A young man asked me recently “Did you know this is what you wanted
to do when you were younger?” In a New York second, I said “Yes”.
From an early age of 5 I was in a school play and right then I knew that
I was not going to do anything too ordinary. I felt the creativity at
that age giving me such a rush that I became obsessed with planning,
organizing and driving my family crazy. We lived next door to the
school I attended. (Small Catholic School in South Jersey).
Way before school time I was in the playground waiting for the other
kids to arrive and I would start lining them up for class. The nuns
asked my Mother to keep me home until the first bell rang and then be
ready for the second bell that opened the doors. Really ticked me off
but being a kid from an Italian family you listened or else. Never found
out what “or else” was and didn’t want to find out.
So that was the start of event planning and special events. I truly
can’t remember when I did not enjoy what I was doing. Challenging and
frustrating at times but the result always made me feel like I
accomplished something and knew I was making others happy.
Things slowed down for a while…. four children took a lot of time but
even during those first years with toddlers I still managed to get
Don, my husband, was made Special Assistant to the
Governor of New Jersey in the Athletic and Recreation Department.
He was very involved in attending events on behalf of the Governor and
a lot of the time I would accompany him. Slowly the Governors wife
would ask if I would attend as her liaison and buffer her when people
would crowd around. This became a full-time job (complimentary may I
add) as her calendar was overwhelming. She was a mother of ten and
sometimes she couldn’t get out of the house for personal reasons. So, I
found myself going to these events on her behalf and making her
speeches. I began researching the events she attended so I became
informed enough to wing it and accomplish what had to be done.
It was a real rush to have people listen to you and accept your opinion
as golden. Sort of scary at times as I was not totally aware of the
position of the Governors Office.
This led me into learning more about politics in the Trenton, NJ arena.
Very interesting and I decided I wanted to help make a difference in
the community…. not just a small community but the Capital of New
A young councilman and his political group seeked me out to help on his
campaign. This was so exciting, and I was on board. As the campaign
narrowed down to the two finalists they asked if I would be his
campaign manager for the West District (In a large City it is broken
down into districts). WHAT? I am a mother of four toddlers, a
husband who was always involved with Governors programs, and no
family close enough to help. But that little girl of five jumped at the
opportunity and ran with it. It was exhilarating and challenging, and I
loved it all. Unfortunately, couple weeks before the election the
candidate’s family suffered a horrific incident and due to the
complications of the situation he opted to step down. In this case I
would have done the same thing.
This was an experience of a lifetime and because it went in so many
directions, I learned so many valuable lessons. Somewhere down the
line a lot of what I experienced at that time has been used in various
events that I have been a part of. Everything we do in life is a “lesson
learned”. Triumphs, mistakes are all part of the game. And at 80 I am
still ready to take on the next challenge.
Just remember “Mama T is in the house” and always ready to listen or