Nobody Nose the Trouble I’ Seen

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You may recall my grandfather Honey, was born with a hemangioma birthmark, and thought by his own mother to have been marked by the Devil.


Fortunately, when I turned up with the same blemish, no one believed it to be Satan’s stamp.

Yet according to my mother, Clarita Riccobono, the birthmark left a lasting mark on my psyche long after disappearing from my nose. She’s convinced this indelible imprint also impacted our Mother/Daughter relationship.

I’ve heard her tell the following story a number of times, but since my memory checks out on certain topics, I decided to call Mom and record our conversation.

Our story begins with one of many old Italian wives’ tales that claims: If a woman becomes frightened while she’s pregnant, the baby will be marked wherever the woman touches herself.

My mother first learned of this superstition when she was pregnant with me. Since she (unlike me) recalls in extraordinary detail, I will quote her story in its entirety:

“I was in the backseat of Pawpie’s gold Fleetwood Cadillac…

Mawmie was drivin’ and Aunt Rosalie was in the front. We were on our way to meet Aunt Margie for a luncheon. I was wearin’ one of those maternity tent dresses, the kind fitted at the shoulda’ with the pointed colla’. It had grey cuffs and short sleeves, with a high neck and three fake buttons…I think they called em’ gingham dresses. No wait, it had little grey flowers on white…”

(At this point I gently remind her to get to the point).

“Oh. Well…Ok. So Mawmie’s in the front seat…sorry, I already said that.

I rememba’ I was day-dreamin’ with my head against the window when I noticed a yella’ taxi cruisin’ by. It was like it all happened in slow motion. I look into the window of the taxi and for a flash of a moment I see a monsta’. Now, my young adult mind knows there’s no monsters, but I swea’ I’m seein’ a monsta’.

The side of this man’s face is a reddish purple, lumpy bumpy, we’re talkin’ a…”

(She searches for a moment)

“CAVERNOUS 3-dimensional moonscape. The scary shit ya’ see in movies.

So I gasp for breath and go to scream, at the same time as this man is turnin’ towards us. My hand is now movin’ toward my face to hide myself, and Mawmie and Aunt Ro are screamin’ hysterically, ‘Don’t touch yaself! Don’t touch yaself!’

So I throw my hand back, and I’m like, “WHAAT?! WHAT?!”

But they just repeat themselves, “Don’t touch yaself! Don’t touch yaself!”

At this point I’m trying to snap out of my shock to rememba’ IF I touched myself. I knew I pulled my hand away, but did I touch myself? This becomes the big question: DID I TOUCH MYSELF? We finally establish that if I did touch myself, the palm of my hand brushed the tip of ma’ nose.

Then they explain to me that when a woman is pregnant and gets scared, the baby will be marked on the place she touches haself.

So I’m like ‘Greaaat!’ And even though I’m a little skeptical of their superstitions, I’m lookin’ at them lookin’ at each other like, ‘Sweet Jesus, help us!’

Anyway, Mawmie neva’ discusses this with me again. And when you were born we were all so excited about ya’ little nose – it was like you won the lottery of Italian genes. But by day two of you comin’ home from the hospital, Mawmie notices a little pink spot. At first she thought it was caused by the starch in ya’ sheets. But by week two we were in full swing man, lookin’ for a docta’.

Ya’ gotta’ put this in perspective. I’m 18 and ya’ dad, Peeda’, is a junior in college…

We’re just these stupid kids who’a learnin’ how to bathe ya’, feed ya’ and change ya’ diapa’. And now we got this 2 week old baby whose nose is getting’ bigga’ by the day. By the end, ya’ nose was the size of a grown man’s.”

(I’ve not seen pictures evidencing the above remark, though I’ve been assured all images revealing my man-size schnoz were destroyed to preserve my pride.

After a deep breath, she continues):

“All we’a thinkin’ is, ‘We need to find out what’s wrong with ya’ and FIX it quick!’

So the first two docta’s we saw had neva’ seen this condition. One of them was gonna to do some chemical thing that would ‘freeze’ it off. And the second guy wanted to cut ya’ nose in a V and scrape out whateva’s going on in there. We could tell they both were shootin’ in the dark, so we got pretty discouraged because believe me, these docta’s didn’t know jack shit!

At some point Honey, who didn’t usually get involved to help came out of the woodwork and told us to go see his docta’, Dr. Robert Meade, by the Old American Can Company.

I want you to know, when I first saw Dr. Meade, he didn’t just walk into that room, he strutted into the room with his silver hair…just a beautiful, robust, good man. I could cry just thinkin’ about him…”

(Which she does)

“Cuz’ he took ya’ into his arms and rocked ya’ back and forth. And then he starts singin’ opera to ya’…this beautiful Puccini aria while he’s examining you. And while he’s still gotcha in his arms, he says, ‘This is a hemangioma, a blood tumor. I’ve operated on this condition before. But this case is complicated by the fact that the blood is being pumped to the end of her nose where the blood vessels are tied in knots and don’t have a route back out. We have to operate on her as soon as she reaches 15 lbs. You need to take her home and fatten her up as fast as you can.’

He then explains that if we don’t operate, the cartilage would cause the blood vessels to explode, and you’d end up DEFORMED. So needless to say, we wa’ grateful to say the least! Cause by this time, everybody in the family is prayin’ novenas like crazy.

When we take ya’ home, it wasn’t hard for ya’ to gain a few pounds cause you were already a big baby. Ya’ weighed 10 pounds when ya were born, but ya’ peed on the scale, which put ya at 9 pounds, 14 ounces.

You were 2 months old the night of ya’ surgery – same day I turned 19.  Mawmie brought a Doberge cake to the hospital, and we ate and we waited. The whole time ya’ dad is bitin’ his fingernails and starin’ into a cloud of cigarette smoke.

Five hours lat’a, I see a nurse rollin’ ya’ down the hall on a full-sized adult gurney. Ya’ taped up with ya’ head wrapped in bandages, bruises across ya’ eyes and ya’ arms in splints, strapped down like Christ on the cross. Ya’ can barely breathe cause ya’ nose is packed with gauze, and ya’ makin’ low groanin’ sounds like ya dyin’.

Of course nobody warned me of nothin’. So I think they’re killin’ ya, and I’m trying to get to you but they’re holdin’ me back as I’m screamin’, “WHAT DID YOU DO TO MA’ BABY?!”

Finally they reassure me ya’ just heavily sedated. Then they explain the plastic things on your arms are so ya’ can’t bend ya’ elbows and hurt yaself by touchin’ ya’ face and rippin’ off the bandages.

When ya see ya Dad, ya stop groanin’ and ya’ start flappin’ ya’ arms like a bird. It was the first time ya’ smiled.

So we take ya’ home and ya’ can only breathe through ya’ mouth, so when I feed ya’ a bottle, I have to put a finga’ in your mouth to break the suction or ya’ turn blue. Same thing would happen when you cry – you’d have to stop from time to time and pant like a dog. Most of the time I just let you cry because in that day we were told ‘Hands spoil a child’, so I’d walk around holdin’ ya’ in a fuckin’ plastic seat – great wisdoms from the other generation!

But lemme tell ya’, it didn’t stop there…every few months until you were 3 years old, we had to go back to the docta’s for these injections. They’d wrap ya’ up in a sheet from the neck-down so ya’ couldn’t move ya’ arms or legs. The nurse would hold ya’ head from jerkin’, and the docta’ would put this big long needle the size of a pencil lead between ya’ eyes, and move it all the way down to the tip of ya’ nose. Then he’d put this stuff in there and wiggle it around, and slide it back up.

The whole time yer’ screamin’ in pain, and I’m layin’ across ya’ body to keep ya’ from squirmin’, and whisperin’ in ya’ ear, ‘It’s ok Deli…Mommy’s here’

And the whole time I’m cryin’ too!”

(Pause as she begins to cry)

“I swear, eva’ since those days you’ve associated MY voice with the PAIN of ya’ life!”

Mom’s retelling of this story proved to be quite revealing beyond our mutual aversion to hospitals.

When I heard her say: “And all we’re thinkin’ is, ‘ We need to find out what’s wrong with ya’ and FIX it quick!”, I realized that’s been my main motto for most of my life!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been on a quest to find what’s wrong with me and fix it. Sure, I’ve tried fixing broken relationships, a few MAD men,  my dad’s addictions, my mother’s moods….but more than anything, I’ve been carrying with me an unconscious belief that there’s something inherently wrong with me.

Perhaps I’ve believed I must be defective since most of my painstaking efforts didn’t fix anything.

While I’m grateful to have avoided deformity, I’ve come to realize that often things are not supposed to be “fixed”. In fact, many of the things I once thought to be “broken”, I’ve learned to accept and appreciate. Occasionally, in retrospect, I’ve even found amusement in the most unlikely of places.

With every part and all my heart,


Handy Tip


There’s nothing more satisfying to the schnoz than essential oils. After my mom introduced me to essential oils 15 years ago, I’ve used them since to treat anything from skin cuts and headaches, to sore throats and heartaches.

Many experts believe essential oils were human’s first medicines, predating the use of herbs. For centuries, essential oils have been used in religious rituals, and to treat many physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

The Three Kings brought gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh oils to baby Jesus. And Cleopatra, known for her beauty, used a blend of Lavender, Geranium, Sandalwood and Rose oil on her skin.

I personally use essential oils in my face/body moisturizer. They’re great for skin and leave me smelling like a spa!

My mom, Clarita, distributes Young Living essential oils, the highest quality therapeutic-grade oils on the market. She’s happy to answer any questions you have have about the oils. Feel free to contact her at

There are innumerable benefits to essential oils. So whether your nose is broken or not, give it a treat and try some yourself!


*If you order from the Young Living website above, you’ll need a member number since it’s a buyer’s club. Please reference my mom, Clarita Riccobono 5412

23 Responses to "Nobody Nose the Trouble I’ Seen"
  1. Kelly says:

    I could so hear my Irish grandmother delivering a similar admonition as the one your mother received. The superstitions of the Irish and Italians are so similar. What an ordeal you went through at such a young age! It is fascinating how the idea of needing to be “fixed” manifested in your life psychologically after it did physically. I’m a firm believer that our physical selves and our emotional/psychological selves are continually in a state of manifesting what is going on in the other. I’m happy that you’ve come to the realization that some things are fine just the way they are. 🙂

    Wonderful post as always, Adele.

  2. You know, I usually wax philosophically in regard to your blogs, but what the fuck, I just want to have wine (and lots of it) with your mother!

    • Adele says:

      Schmootz, I would LOVE you to meet my mom, preferably over a good glass (or three) of vino. While she pushes food, she feels like I push wine on her. She’s just so damn fun when she drinks! You guys would love each other -you’re two of my favorite people, so how could you not?

      Yes indeed Kelly, the ol’ cultures (particularly the religious ones) were so similarly superstitious. It’s pretty crazy though when certain admonitions come true -which points to the psychological/physical connection you also reference. Thanks for tuning and chiming in my friend!

  3. tc says:

    I’m so happy that you remembered Dr. Meade’s name. I couldn’t for the life of me. He saved Paddy from a terrible recommendation from some other Dr. He was a guardian angel to you and Paddy! Reliving your experience today just broke my heart, again. What an ordeal for you and your parents. I’m sure that this did have a major effect on ALL. Except for one thing, you are and were perfect and I don’t think you need fixin’; in my book you are awesome just the way you are!!!

    • Adele says:

      Until today, I had no idea that Dr. Meade treated Paddy too. What a blessing he was for many of us! I wish he were still alive -I’d love to thank him personally. Thank you for the love T -What you say reminds me of what I’ve been telling you your whole life. Hopefully one day we’ll all realize we’re good just the way we are and there ain’t no fixin’ needed!

  4. Sarah T says:

    Dear sweet Chip Chop, I cried and could hear your mom’s voice in my head! What a good mommy you have! And what a link to Honey…

    Thank you for sharing your heart, stories, and beautiful writing with us once again. And yes: wine with Clarita needs to happen ASAP!

    • Adele says:

      Chipie, there’s a reason you remind me a little of Clarita. I love that you both are able cry so freely. It’s quite touching and pretty adorable. Get your ass home and come over for some vino -with or without Clarita!

  5. Lynn says:

    I just love seeing pics of baby deli and her beautiful smile and my God Clarita is a stunner!!!! The details your mom remembers draw such a fascinating picture… Hard to forget such a trying time I’m sure but the music of your mom’s voice is so sweet and so full of motherly love!! Where I sit, I see a mother’s heart with no pain at all… And how appropriate to have the oils at the end. I am personally a big fan and have been using them for 15 years. anyone interested should definately give Clarita a call!

    • Adele says:

      I know, wasn’t she gorgeous?! Writing this post Lynn really connected me to that ‘motherly love’ in a different way than I’ve felt before. She calls herself an 18 year old “stupid kid” but she followed her gut wisely and made sure I didn’t end up in the hands of the first two doctas’. Thank god! Sometimes I’m amazed by the little miracles that occurred back then…and now.

  6. Lizajane says:

    This is my favorite post yet. I can hear your mom’s voice while I read! Love you!

  7. Lizajane says:

    seriously the story has me crying-laughing and the picture of you smiling at your dad has me just plain crying-crying.

    • Adele says:

      Liza Doolittle, keep crying-laughing and crying-crying and laughing-laughing…best medicine for the soul! I’m so glad this was your favorite 🙂 I love me some Liza!!

  8. Julie says:

    Oh Adele, I loved this story so much. Your Mom is adorable, as are you! Thanks for allowing me to peek into your life yet again. I’m so glad you’re a part of my life. You sure know how to make me smile.

    Lots and lots of love

  9. i love all your blogs in different ways, but this one really blew my mind. i knew about your birth “mark” or “defect” or whatever you want to call it. since you are such a physically gorgeous woman, i could not have believed what an ordeal you went through and how serious it really was. your introspection on this whole situation was very eye-opening also. and the truth is i believe we ALL have deformities of one sort or another whether they are outwardly visible or internally haunting. such heart you put into your blogs. you just put everything out there on the table for us readers to interpret as we like. i find that very brave of you! i guess all i really had to say about this blog is I LOVED IT. i find myself sometimes being unable to wait for the next installment when more than a week or so goes by! mwah

    • Adele says:

      Nancy, if I could crank out more of these more often, I certainly would, but as you say -I put a lot into them (and need to have a life outside of the computer-cave). I love that you loved this one 🙂 So true that we ALL have ‘blemishes’ we deal with, and I find the less ‘visible’ ones are often the most painful.

  10. Cori says:

    LOVE it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Adele says:

      What a wonderful treat to hear from you Cori 🙂 Thank you for tuning and chiming in. So glad this one resonated. Clarita should take credit -when she’s on a roll, she’s the best story teller I know.

  11. Such wonderful slices of life with tangy teaching twists! My favorite variety. Congrats on your growing writing abilities.

  12. amazing and what a butterfly kiss on that nose.

  13. Jema Marchi says:

    Deli So beautiful I understand why your mutha was so upset when my daughter was pregnant @ 18 I think this is sooo revealing I love you both Mucho this is so healing thank you

  14. Vicki Larsen says:

    Adele, I haven’t seen you since Analy, but love, love, loved your story. My daughter 1/2 of my set of twins wad born with a Humongous strawberry hemangioma that covered almost the entire front of her right leg on the shin, nearly from knee to ankle. I chose not to operate because of the size and safety issues. I It is now gone. She’s 21 and all that’s left is a group of surface veins but add time goes on it gets better. I believe that we had a classmate with a port wine birthmark on half of her face, and one of the nicest people I knew. I hope this finds you well. Blessings to you and your bringing awareness of body image to young girls, as a model. My daughter is a face model too, just starting, but she’s adorning the cover of the book by Harry Simpson on Amazon The Firebirds.
    I also love your EO reference too, lavender has been my go to for skin and YL the only company I but from. Blessings on your success, Adele. Maybe we will meet again someday at a reunion possibly ♡ Vicki xo

    • Adele Uddo says:

      Hi Vicki! Thanks so much for reaching out. So great to hear from you! Just looked up your daughter and she’s really lovely. Wonderful to hear the hemangioma days are behind her. Now that you mention, I do remember that sweet soul we went to school with… Wow, I forgot until you mentioned. Thanks for all the kind words Vicki. Hope to see you soon too! Happy holidays to you and your family! xoxo

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