Autism – To behold a child’s potential

As a child I remember an ad that was very powerful to me and was very important in its message and I feel it is very relevant today as it was when I first saw and heard it as a young kid in the early 1970’s. The ad of course is “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” and it was established for use by the United Negro College Fund and it has been very instrumental in raising funds for scholarships for minority students and has been very successful in its mission. I always felt that it was a remarkable thing to bring out your best in everything you did or tried to do and by having that as your way of approaching life and the many challenges and opportunities along the way it would make you far better off as a person and in the way you approach life.

I also know growing up the uncertainties and feelings of awkwardness we all feel as we embark on our journey through school and our educational pursuits. It is our first introduction to what life is all about and we are encouraged from day one to do our best and to follow our teachers instruction and to learn to behave and make friendships throughout our school years. As we grow and learn and assimilate in the classroom we start to develop our sense of ourselves and our capabilities and we are encouraged by our teachers and our parents to bring out our best. School is a wonderful opportunity for us all to learn and explore and to grow and achieve and to set goals.

I have come to understand that we all are worthy of the opportunity to succeed and do our very best and to all have the encouragement and guidance we deserve. As a father of an autistic child I also know how important it is to find the appropriate setting for your child so they can learn and thrive. Not all kids are the same so the school officials and administrators need to have flexibility in there approach to educating all their students because we are experiencing a lot more challenges with school age children and one such challenge that has been increasing in alarming rates is autism. The schools need to find adequate resources and special needs educators to meet the demands and needs of an autistic child. Autism is more and more reported in the news today because of its rise and the fact that there is no real understanding as to why it is so prevalent. The primary concern of educators today is the proper treatment and educating of all students despite their backgrounds or limitations.

I feel as a concerned parent that our child and every child needs to be nurtured and given the proper attention and encouragement so they can learn and thrive in the classroom. It is imperative that they be accepted and given the opportunity to learn and grow and express themselves as individuals. Autistic children are very special in how they perceive things and see the world. If I could step into my son’s shoes to see what he sees and feel so I could better understand him I certainly would but that obviously is not possible so the best I can do is to let him know how much I love and care for him and let him know that I am here for him now and as long as I will be here on this earth. My wife and I always reach out to him and let him know this. I say I love you to him every day and he sometimes says to me “Dad, I know this already! Why do you have to say it all the time!” After I laugh when he says this I tell him that I say it because I want him to know how much I love him and am just so happy to be here with him to be able to say it. I tell him I want to be saying it to him and Maria for a really long time! He then says to me that I am so sappy and then I laugh again and tell him he will understand someday when he has a kid.

The one thing I realize when I see my son and interact with him is his enormous capability. I always felt Matthew was very bright and has so much potential. I know every parent feels this way about their child and I completely understand this. In knowing my son I realize he does operate differently than most kids as he does not like to be singled out for a good thing or to be praised. He like to just blend in with the others but the truth is Matthew does have an enormous potential that I have recognized and so has his teachers and family and friends. I feel it is important to reach him and try to allow him to understand that it is important to tap into his potential and strive to do his best in all he does and tries. I as a child was shy and had a difficult time relating so I kind of hid and did not always allow myself to express myself. I did well in school but I was never eager to participate. I pretty much remained quiet but always had my assignments completed successfully. Maria and I instill in our son how important school is and how he should always have his assignments completed satisfactorily and try as best he can to participate and be heard. We want him to tap into his potential and bring it out and be a shining star.

To strive and do your best is a good thing and along the way it is certainly understood that struggles and obstacles are certain but if you dig deep and hold on to faith and trust in yourself to rise above them and to complete your schooling and your goals you will feel so much more complete as a person and will find self respect and happiness. This is what we all try to find in life and this is what I want our son to realize in his life so he can unleash his potential and experience success and happiness and not be weighed down by autism. It is important to behold your inner potential and tap into it for your inner fulfillment and individual expression.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism and finding solace from writing.

Did you ever have a desire to write and you tried to sit at the computer and tried to find an idea to give you a lead to a story and just felt it was a futile effort? You tried to start a sentence or even a title and you just had no sense of what you were trying to start or accomplish. I have tried on occasion when I was younger to write but realized back then I did not approach it the right way because then I would try to take on the writing with no real agenda or plan in mind and I would easily get discouraged and give up before I even started. The one thing I learned with the experience of writing my blog is that if I allow myself to think of a title or an idea that I have a connection with and can relate personal experiences then I can sit at the computer with the intention of writing and the words seem to flow. I do not think it over when I write. I just let the words flow and then I structure it and personalize it to give it an emotional touch. I have written many responses to videos on YouTube with my personal feelings and have written many personal threads on websites that gave me the practice and interest in writing and it seemed I started to touch people with the words I wrote. I really was just expressing myself and relating personally to the subject matter and I would get positive feedback from my comments and writings.

I became fairly active on my facebook account and enjoyed writing and posting and when I learned of my father’s tragic death in mid April 2009 I needed a forum to write my feelings as I was going through them. I was having a difficult time and was very sad and depressed and I needed to find some form of comfort and distraction and facebook gave me that and I used it as a means of posting writings and videos in tribute to my dad. I started to get replies of sympathies and words of encouragement and support from my facebook friends and I was very touched by the outpouring of well wishers. It made me able to deal with my sadness and depression and gave me strength and encouragement to try my best to move on. As I started to get back to some form of normalcy I realized the power of writing and posting as it did help me and gave me a sense of purpose and I enjoyed the experience of writing my thoughts and feelings down and showing my emotion and showing that I am a person with feelings and by opening up I would feel a sense of relief.

As I went back to normal postings on my facebook account and writing less I felt something was missing and I started thinking how nice it would be to write about things in my life that are important to me and where I could share my feelings in a forum and in some way find help from the experience and also try to help others by sharing my experiences. At this point I had not yet figured out the type of forum I would write in but I figured it was only a matter of time. One Sunday I was on AOL and I came upon a story of a man who was dying of cancer and was writing his farewell to his family, his wife and 2 children and it was a blog named Thumping my Melon and it was a very sad and poignant compilation of his writings in a diary format and I then realized how I would start my writing in a conventional forum. The sad reality of that blog I was referring to was that the man writing his farewell did die and his family had his writings and an excerpt I read from the story was where he said his goodbyes and wished his wife and children his very best and told his wife that after she grieved for him that he wanted her to move on and find someone to love again. He was giving her his blessings and I was very touched by it.

Another reason I wanted to write was because when I learned my father died by committing suicide by jumping in front of a speeding train and left no note or anything it really was very disturbing to me with so many unanswered questions and we did not know what to think. Was it a suicide? Was it an accident? Was he in the right frame of mind? Why didn’t he talk to us? If it was suicide as indicated on his death certificate it just makes me feel so very sad for him. I know my dad had a very difficult life and felt lonely but he had all of us to support him and he was so good with all his grandchildren. That is why the reality of his death by his own actions is so hard to deal with because he was such a wonderful person. Dealing with death is hard enough but when dealing with suicide it is so much more difficult to deal with and I have gone through so much emotional pain seeing my mother wither away. It just is so devastating to have to deal with such tragedy with both parents. One very slowly and one very sudden.

As I started my blog I wanted to start it on a happy note so I decided I would start it with the birth of our son and would focus on autism as that is central to our life with Matthew and because we are dealing with it on a daily basis and because I am inspired by my son’s courage and his spirit and that inspiration gives me the inspiration to write and chronicle our experiences and his experiences. I do write of other matters in my blog that come up which is part of life and I also write about my dad, my mom, my wife, my sisters and about me. I am trying my hardest to make it interesting and I am writing with emotion and all my writings are completely truthful with some related from my memories of years ago. I am planning to write for a long time because I am so very proud of Matthew and I am looking forward to the day he graduates high school, starts college and embarks on a career and one day finds that special girl in his life. Maria and I are so happy to be here together with our son and though he may not be perfect he will always be in our eyes and we will certainly see that we write about all his experiences with autism and with life.

With Love,

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism and Fatherhood

I have said it many times and I will say it many more times because it is the truth and that is the joy of becoming a father is the most incredible thing you will ever experience in your lifetime. When Matthew was born I was so delighted and felt an incredible bond with my wife and newborn son in that moment in time. I have lived many seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades to realize that this is the most special thing you could ever experience in your life. The day we brought our son home from the hospital was a day of uncertainty and great joy and realizing that I was Matthew’s dad was truly gratifying and heart warming. I will always remember the day Maria gave birth to our son as that is forever frozen in time in my mind and is my most incredible experience that will live with me through eternity.

I have learned that becoming a father is not something you can study for or take a test to see how good you will be at it. It is a constant learning process and every day poses a new challenge. As a father you wish to provide your child with love, support, guidance, wisdom and encouragement and so much more. In the early days of fatherhood the most important thing to do is to be very supportive of your wife as she is constantly with the newborn baby nursing the baby and bonding with the baby. As the father I realize the bond between the mother and the baby is the most important bond of all and I truly realize the special gift and joy a woman feels when she gives birth for the first time. It must be the most amazing and most incredible experience she can feel once she gets past the physical pain. I have always had tremendous respect for my wife and for all women who give birth as that is something truly special and we as new fathers are so very appreciative for their tremendous sacrifice and their courage all throughout their pregnancy as that is 9 months of preparation and as special as it is, it is so physically and emotionally draining for a woman and she needs to always be supported throughout her pregnancy and always be conscious that she is doing all the right things for her body and for the baby growing inside her womb.

As the days becomes weeks and months and the baby is starting to grow and develop it is very important to have the baby be seen by the pediatrician for regularly scheduled visits and vaccinations. This is a time when you are very much in tune with your child and for the next 2 years the mother will be with the baby morning, noon and night. As the father it is important to give your wife a break and volunteer to change diapers and do feedings when you are available as it is stressful raising a baby and since the mother is constantly with the baby she most certainly needs a break every now and then. It is also important that the father establish a bond with the baby also and help in the early years as they go by so quickly and you can never get them back and before you know it, it becomes a distant memory.

As your child approaches the 2 year mark that is a very special time because the child is really starting to develop a personality and starting to talk and walk and becoming somewhat independent in some ways. I still remember discussions with my wife when Matthew was 2 years old because she was very concerned for him. As she was with him so much more and could see how he responded to her she started to realize that there was something not right with our precious son. Her first clue was when she would talk to him calmly and engage him as she was feeding him and realizing he was never able to make eye contact with her. Usually babies are very good at responding to cues and making eye contact. At that time she knew something was wrong but was not sure what was wrong.

We decided that it would be wise to inform his pediatrician but for some reason we did not really discuss it with her until he was near 3 years old and it was clearly evident that something was not right. The pediatrician immediately suggested the early intervention program which we did inquire about and it was determined that Matthew would most definitely benefit from it. He was diagnosed with autism and was further diagnosed with asperger’s which when we found out were not sure what it all meant. The teachers and therapists that came to the house would help Matthew with speech, motor coordination, eye contact, auditory and sensory skill development. It was a long process and we were fortunate to have these resources available.

As Matthew grew and received the therapies from the early intervention program we started to see progress being made and were encouraged and excited and thankful to all the wonderful people who were helping our son. It was wonderful to see Matthew starting to talk and verbalize his feelings and making eye contact. It was a tremendous relief for us and we knew he was going to need special schooling but we were happy that he was coming along and making the progress we were so hoping to see. When you have a child you want them to be perfect in every way but realize you will accept your child no matter what as unconditional love is such a powerful love that bonds the child and the parents forever.

As a father of an autistic child I realize there are many challenges and many frustrations but when you know your child is special and you learn that there are professionals to turn to and schools that are there to provide tailored programs for your child then you start to develop hope and are encouraged and start to see the good things and the progress and you then realize that your child can make strides and do the things you hoped they could. It will take them more time maybe but they too can do the things that other kids do and our son is very bright and has such a great disposition. I am constantly learning from him as he is exceptionally bright and is a joy as well. I know he will have his struggles but I am confident that he will grow and mature and make wonderful progress and we are so proud of him and love him so much. Matthew is my son, Maria is my wife and I am so lucky to have them both in my life and am so proud to be Matthew’s dad.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Autism and Life situations

I often wonder how my parents raised 3 kids in their time as it is a considerable challenge raising one child and providing him with everything he needs to have a chance to succeed in his life. I have always wanted to be a father and to pass on to my son all the things I learned and help give him the knowledge, self confidence and drive he needs to attain all the dreams and goals he sets for himself. I know that we play a significant role in our child’s life as his parents and the schools he attends and the teachers he learns from also play a role in his development. With our combined efforts it is our hope that he will learn and prosper for he certainly has the ability and the mindset. Although he is autistic and has difficulty in his social development he still has the intelligence and the ability to do well in his studies and to find areas of interest that will encourage him and motivate him. As we experience life we encounter many things and when you raise an autistic child you will find it requires a lot more patience and understanding when it comes to dealing with the many circumstances of life and explaining them to your autistic child.

One of the hardest things to explain to any child is the death of a loved one. In trying to explain death to an autistic child it requires a great deal of strategy and understanding. When my dad died so tragically it was a very difficult thing for me to deal with and to know that he was a big part of Matthew’s life made it so much harder explaining it to him. I remember when I first learned of his death I was in total shock as both my brother-in-laws came to the house to break the tragic news to me and my family. They asked if Matthew could stay in grandma’s room when they sat down with me. As they told me my son happened to come into the living room and he saw me crying and asked me what was wrong. I was so sad and in such shock I was in no condition to talk to Matthew about it so I ran up to tell Maria and asked her if she could watch Matthew as I needed to have time alone to take it in and deal with it as I knew it would not be easy.

The hardest part of coping with my father’s death was learning the sad circumstances of his death. He was a very kind and caring husband, father and grand father and a wonderful person who was so very generous and compassionate and he would do anything to help us out. He was wonderful with all his grandchildren and he just was like a big kid who was always there to baby sit. So when I learned that he leaned into a speeding train and was thrown further down the platform cracking open his skull and dying on impact I was just so beside myself. All I could do was try to understand what would make him do such a thing and I just could not find an answer. I did know he was sad and lonely at times but he was so active with all his grandchildren that we all thought he was doing ok. It is such a tragedy and I just feel truly awful about it because my dad was such a wonderful man who did so much good and he deserved a much better ending than this horrible tragedy. My dad died with a broken heart and we just could not help him through his pain and I am very sad about that.

So as time has passed and we realize the absence more and more it still is fresh and very painful to me. I have sat down to explain about “Pop” to Matthew and he does not accept that he is gone. In fact when Pop’s birthday passed this October 27th my son asked me where was his birthday cake and I shrugged my shoulders and told Matthew that it wasn’t appropriate and he started to lose it. He started crying and screamed at me that I was not respecting my dad and he did not want to see me any more and he ran upstairs to his room and shut the door and cried. My son taught me something in that moment and I felt really bad so the very next day I went to Matthew’s favorite bakery and bought a birthday cake for “Pop” and when I showed him the cake he gave me the biggest hug and kiss and said “See I knew you loved your dad and he knows it too!” He made me realize that we should never forget and this was his way of showing it so we sang Happy Birthday to Pop and we each had a piece of cake in his honor.

Another aspect of autism that poses a major challenge in dealing with life situations is adapting to change. Matthew, like most autistic children is resistant to change and if there is the slightest change it can have an affect on the child where they will react in a way that could be violent or where they will scream or cry or both and it can take time to settle them down. Most autistic children need to have a sense that things remain the same as they hate change. It was very difficult getting Matthew used to the idea of having a new teacher each school year and it took 3 years before he could have a change in his school teacher. He now seems used to the idea and now is adapting well to a new school and new teachers.

Behavior is probably one of the major areas we need to work on improving with Matthew as he tends to have trouble conducting himself properly in different settings. We used to never go out as a family to a sit down restaurant because Matthew just could not sit down and behave. As he is getting older it is getting better but on occasion he still acts up but it is with less frequency. We usually go to family style restaurants like Friendly’s and Matthew does sit and behave and it is good to get out as a family sometimes especially when we are on vacation.

When Matthew was younger it was impossible to take him to a movie because he did not have the patience to sit and he would be up every 10 minutes and would talk and people would get annoyed so we used to have to walk out of movies fairly regularly because Matthew had a lot of difficulty sitting through them. As he is getting older we are finally able to see a movie in its entirety with the exception of the occasional bathroom break. It now has become a pleasure taking him to the movies and is one of the things we look forward to doing together.

We also encountered times when Matthew would run off without warning when we were in the mall or an amusement park and we really had to run after him so he would not get lost. It took many times sitting him down and explaining to him that he can not do this because he can get lost and it is not easy finding him in such a big place with so many people. After many stern discussions with him on this he finally realized it is not a good idea and he does stay close by now which gives us peace of mind.

We are now seeing the progress Matthew is making and we are pleased but feel he has a long way to go and we are now starting to prepare for the time when he starts to notice the girls. This is something I am hoping will be a smooth and easy time for him but knowing how kids are I feel we will have lots of discussions about it and we will wait for him to ask as this is more appropriate. We also want Matthew to focus on his studies and do well in school so he can further himself and plan for college one day.

I feel the kids of today’s generation are growing and maturing much faster than we did because they are exposed to so much more with tv, the internet and school. We have to make sure we listen to them and provide them with a forum to talk about all their feelings and always maintain a two way conversation with them. Matthew is our son and he is very important to us and we wish to always be there for him and guide him and teach him about life and help him be the best he can be. He is our pride and joy and we love him so very much and want to teach him well so he can enjoy life, establish friendships and do all he wishes to do.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Dear Santa.

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving with our family and loved ones we are reminded that Christmas is around the corner and we look forward to the Christmas season in hopes of feeling the joy and happiness we remember as children when we had an innocence and a child’s life free of worry and responsibility. Christmastime in our household was wonderful and it was a time of family togetherness, happiness and eager anticipation. We learned early that if we were good we would be visited by Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve while we were sleeping and we would receive some of the presents we wished for. I have so many fond memories of those days and sharing them with my wonderful mom and dad and my 2 younger sisters. I remember when mom would have us write our letters to Santa and how she would help us with writing it so we would word it properly and not sound too greedy. We always asked for practical things and some toys as it was the toys we most wanted.

As I am getting older my memory is not quite the same as it used to be but I can still remember back to some of our family Christmases of long ago and still feel those same feelings I did as a little kid and I can still manage to smile like I did way back then. This to me is truly important because those were special times in my life and it feels good to be able to remember some of them. The Christmas I received several toy cars, both hot wheels and match box and a racing track with the loop the loop was one that stood out for me as was the Christmas I received my first bicycle without training wheels. My sisters received nice presents as well but I was more focused on my own presents. I remember my sisters would look so cute in their Christmas dresses and mom would have me dressed in a nice white shirt and tie. My younger sister is 6 years younger than I so our first Christmas all together as a family of 5 including our parents was in 1967 when she was only 5 months old. I kind of remember that Christmas with my mom holding her in her arms and I enjoyed kissing her on her little cheeks when I was 6 years old. I remember telling mom that was a special Christmas having a little baby in the family and she patted me on the head and said what a good little boy I was. She made me feel good when she would do that.

I remember when we realized that not all our presents came from Santa and my sisters and I would sneak around to try to find them. We did find some on occasion but would not let on that we knew and we would still delight in the joy of opening them. Our parents were so generous and they made all our Christmases wonderful and joyous. We also enjoyed visiting at both our grandparents houses to celebrate the Christmas holiday and receive more presents and visit with our cousins and family relatives. We had such wonderful times and memories that still resonate with me and bring me back to a time that was magical. As we got older we still enjoyed the family celebrations and opening our presents and also remembering our parents and buying them presents too which was our way of showing them how special they were to us.

As a parent I take great joy in seeing my son all excited around the holidays and expressing his joy and happiness. I would also ask him to write his letter to Santa like my mom did when we were just kids. I notice my son would ask for similar things that I asked for when I was his age and I just take great joy in his childlike innocence and am proud how much he has grown from the very first Christmas we shared as a family back in 1998 when Matthew was an infant and Maria held him in her arms. It brought me back to the Christmas of 1967 when my mom held my baby sister in her arms. I was so happy for Maria and I that we now had a baby to share the holidays with and to share our lives with. It is the best Christmas present I could ever hope for, the birth of our son, Matthew on December 8, 1998 even though he insists his birthday is March 8, 1999, something I will never understand.

Our son is now 10 years old and will be 11 this Christmas and I am amazed how the time has gone by so quickly and how we all are getting a little older. I have many fond memories of celebrating Christmases with my wife and son, my dad and my sisters and their families. We had many joyous Christmases together and it was a pleasure to share with all of Matthew’s cousins and with “Pop”. Our dad was always so generous and so giving and this Christmas will be very difficult to celebrate as the twinkle in the star atop the tree will not be nearly as bright. We will hold on to “Pops” spirit and his kindness and celebrate Christmas in his honor and also celebrate Mom and Dad’s Christmas together again after so many years apart. It is our memories that give us joy and our family and loved ones that give us strength. So even though this Christmas will be sad knowing that dad is no longer with us we will still share in the celebration of being with family and loved ones. May we as a family all find joy in our heart and hold on to the precious memory of dad and keep the image of his youth and happiness alive through our lifetime.

This holiday season is difficult for so many because there are so many people hurting due to a depressed economy and fewer jobs and a lot of poor judgement in Washington DC. We are now feeling tough times hoping that we will still have a job so we can provide for our family and pay our monthly obligations. I have seen good friends laid off and are suffering and dealing with the possibility of foreclosure. These are people who work hard and have families and pay their taxes and at one time trusted in this country but now wonder why they are in danger of losing everything. As I hear this I often wonder why our leadership let it get this way. Christmas is a time for kids and I heard some children write letters to Santa asking him to find their daddy a job so he can pay for the house they are about to lose. When you hear this it just makes your heart sink and you hope these families will get the help and support they need and find gainful employment so they can get back on their feet and provide for their families, keep their homes and get their kids a little present for Christmas. I will pray for these families and try to do something to help give them hope but we all must do our part and we all must try our best to keep going so we can provide for our families at this most difficult time. I wish a Merry Christmas to all and healing for all those suffering.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Giving Thanks.

I often wonder why we designate one day a year for appreciating all that we have and all we should be grateful for. I feel we should give thanks every day we get to spend with our family and our loved ones. We are all dependent on each other yet live distinct and separate lives but are joined together by a bond that is stronger than anything we can imagine. Love is a bond that conquers all and when we love and feel loved there is nothing as gratifying. It affects us in every aspect of our life and we can not survive without it. It is what gives us strength. It is what gives us passion in our life. It is what motivates us. It is what makes us whole. It is what gets us through trying and difficult times. It is what makes us care for others. It is what makes us reach out to ease someone else’s pain.

To hold love in your heart is truly a wonderful thing and to tell someone else that you think of them always and you wish to be with them for the rest of your life is what we all strive for and if we are lucky enough truly attain. To experience the most precious gift in the world which is the gift of intimacy with another person is a joy and God blesses us if we are fortunate enough with a baby that makes our life special and meaningful and makes us realize what truly is of most importance in our life. The unconditional love of a baby is the best form of love we will ever experience in our life and it makes us all better for the joy, love and compassion we hold for our little baby is the greatest gift of all.

As we gathered at the table to celebrate another year gone by and another thanksgiving with all the people most important in my life which are my wife, son and mother-in-law I could not help to take a moment and reflect upon my dad who recently passed away this year and I felt an overwhelming flood of emotions that caused me to shed a tear and to smile at the same time for my dad was truly special and was a wonderful father in my life and was so loving towards mom and my sisters. I felt sad that we would no longer see him and that Matthew would no longer have Pop their to help him build his Lego city which was the highlight of his visits. It will take time to readjust to our lives now as we lose the ones who meant so much to us. We will never forget the wonderful memories of Pop but will feel the void left by his apparent absence. This is particularly difficult for young children to understand but in time our son will learn to remember Pop and know that the times he got to spend with him were truly special and he should hold on to those memories and cherish them.

I always knew that we would encounter happy and sad times in our lives and that we have to know that life as we know it is very precious because their is that element of uncertainty that we just don’t know and no matter how hard we try to make our lives perfect and free from pain and sadness it is an impossible feat for we all will eventually face our mortality and this is why I believe we need to be thankful everyday because we don’t have guarantees in life and one year from now is to far away to celebrate once again. I am grateful every day I wake for what I have in my life and wish to be here a long time to spend with my wife and son. They are the focal point of my life and I want to be there for the both of them and if we are lucky enough to be blessed with another child I would be delighted for children are what keep us young and that bond of unconditional love is a true miracle that keeps us close to our family and to God. My son’s smile and knowing that he is happy is the greatest gift I could ever receive and when I tell him I love him I mean it with all my heart and when I kiss my wife and tell her how much she and Matthew mean to me I am revealing my most inner feelings and emotions and I am at my most fragile for I am laying it all on the line and know how much I need their love as well.

I live for love and I wish to do my best before it is my time. As I get older and wiser I also become more sentimental and more introspective and I start to flood my mind with memories of my childhood and my parents in a younger and happier time and I tend to become more emotional and cry more. I am not ashamed to cry or reveal my feminine side because I feel it is part of me and I am ok with it. Life is to short to get hung up on things. We are all people and we need to be accepted for who we are and find happiness in our lives and be the absolute best we can for when we die we are gone forever and that is the hardest thing to come to terms with especially when you bring children into the world. You always want your children to be protected and well cared for and you always wish to spend as much time with them as you possibly can and guide them and teach them the ways of the world. My son is my greatest gift I have been given in my life and to have my wife by my side is as well and the hope we hold for our son is what keeps me going in my life so I can see him grow into adulthood and live a life full of promise and joy and go on to study in college and find a rewarding career and hopefully meet and marry that special girl in his life. This is what I live for!

Edward D. Iannielli III

For you Dad: Touched by a mother and her son.

It is always nice to be remembered and to be respected and to know that you made a difference in the lives of others. This can be said of my dad who did make a difference but would never really think anything of it. He was very humble and feels he did what he had to do so he could provide for his family. My parents always made us feel special and I have many fond memories of having wonderful holiday celebrations as a child with my parents and my sisters. From those special times as a child I have always appreciated the holiday season and getting together with family and friends. It is my favorite time of the year and it is when we get to share the joy with our family and our beloved children. This holiday season will be so much more different for the Iannielli family because someone who meant the world to us and did so many wonderful things is no longer here to share it with us. I have been feeling sad lately as we prepare for our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays because my dad who I loved and respected and admired very much is no longer part of our celebration. It is a void I can not put into words other than to say it is very evident and very sad for me. I know my family and my sisters and their family’s feel the same way. We are opting to have a quiet dinner at home and just trying to relax and enjoy being together as we all lead such busy lives. Though my dad is gone the memories are there and we are trying our best to enjoy the holidays for the sake of our children despite the hugh absence we feel.

I remember when my mom passed away back in 1990 it took me several years to get back to some sense of normalcy as I had gone through a deep depression and it was my dad and I who became much closer and my relationship with my dad became very strong and he was a tremendous inspiration and helped me to learn important values and to prepare for things I did not know would ever happen for me such as marriage and fatherhood. I was so happy that he was here to meet my wife Maria and our son Matthew.

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday with my wife, son and mother-in-law I was thinking of my mom and dad and felt that dad was now happy to finally be reunited with mom. They have been apart for so long and they are now back together in eternal peace.

As I thought of my dad I was touched by an e-mail that came from a mother of a 13 year old boy who is in middle school and is reading a non fiction book for his 8th grade English class. The book his mother suggested he read, titled the Bridge is written by an author who met with my dad to write a chapter in the book of his experience working on the Verrazano bridge. The author is Gay Talese and the chapter in the book centers around 2 men and a brief introduction of their lives up until that fateful day working on the Verrazano Bridge in 1963. The 2 men are Gerard McKee and my dad, Edward D. Iannielli Jr. They were working together and had parted to do their respective jobs and as my dad continued tightening the rivets he heard Gerard calling for my dad in distress. When my dad turned to Gerard he saw he was barely hanging on for dear life to the cable and my dad screamed Oh God! and tried to reach to grab hold of him but Gerard was a big man weighing over 200 lbs and my dad weighed 138 lbs and had a crippled hand and as he tried to pull him up he did not have the strength to do so and as he felt him slipping through his grip all he could do was picture my mom and me as a little baby and he saw Gerard fall to his death. The quick actions of an Indian by the name of Lloyd LeClaire helped save my dad from falling as he jumped on top of my dad to keep him tight to the catwalk. He saved my dad’s life.

As I read Maria’s e-mail I was moved and was reminded how special my dad was and how he has touched the lives of others. She really made me feel good and she helped ease the sadness I feel and I was so touched by her kind words and her reaching out to me and my family to acknowledge my dad and to share his story with her son. She really made my day and for that I am very appreciative and would certainly share stories of my dad with them. She also enjoyed reading the story I wrote about my father and son and his visits to help Matthew build his Lego skyscrapers. I was very lucky to have my dad in Matthew’s life and the one thing that stands out in my mind of their relationship was my dad’s feelings on Matthew and autism. He never treated Matthew differently and he always made my son smile and feel good and always was there for him and cherished their times together working on lego buildings and just hanging out. It was wonderful and we do miss him so much and realize we do have to move on but can still cherish the memories and always remember those special times.

Dad, you see how people appreciate what you did! This is for you because you touch people’s lives and Maria and her son and their kindness is so precious and is a wonderful gift and I wanted to share this with you because you are so special to all of us! Thank you Dad! We Love you and miss you very much! Give mom a big hug and kiss for us. We love and miss you both! Happy Thanksgiving!

Your loving son and family.

Edward D. Iannielli III
Maria Iannielli
Matthew Edward Iannielli
Mama Terri (Terisita Gonzales)