Funeral Arrangements

Funeral arrangements have been made for Ralph Chiodo at Corpus Christi Church on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014.  The family will be available from 9:00-10:30 AM for those wishing to pay their respects.  A mass will be held at 10:30 AM.  All are welcome.

Dad washing dishes2

Corpus Christi Church
Sumneytown Pike
Lansdale, PA, 19446
Parish Center: 215-855-1311

Written Directions

  • From Bucks County (East): Take the PA Turnpike West to the NE Extension. Take the NE Extension to the first exit (Lansdale #31). Make a left onto Sumneytown Pike. At the 6th traffic light after making the turn you should be at Rt. 363 – Valley Forge Rd (Commerce Bank and Gulf Station on right). Go past Rt. 363 and Corpus Christi will be a short distance on the right. Proceed past the school to Supplee Rd. and make a right. When you pass the Church there will be an entrance to the parking lot.
  • From 309 (Lower Montgomery): Take 309 North to Norristown Rd. exit (Gwynedd Mercy). Make a left onto Norristown Road and go straight. You will pass Rt. 202 (William Penn Inn), go through the town of North Wales and eventually come to Broad St. (Getty Station on left). After you cross Broad St., Corpus Christi will be a short distance on the left. Before you reach the Church turn left at Supplee Rd. When you pass the Church there will be an entrance to the parking lot.
  • From 309 (Quakertown Area): Take 309 South through the town of Colmar, past the railroad tracks until you come to Broad St. (Yum-Yum Donuts on right). Make a right onto Broad St. and take it through the borough of Lansdale. Once you’ve gone through Lansdale, you’ll come to Sumneytown Pike. Make a right and Corpus Christi will be a short distance on the left. Before you reach the Church turn left at Supplee Rd. When you pass the Church there will be an entrance to the parking lot.
  • From 202 (Norristown Area): Take 202 North to Sumneytown Pike (William Penn Inn on left). Make a left. You will go through the town of North Wales and eventually come to Broad St. (Getty Station on left). After you cross Broad St., Corpus Christi will be a short distance on the left. Before you reach the Church turn left at Supplee Rd. When you pass the Church there will be an entrance to the parking lot.
  • From 202 (Doylestown Area): Take 202 South Through Montgomeryville past the Mall. Stay on 202 South until you get to Sumneytown Pike (William Penn Inn on right). Make a right. You will go through the town of North Wales and eventually come to Broad St. (Getty Station on left). After you cross Broad St., Corpus Christi will be a short distance on the left. Before you reach the Church turn left at Supplee Rd. When you pass the Church there will be an entrance to the parking lot.
  • From NE Phila: Take either US 1 North (Roosevelt Blvd.) or I 95 North to PA Turnpike. From there, follow the directions above (from Bucks County – East).
  • From Central, South and West Phila: Take Skuylkill Expressway (76) West towards Valley Forge. Get off at the Blue Route (476) Exit (immediately after Conshohocken Exit) and go North (towards Plymouth Meeting) to Turnpike Entrance. Take NE Extension Towards Allentown. Get off at First Exit (Lansdale) and follow above directions (from Bucks County – East)

Week 10 – The New Normal by Anita Chiodo Kuiken

Mom’s been home for nearly two weeks. She and Aunt Joan have settled into a rhythm of new normalcy and self-reliance. Great satisfaction can be found in being able to cut one’s own toe nails (for those who have ever been pregnant or suffered back pain, you know what I’m talking about) and being able to say “let me run upstairs to brush my teeth” (although, that “run” means let me use my walker to get to the stair ‘vator, “zip” upstairs, hobble with second walker to the sink, and come back down again). For those of you who know Mom well, brushing her teeth after every meal is the norm. Being reliant on hospital personnel and family to do this simple thing in life must’ve caused great frustration over the last few months – let’s not even get into the quality of toothbrushes that hospitals do or do not provide or the inane arguments we five kids have found ourselves having recently over the virtues of the electric toothbrush, and the expense one would go through to obtain perfectly clean pearly whites. As she’s been distracted by new methods of conducting daily life which would make her Occupational Therapists’ proud, we all await word on Monday whether Mom will need yet another surgery.

This week’s message is twofold – first an update to this journey in life we all find ourselves in without my father and, secondly, to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of the love, kindness, and support you have showered on our family over the last ten weeks. We could NOT have done it without you all. Nothing restores faith in humanity like being a recipient of countless acts of kindness (contributions to medical expenses, snow removal, grass cutting, casserole baking, meal sharing, random transportation, etc) and words and hugs of support in our time of need. You, our extended family, are from all walks of life, all 2014-03-23 09.13.47points in our familial history, and geographic locations around the world, have helped soothe the pain of the sudden loss of one we’ve all held so dear. Dad should know – he must know now – just how much we’ve all loved him in our own little ways all these years. And you, our family and friends, have bathed us in the love you’ve had for my mother, father, and us kids; we bask in the glow of knowing that love. We hope to, one day soon, be able to give back to you in kind. Thank you. Thank you all for loving so boldly in all the little ways which make life meaningful.

A celebration of life has yet to be scheduled. We’ll let you all know as soon as we do.

Week 9

It Goes By As Fast As “A BLINK OF AN EYE”   by Ralph Chiodo

Life, Opportunities, Kids Growing up, Vacations! Before you know it you are saying – where did the time go…. We are all on this earth for a reason, our purpose…

dad tough gear croppedDon’t wait and put off until tomorrow what you can do today- we all do it! Don’t wait to say I love you, don’t wait to play with your kids.

Before long they will be grown and have their own kids.

Don’t wait to learn how to play golf, to paint, to learn, to meet a friend for lunch or meet a new friend right next door! All the DONT’S – we all have regrets, but it’s not too late to turn it all around…

To say, I am glad I did something!- I am happy I made that investment, in time, money or real estate…!

All good things take time – invest in yourself, your kids and your future!  Don’t use don’t, rather DO something that makes a difference – Pay if Forward – inspire a child – create an opportunity for you or for others.

SHE IS HOME !     

Mom arrived home on Tuesday 4/22/2014….just shy of 60 days from the day that changed all of us.

With anticipation and determination, she was coming home !  Mom worked hard, she did what it took, working out 3 hours a day or more in PT, no break on holidays or weekends.  If she complained, it was too herself.  I watched her get stronger, the goal was obtainable, there was nothing standing in her way.

I was impressed; I have seen Mom at the low point, scared and unsure of the future and now… using all her strength physically, mentally and emotionally to get to the next step.

Bob Carnevale said to all of us – “Your Mother is Stronger than you know..”.  I was uncertain of her strength 60 days ago. Today, proudly, she is outwardly showing great courage and strength to carry on. She still has a long way to go and set backs are inevitable.

Her appointment with Dr. Craig went well !  The bones are healing and he likes her progress.  He was not as enthusiastic about the skin graft on her calf and regrettable she may need plastic surgery to smooth things out.

The cast is off, she has a walking boot, she is still unable to put pressure on the leg.  She sleeps on the first floor of her home – enjoying the company of Aunt Angela for 2 days and nights and now Aunt Joan!  Mom will be able to move to the 2nd floor to sleep and shower COME TUESDAY 4/29 – as the Chair lift will be installed!!

She finished her long day yesterday 4/26 with some normalcy, the yearly and final prom for Molly Chiodo. There were over 22 kids and their parents around the pool taking photos. Mom was determined she would not miss this event! It was a nice day for her AND she had “her inner circle with her”, Aunt Joan and Cousin Barbara. Dad was here in spirit, a few jokes were made at his expense, which he would have enjoyed… !

“A Blink of an eye…” The future is unknown, The past is history, today is a gift, that is why they call it the “present”….!

Week 8 – Easter

Dad used to say grace at each family gathering.  He always seemed to pick a time when most of us were laughing and voices were raised to quiet the room.  Even as adults when he cleared his throat and gave us the, “head nod stare” we quieted down.   He took his time, selected the proper tone of voice, and dropped into the rhythm of the message.  He was a Mom Easter2pro at delivering the blessing.

We brought Easter to Mom at Abington Hospital yesterday (Sunday).  Twenty-one of us filled the acute care rehab dining room to celebrate.  Good food, good company, and a beautiful sunny day raised our spirits as we celebrated Easter and Mom’s last weekend in the hospital.

On Tuesday, April 22nd Mom will return to her home of forty years.  After two months, three healthcare facilities, seven surgeries, and countless hours of rehab, it’s time for Mom to take the next step in healing.  New emotions will meet her as she faces the sites, sounds, and scents of the past.

Dad was not there yesterday to say the blessing.  It was one of those waves that we didn’t Family Easter2see coming.  It hit us, we stumbled, and then moved on awkwardly.

Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.”


Week 7

mom rehab 4.2014By Russ Chiodo

“Where were you on 9/11 when the the Trade Center Towers were destroyed?”,  This is  a common question asked in many settings since the events of that national tragedy. Why is it that we can remember, in vivid detail after many years, where we were on this particular moment? It is called a “Flashbulb” memory.  Studies show “flashbulb memories” are formed immediately after a life changing event happens or when news of the event is relayed.

As week 7 unfolded for mom, she would continue to see her physical body begin to heal and become stronger.  The metal Halo device surrounding her damaged right leg was surgically removed by the surgeon at Abington Hospital.  Mom is now on the 4th floor where the Physical Therapy has become more intense.  She has been working hard to meet her mobility goals which brings her ever closer to self care.  Mom will undergo several weeks of PT and OT with weekly evaluations by case managers on her progress.  As mom  shows significant progress and improved strength her journey home is within reach.

So, Where were you on 2/27?

I was at home and little did I know I was about to receive my “flashbulb memory”.

It was later in the evening I was enjoying a movie with my wife and my in-laws.  Mom and dad had left 11 hours prior. We found it a bit lonely just the 4 of us.. maybe not lonely, just quieter.  Space on the couch was no longer at a premium. See, dad normally enjoyed a horizontal position on the couch during our movie times as mom found a more vertical spot at the end of dad’s feet, while the rest of us sat on the floor. As I was enjoying the reclaimed space on the couch with my wife, my cell phone rang.  I picked it up and was prepared to take a message so I could return to the movie… “Hello”, I said. “Hello- is this Russell Chiodo?”, “yes it is”.. “Russell, this is the nurse at Cape Fear medical facility in Fayetteville, NC”….  “Russell, your mother asked us to contact you. she is getting a MRI at this time”.. “Ok, why?  and where is my father.. why is he not calling me about this?”  Please hold for Dr m&d 2014Newman… “Russell”, yes? “this is Dr Newman …. The next few moments would be spent on my knees crying out loud… no, no, no… dad, no…. as the doctor unfolded the events of Mom and Dad’s evening.  Thoughts of my father flooded my mind. I could not comprehend anything after the doctor uttered those words..  I was recalling 11 hours prior when my father was saying good-bye before they drove off that morning for their home in PA. Dad was giving me one of his famous bear hugs; his way of saying goodbye without getting too emotional. I could see his eyes welling up with tears.. he giggles and then says.. “come on ma, lets went” a phrase he used often.  We all waived good-bye as they drove out of sight.  Dad was gone…

With a plethora of emotions running through my body, there is no time to fall apart. I have to try and compose myself enough to make four of the toughest phone calls of my life. I sat on my bathroom floor holding onto this information not wanting to release it.  I knew the pain it would bring to my brothers and sister.  No, I don’t want them to feel this same agony that I’m feeling at this moment.  I’m their big brother, I don’t want to hurt them!! How in the world do you have this conversation over the phone with each of them?? I pray for them and pray I can keep it together as I relay my flashbulb memory…  I make the calls.

Week 6

By Anita Chiodo Kuiken

What’s the longest time that you’ve gone without a shower – a real shower? Me, oh, maybe a week while camping. Mom survived 33 days all but dreaming about that shower. When it 2014-03-23 08.48.57came, it wasn’t what she expected. Her response: “it was wet, and I’m clean.”  The last week has been filled with physical therapy, resting, and follow up appointments with her surgeons in preparation for what we hope will be final surgery on Tuesday. Staples (ouch!) were removed from the skin graft; the skin is healing well. Plan for Tuesday’s surgery is to remove the halo on  Mom’s leg, and put in permanent plates to secure the Tibia. From there, she’ll be evaluated for acute rehab which, we’re told, will take approximately two weeks with the possibility of additional subacute rehab at a facility like Powerback. There are a lot of variables in this next stage of care. We’ll know and share more Tuesday/Wednesday.

My brother Paul has been doing a phenomenal job writing daily entries for this blog.  This, my second contribution (I ghost wrote Day 4), leaves me at a loss for words. That little bro of mine is a hard act to follow.

 As Dad’s only girl, a “rose” among the “thorns,” as my Mom is wont to say, I think I saw the softer side to Dad more often than my brothers. I’ll miss those famous bear hugs and that booming voice which was exhilarating to hear, raised to cheer you on during marching band performances or sporting events, but frightening if you were in trouble.  Dad as disciplinarian, however, did little yelling to get his point across. Just one look from him with eyebrow cocked was enough to set us straight. He could rustle up a mean plate of eggs and press out pizelles Reading stories 2013-04-28 12.39.13like a champ, but preferred Mom to do most of the cooking. He was meticulous about the cleanliness of his cars [and buses!] and was always on-time or early, something I have never mastered and Dad never let me forget. Dad was fiercely loyal and loving in so many ways. I am all at once thankful for the 43 years I’ve had with him, and gutted to know that my three-year old twins, the youngest of his grandchildren, will never know him in-person. I will make sure that they know how much he loved them. And, I will tell the stories that illustrate what a kind and loving man he was like the time he taught me to dance by the hall night light at 6 AM when I was twelve or how he read me short stories when I was in labor [with them] in order to distract me from the pain.  Yes, they will know…

 Please keep Mom in your prayers through this last surgery and next phase of healing.

Day 30 – Final Daily Post

Life can change in a moment.  Either by choice or forced, change is inevitable. When it is forced upon us we have no choice but to adapt.  When it is made of our own free Momand Dad dancingwill we have the luxury to reflect on the prudence of our decisions.  Each day is a new opportunity. What will we do today? Where will we go?  Who will we choose to include in our life?  Will we live to work or work to live? 

Today is the last daily entry in this blog.  This forum has been a wonderful opportunity to spread the word of a forced change that has impacted the Chiodo Family.  Ralph Chiodo is no longer with us and that is our new reality.  We can not alter this forced change.  We can not reflect on the prudence of the decision as it was not ours.  All we can control is what we do today and how we adapt.

Mom continues to recover physically from her injuries.  She is doing a fantastic job in PT mom walking to jamesand is making us proud.   Yesterday, while using the walker, she pushed 20 feet further than her Therapist requested to kiss her Grandson  who was standing at the end of the hall. What an inspiration for him…for me… and for us.  Mom will survive.  She will thrive.  She has the heart of a lion and the will to live.

We will continue to provide a weekly update each Sunday through this blog until an event is planned to celebrate Dad’s life.  Timing of that event is expected to occur in May or early June.  Mom will continue to stay at Powerback Skilled Nursing Facility until April 8th when she will undergo what we hope to be her final leg surgery (fingers crossed).  She’ll stay at Abington’s acute rehab center for at least a week or two following.  After that we”ll need to see how well she progresses to determine whether she goes back to Powerback or home.

It’s only fitting that we end today’s post and our daily updates with a quote from Mom:

The story usually ends with “”and they lived happily ever after”” ….and we did… for almost 50 wonderful years.  That walk down the aisle of Our Lady Help of Christians Church that hot day in May was a promise to both God and man that we took seriously.  We loved each other; we would always love each other. …till death do us part.  

I didn’t want you to leave me, not yet but you had to go.  I want to go with you; God knows I do. It’s so hard to be here without you.  I love you….I will always love you.    -Carolyn”     


Please come back next week for an update, or if you’d like to be notified when this blog is updated please leave your name and email address below:

Day 29

When will the wave crash again? For me it hit when I received the late night call. And again on the way to pick up my brothers. It crashed when I saw Mom for the first time broken in a hospital bed, and when I saw Dad’s body in the morgue. Recently, it’s calmed to a slow, numbing, rhythmic, ripple.

MOm and dad wedding picMom is getting stronger day by day. She’s showing us “kids” a new level of strength with her own personal battle.  We met with the leads of Social Services, Nursing, and Physical Therapy yesterday.  Social Services appears to be the glue between each of the departments. They make sure Mom is assimilating emotionally, and ensure that PowerBack is following State, and Federal regulations.  Nursing is self explanatory and in my humble opinion the strongest lead of the group.  Her statements were factual and the answers to our questions clear. Mom’s PT lead, not the Program Lead I referenced yesterday, is someone for us to watch.  PT itself is not a black and white profession especially with the short time frame.  According to PT, Mom’s ability to negotiate everyday life is currently at 44%.  They would like her to get to 56%  by the time she leaves on April 8th.  Great! Help us understand what you mean and how you plan to achieve this increase.  It was as if Charlie Brown’s teacher came in and filled her mouth with marbles; wonk, wonk, wonk…wonk. Translation to English is, I can’t explain it but trust me.  Or, I could explain it but I’m incapable of being clear.  PT is accountable to find a permanent solution for the Halo issue that causes her to balance her leg on the wheel chair extension instead of resting it. There are a few temporary solutions that keep her comfortable but require tape and PT bands to affix the leg in place. The search continues.

The ripple swelled when I pulled up to the Rehab facility and saw Dad’s “NT CRCKER” license plate on a Prius in the parking lot.  Then I remembered that my Brother was up from Florida and was staying at Mom and Dad’s house.  It still made me pause when I saw the car.  If my emotion heightens when I see Dad’s car what will happen when Mom goes home?Mom Chair 3

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”  Brian Jacques

This picture was taken yesterday after something funny was said.  I don’t if remember what we were laughing about.  She looks great don’t you think?

Day 28

“Minds are like parachutes, they only work when they are open.”

Course correction is a necessity when working towards a goal.  The plan you have today is dad storetypically only the baseline for tomorrow.  Yesterday we were concerned with the plan at Powerback, or should I say the lack of a plan.  It had been 40 hours since Mom arrived and she still had not gone to PT.  The only pain medication she received was Tylenol, which I advised was an inferior product to Advil (I work for the makers of Advil). Forget which over the counter product they gave her, the pain relief provided by both products is like taking a paper clip to a gun battle for Mom’s pain.   If that weren’t bad enough it wasn’t until 10:30 am that someone came to help her to the bathroom from the night before.  If my Dad were here he would have puffed out his chest and chastised the first person he saw.  So, we made our presence known on his behalf and attempted to work through the system.

We were looking for the, “single throat to choke.”  Who do we speak to that knows the case mom and dad fort sumpter1from Powerback? What can we expect from this facility?  Apparently my Sister In Law and I stuck out in the sea of humanity that consumed the rehab space.  We stood outside the Program Leads office and waited patiently.  Ten minutes went by and two therapists approached to reassure us that all was well with Mom and that a plan was in place.  They left thinking they answered our questions satisfactorily. We stayed.  Another 10 minutes went by, more therapist walked in and out.  Some speaking to us, some moving past.  Finally, the Program Lead stepped out of her office and asked us if we needed help.  They did evaluate Mom yesterday, here are the notes.  They were familiar with her situation; they posted a letter for each of the therapists. They did have a plan for her therapy; they showed us the schedule.  They can provide stronger medication; Mom needs to ask or we need to put her on a regimen.  One more question then…when were they planning on sharing this information?

She will meet with an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist each day for the next 12 days to build up her physical strength.. Today at 2:30, each of the department leads will meet with Mom to present a more detailed plan.

Mom had her hair washed and cut yesterday.  My oh my did that make her happy.  She was ecstatic to feel clean again.  

During the conversation with the program lead we could have gone in with our guns blazing and put her on the defense.  Instead we took the less offensive approach and sought clarity. Out of that conversation we obtained additional suggestions and services from a caring individual who was willing to help.  We continue to be surprised at what assistance is available if we ask the right question.  It is another lessen for us to “seek to understand before being understood.”    

Oh, and follow up to make sure everything they say they are going to do is done.

Day 27

Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t find the, “right” words? Let’s take a Mom and dad old pic couplelook at some difficult scenarios that we may find ourselves in at some point in life; the first words to speak to a love interest, acknowledging the news of a terminal illness, communicating a hygiene problem to a coworker, ending a relationship, or my personal challenge, acknowledging death.  Finding the “right” words is more of an art than a science.    Add generational gaps, sensitivity considerations, and cultural differences to the mix and it’s no wonder many of us have trouble.  “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

Mom’s first full day at PowerBack was a day of rest and acclimation.  Her bed is comfortable, the staff is friendly, the food is what you’d expect, and her view out the window is thought provoking.  She was able to get out of bed with assistance and sit in a wheel chair for a few hours.  This in itself was the highlight of the day.  There was one hiccup with the Wheel Chair.  Evidently, PowerBack  has never had someone with the kind of Halo that Mom has on her leg so the wheel chair didn’t fit her needs.  My Brother Mike is like MacGyver when it comes to solving these issues.  Give him bubble gum and some duct tape and he would have built her a new wheel chair.  Anyway, he adjusted the chair temporarily until a “wheel chair technician” arrives today.  Agreed, I never new that job existed either.

Other than the wheel chair challenge Mom went to her iPad class.  Let’s just say my Dad Veroexpectations were higher than a few people in wheel chairs around a table playing solitaire. So we’ll need to create our own, “advanced” classes.  Mike started lesson’s last night. Russ arrives from Florida today so he’ll pick up another lesson. I’ll pick up Friday’s lesson and we’ll expect each of you to visit when you’re able to test her proficiency.  Deal?

I am by no means an expert in finding the “right” words .  Much of my experience is derived from examples of what “not” to say.  The advice I will give my children when its time will be to keep it simple and acknowledge the loss.  Square up, look the person in the eyes and say:  “I’m sorry for your loss, if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”

Wait until they respond, then walk away.