Sadly, my mother passed away last Saturday, March 16th, peacefully, in her sleep. She was 99 years old. God Bless her. We had the burial and Mass @St. John’s RC Church in Bergenfield, NJ. This is the Eulogy I had written and delivered at the church. It defines the selfless, caring woman who was my mom.
Once upon a time
A girl with moonlight in her hair
Put her hand in mine
And said she loved me so…
But that was once upon a time
Very long ago….
In the middle of a cold wintery night in March, 3:00 in the morning (which will surprise no one who knows me) I was born… the first child of Jeanette & Frank Valentino. It was in the height of World War II. My father worked long hours in the ship yard. Toys were not manufactured during the war. There was no TV. My mother had to be creative to entertain a young child in a one bedroom, third-floor walkup on Bergenline Avenue, and yet… listening to news of the war on the radio and incessantly talking to my mother are some of my fondest memories …..
My mother loved the cinema, and she began taking me–two or three times a week–to the movies by the time I was two years old. Riding the bus to the Embassy Theater or the big screen on Journal Square in Jersey City, and then stopping at the bakery for a Charlotte Russe was always an adventure!
Those beginning years forged a very close bond that continued throughout my adult life.
There was not a day that I did not wake up or go to sleep w/o a phone call to or from my mother…Of course, my father, too, who always managed to issue the orders, “Barbara make sure the gas is off!” My mother was much milder, never threatening, always there with encouragement for me and anyone else who was privvy to her innate wisdom.
When Michele was a year old and I was in Kindergarten, we moved to our dream house on Hickory Avenue in Bergenfield. I can still see my mother and Ronnie Hickey sitting in the kitchen ‘til the wee hours of the morning, talking about everything under the sun (and “I” listened!)
There are so many wonderful memories with my cousins, aunts and uncles. My mother loved her sisters and so proud of her brothers. She would tell stories of growing up in New York, always ending with her much-loved, youngest brother Buddy.
I know mom will be so happy to see Aunt Brunette, who she was never told had passed away a few years ago….I believe she knew…but couldn’t deal…more a case of don’t ask/don’t tell.
Aunt Dolly, my godmother, lived down the street in Bergenfield, and always stopped by to see her sister Jeanette for a piece of cake and some “talk.”
Uncle Fred, my godfather, Aunt Marie, and my cousin Michael were a staple at our house for mom’s Sunday spaghetti and meatballs.
Those were the proverbial good old days—lots of family and lots of love, simple and priceless.
April 7,1967 and my mother was there to literally catch John’s father, as he passed out when the doctor announced, over the PA, that he had a son.
My mother was again there, three years later, March 30, 1970, when I called her—during a blizzard in the middle of the night—to stay with young John as I went to the hospital to deliver her second grandson, Joseph.
Then again in 1985—when my water broke at Dairy Queen on Route Four—my mother was standing next to me and held me up. After years of my father suffering heart issues—Jason brought an infusion of life and joy into his grandparent’s world.
John, Joseph, & Jason were the joy and center of my mother and father’s life. In their eyes, they could never do wrong.
Mom and Dad were close with all of our friends over the years—everyone loved them. There was never a party, barbecue, holiday when they weren’t there. Never an illness or celebration, school play, little league game…the list goes on. Mom was my confidante, dad my best friend. There was not a moment in my life when my mother and father were not there.
I have to thank Lou for all the years he was so very good to Frank and Jeanette, driving them—taking them to doctors, dinners, visits…just always being there for whatever they needed.
Mom was a simple woman, never expected anything for herself. My mother (and father) lived for the family–first myself, then my sister, and then their grandchildren, and my mother’s joy at being GG, an acronym for great grandma. GG adored her John, Megan & Patrick and the time spent with them.
In these past ten years, as you know, my mother chose to move to Connecticut and I then relocated to Florida.
I thank my son John, and Aileen, for extraordinary generosity in providing a wonderful quality of life and security for my mother’s declining years; and, also my sister, Michele, for taking over and being there for mom.
There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t talked to my mother in my head or cried out for “Mom” when sick or in pain. Now, I pray she will visit and once again be with me…and I do believe, last Saturday, when finally free from the burden of her body, the first thing she did was come to Florida to see the one great grandchild she had never gotten to meet…our newest blessing, Joseph’s daughter, Hannah Barbara Crowley.
My mother will never be far from me, because…as I’ve gotten old(er) ….whenever I look in the mirror….I see my mother’s reflection staring back at me.
Sleep well mom. I love you always….and with your passing, I am reminded
Once upon a time the world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours
How happy we were then
But somehow once upon a time
Never comes again…..
Thank you “everyone” for being here. Jeanette loved you all.