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Sweet As Honey

Posted · 16 Comments

In addition to the great characters in my family, there are also some great characters. The greatest of all would have to be my paternal grandfather, a man who insisted on being called “Honey”.

Honey was the MADdest and most Catholic person I have ever known.

My father, Peter, spent much of his childhood attending church with Honey, during which time Honey would fart repeatedly, each time turning a pointed finger to my disgraced father while barking, “Peeda, you shood be ASHAMED of ya-self!”

When Honey got really mad, he’d resort to biting limbs (other’s mostly, but occasionally his own). As a boy, my dad worked at the family’s Progresso storage plant in the heart of the French Quarter – A 19th century building which has since been purchased by Brad and Angelina to store their tribe while in New Orleans.

Honey encouraged my dad to drive years before he had a legal license. One day, while my father was working at the storage plant, he accidentally drove a forklift into a wall of olive oil canisters. Honey became so enraged that he climbed into the vehicle with my dad who was covered in oil, and began screaming through his teeth as he gnawed alternately his own hand and my father’s shoulder.

In case you’re wondering if I’m in line as an heiress to the Progresso fortune, the answer is no. After my great grandfather Giuseppe died, Honey spent 7 years dragging his siblings to 11 states following a court battle to gain control of the company. Unfortunately in the end, he lost the family business for everyone.

I recall my typically positive and perky Grandmother, once gazing at the living room chandelier, shaking her head in regret while whispering, “We would’ve had an EMPIRE.”

Honey not only caused drama within the family, he created a scene whenever he left the house. Always rude with waiters, Honey once yelled across the restaurant to someone attending another table and said, “Ya gat a lease on that spot ova there-a? I’ll collect my Social Securidy by the time my gad damn lasagna gets here!”

There was one thing however that separated Honey from most mad men or bad boys… you see, my grandfather Honey, loved nothing more than to style women’s hair and design their wardrobes. In other words, Honey wore the pink pants in the family.

What I’m trying to say is Honey was a man who made Liberace look like Tommy Lasorda.

Having been raised in an old-world religious household, Honey remained repressed and miserable, giving new meaning to the term “flaming”. The only thing that wasn’t gay about my grandfather was his disposition.

Whenever I left the commune to visit my relatives in New Orleans, a typical greeting from Honey may include a kiss on the cheek followed by, “Come here Deli, let’s put a ribbon on that rat’s nest your motha’ calls a hairdo.”

While fluffing my rat’s nest to look like Marilyn Monroe on a homeless hair day, he’d inevitably ask, “Ya seen ya Mawmie yet this trip? You could land a helicopta on that ass!”

Honey’s insults were usually followed by a brief guttural laugh, most often a startling one-syllable, “HA!”

Honey’s trials and tribulations started at birth when he was born with a hemangioma (an abnormal buildup of blood vessels), that first looked like a small pink birthmark on his cheek. In the Sicilian village where Honey’s mother, Mawmaw was born (not to be confused with “Mawmie” mentioned above), this slight stain was considered by some a “mark of the devil”.

Mawmaw believed God was punishing her, and was therefore deeply ashamed of Honey. When Honey was a child, Mawmaw brought him to the family doctor and said, “Fix him.” – Great way to start a life!

Honey was then subjected to primitive radiation treatments, which caused cancerous growths, blinding him in one eye and permanently disfiguring his face. Unfortunately, Mawmaw’s shame of her son and his mistreatment didn’t stop there.

After noticing that Honey was served measly portions of food compared to the rest of the family members, Honey’s aunt, Cicina, concerned for his wellbeing, intervened and began to care for the child.

Regardless of Cicina’s efforts, Mawmaw continued to neglect her son. Night after night, like a saintly Italian mother, Mawmaw would tuck her children in for bed and kiss them all – except for Honey.

Throughout his childhood, Honey was brutally bullied, and often took refuge by running into the school’s church for safety. Similarly, outside of the playground, when Honey walked with his black nanny down the streets of the Quarter, children would tease repeatedly by yelling, “Look, it’s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry-face!”

As an adult, Honey became intent on transforming himself from someone marked by “The Beast” to that of a beautiful creature, but even plastic surgery couldn’t “fix” the damage done. Honey’s inherited fortune subsidized many secret visits to his surgeon.

Post-surgery, if someone remarked on Honey’s bruised and stitched-up visage, he would sound off like a Southern bigot, angrily claiming how he’d been “mugged” by one of those damn chocolate people.

Eventually Honey lost an eye from a botched operation that forced him to don an eye patch (along with too much powder and a platinum toupee).

As fate would have it, I too was born with a hemangioma on my nose (more on that later).

Thankfully, no one believed that I was marked by Satan’s stamp, but my condition required an extensive surgery when I was six weeks old.

Honey, who was otherwise notoriously stingy, offered to pay for the surgery – one of his few unselfish acts.

I spent many years being angry with Honey, mainly because he said and did horrible things to the people I loved most. In fact, I felt relief (and consequently, guilt) after hearing of his passing. Apparently I wasn’t alone. One of his own children unapologetically said, “Ding Dong the witch is dead”.

Now, I feel compassion for Honey. While there’s no excuse for his behavior, I realize how much pain he must’ve suffered to have caused such pain. I believe his gesture to pay for my surgery was not to “fix” me, but to give me a chance at the love he didn’t have. And for that and more, I’m grateful to my Grandfather.

With every part and all my heart, Adele.

 

Handy Tip

Today’s tip is my new favorite lip balm in Honeysuckle. This fabulous product has the effect of a subtle lipstick, but with the benefits of an emollient.

Burt’s Bees offers six tinted shades, but I chose Honeysuckle because it’s a great neutral tone, that’s sheer enough to wear anywhere – and works with any skin tone.

I love Burt’s Bees products mainly because they’re affordable and made of natural ingredients, including honey. Honeysuckle tinted lip balm has botanical flower waxes, shea butter, coconut, olive and essential oils.

Keep one in your purse for a little touch of color on the go!

16 Responses to "Sweet As Honey"
  1. Comedy Karma says:

    Poor Honey! What a life.

    Your portrait of him is touching and very compassionate. I feel for dear Honey. And his pink pants…

    Xo

  2. PB says:

    Honey…!
    I love this, Adele – sweet, caustic & sad.
    Another great story on a Saturday morn, Thanks!

  3. Adele Uddo says:

    Honey certainly provokes many emotions, so I'm happy to hear the love came through… Thank you CK and PB 🙂

  4. Lynn Zavaro says:

    Oh boy – this is a doozie! Once again you rip open and expose your heart Adele. This is going to be an exceptional book!!!

  5. Adele Uddo says:

    Oh Lynn, you 'rip open' my heart! xo

  6. Julie says:

    It's Sunday Morning here in Australia, I'm drinking a cup of tea and reading this beautifully written story. Now that's how you spend a Sunday Morning!

  7. Mindschootz says:

    You have quite the cornucopia of characters in your family. These stories always make me laugh, as your talent is in the telling, but in this horn of plenty there is so often an element of pain. I feel that compassion for Honey, as well. (Not when it comes to those pink pants; there is no mercy in those.) I believe he was investing in your loving and beautiful future. Makes me wonder what kind of man he would have been had he had a champion and a chance to live his truth.

  8. Margaret says:

    Wow – so, so good. Just found you through twitter, can't wait to read all the other posts!
    What a treat – thank you.

  9. Adele Uddo says:

    Ahh Mate, what a wonderful way for ME to wake up this Sunday morning! Wish I were sharing a spot of tea with you in your beautiful country 🙂

    And Mind, your comments often make me literally laugh out loud (even this early) – Yes, all is forgiven (except for those damn pink pants).

    Welcome on board Margaret! Thank you for your wonderful comment and for tuning in – A treat for me too 🙂

  10. DDavis2 says:

    I have a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat for Honey. That poor dear man was simply acting out the only way he knew; the only way he was "taught". It was how he was raised. It was how he reacted. Ugh! It breaks my heart!

    And yet, if we really want to delve into the poetic justice of it all…if it weren’t for Mawmaw, we wouldn’t have Honey. If it weren’t for Honey, we wouldn’t have Adele…and what a tragedy THAT would be!

    PS…I LOVE Bert's Bee's! As a chronic Chapstick wear-er (?) I sometimes take a step on the wild side when I want to feel a bit more "femme" and apply me some tinted lip balm. It's as close to lipstick as this lez will get. 🙂

  11. Adele Uddo says:

    Your comments are always so poetic Miss D. I love receiving them! Honey broke many hearts…but in time and within a bigger picture, helped to break mine Open. Poetic justice indeed.

    I love hearing about your lipstick wearing ways. Reminds me of my "coming out" as a proud lipstick wearer: http://www.adeleuddo.com/femmenism.php

    Have a beautiful day Denise!

  12. cagefreetara says:

    wow – honey was something – i feel his pain – love your vulnerability – what a beautiful woman you are inside and out

  13. Adele Uddo says:

    Thank you so much sweet T. In this case, I would kindly reply that it takes one to know one…

  14. Anonymous says:

    No tears, no lumps in my throat…but your ability to create a tinge of compassion for him is inspiring. You have a big heart and a hysterical sense of humor. XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

  15. CAMI C says:

    OK, SOMEONE MUST MAKE A MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE! The pictures alone are enough material for an epic dramady. Seriously, I know what you and your family endured with Honey and I am amazed at your mature sense of self to write with such compassion and clarity of that painful and tragic soul.

  16. Adele Uddo says:

    Anonymous, I'm so glad to hear that. My primary intention for writing is to find (and hopefully spread) more compassion.

    And Cami, I love that idea! Wanna direct? 😉

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