Eyes Wide Open

A Perspective From Within

The Dish

Hi, my name is Mary Vaccaro. On June 11th 2012 I broke my neck, which changed my life dramatically. I fractured cervical six and cervical seven in my spinal cord. The end result was paralysis in my legs, my core and my fingers, better known as a partial quadriplegia.

For a girl that lives and breathes the food business, this is a dish that I never thought I would be served… a menu of obstacles served to me a la carte. Travel down the road to my recovery, and watch me mix, blend, and puree the hurdles in my everyday life.



17 thoughts on “The Dish

  1. Hi Mary! Not sure but I hope this is going directly to you. I heard about your accident and have been getting updates from Kristine Bassnet. I just wanted to let you know that my husband, John, and I have you in our thoughts and prayers. You are a tough girl and I have no doubt will do everything you can to overcome this. Keep on keeping on!

    Kelly Hill

  2. Hi Mary….Just got on to FB and saw Raph’s comment about you and your blog….I didn’t know about your accident… I will be praying for your recovery. Your family has always meant a lot to me….since my teen years when I babysat your 3 older brothers….while your parents worked at the pizza shop. And then my years working as the bookkeeper and assistant to your mom….I’ll never forget the time I came to work and your mom wasn’t there. I asked your dad where Mrs. V was and he told me she was no longer with us….I didn’t know what he meant at first….then he said with a straight face….I fired her last night……Well, about 3 days later she was back to work…..Your family was great to work for. Once when your parents went on vacation they let
    Frankie in charge….you and Raph pretty much ran the restaurant, as Frankie went golfing….lol…

    I will let my brothers (Sam, Mike, & John Palermo) and our 4 daughters know so we all will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers…. I will also let my godchild know, as her daughter broke her neck in a car accident last year at 17. She had a miracle and is currently doing fine. I know they will both pray for you, as prayer got them through.

    I will keep in touch with you, Mary….You are a strong young woman and I’m glad to see you have kept your sense of humor!!

    Toni (Palermo) Longville

  3. Mary!!!! I have been thinking of you for mos and a link to your page just showed up on my FB thru Lisa Kamenar! I am so sorry for what you are going through….I am praying for miracles :)) so glad to have a point of contact!!!!

  4. You are making me laugh and cry as read through your writing. Know that I’m praying for you every day (yeah, even atheists pray). If there is anything Sheila and I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. We love you and we know that you will be blessed with a full recovery.

  5. I read this entire blog yesterday. It blew me away. I really have known you only from the periphery but thought of you as a beautiful, smart and capable. But thanks to your candid writings, I see a side that is beyond those superficial descriptions. You made me laugh and cry . This takes GUTS! You have amazing depth of character and great courage my friend. As you know we witnessed Tom’s brother through a similar ordeal and I can only say he could not initially face his experience so boldly as you. Matt has been a quad for about 10 years. He now lives alone, travels, drives,swims and spear fishes . He lives in Deerfield Beach and I so badly want you to meet him. Thank you for being such an inspiration, I will pray for your recovery daily (I pray for Ross too). —Lisa

  6. Hi Mary Angela! I love your spirit lady!!

    I have had a crappy few weeks at the office and been feeling like I haven’t given my daughter a decent summer – and then I read your words!

    How on earth you find it in you to write so well – and RAW – about what you are going through, it’s really inspiring. I don’t think many of us can really imagine it. Sure does put what I thought was a big pain in the ass in perspective.

    I am praying for your healing Mary & for your continued strength.

    And thank you to our classmate Lisa for posting an accessible link on Facebook – something tells me you are about to be showered with prayers & love from all your old friends!

  7. Hi Mary,
    I, too, just found out about your accident. Chris and I are praying for you (and Ross). Your blog is amazing, as are you! Will follow along on your journey. You are and will be an inspiration to many – more than you will ever know.
    God Bless.
    Anita Sears

  8. Hi Mary,
    I also just heard about your accident and am thinking of you. Love your attitude and will be following your blog!
    Keep writing!!!!!

    Take Care,


  9. Hi Mary,
    Chuck and I have heard about your accident from Michael. Your blog is amazing. Your next career should be journalism. You are a talented writer. As you know, Chuck and I are in Naples. Please let us know if you are up for a visit or need anything. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. I am sure this blog will inspire many, hoepfully open the eyes of providers of care and help people realize the value of good nurses. You are amazing as is Ross and I know you will overcome this obstacle in your life. Please let us know how we can help.
    Cathy Consolo

  10. Dear Mary,

    You really don’t know me but believe me when I say I have eaten a lot of your pasta at Vaccaro’s Tratorria in my time. I think we first really met years ago at Andrea Whitaker’s and Elliot’s wedding . You were there with Ross and I was there with my husband. We sat at the same table. I know we exchanged words, talked and laughed, but how did I not notice how special you were? There is an energy that radiates from your words and your personality in every blog. How did this escape me at our first meeting? I almost feel cheated that I am only now getting to know you through your blogs. My other friend, Mary (Conway) Marlborough has been following you since your injury. She too knows you peripherally (she went to highschool with Andrea as did I) and has eaten a lot of your pasta as well! She has been so taken with your blogs that I finally said today on the phone “give me that damn address”. I couldn’t believe what I found. YOU are so witty, intelligent, historically funny, inspiring, real, raw and authentic. I want you to hear this loud and clear, I aint no author but I do a lot of writing in my career and you have a gift. Not only are you an amazing writer but its your voice and how the reader connects with it. I seriously think you should consider writing a book. Don’t take my compliment lightly. I have a ph.d in psychology and I read a lot of good shit and a lot of bad shit. Your stuff is way good shit.

    On to the more traditional things…I am hoping and praying for every possible aspect of your recovery…mentally, physically, spirtually, and emotionally. I haven’t been so moved, touched or inspired by someone or something in a while (and I just saw Life of Pi last weekend if that gives you any perspective:). Be you and everything else will be okay.

    Warm thoughts and positive energy in your direction,

    Dee (Shondrick) Ben-Porath

  11. Dearest Mary,

    I have read your blog. It made me cry, laugh and laugh some more. The fact you commented on last season Fendi shoes is so you! Your strength and tenacity shines through your blog and I know we can expect great things of you.

    I just want to send you my love, and Christmas greetings. I would say, with a very British accent, “chin up old girl” but there again you have already done that (and shown those twenty-somethings how to do so!).

    With all good wishes
    Moira Livings
    NPD Direct Ltd – UK

  12. I heard about your injury a while back from my parents, but I’m so excited to find your blog! Best wishes on your continued recovery!

    Lisa Schifano Dunick

  13. Hi Mary,

    I came across your story and was very moved. In April of 2012, I was robbed and dragged by a car. I suffered a brachial plexus injury which has left me without the use of my left arm. (I posted the full story here: http://mysterymeet.org/blog/giving-thanks/) Like you, I have a lot of uneventful days, but also a passion for food. I restarted a nationwide social dining group, launched a food podcast and am now producing a culinary tourism conference — all from the confines of my bedroom. So, as I’m sure you’re discovering, there is hope. I wanted to let you know that you’re no alone and wish you healing.

    Seth Resler

  14. Mary Angela!

    I have to tell you that my Aunt Jan (Boggs) adores you…she keeps reminding me to check out your ‘blog’, even though she has no idea what one is 😉

    I did not at first because I have not seen you since ~1994 and I did not want to seem creepy by suddenly reappearing when you were in a crisis and making headlines.

    Today I read your entire blog and have never laughed so hard while simultaneously being so moved by your stories. You are even more sassy and witty and insightful than I remembered. I am in awe of your humor and strength. And now I know how to make a simple pizza while also agreeing with you that Kim Kardashian is a vacuous cow…don’t get me started on Bieber. No comparison to Lenny Kravitz, the man is a god.

    I have been an ICU nurse for 21 years, having a brief stint as a residential interior designer and as an organ transplant coordinator along the way, but I digress….I know all too well about your rehab, autonomic dysreflexia, etc, and the obstacles in your immediate recovery. Cheers to you for sharing your experiences and observations along the way, it is a point of view that is hard to put into words and you have a gift for storytelling. And to top it off, even your website is gorgeous, you are ridiculously stylish while being vulnerable and candid.

    So sign me up, lady for updates! While I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with my nursing profession, I have always appreciated the opportunity it provides for reflecting on all that you do have and to be thankful for it. Again, you are so articulate and funny, I couldn’t say it better myself! You rock!

    Heather Preston
    (….man, Our Lady of the Elms seems like 6 lifetimes ago…)

    P.s. You mentioned not wanting to ruin your shoes and the irony that they would now always be new. I remembered a book I read by David Sedaris where he bought a new pair of hiking boots (that he loathed) for a hiking date. The weather suddenly got very bad, they got lost and he described the irony “of possibly being caught dead in a pair of boots I would never have been caught dead in.” Lol!

  15. I would love to follow you on your journey!

  16. So good to hear your “voice” again. Think about you often wondering how you are doing and if you stil blog and if you are still in Florida. You are in my prayers for what you need on this journey. Peace and love from your former teacher…Mrs.Kermizis

  17. Mary- no words can comprehend your incredible experience and how you are helping others understand the sheer uniqueness of a moment. So glad I saw you on the book of faces and that I can reconnect. You are one of those folks, along with Jason that just makes me laugh my ass off with your wit and charm. Keep me posted with your blog.

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