Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grown Up or Children's Talk

As a young mother working at home with my husband, John, to build up our photography business, I often felt harassed by my three young children fighting over toys or other domestic issues while I was on the phone with my client. I felt embarrassed because I was in an "unprofessional environment," since I was sure that my client could hear my children screaming and crying in the background. I may not have been as patient with my children as I should have been, but I remember explaining to them that if they were fighting over toys, then they would take their fight to other room and not where I was on the phone - they had to keep quiet because I was on the phone with a client, but if someone among them was hurt, then I don't care if I were talking to a CEO, I would put the phone down immediately to attend to them. Satisfied that I had given my children a good explanation on why they should be quiet, my children asked, "Mom, what's a client? What's a C.E.O?" :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Discovering Family Trivia

Since the party honoring Ret. Lt. Cmdr. Harvey E. Jewell, the man after whom I was named, did not afford us quiet time for conversation, we decided to invite Harvey, his daughter Sylvia and son-in-law Gary to lunch. And of course, our NJ hostess - my mother's first cousin and my dear friend, Myra.  Another dear friend, Ann Gay, was taking her flight to return to Boston later that day so we decided to meet halfway between West Orange where we were staying and Clinton where Harvey's grandson lives. That half -way point was Morristown. Kathy and John G, who had spent the night in NYC had to return to West Orange in order to join us. Ching and her John flew out of NY to go back to Singapore while my John, Sacha and Wayne went to the city to take pictures so they could not join us.

It was a Sunday and Morristown was quiet. A restaurant that Myra called was not going to open until four in the afternoon. The only restaurant that was open within walking distance from where we parked was a Persian restaurant. We decided to be adventurous. Besides, John G. goes to Iran often for work and is familiar with Iranian food.

We were eight - Gary, Sylvia, Myra, Ann Gay, John G., Kathy, Harvey J and myself. Although there was nobody else in the restaurant at that moment, we still insisted on a quiet corner. As we pored over the items on the menu, John G greeted the waitress and the proprietor in Iranian which pleased them very visibly.

The conversation centered on Harvey (not me, the other Harvey) and his days in the Philippines during World War II. I brought out my red notebook so I could take down notes. He has a throat condition that makes it difficult for him to speak, or sometimes, to be understood. He asked me for my notebook and wrote "'Ship Salvage Fire-fighting and Rescue unit" and then a short while later wrote "Rudy operated the electric power system for the entire complex. He had three Philippino helpers."      

Curious, I asked him who Rudy was, and he said, "your dad." "My dad?", I asked wondering if Harvey made a mistake.  My father's name was Ruperto and all my life I've always heard him referred to by his nickname, "Piting", but I suddenly realized that Harvey and probably his colleagues in the navy had given him a nickname after Rudolph Valentino, the famous Hollywood actor.  After all, that's my father's surname - Valentino. I was thrilled to learn this tidbit about my father. My father, Rudy Valentino.