Archive for the Tony Gloeggler Category

Tony Gloeggler

Posted in Tony Gloeggler with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot




Playing basketball three on three
at one end of the gym, my eyes
would wander to the other side
where Special Olympians trained
every Saturday. Roly poly, down
syndrome guys underhanding
foul shots Rick Barry style, bony
stick figure, cerebral palsy girls
half running, half walking
toward a finish line like string
puppets. Though I wore a leg brace
for a year as a child and tried
to hide from all the attention
it brought my way as I slid
deeper inside myself, I still
looked too often, stared
and kept sneaking glances.
They made me feel uneasy,
even a little squeamish
and I wasn’t sure why.

I never expected to apply
for a job as a direct care/
recreational counselor
at a residence for developmentally
disabled folks, say yes
when they asked me
to manage the group home
a few years later, or love
the work for over forty years.
I don’t remember how long
it took before hockey helmet
wearing Robert collapsing
and shaking on the floor every
few days from seizures, Larry
ripping his clothes daily, James
Rosa who I called the Chief
like that Cuckoo’s Nest character
exploding with built up frustration,
over turning the table, flinging
chairs at the dining room chandelier
became ordinary events.

I don’t know how long
before I became annoyed,
offended when we walked
Brooklyn streets, supermarket
aisles and people whispered,
watched with pained, puzzled
faces and sometimes thanked
god for people like me, blessed
my heart because they never
could do that kind of work
as they spoke to the guys
in a sing-song, too loud tone
that turned my stomach.
How long before I grew
comfortable being the lone
white guy surrounded by Puerto
Ricans and Dominicans, Jim Crow,
migrated north black women,
guys and girls straight outta
the down the block projects
and tasting strangely seasoned
foods, talking music, hoops,
sharing family histories, cracking
on each other endlessly, constantly
complaining about low pay,
mandatory overtime, the lack
of appreciation from tone deaf
administrators? How long before
I felt part of it all, before it became
my home, one of the only places
in the world I ever belonged?




A middle of the night ringing phone
shakes me from sleep. My mom
fell and can’t get up. I know,
she should be wearing that gadget
on a chain around her neck, the one
you press and a soothing voice
asks the perfect questions, sends
necessary help. I promise myself
to order it for her next birthday,
add it to the silly card I traditionally
give her filled with fifty dollar bills
for a trip to her favorite casino.
I ask about pain, newly inflicted
pain, not her ordinary complaints,
moans the grandkids mimic
in harmony as they help her
struggle to rise from the couch,
trudge to the table during Sunday
visits. Can she move, crawl
to the bottom of the stairs?
Maybe my sister living
in the upstairs apartment
would hear her yell? Wedged
between the edge of the bed
and the dresser, her shoulder
hurts too. My sister’s not
picking up her cell. I guess
she forgot to charge it again
and her landline’s disconnected.
While trying to think of something
else, I ask mom if she watched
the Yankee game. She says
Chapman still looked shaky,
but managed to close it down,
wonders when Judge will return
to the line-up. Soon, we hope,
and I think good, no signs of
concussion. My youngest brother
who played on the same softball
team as me for 20 years lives nearby
but is away on a tropical island
I never heard of. Every time
I ask, she pronounces all 3
syllables of my name, An-tho-ny,
don’t you dare call the fire
department. I’d really hate
to have to summon Uber, take
the hour long ride, get stuck
spending the night, when mom
interrupts, the floor’s not so bad,
Donna usually comes down
in the morning. I inhale, pause
to check the time. Three,
four hours until morning.
I can almost taste the lasagna,
that beef soup I love she kept
sending over as I recovered
from open heart surgery, before
saying no, I’ll get there fast
as I can while wishing she’ll try
to convince me to stay home,
that she’ll be fine, right before
she remembers Cousin Theresa
who lives two towns away
and winds up taking the quick
drive in her pajamas, banging
on the front door. Donna’s
man eating, psychotic dog
barked her whole family awake
and they all went downstairs,
helped her up and checked
for cuts and bruises, walked
her back to bed. I tried to go
to sleep, but the drip, drip
drop of the AC from the floor
above kept hitting the top
of my AC, filling my head
with a conversation about
the long term, in home care
my mom is beginning
to need and my worry
about growing old
with no kids or wife
to ease me toward death.