Friday, July 11, 2014

Turkish Delight

I don't know how many people still come back to this blog; I find myself reading though it every month or so. Feeling particularly sentimental, I sat down to reread the last few posts...from a cafe...in Istanbul. For those of you that don't know, Dad and I have been in Turkey for nearly a month and a are
preparing to return home tomorrow.  Zoe has been in Israel.  It seemed fitting that nearly 6 months after mom's death, and after a month of saying  "I wish mom was here; she would love this," that I should write my first blog post. So here I am, sitting in a cafe, typing away on my iPhone (forgive any typos), hoping the Turks sitting next to me don't realize I'm crying.
This trip was designed to end this chapter of our lives. We miss mom as much as we did the day after her passing and will continue to, but we look forward to the next stage of our lives: Zoe to start her junior year, me to start my gap year which will end with a backpacking trip around the world, and Dad to jump back into webcasting and writing. We continue to see our beloved Pittsburgh friends and family almost every week with whom we recall our fondest MJ memories. I am amazed by how much of her I see my family and in our friends. I hope to embrace her eagerness, bravery, and compassion as I embark on my trip later this year and in my life after. I carry her with me always and when I travel on this trip I will carry and disperse some of her ashes around the world. I think she would like that. I'll sign off now because I have already drunk too much caffeinated tea and need to meet up with Dad for our last dinner in Turkey. I will sign off the way she used to.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Today is the 20th anniversary of the day MJ and I got married. The kids and I are doing our best, despite walking around in a fog. Lots of paperwork to complete. 

We've begun planning the memorial celebration - and I use the word celebration because MJ asked me to.  Unfortunately, the memorial has reached room capacity, so we are not able to accept any more RSVP's.  A video of the event, however, will be available. Details will be posted here.

Several of our friends have asked me to set up an educational fund for our children Sam and Zoë.  If you would like to donate, please follow this link

Thank you.


Saturday, February 15, 2014


M.J. Tocci 1953-2014
Memorial Celebration will be held Sunday April 6th at 10am at CMU.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Last days.

MJ is hanging in there. These are our last days with her....and she remains amazing. What more can you ask?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Yesterday MJ moved to the inpatient hospice...drifting in and out, surrounded by loving family. We don't know how long this phase will last, but here's what we do know:

she's comfortable
she's surrounded by people who love her deeply
she will be mourned by many


her Negotiation Academy will go on, in very capable hands.

We are planning a memorial around the end of March. It will take place in Pittsburgh, at a location to be determined. Details will be forthcoming on this blog.

We are collating thoughts and feelings about MJ and her life, to be bound for Sam, Zoë and whomever else is interested. If you would like to contribute, feel free to use this blog, or contact our good friend Sara Laschever who will compile a book. 

You can reach Sara at sklasch@gmail.com or by phone at 617-899-3754.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Accessorizing for hospice...

As of this week, we are officially in home hospice. Chemo is done (didn't help), IV nutrition is done (too hard on the liver) and we are settling in for some cozy time together (nice to do in this weather). The Belmont Tocci's are trekking across the storm laden Northeast to help us celebrate...and celebrate we will. Karen and Ann, two close buds from the Alameda District Attorneys Office, are also here to help with the festivities. More visitors to come.

We'll take one day at a time because.....well, because that's what there is.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Its a Bird....Its a Plane......

Looks like life is always throws new twists and turns and we never know quite how we will land. Eventually we know we will, and the difference between a hard landing and a soft landing might just be who is there to catch you.
We have all had catchers in our lives, and many have had the opportunity to accept MJ’s arms to assist and help us thru challenging times. And we will reach out to give from whom we have received.
 We went to Joeys swim meet yesterday at Connecticut College. He dedicated his diving to his Aunt MJ, and won both events. Not sure how MJ arranged this, but no other divers showed up.
Grandma and Patty Blair came over to see Joey dive, and we had a good (while brief) visit. They talked about how great it was to see / reconnect with MJ last summer when she was in NY and we stayed at Patti’s rental house on Fire Island with the Blair’s for a couple of days.  They very much enjoyed your company.

Belmont Tocci’s on the way to Pittsburgh next week. Shall we bring a deck of cards????? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two house calls on a single day!

Imagine that. Joe Kelley MD and Peter Tanzer MD came to the house to see MJ yesterday.... a reflection of how beloved she is by her doctors as well as family and friends. We're treating for pneumonia again, but this time, we're doing it at home. The last 36 hours have been rough, but things have settled down now that we've started IV antibiotics.

Still waiting for the chemo to do it's thing....

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chemo #3

Chemo #3 today. This is the first we've been able to manage at the prescribed interval...2 weeks after the last.

Law school chum Laurie Lyons is in town for a week, and will act as chemo buddy today. Laurie arrived yesterday and will stay until Saturday. We spent yesterday afternoon looking at photos that Laurie brought. Mostly the law school years in California...some I had never seen before. Very cool. What a BEAUTY....I married very well!

Thanks to all for the hobby suggestions. Speaking of hobbies, we just finished work on the MJ quilt. The quilt was spearheaded by Nan Elligator and Kristin Tsapis...and we all chipped in. Some of us learning how to sew for the first time ever (not mentioning any names). The quilt is composed of felted squares cut from wool sweaters (mostly sweaters past their prime, but maybe a couple of current ones too). Take a look:

Not bad eh?

Eager to see what this week is like after the chemo. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Worlds Greatest Sister

Hey – not sure I am in the right place. Just Googled “World’s Greatest Sister” and this name appeared. Is that you MJ?  And about this “greatest sister tag, is that a sponsored ad?
My memories of this greatest sister think are mixed. “Mom, Dad, Joey hit me again” comes to mind, and as I was being punished I can remember how bad you felt for getting me in trouble, showing the sad smile that you fought to suppress…except when Mom was not looking.

Do others know your “dark side” after high school when you professed to be a right wing conservative republican catholic. Then life changed when you found Bruce. Yes, Born to Run Bruce, the Liberal Democratic Jewish kid from the neighboring state, the friend and confidant of a young Chris Christi. I still remember stories of those 2 trying to get to a gig in NYC…the traffic on the bridge was a mess! Whodda thunk?

So, my trans-formative sister….I did try to dig deep and see if I could come up with a few positive influences you might have had on your family growing up. And I did remember one. You are always there. For me after High school when I needed a place to stay in Hartford, you opened your door. For Mom and Dad, as they aged and needed someone to support them mentally and physically, you were there. And any and all challenges any of us went through, your strong support, engagement, positive outlook and actions made everything easier….regardless of what you had going on.Those days are not forgotten.

So there are a few of us that are very proud of you, likely limited to your friends, family, and anyone that has come to know you. Love you and we are always thinking of you.

Gotta run. See you around the neighborhood. Off to Google “Worlds Meanest Sister’, will let you know what comes up!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Hobby Hunt

This morning I was visiting with my dear Sister, MJ and realized that there is something that is currently lacking in her life.  She needs to find herself a good hobby.  So I am issuing a challenge to all of those reading this blog.
Here is where this is coming from.  We were talking today about how she has periods of boredom in which she can become anxious because she feels that in this boredom she is not moving in any direction.  These periods can come in 15 to 30 minute intervals or longer.  It can sometimes be hard to concentrate on reading or listening to a book, so I was thinking of some kind of active activity.  I was throwing out ideas fast and furious, only to be thwarted at every turn with either an outright no, or a face with immediately let me know the idea was not well received.  These are some of the ideas that I tried and failed with:
Ken Ken
Jigsaw Puzzles
Making Pottery
Building Models
Learning a Language
Playing the Tuba

So my Challenge to all of you is to submit your ideas for MJ's new hobby.  Should she actually take up any of your suggestions you will win my gratitude and a star to go on your refrigerator.

On a little more serious side, my dear friend Nina sent me a link the other day, and I would offer this to any of the readers of this blog for whom it might be appropriate as there are those of many faiths reading this.  Yesterday (7 Jan) began a 9 day Novena for St Peregrine "The Cancer Saint".  The novena can be found at the following link:   http://www.praymorenovenas.com/st-peregrine-novena/
It only takes a few minutes to say and I am sure we can be forgiven for starting a day or 2 late and catching up.  As I said, I am doing this and invite any of you to join me over the next week.

Lastly there was something posted on one of the sites I was looking at for St Peregrine which I believe has exemplified how this battle has been fought by my incredibly strong, brave and loving Sister.  Obviously this is from a Christian site, but I think you all can get the idea of what I am referring to.

is limited

It cannot
cripple love,
It cannot
shatter hope,
It cannot
corrode faith,
It cannot
eat away peace,
It cannot
destroy confidence,
It cannot
shut out memories
It cannot
silence courage,
It cannot
invade the soul,
It cannot
reduce eternal life,
It cannot
quench the spirit,
It cannot
lessen the power of the Resurrection.

Monday, January 6, 2014

More Waiting...

Still waiting to see if the Gemcitabine is working....some good periods punctuated by not-so-good periods.

My sister Betsy was supposed to leave today, but has extended her stay by a day due to the frigid weather.

MJ remains unable to accept visitors or do much in the way of email. We are enjoying Treme on TV, and enjoying close family time together. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Feeling Better

feeling better
Day 3 after chemo #2...and feeling better. This has been a tough week, so a number of phone calls and e-mails went unanswered. Today, however, things are on the upswing. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Thanks much.


Monday's chemo went smoothly....so now it's just waiting to see it work.

Family visits from Jonathan's sisters Pola and Betsy. Pola left on Sunday, and Betsy arrived yesterday (Wednesday the 1st). Thanks to Pola for a wonderful visit and for being such an amazing help.

More to come....