This page is dedicated to my Mother who died of old age. I use to joke with her because she was 90 years old didn’t have a single thing wrong with her. I told her she was going to live forever at this rate. Boy was I wrong! She eventually developed a condition where she couldn’t swallow. Her esophagus eventually got weaker and weaker until she couldn’t ingest enough nourishment to sustain her life. She passed away January 23, 2006 at 7:45PM. Her four children were with her (three physically by her side and one on the phone) and several of her grandchildren where there including Lisa who had cared for her and been her almost constant companion for the last seven months. She passed very peacefully. This page is not a morning of her death, but rather, a celebration of her life.
My mother’s funeral was befitting of a queen. It was held in St. John the Evangelist Church in Schenectady NY, and was as large as a cathedral. The ceilings went up forever, and everywhere you looked was marble. The seating was like an amphitheatre and the altar was magnificent. Her granddaughter Lisa who took care of her the past seven months did the bible reading from the Old Testament and her eldest grand daughter Jennifer did the New testament reading. Her eldest grandson Vincent read the General Intercessions and, two of her great-grandchildren, Briana and Michael, brought up the offertory gifts. The pastor even asked me to assist with the communion. I had told him I was a Eucharistic Minister but I didn’t ask to participate in the Mass so it was a total surprise to me.
Many who attended told me it was a true celebration of her life and not a funeral at all. It was the greatest compliment they could have given me. I’m sure my father was smiling down upon me. I was only trying to do what he would have done had he been alive.
Here is the eulogy that I wrote for my mother. The Pastor read the major parts of it and since he was Italian too, he relayed the fact the he knew what it’s like having an Italian mother:
I know that Mom is smiling upon us today because she always smiled when her family was gathered together. Family was at the core of who mom was. She wasn’t much for social events, she wasn’t much for politics, she didn’t watch soap operas, she just cared and nurtured her family in the best way she knew how. Every Sunday she would get up early to attend Mass so that she could come home and start cooking the Sunday dinner by 9:00AM. A big pot of gravy could be found on the stove cooking, and cooking, and cooking. Somehow, Dad would always manage to steal a few fried meatballs before they made it to gravy. On special occasions she would make homemade macaroni. In fact, the whole family would make homemade ravioli with each family member having their own job to do in a giant assembly line that started in the kitchen and ended on a white floured sheet in the bedroom.
To Mom, food was love. When I asked her grandchildren for memories of their grandmother, they all agreed that the three words most often used by grandma were, “Eat, eat, eat”. That was her way of saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you”. She could whip up a gourmet meal on a moments notice out of just what was in the refrigerator and proclaim, “oh it’s so simple to do”. So many of the memories they had of her where about food and therefore about her love. Love for her husband, and her children and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The pizzelles, the home-made ravioli, the polenta, the spaghetti alio ulio, the cheesecake, the Easter bread, the Christmas cookies, and the list goes on and on. Mom sure knew how to cook up a lot of love.
We should remember today not to mourn her passing but to celebrate her life. Her life as a loving grandmother and great-grandmother to so many of you sitting here. Her life as a mother who did her best to guide her children in the right direction. Her life as a dedicated wife and companion of 56 years to Dad who loved her just as deeply. I know that Mom & Dad loved to dance and today I am sure they are together again dancing in heaven. Let us be happy for them and for the privilege to have known our mom, Antoinette Rofrano, and have been touched by her life.
John J. Rofrano Jr., January 28, 2006
A Life Goal
I regret that my father didn’t live long enough to see me achieve one of my life long goals; to write a book. I don’t know what it was about writing a book that intrigued me but I always felt that I had information to share on a number of topics and it would be great to document it in a book. I was lucky enough to achieve that goal in January 2005 and was also lucky that my mother was still alive to celebrate this milestone with me.
This is a picture of me and my mother taken on February 15, 2005 when I showed her that I had written my first book. I remember her looking through the pages at all the pictures and I was trying to explain to her that it was an instructional book on music software. She just kept looking and looking and the looked up at me with a smile like she was very proud.
My next life long goal is to live to be 90 just like my mother. 😉