BY: Cherry Maggiore, “The Freak of Nurture”
Chapter 16: Angels Guiding Me Along The Border
As I drove my car home on an ice-cold December 26th evening, tears filled my eyes as I strained to see through the frosty windshield. The warm wetness made a trail of tears across my cold, red cheeks. My heart filled with a terrible ache. After a two year battle with cancer, I intuitively knew that this was the last time I would see my Uncle Weazle alive.
After pulling into my driveway, I looked at the temperature, and it was around 11 degrees. Particularly cold for December. I shut off the car and just sat there for a while, reflecting on all that was happening. So many why’s filled my head; why does he have cancer? Why didn’t he get himself checked? Why are we losing him so soon after Aunt Lorraine passed? Why doesn’t he have more time? Why? Why? Why? FUCKING WHHHHYYYYYY????
The unfairness of it all was impossible to comprehend.
As I dragged myself upstairs to my bedroom, I listlessly went through the motions of my night-time routine. It was unusually quiet because MSP was with her father as we split the holiday week; the streets were empty, and I was alone. So very alone. I crawled into bed, under my favorite furry blanket and let out a big sigh. At this point, the tears had dried up, but my mind was racing.
Knowing the inevitable, a very selfish prayer crept into my mind. I prayed that my Uncle wouldn’t die on my birthday, which was two days away on December 28th. I couldn’t bear the thought that the day of my birth would forever be intermingled with the day of his death.
As I tried to shake these terrible thoughts from my mind, I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a tiny little ladybug crawling on my ceiling.
A slew of new questions pummelled my brain distracting me; what in the hell is a ladybug doing in my house in the middle of winter on an 11-degree night? How did it get to the second floor of my 2,000 sq. foot house (not counting basement and attic)? And why the fuck was it crawling in a square formation above the side of the bed where I sleep.
Keep in mind that I have a king size bed, but I only sleep on the right side, closest to the door of my bedroom. Even though I’ve been single for the past 5 years, I never made it into the center of the bed; never did the starfish. Guess my hope is still alive that one day the other side will be filled with a warm, loving body. But that’s another story…
So I watch this little ladybug make a square formation over and over, once in a while taking a break. Entranced, I watched her walk this path until I passed out from sheer emotional exhaustion. When I woke up the next morning, I looked up expecting her to be gone, but she was still there…well, this is interesting.
On December 28th, (arguably the worst birthday ever), I drove to Brooklyn to pick up MSP. We planned to have dinner at my Uncle Jeff’s house with my cousin Livy and her friends. When we came home later that night, MSP asked if she could sleep with me. She said she missed me so much, and WOW did I miss her, so I agreed. She’s a master negotiator.
As we laid in bed catching up, she looks up at the ceiling and sees my little ladybug that is STILL THERE!
You must know that MSP is OBSESSED with ladybugs (I am guilty of instigating this obsession). This love affair started when I decorated her nursery with ladybugs, filled it with tons of books about ladybugs; even her first word was bug. When my mom, MSP and I went on a road trip to California, we stopped by the beach and saw hundreds of enormous elephant seals piled on top of each other along the shore barking up a storm. It was incredible but do you think MSP cared? NOPE. She was fixated with this little orange ladybug that landed on her hand and never took her eyes off that ladybug until it flew away (I have the picture to prove it).
Every time she finds a ladybug, she counts the dots so of course when MSP sees this little bug on the ceiling, she keeps with her tradition (I think to myself, why didn’t I count the damn dots?). She says “Mama, there are eight dots on the ladybug.” My exhausted response was, “that’s awesome MSP, let’s say goodnight to the ladybug and get some sleep.”
After getting through my birthday without bad news about Uncle Weazle, I fell asleep grateful yet filled with dismay for what tomorrow could bring…dreading the news that he was gone yet praying for him to be out of pain.
When I woke up on December 29th, I looked over at MSP and just watched her sleep. It is the sweetest thing to see her cheeks all scrunched up and listen to her breathe. I looked up to see if our little ladybug was there…she was gone.
About two minutes later, I got a phone call from my Mom. Uncle Weazle had passed that morning on December 29th, 2017 (um, I just realized that 2+9 = 11, keep that in mind as you read the rest of this story)
I wept, that gut-wrenching cry that makes your entire body shake which woke MSP from her slumber. She looked at me and asked, “Mama, what’s wrong?” I said, “Baby, Uncle Weazle went to heaven.” She buried her face in my neck and cried hard.
After speaking with my Uncle Jeff, we decided to travel to Uncle Weazle’s home on Staten Island together and leave the kids at his house. Uncle Jeff didn’t want to tell his kids yet as they had just lost their mom, Aunt Lorraine, two years prior (you can read about this terrible loss in my Blog#10: My Uncle Breaks Up with Me for a Woman He Met on Zoosk!).
MSP promises to keep the news to herself, and we set off to Staten Island to join the rest of our family at Uncle Weazle’s house.
As we walked through the door, the wall of sorrow hits us…everyone is in tears, mourning the loss of a beloved father, brother, and uncle. My family is extraordinary at supporting each other through these heart-breaking times. Because we are a large, tight-knit family, we have lost many beloved members. But that also means we’ve had just as much joy in the expansion of our family. Gain married to loss, life’s yin and yang.
As we gather around the dining room table, some of us still crying, some hugging, I share my story of the ladybug. I tell my family that the ladybug was there for three nights and that she was gone this morning. I also share that MSP counted her dots and there were eight.
My mom looks at me with her mouth open, and says, “Do you remember the day that Nauna passed?” (Nauna is the matriarch of our family, mother of the five J’s: Jackie, Joyce, Jimmy, Judy, Jeff). I admitted that I sadly do not recall as it was many years ago. She exclaims, “Cherry, it was December 8th!”
Immediately, my mouth drops. My cousin then shares that she got a tattoo of a ladybug a year ago after Uncle Weazle’s tumor burst and he was rushed to the hospital; he almost died that day. When Weazle healed from that episode, he told my cousin that he felt a ladybug land on his chest throughout his ordeal. He thought it was Nauna protecting him, so she got the tattoo as a memorial for our Nauna and for Weazle.
We were all so moved by the ladybugs, the knowledge that our Nauna continues to protect us, we decided to get a floral arrangement for Weazle’s wake in the shape of a ladybug with eight spots. We shared the story with the many people who came to pay their respects. It was a powerful tribute to the ties that bind our family together, to the deep love and commitment we have to each other, which lives on in the physical and spiritual world.
And then as time moves forward…just as I begin to go back to my routine, I start to see 11:11, on clocks, on signs, on houses. It was everywhere. About a month after my Uncle passed, I called my mom and asked her “Mom, what does 11:11 mean to Weazle? I keep seeing it everywhere, and he pops into my mind immediately when I see it.” She says, “Not sure if 11:11 has any significance to him, but I feel like I’ve heard of it as a sign that an angel is near you. Google it!”
An extensive list of articles pops up in my Google search, some that just plain made my jaw drop. I’ve shared links to a few of the articles at the end of this blog, but one statement that stood out, in particular, was this…
- 11:11 is a coded molecular structure of “Re-Membering” and reactivating the inner master that resides within you, your true self. Re-member is a term that emphasizes the idea of putting the pieces of yourself, your “members” together into their rightful order. In a way, remembering who you really are.
Since my Uncle Weazle’s passing, I feel his presence every single day. The signs are everywhere that he is with me. From dreaming about him laughing with my Uncle Jeff to waking up between 3-4am, immediately greeting him by saying, “Hi, Uncle Weazle” as if he was standing right in front of me. Then seeing a pesticide truck with a ladybug that had eight spots outside the YMCA one morning (I’ve lived in Westfield for almost two years and never ever saw this truck or this company).
It was especially strong when my mom, MSP and I went to the Westfield FestiFall event in town and found the most amazing artist. He buys antique coins from all over the world and chisels out the shapes of the symbols on the coins. I was in LOVE with his work and wanted to get one. My mom turns to me and offers to get one for my upcoming birthday.
“Um, YES, I would love that! Thank you so much!!” Then came the task of choosing one of the two hundred coins he had displayed. I wanted to get one with meaning; something that was special. Typically, I am a very decisive person, but I simply couldn’t choose. We were looking for about 15 minutes when my mom sees the coin pictured below. She says, “oh wow, it’s a Pegasus…Uncle Weazle had a tattoo of a Pegasus on his chest over his heart.” Then the artist chimes in and says, “The Phoenix is actually pictured on the other side of the coin,” which felt appropriate as I’ve been going through a significant transformation for the past few years. It was perfect!
Without a second thought, I said, “well then that’s the one!” So she bought it for me, and I’ve worn it almost every single day since. Even if I don’t wear it on my neck, I carry it in my purse.
One Sunday dinner about a week later, we were telling my Uncle Jeff the story of the coin. He looks at it very carefully and turns it over, he says “The coin is from 1973!” (What’s funny, is that I actually looked at the back of the coin but I didn’t have my glasses on so I didn’t even notice the year!)
My mom and I look at each other and just gasp…she quickly exclaims “Cherry that is the year you were born!” I’m totally floored. Clearly, my Uncle Weazle intended this coin for me and as a symbol of his presence, of his love.
NOTE TO READER: At this point, you may be thinking I’m a little Kookoo but stick with me, because this story is about to get even crazier…if you don’t believe yet, you will in a minute.
Recently, the signs are coming closer and closer together. A month later, I find out about an upcoming business trip. I’m going to Santa Barbara for an executive offsite. Because I try to limit my time away from MSP, I planned to fly in on Monday, November 12th, as the meeting starts in the afternoon. My assistant books the flight for Monday at 6am, but after speaking to my colleagues, they suggest that I leave Sunday as I won’t make it to the meeting on time.
I ask my assistant to move the flight to Sunday to the latest possible flight. She books it and sends me the below ticket.
The flight is on November 11th, departing at 8pm and arrives in LA at 11:11. You with me still?
The year is 2018…and in numerology is 2+0+1+8 = 11. So this is literally the “Most Powerful Manifesting Day of the Decade,” as per this article that popped up in my Facebook feed.
This Higher Perspectives Article explains it all:
My flight number is 1195…the flight time is 6 hours and 11 minutes (in numerology 6 + 1 + 1 = 8). And this is where it gets bizarre, my seat number is 1B, which means I’m sitting next to the person in 1A. ‘A’ is clearly the first letter of the alphabet, so another 11.
Without a second thought, I reach out to the creator of The Daily Feels, Janis Gaudelli and ask if she would consider posting a blog on a Sunday since we usually post blogs Monday through Friday this would be an exception. I share that 11/11/18 also happens to land on the most sacred day of the week (Sunday) and my blog was going to tell this story of 11:11. It was a NO BRAINER!
She asked me to check the schedule because she’ll have to move bloggers around which can be challenging. And as you could guess by now, my blog was scheduled for Monday, 11/12. She emphatically agreed to allow this special Sunday edition and post my story one day early…
Whether you believe or not, I know that the universe intersects and guides us on our life’s journey if we are willing to listen and to see the signs. Messengers and signs are gifted to us, but ultimately it is our choice to believe or to keep moving and just chalk it up to coincidence.
I choose to believe. I believe that when I board my flight to LA at 8pm on Sunday, November 11th, 2018 which arrives at 11:11PM, I will turn to the person seated in 1A, with my heart and mind open…I have no doubt that my uncle Weazle sent this person to either teach me something I didn’t know, tell me a fantastic story, offer a piece of advice that guides my continued transformation or to make me laugh in true Weazle form…
So regardless of the person who takes seat 1A, I am eternally grateful to have a guiding light in my life and my Uncle Weazle by my side.
Dear Daily Feelers, One night when I visited my Uncle in the hospital, he shared that his greatest fear about dying was that he would be forgotten. I made him a promise that the legend of Jimmy Mazzola aka Uncle Weazle will always live on. I’d love to share with you an excerpt from the Eulogy I gave at his funeral, a small taste of the GRAND life he lived…I appreciate if you read about his life and maybe even Google him and watch the amazing films he helped create.
It’s an honor to tell you all a small part of the grand story of James Mazzola.., James was born to Mario and Blanche Mazzola in 1954 in Brooklyn NY.
James…Affectionately known as Jimmy or Weazle…was the middle child of the 5 jays…Jackie, Joyce Jimmy, Judy, Jeff. They were not just his siblings, they were his best friends.
Weazle started in the film business as a prop in the 70’s and led his first film as prop master in 1977. He was hired to be the Prop Master on a small budget film you may know…Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta.
Jimmy ultimately went on to prop 79 major motion pictures over 40 years and became a legend in his industry with films like Big, Elf, Smurf’s, Heartburn and his last film before retiring, Ricky and the flash starring Meryl Streep.
Weazle had a knack for making anyone he focused on feel important whenever he chose to speak to you or confide in you. You just felt special being in his presence. There’s so much we can all learn from his incredible life, so I thought I’d share a few lessons from Uncle Weazle…
- Love what you do. And be the best at it
- Find the funny in EVERYTHING!
- Tell stories…even if you need to embellish them to make them more amusing or more shocking.
- Know your power and how infectious your light and your smile can be.
- Mean what you say and say what you mean
- Be the person people count on
- Put the glitter on every moment.
- Love your family and keep them close. Treat your friends as family
- Blow shit up (The 4th of July was his favorite holiday and he always did an epic firework display). Just because it’s fun.
- Live big. Love Big. Be grand.
Uncle Weazle, I love you forever and ever and always!
Here are some more with interesting information about 11:11 and the number eight
Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.
Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.
This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.