have confidence, to show respect, and to make friends in his new school. We very much care for his well being and want him to be happy and to succeed. This is what I feel is our main goal. It all starts with family as I learned as a kid and as a parent.

Edward D. Iannielli III
Helped by Matty Iannielli (my son)

100th post

The dreams we hold on to.

We are influenced by many things in our life and we make many choices throughout our lives and along the way we dream many dreams as young kids. I remember as a young kid growing up and watching baseball games with my mom who sparked my interest in the game and wishing one day to be a major league ball player. I was so excited watching the Mets climb from mediocrity to world champions in a few years since I started watching them and when 1969 played out it was so very exciting. We all got caught up in the excitement of the Mets, even my dad and sister Kathy. My sister Joanie was too young but we put a Met cap on her head too as we all were Met fans. I believe dreams are very important and they are our hopes and wishes nicely crafted together with our emotions, desires and childhood innocence interwoven together. As we get older our dreams do change but the one thing that remains constant is that we do continue to dream and reach for those ideals. Eventually our dreams if realistic become goals we set for ourselves.

As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York I had many dreams and would usually find myself dreaming of things that connected me with my boyhood interests. Since I enjoyed sports as a kid I dreamed a lot about baseball and my heroes like Roberto Clemente, Willy Mays, Henry Aaron and Tom Seaver. I dreamed I could run the bases like Roberto Clemente after lining a single into the outfield. I dreamed I could make spectacular catches in the outfield like Willy Mays. I dreamed I could hit mighty home runs like Henry Aaron (Hammerin’ Hank) and I dreamed I could strikeout the best hitters of the game like Tom Seaver. It was a fun time for me and I lived to watch baseball and become a Met fan and a baseball fan as I loved ballplayers on other teams as well. I had a childhood innocence that enabled me to dream and strive to do my best as I was a well behaved and impressionable kid.

As I grew my love for the game grew as well but my dreams of playing major league baseball were tempered with reality so I focused on more practical dreams as I knew I would not be the next Pete Rose but my enthusiasm was good and I learned to dream from my parents.

For me 1969 was an exciting year also because the challenge our late president John F Kennedy promised for our country during his short term in office to launch an astronaut to the moon and safely return him back was realized on July 20th 1969 when Neil Armstrong made his first steps on the moon and his famous quote “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” As I viewed this with my family in our living room it was an amazing thing to witness and it made me realize all the efforts our country made based on the words of a revered president who died so tragically. It propelled my dreams to new heights and made me realize there should be no limits to what you can dream and hope to achieve in life.

I had many dreams throughout my life and had learned that not all we dream is viable but we should still dream and never stop dreaming. I learned this from my parents and also teach this to my son. I tell Matthew that he should always dream and never let anyone discourage him from his dreams as our dreams are very important and our dreams keep us young and always thinking in a positive way. We always should realize that we can achieve great things and always should be optimistic about all we attempt. Matthew needs special encouragement and prompting and he has dreams that are pretty special. Matthew has a good heart and his dreams center around helping others and making the world a better place. He has very noble ideas and he has a true spirit of giving and is very empathetic. Our son is very special and I enjoy talking with him about his dreams and hopes and I always encourage him and will always encourage him because I love him and want him to do his best in whatever he chooses in his life to do and Maria and I will be there for him along the way.

So what I learned as a kid from my parents, my teachers, my experiences and my dreams I pass on to my son and I learn from him and hopefully he learns something beneficial from me that will help him as he grows. Dreams are wonderful and they are what makes our lives have meaning and gives us hope.

Edward D. Iannielli III

It’s all a mystery to me!

Life is a wonderful gift and a vast mystery. I often wondered about the meaning of life and how we are all here by a twist of fate. I often wondered if my parents had not met how life would be so much different. I would not have had this wonderful opportunity and I am very fortunate that my parents did meet. To me it seems like a miracle that our parents met and our lives came to be. It all seems so complex and it seems there is so much chance and luck being involved. I often wondered if I never went to see a psychologist during my time of despair a few years after my mom died if I would still have met Maria. I feel we were destined to meet and I feel my mom was responsible in a way because I felt a great need to seek help and was fortunate enough to get the help I needed and be introduced through the psychologist’s help to Maria. By Maria and I meeting through the help of God, my mom and the psychologist we were blessed to bring Matthew into the world. This to me is a miracle and the best gift we have ever experienced in our life.

It seems so incredible when you try to trace your family roots and how far back it seems to go. It is so very hard to go back past three generations but it seems you can go back so far and what seems even more incredible is that we have relatives that were born so long ago and are now gone as far as centuries ago. To me it is hard to grasp and yet by all our past family members coming together helped in us coming into this world and hopefully we will play a part in others coming into the world years from now. This is why Life is so wonderful and so mysterious and we are all here by sheer luck.

It also seems a bit sad that some are never born because the people who were supposed to meet never did. I can think of instances where this is so true. During wartime when you think of all the young men and women who served their country with pride and courage who were of age to marry and have families never had the opportunity because they died far too soon and far too young serving their country. In some cases men who recently became fathers for the first time or having more than one leaving their young wives behind with children also dying in action and their wives being left alone to raise their children having hoped to have them back and wishing they could have had more children. It just seems so sad and upsetting when you think about it. I also get sad when I think of all the young men and women who died on September 11th who were planning to marry and have families or who were expecting their first only to die is such a heartache and so difficult to imagine. Just imagining what could have been and how drastic the changes as a result that can never ever be measured. Another sad and tragic event that led to the deaths of so many was the Holocaust where life for so many had changed and it is unimaginable how many young families were exterminated and the possibility of life for so many tragically taken away. It all makes no sense and I often wonder why tragedies like these occur. It just seems so cruel and makes absolutely no sense.

This is why we should be so grateful for being given this wonderful gift of life and we should do all we can to be good and kind and loving and to provide our best for our children and families. We are all here and are so very lucky and privileged.

To ponder the mystery of life will only make you think about all the possibilities and seem more amazed how we are born into the world and blessed with life. It truly is like winning the lottery because the odds are so low and the possibilities so many.

I am very honored to be here and so happy to have my wife and son in my life and for having wonderful parents and sisters. Life is grand and I am blessed to be living life and one of my favorite movies is “It’s a wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. I feel that one person does make a difference in life as the movie portrays.

We teach Matthew the beauty and meaning of life so he will grow to appreciate it and know that his mommy and daddy love him so very much and are so very proud of him.

Life is a mystery and Life is wonderful!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Living in the moment.

Sometimes I feel it is best to live in the moment rather than thinking about every little thing in your life which brings on worry and affects you in all aspects of your life. When I live in the moment I feel content and am very happy with the experiences that are pleasant. I can remember back to times when I was living in the moment and everything around me seemed to be a blur but in that experience I was living through I can remember everything as if it recently happened. I believe when you live for the day and find joy you are contributing to finding peace, joy and happiness in your life. Instead of being consumed with worry you are enjoying life and living each day as it happens. Obviously there is planning in life and schedules to adhere to but changing how you think and approach things seems to make a difference. Also when you live in the moment you are confronted with sad times also and have to learn to approach each day in a way that helps you cope and learn to handle the sad times we all experience.

One such day that clearly sticks out in my mind where I was living in the moment was my wedding day when time seemed to stand still for that brief moment in time and my wife and I enjoyed the whole day and I admired my wife in her beautiful wedding gown and thought I was in heaven marrying someone very special and beautiful. I felt very blessed and happy that day sharing it with family and friends. The joy I felt that day never goes away and I can think back to that very special day and remember being very happy and being very appreciative to my dad who was responsible for giving us this special day and my psychologist, Michele who brought Maria and I together.

Another day I clearly remember frozen in time was the day when my wife announced to me that she was pregnant and I was so delighted and all my dreams had come true that day as I always wanted to experience the birth of a child and from that day on was the beginning of such joy and happiness as I eagerly awaited the birth of our son.

When Maria gave birth it was the beginning of a new chapter in our life and I was so thrilled. I remember Matthew’s birth so clearly and so vividly and I remember all the nurses and doctors there as the happiest moment in our life came true and we welcomed Matthew. I love thinking back to that very special day as that was and will always be the very happiest day of our lives. I remember seeing Maria cradling Matthew for the first time and the nurse giving Matthew his first cleaning and seeing the joy on my wife’s face and the pride my dad had in having another grandchild and seeing Matthew for the first time.

In living in the moment we also remember days of sadness and times that are difficult as I remember learning when Matthew had his first seizure and it was a very unsettling feeling and one that caused me a great deal of anxiety and worry which affected me in a way that brought the reality of the situation to me in the fore front. I knew we had to seek medical assistance for our son as we were dealing with something very serious and had to find the proper way to help him. We learned that Matthew had been diagnosed with epilepsy and had to take medication daily to help control it. We managed to get through the difficulties and felt better about Matthew’s situation once he started seeing a medical professional and starting on medication that will help him.

When we learned that Matthew was also diagnosed as autistic it was a very difficult reality to get accustomed to and I remember having helpless feelings and a lot of uncertainty. We needed to rely on people who could help our son and us with all the questions going through our minds and help us in dealing with our feelings of helplessness. Once we started making steps in the right direction and getting Matthew into early intervention we felt better about his situation and we were delighted with all the speech and language therapists and teachers that came into his life from the beginning. As he made progress we felt better for him and wanted to make sure he continued to do so.

When Matthew attended school for the first time and the bus came to pick him up it was a first for him and for us and it was another pleasant memory that has always stayed with us and reminds us of how quickly he is growing.

As we grow as a family I enjoy all the happy memories and the challenges and look upon our experiences as necessary in growing and meeting the demands of life.

There are moments in time that are very sad to that make me think back and bring tears of sadness to my eyes. One such moment was when I learned of my mother’s death. When I learned of my father’s death which was recent I had felt a major part of my life had gone as I felt with my mother as well. Now that they are both gone I hold on to all the special memories that helped shape me and made me a better person.

There are moments of great sadness to that have caused me great pain even though I was not directly connected to them but felt I had to reach out and the one’s that come to mind in the order I remember them were as follows:

The assassination of John F. Kennedy
The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
The assassination of Martin Luther King
The Apollo launching tragedy
The assassination of John Lennon
The Challenger tragedy
The Oklahoma City tragedy
The World Trade Center tragedy
The Columbine HS massacre
The September 11th tragedy
The Virginia Tech massacre

These are events that froze time in a terrible way and brought great sadness to many. We have to try to get through these sad times and strive to do the best we can and live lives that inspire and help others. We are here for a short while and we are judged for all the good we do and our mission should be taken seriously and if we are fortunate to be blessed with children it is our responsibility to nourish them, protect them, guide them and teach them so they can live meaningful and happy lives.

So I will choose to live life in the moment and do the very best I can for my family and live a life that is both meaningful and helpful to others. I am blessed and am fortunate to have been given life and for being blessed with sharing life with all that are very special to me.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Picking yourself up and appreciating what you have.

It’s only natural to feel sad and sometimes depressed when you experience difficult events in life as we all do. The best we can do in instances when we are experiencing such feelings is to talk to our spouse and family and maintain the same type of regimen we always have so we don’t get so self absorbed. It is also important to seek help from a doctor or professional as it is quite normal to have such feelings. As we get older we are confronted with life changing events such as the loss of our parents, the reality that our children will eventually grow up and become independent, the concern for our personal health, the concern for our loved one’s personal health and so much more. Life is ever changing and we try to make the best of it as we experience such changes. It is important to work through our feelings and not ignore them.

I tend to like my times of being alone in certain instances and other times being surrounded by my wife, son, mother-in-law and my friends and family. Its important to recognize when you need your privacy and when you need to be with others.

I tend to absorb myself in my work so I don’t think so much and it helps me get through the difficult times and I feel so much better when I am progressing with my assignments and not worrying about personal matters. It is important to maintain balance and to know when to separate the two. When I know I am spending a late night at work I make it a point to call my wife and son to tell them I love them and that I will be home late. They know during tax season that my work schedule is demanding and I will have my share of late nights.

It is very important to be attentive to your feelings and to not ignore them and if necessary seek a form of treatment whether it be medical or a form of counseling. I have made the decision to seek my doctor and he has prescibed medication which seems to help me with dealing with sad feelings and depression. I have been also trying to be attentive to my wife’s and son’s needs as well and recognize the importance of spending time with them and valuing our time together as a family.

Music and writing are very calming for me and when I choose to be alone at times I seem to enjoy listening to my music and writing about things important to me. I feel it is very important to chronicle your experiences and write about them because it makes you more aware of yourself and helps you connect more. Since writing I feel I have come to understand myself and my family more and know what is important in life. I want to write all my feelings down because when it is my time I don’t want to have unanswered questions. I am lucky to have my own family and to have such loving family and friends and work responsibilities and memories of my parents. Although things have changed in my life I do recognize that I am the same person and no matter what I will always be the same person and it is important to try to live life and do my best for my family, my sisters and their families, my parents memory, my employer, my friends, my charities and myself.

My main focus obviously is my family, my responsibilities to my son and helping him get a fine education and giving him the proper attention, guidance, nurturing and love he needs ,my responsibilities to my wife and being there for her and communicating more, my responsibilities to my employer and their clients, my responsibilities to family and friends and my responsibilities to myself.

I feel we have no guarantees in life and we are lucky enough to have what we have and we try to make the best of it and do all we can so we can have fulfilling lives and leave our children with the knowledge and confidence to live their lives and to appreciate all they have and to strive to be their very best. My dad had done all this and for him he felt his time was finished as he did all he possibly could for all of us and we are blessed for it and I have learned so much from him and mom. All I can say to him and mom as I miss them both so very much is this,

Dear Mom and Dad,

I love you both so very much and I am so very grateful for all you have done for us and all you had given us as children and as adults even though we were always children in your eyes. I have so many wonderful memories of you both and I will cherish them and make sure I carry on as a loving parent to my son as you did for me, Kathy and Joanie. I am saddened to lose you both but know you did your best in raising us and I am very lucky knowing I had you both in my life as I feel very lucky to have Maria and Matthew in my life as well. I can honestly say that you both made me a truly caring and loving person and made me feel compassion and a sense of purpose and for that I am very grateful.

Thank you for all you have done and all you have given us throughout our lives and thank you Dad for always being there for me and my family. Your love for Matthew made such a difference and he misses you so much. Mom, we love you and know you are taking good care of Dad.

I am so grateful to you both and will say goodbye for now! I love you so very much.

Your son,

Edward D. Iannielli III
and his family

Maria Jesusa Gonzales Iannielli
Matthew Iannielli

Mother-in-law
Terrisita Napoles Gonzales