1. He loved to fart and he farted often. He was very gassy. But he was very proud of his farts and he ALWAYS shared them with me. He would run up in front of me and fart. He would scrunch up his face and everything to show me how hard he was trying to fart. Sometimes, we would be talking and he would make that face and it would take me a few seconds and I would be like, "Oh my god Charlie, that's horrible. Go to the bathroom if you have to do that" and then he would laugh.
2. He really liked to gross us out, his sisters and I. If he was really sweaty, he would chase us around the house and give us a hug. Or put our faces under his armpit. Sometimes, he would even pick his nose and chase us around the house with his boogers. He especially did this with Sam. Adrienne would get really pissed off. And he was big when he did this. It wasn't like he was a kid, or anything.
3. After watching the movie "Shallow Hal", Sam and Drin realized they had cankles. Sam was especially upset about this.Charlie and I were the only ones with nice legs in the family and we both had really skinny ankles. This pissed off Sam. She would always whine, "Mom, why didn't I inherit your legs?" Once Charlie knew this upset her, he would always say to her: "Sam, look at my ankles, see how skinny they are?" He would say to me, in front of Sam, "Mom, isn't it nice to have skinny ankles?" And then he would lift up his leg and say, "Look Mom, isn't nice how the bone sticks out like that? Yeah Sam, you don't have that."
4. Charlie would always go up to Sam, when she was eating something he wanted, and say, "You don't want that. You're getting fat. You're a fatty fat. You shouldn't eat that, you should give it to me so you don't get fat."
5. One time, when we were driving back from Smith's Point in the soccer van, he was sitting behind me, and he covered my eyes with his hands while I was driving. It wasn't funny at the time, but now that I look back on it, it was funny.
6. Only Charlie's family and true friends will appreciate this (everyone else will think it's sick, but that was Charlie). If I was talking to him seriously about something that he could care less about, or if I was upset at him about something, he would grab his chest and pretend to lick his nipples. I would shut my eyes really tight and turn my head away and say, "Oh my god Charlie, that's disgusting. How could you do that to your mother?" Then he would laugh hysterically. Yeah, that image is burned in my brain.
7. One time, I asked him to take out the garbage, and he looked at me for a second, then fell down on the couch and said, "My legs, my legs, I can't move my legs."
8. There was this skit once on Saturday Night Live, where Will Ferrell would hug people when they were crying, to the point of where they were smothering and trying to get away, and Will would say, "Shhhh, shhhh, it's okay, it's okay" So Charlie started doing that to his sisters and me. He would hug us so that our face was smooshed into his chest, and we would be trying to breathe and get away from him while he would say, "Shhhh, shhhhh, it's okay, it's okay. No really, it's okay, it's okay."
9. I have this bad habit of whenever I look in the mirror, I purse my lips together to make them look "pouty". I don't know why I do this, but Charlie did a perfect imitation of me doing this. It always made me laugh. Apparently, he shared my little personality quirk with everyone. I later found out that he would tell people, "Hey, you want to know what my Mom does when she looks in the mirror?" and then he would do the pouty lips thing.
10. One time, after his Grandpa died, Chip and I were at the gravesite and we were standing there feeling all sad, and I was crying. Well, Ethel (Chip's mom) pulls up with the kids, so I turn to look and I see Charlie coming out of the car holding the flowers and waving his hand pretending he was Miss America.
11. When Sam was in the hospital, Charlie went to visit her. At that time, Sam was looking at two months of not walking and being bedridden. She would literally be stuck downstairs, as she wouldn't be able to climb the stairs. Charlie was teasing her by telling her she wouldn't be able to get around and that he would be able to torture her and she couldn't get away. Sam said that she would torture him right back, and Charlie said, "Not if I go upstairs"
12. Whenever me or Sam would call home, or if we called him on his cell, he would always answer in a falsetto voice "Helloooooooo." And we would be "C'mon Charlie, we know it's you." and he would say, again in a falsetto voice, "nooooo, you have the wrong number." And we would know it was Charlie, and we would be like,"C'mon Charlie, we know it's you." and he would say, "Do I know you?" and we would be "C'mon Charlie" and he would just keep saying, "Nooooo, you have wrong number." And he would keep doing this, and so many times we would hang up in exasperation. One time, Christopher told me he called him at work and when Chris answered, Charlie would say, "I-want-job." and Chris would say, "Charlie, I know it's you" and Charlie would just keep saying, "I-want-job".
13. Charlie loved to make up these wild insults in French. His favorite one was, "Vous etes une mouche sur le dos de la vache", which translates as, "You are a fly on the back of a cow."
14. Charlie liked to call me "Lady". He would always say, "Hey Lady". It's not funny when you read it, but when he said it, it was funny. Actually, he though it was hilarious.
15. One time when Charlie was little. His Uncle Jimmy was playing with him out in the backyard of his grandmother's house. Jimmy was spinning him around and chasing him. Charlie was having so much fun. But Jimmy was exhausted. Charlie went to him for Jimmy to spin him around again, and Jimmy said, "No more Charlie, I'm pooped." And Charlie looked up at him and patted Jimmy's butt and said, "You pooped your pants Uncle Jimmy?"
16. When we were living in Montreal, McGill University used to have a used-book fair. You could go there and buy books really cheap. So one year, I think it was 1992, Charlie and I went downtown to McGill and I was loading all these books into my bag. I must have had about 20 books. The place was packed. People were everwhere and it was hard to move around. Anyway, Charlie looks down at my bag of books and he gets this really surprised look on his face and he says loud, in front of the whole crowd: "Mom! Mom! Are you stealing those books!?"
17. One year, I had to take all the kids to the pediatrician because they all had ear infections. The waiting room was packed with parents and children and seats were hard to come by. I was sitting in this vinyl chair. For some reason, I got up and Charlie ran and sat in my chair, and he said, out loud: "Mom, your seat is really hot!" (I see a theme here)
18. Whenever I was in the bathroom, Charlie would knock on the door and ask me, "Mom, are you having a BM?" He wasn't little when he did this either. I laugh just thinking about this.
19. In the winter, I used to worry about him being cold because he worked outside a lot. I would always ask him, "Charlie, are you cold? You know I hate when you're cold." And he would say, "Mommy, I'm so cold Mommy." It was funny the way he would say it, but it doesn't sound funny here. But trust me, it was funny.
20. I also used to worry that he was getting enough to eat. Whenever I would cook or bake something, he would sneak a taste. When I would yell at him, he would say, "Mommy, I'm so hungy Mommy."
21. His favorite episode of South Park was when Oprah's ass and vagina had a fight with each other.
22. He did a perfect imitation of Will Ferrell's cheerleading skit with the team spirit thing.
23. There was this commericial on TV where a white couple are greeting their chinese daughter after school, it was an ad for a bank or something, and I guess they were trying to reach out to all kinds of families, but when Charlie saw that commercial he said, "Uh Oh, somebody's barren."
24. He had really, really big nostrils which he hated. He used to complain all the time about how big his nostrils were. But he would also stick objects up his nose, and then take them out and chase us around the house with them. One time, he took one of those matchbook cars and stuck them up his nose and said, "Look at me Mommy". I think he was like 20 years old when he did this
Added by Special Ed:
LMAO!! Wow, I can so imagine him doing these things. Just to add a few to the list that anyone who knew him closely will probably recognize:
1. "Pink is sooo pretty....I like Marshmallows."
2. "House keeping. Would you like a pillow? Would you like a chocolate? Would you like a b______?" (If anyone doesn't know what the blank is supposed to be, ask, but I'm not writing it here. ;)
3. "Why are you so full of lies?!!!"
There are so many more but I just wanted to say thank you for writing about the funny stuff and especially the gross stuff. It's that kind of thing that makes someone worth knowing, even when it isn't flattering, b/c that is what makes them real. It is so easy to lose track of the solidity of a person once they are taken far away from us. Thanks for reminding me how real and solid (especially when he would crush the heck out of people picking them up and hugging them) Charlie actually was. :-D
Sometimes it is the happy, funny times that keep us going.
Added by Bethany:
There are a couple happy moments that I remember with the help of pictures... (I am not sure they are funny to write out, but the pictures are)
1. One year Stacy, Lena, Kristel and I decided to throw a surprise party for Charlie at my house. It wasn't the actual birthday plans, but I had this left over helium tank and balloons so we started to blow them up, well we got around 10 balloons blew up with the helium and we had like 50 blow up from us doing it manually. We put them all in the foyer, right when you walked in, (I have pictures somewhere) it looked pretty cool. Then Charlie came over and he walked in and we yelled surprise, as cheesy as it was he had a huge grin on his face. We hung at my house for a little bit and there were some random things lying around and he decided to put them on. The items consisted of a pair of swim goggles, Lena's flowing blue flowery jacket thing and a Kermit the frog with long arms which he attached around his neck. I took a picture of him sitting in my chair. Then we went outside in the back yard and Lena and Stacy tied him to a pole with the jacket and Stacy and Lena posed behind him and another picture was taken. He pranced around for a little while being goofy, all in all it was a silly normal day, but one that was so random, I'll never forget and I have the goofy pictures which I will have to scan in.
2. One great picture I have was one weekend in August Josh, Charlie and I drove Josh's van up to Vermont to get Kristina from Vermont. We took the ferry across and the fourth book Harry Potter book had just come out and we were both dying to read it so we sat next to each other reading about 40 pages in between us that we had to keep elevated so we could read the pages we were each on, the whole ferry ride, we didn't move.
I wish I had some funnier moments, but I wanted to share a moment or two that made me smile.
Added by Kristine:
I teared up a little bit when I read the South Park thing. Charlie, Jeff, and I watched it at my apartment in Queens. It was the first time either of them had seen it. They were both staying at my place that night (I think it was after Pride) and I think it was me who decided that I was going to start calling them Mingie and Gary. Jeff (of course) was Mingie (Oprah's vagina) and Charlie was Gary (Oprah's asshole). This gave Jeff and I the perfect excuse to not listen Charlie: "What do you know Charlie, you're just an asshole."
Ater writing this I realize, like much of what was written in your blog, it doesn't quite sound right on paper. But believe me, it was funny. You can ask Jeff.
All men have the stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others, they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman, they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You--you alone--will have the stars as no one else has them. In one of those stars, I shall be living. In one of them, I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars are laughing, when you look at the sky at night....You...only you...will have stars that can laugh!
And when your sorrow is comforted (for times soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so...for that pleasure...and your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, "Yes, the stars always make me laugh!"
A POEM FOR CHARLIE
submitted by Kristine Azzoli
You Are Missed
It's surprising how often I think of you,
Turn to speak to you, and realize you're not right there as I expect you to be.
I guess I hold you so close in thought
That it's hard to understand sometimes that you aren't close in person.
But I wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you,
And wishing we could talk and just be together a while -
You are really missed.
Come sit with me, on a cliff by the ocean where below us the birds soar with the lower breezes and we gaze at the shapes of the clouds and the colors of the sky at sunset.
Come sit with me, and let me kiss your forehead and smell the familiar scent of your skin that I knew from the day you were born. and the shape of your head, ingrained in my memory.
Come sit with me, and let me tell you one more time how much I love you and how I never wanted you to leave and take my heart with you for safekeeping.
Come sit with me and when it's time, take me with you and never, ever let me go and show me how love really never dies but lives on eternally.
Just one more time, that's all I ask.... Come sit with me on a cliff by the ocean.
By Lena Azzoli
Well...amazingly, it's been almost 11 months since Charlie died now. Since I'm new to My Space, I have just now uploaded the Charlie pics from the CD-rom. Looking at them again, of course, brings both a tear to my eye, and a smile to my face. It puts me in mind of the lines of Prince Hamlet's murderous, but articulate uncle, King Claudius, "With one auspicious and one dropping eye...In equal scale weighing delight and dole..." Earlier in this same speech he also says, "Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves."
That is the amazing thing about Shakespeare-that his words-although written about specific circumstances at the time, and the time being over 400 years ago-they apply to circumstances today. "With one auspicious and one drooping eye...In equal scale weighing delight and dole..." I think of the fact that I am as sad to have lost Charlie as I am happy to have known him. It took me a long time to see it like that, though.
I remember one moment at the afternoon "viewing" when Kristine, I suppose in an effort to comfort me, said, "Without you, we never would have had Charlie." I smiled at first. I had been the one to ask him to come hang out, I had introduced him to everyone. But as I thought about that, suddenly, I couldn't breathe. I looked around the room at so many of my loved ones, so inconsolable, and I thought, "This is all my fault." A stupid, silly thought occurred to me. If I hadn't seen in an instant what an amazing person he was, it would have been some other group sobbing over the idea of never seeing him again. Other people-not my mother, not my little sister, not my best and oldest friends who were family to me. Not people whose pain hurt me more than my own. I was always used to cheering everyone up, knowing just what to say to make people feel better. But there was no way to ease their pain this time, no words on earth that could make them laugh then, and I never felt so helpless and so miserable in all my life, and I wondered if it would have been better if I'd never met Charlie. Then I could erase all their pain.
I also wondered if-without me-Charlie would have died so young at all. I was always the "bad influence," something which I used to joke about, but I now realized was no laughing matter. I had gotten him drunk for the first time, and so, so many times after that over the years. In the stupidity of my youth, I had encouraged it, built up his tolerance. Maybe if he had fallen in with someone else, it wouldn't have gone that way. Maybe it would have been better for him, too, if we'd never met, or even if I'd seen what a good person he was, and realized what poison I was, and left him alone.
Of course, I have spoken to everyone in the group countless times since Charlie died about him, about everyone's relationships with him, etc, and they have all voiced the opinion-without exception-that being lucky enough to be a part of his tragically short life was well worth the pain of losing him-that they wouldn't give up having known him for anything in the world. We are all different, better people for having known him. There is a part of all of us that is Charlie. "The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel."
More fitting Shakepeare-this a piece of advice from a father to his son, and I can hardly think of better words of wisdom to relay. Well, we all certainly did that with each other-we connected so deeply so quickly, and we've never let go. So, just as the roots of abutting plants intertwine, we grew together until we were a tangled mass of leaves and flowers, and yes-thorns, and though made up of individuals, indiscernible from one another, and inseperable. Just as then you could not pull one plant without the others suffering permanent damage, so was Charlie's loss felt by the entire garden down to our very mingled, deeply-planted roots. That is why we feel the emptiness inside of us, all around us. There is so much of us that was Charlie. So much of each of us is made up of the others. We are part of each others' souls, "grappled" to them. Many of us have quite literally known each other for half of our lives now. I am 24, and I met Andrea, Bethany, Crystil, and Kristina 12 and a half yrs. ago now. Billy I met a half a year to a year later, and Jeff and Charlie a year or less later than that. By the time Charlie died, I had known him approximately a decade. A decade of precious memories. I had watched him grow from a shy, somewhat akward young teen to a confident, open, well-adjusted older teen to a high school gradute, and after that-to a mature, strong, self-assured young man full of promise.
As Kristine said not long after he died, "He was the best of us." That was certainly true. In fact, I remember telling a few people over the years before introducing them to the group, "If you don't like Charlie, you're not going to like any of us." There was inarguably not a one of us who was more caring, agreeable, considerate, compassionate, understanding, patient, honest, or less offensive than he. I will also forever remember him for his strong moral center. He had wonderful values, and tried his hardest to share and impart them upon us, always trying to save us from ourselves, no matter how much we resisted. He always helped you to see the right thing to do, even if it wasn't easy. He offered help before you asked, comforted you when you needed it, and he was ALWAYS there for you, and as far as I know, he kept every promise he ever made. In fact, he was probably the only person I ever loved who never let me down in any way. He was the best friend anyone could ever hope for, and I was so blessed to have been able to count him for such a long time-though so, so very much shorter a time than I would have liked, and it should have been-among my closest friends. We could all learn from the kind of friend he was to strive to be a better person, more loyal, more caring, more devoted, and selfless. I can only pray to be half as good a friend as he was, and I sincerely hope that, despite my failures and short-comings over the years in that regard, he considered me to have been, overall, a good friend, too. I sure tried to be. And he sure deserved it. He deserved the best. Better than me. I was never worthy of his friendship, but I was always honored that he bestowed it on me, anyway, for whatever reason. Not that he was perfect.
"He was a man. Take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again."
How true, and how sad. And what a problem that leaves for future generations, especially for our children! What a loss to them! What a sin and a shame that they shall never know him, nor anyone as inherently good as he! I had counted on that benefit to my children, on his unique and positive influence in their lives. He was supposed to be "Uncle Charlie" to my kids, and now I worry that "Aunt Jeff" will be a bit much without his more grounded personality to neutralize him.
In the very last conversation I had with Charlie, I was telling him about Frank and I, and where we were at at the time. One of the very last things he said-one of the very last sentences he ever said to me-was that he would dance at my wedding. And of course, I had always assumed that. I had always pictured the most important events to come in my life, my family's, our friends', with Charlie right there, in a prominent role. The whole group. All of us, forever involved in the most significant days of each others' lives. Graduations, birthdays, weddings, children's christenings. Even on sad occasions, like my mother's funeral, I imagined him there with everyone else to hold my hand. His own 25th birthday came and went without him. He wasn't at Stacy's college graduation. Next month, he'll miss the christening of Christine's baby. Crystil will be getting married soon, and he won't be in attendance. From now on, the happiest days of all of our lives will always be mixed with sorrow.
Looking at all of the old group shots recently, I have tried to imagine them without him. I have pictured an empty space in his place, trying to get used to the way all of our photos will appear from now on. It looked and felt so wrong, so hollow, when I covered him briefly with my hand. I have wondered if, even if I had never met him, I would have felt that emptiness on those occasions, anyway, if I would have missed him somehow, without ever even having known him. I wonder if, when I looked at these same pictures, I would have felt that they were incomplete-that there was something important missing. I wonder if it would ever have seemed right. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that we all would have known. Looking back, he's there, and he had to be. But looking forward, there's nothing but a lifetime full of holes...in our hearts, in our souls, in our lives, and in our pictures, and sometimes, that thought is just too much to bear.
I had this thought the very day that Charlie died, and I still think about it now: We are so young. We have so much of our lives left to miss him. And miss him we shall.
So, we move on toward the one year anniversary of his death, and they say that time heals all, but that's a lie. It changes things, that's all. My grief, I'm sure like most of yours, has begun to turn from frequent shooting pains to a dull, throbbing ache-a longing for better, simpler times, and our beloved Charlie.
All I know is that, if love can, in any way, help Charlie wherever he is right now, he has more aid than he could ever possibly need. The eternal love and devotion of his friends and family speaks volumes for the kind of person that he was. Even one man I spoke to on Fire Island said, upon seeing our group, and hearing me explain why we were all there, "He really must have been one Hell of a guy." He figured that, if so many of us were willing to make that kind of a trip, spend all kinds of money, take off work, and travel far and wide to celebrate his birthday together, in the way and place that he would have wanted, he must have been someone really special. And, of course, he was right.
My final thoughts are for Charlie's family-for Mr. and Mrs. Grosse, Sam and Adrian, and Charlie's grandmother, who I think we all know, he loved very much. I know that you have all been praying for them, and wishing them well through this most horrible time. Please continue, with me, to send them positive energy to help them heal as a family, and to take this opportunity to turn a dreadful situation towards good, by using it to grow closer, ever more loving, empathetic, and supportive of each other as a family through this unspeakable tragedy.
May we all always remember the most significant lesson that this experience has taught us-to not take anyone for granted. Live each day to its fullest, spend every minute that you can with your friends and family, because you never know when they may no longer be there, and NEVER waste an opportunity to tell someone that you love them.