All posts by ruth ann scanzillo

About ruth ann scanzillo

Professional 'cellist/pianist, private Suzuki string instructor; ....former public school music teacher/childrens' drama coach; .... [ serious ] avocational writer.........background in graphic design/illustration.....influences: Lance Morrow; Garrison Keillor; Peggy Noonan; Erma Bombeck; James Kavanaugh; Billy Collins; Leonard Cohen; and, Alice Munro. Local eccentric, social loner, overdriven imaginator, speculator, and wisening woman. Thank you for reading. And, thank you, WordPress, for the whole thing.

The Last Call.

Two men had said “I love you” to her within five years of each other. They were both drunk.

Why she attracted only drunken love was beyond her.

Or, was it?

Drunks are smarter than the average bear, all the pundits claim. Deeper, too. Why they find themselves among the 15% who become enslaved to alcohol is also the fault of their brains; something about the amygdala and an obscure, but potent, enzyme. She thought enzymes were what made food dissolve in the stomach but, on this morning after New Year’s Eve, she was already short on sleep and in well over her head.

Her family heritage was a red flag all by itself. Paternal grandfather an alcoholic (and, womanizing wife beater); maternal grandfather a pious tee totaler, but not his father ( descendant of William the Conqueror ). The men drank; the women enabled them.

One brother had become enamored of wine and Frangelica in his senior years. The younger had admitted to a lunching phase with his construction crew decades earlier which had gotten “somewhat out of hand”. She, being the lone girl in an ultra-conservative family milieu, and duly branded by the fear of God, had vowed never to stock the stuff. But, perhaps her pheromones smelled not of musk but of barley hops; among all the men in the room, the one who walked crooked would find her, first and every time.

What of the laws of nature, specifically chemistry? Was there something in her DNA that had already charted the course of her hapless love life?

If identical twins raised apart could choose the same shampoo and winter coat, would the female descendants of alcoholics be pre-destined to couple with the addicted who sought them? And, why? Was it all merely nature in search of equilibrium?

One of the two love professors had been in her sphere for four, fractured years. By his cycling binges and tears, and the lies which drove them, she’d found herself exhausted. The other had been part of her professional world for most of its life. On a scale of compatibility, there was no contest; what really mattered was whether and what she needed on not only the first day of 2021 but the veritable rest of her granted life.

Intelligence was a requisite; clouded by poison and a predictable descent into infantilism, not so much. Charm had worn itself out, especially the inebriated variety; what good was a witty opening line at closing time? Health and vitality were increasing commodities; whence these?
“ Hey, baby; how’s your liver ? ”

She loved with immediacy, and exclusively, but committed with caution. If time hadn’t actually passed, it had nevertheless taken a cumulative toll. Being convinced, or not, of love required time; being actually nourished by love would take more than gaping need or empty promises, however familial.

Life was an open question. Love was supposed to be the answer. Perhaps time, like the lucidity which follows stupor, would illuminate.

Was she to be the woman left at last call?







© 1/1/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including by translation, permitted; sharing encouraged via blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original material. Cheers!

2020 : The Living End.

The sun streamed in, through the window. Her final three breaths formed pockets in her throat, as we held hands for the last time.

Those are the moments which color my memory of the end of my mother’s life.

Her death had so many merciful aspects. Wracked by arthritis for many years, her body’s terminal diagnosis came on the heels of an apparently painless encroaching brain malignancy, glioblastoma. Those five and a half weeks transpiring from biopsy result to hospice were a swift decompensation of all faculties, her smile being the last to go.

Normally an acute observer of human behavior I had inexplicably missed any telltale sign that she was gravely ill, as stunned as the rest of the family when the news came down. I’d been particularly certain that the successfully excised melanoma fifteen years prior meant we’d have our Mum well into the ninth decade, just like her mother before her.

In the years following her passing, many features of her departure would provide increasing comfort. The timing. The tempo. The absence of protracted agony. If she had to leave us then, at least she hadn’t lingered into the confines of old age or been forced to endure any awareness of her body’s decay. And, most of all, I was grateful to have been there, by her side, in her final weeks. There would be no match for presence, I’d realized, particularly when my beloved father was already gone minutes before I could appear at his.

Today, we wait alone in our homes, imagining the countless strangers – at whose bedside those they have only come to know within days to hours stand, sit, or watch. Perhaps each has been half consciously aware as the nurse assigned to them makes every attempt to make all moments meaningful. Perhaps both feel the other’s hands in their own. The angel beside the bed cries the tears of a thousand loves, as the rest of us wail in our hearts with collective mourning.

Thus will be our memory of the living end of 2020.



Pray for the nurses.





© 12/29/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

An Imperfect Christmas Morning.

The pajamas were red. That part she got right.

The rest was pretty much a bust.

This time, the title would come from her muse, Mr. Keillor. But, while his was Perfect, hers sounded much more like many others, perhaps for the first time in her own life.

Beyond piano or cello, writing was her succor. And, moments ago, clamoring to the keyboard of letters had been an act of quiet panic. Hurry, get it typed in, before you weep uncontrollably. That was the picture.

Sobbing the body needs, but the heart demands both an object and an outlet. She’d devoted hers, utterly, to someone who could not return to her love, whose ghosting absence was successfully crushing.

The reality that it had all happened on Christmas was just more proof of a level of oblivion; apparently, there were those to whom the holy observance was just another day. Or, an effective tool capable of sending one, life-draining message: I don’t. want. you.

Advice had come in droves, in direct proportion to blessing; those most blessed had the most to say. Blessing was proclaimed by the blessed. Only those who were actually in the gut-punch of bereft abandonment, these kept their advice to themselves.

The house was warm. The view, white and wondrous. The silence, frightening.

Her kitchen was stacked with boxes. Gifts, several, for the one who could not reciprocate. So many who would have felt her love had she redirected it not named among the packages. Loathing self now came to mind.

Those who got paid to define it all would say that thoughts were not us, that they may plague our heads but we’d have the power to at least subsume them. Not on Christmas Day. This day was all about feelings, and memories of feelings, and recollections of those who’d given us security and the belief that we would never be left alone. And, the best among them had encouraged us to accept that, even though we could neither see nor feel God, we were loved in ways that surpassed all human understanding.

A few of these had lived by example that to give was better, that to give all would bring not just the desires of the heart but fulfillment of every need. Her mother was one of these. She’d sacrificed her entire breath for others, pressing and plodding on until the tumor invaded the space where she formulated and articulated her thoughts and morphine carried her over while she slept. On this Christmas Day, random assignment of blessing and fulfillment felt far more believable. There was a certain clarity in this kind of logic.

Speaking of which, her body had chosen to take what it needed through the morning and into the afternoon. Like death, or coma, the merciful absence from less bearable reality was the gift of sleep. Perhaps the homeless understood.

Her heart felt homeless, today.

And now, in just a few more days, hundreds of thousands might be on the brink of being so. Responsible citizens, many with children, with no place to lay their heads. She’d been writing about her own life but, on this Christmas morning, now represented the impending innumerable.

God had spoken. Perhaps the All Knowing had chosen her to suffer these by feeling their need.


Might just have been right about that.







© 12/25/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you!~