What can I say about a woman who was pure light and joy? A woman who always had a smile and a kind word to give to others. How can I put into words how significant and how special my Great-Grandmother, Rose Marie Cecilia Matassa, was to all of her family? She was a blessing to her brothers and sisters-in-law, her children, her cousins, her nieces and nephews, her god children, her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even her GREAT great grandchildren. And to everyone who called her a friend.
SHE WAS LOVING: Rose Marie Matassa was the embodiment of love. She was generous and thoughtful. She always put others before herself. A true Italian nonna the first words out of her mouth were, “Did you eat?” She would put her own plate in front of you before you could protest. When you finished your first plate, there would be a second helping filling up your plate. Like her mother, Angelina, before her, she would tell us to “mangia” or else you wouldn’t be able to get away from the table.
SHE WAS KIND: Grammy never, ever missed a birthday. She mailed birthday cards like it was her job. She even gave a birthday card for the lady at Safeway who cut her bread. You could count on Gram to be there for you.
SHE HAD STRONG FAITH: She never missed a Sunday at Church until the last few years. Even then she kept her rosary on her bedside table. Her little statues of Mary and baby Jesus adorned her bedroom. She always kept her faith close.
SHE WAS ALL ABOUT FAMILY: We stuck together as a family. A large part of that was our time spent at the “Shore” house. We were happy to spend weekends playing in the creek, running around outside, and eating pasta on Sundays. It always gave Gram great joy to take our yearly vacation to the Shore where we would all move in together for a week playing games and cards all night long.
SHE WAS VERY FUNNY AND WITTY: She was a sweet little old lady, but don’t let that fool you. She had 5 brothers and she could hang with the best of them. At parties and family events, she would be right in the middle taking a shot with all of the boys. Every Christmas, she would give bottles of Southern Comfort to her son and her sons-in-law. Even at 98 years old, she would still play cards and use her quick wit to tease those she loved.
SHE WAS THE BEST GRANDMOM EVER: Grammy was made to be a grandmother. She was a permanent fixture in my life. She was the perfect Grammy. She always knew how to have fun. I remember driving around town in her old blue Chevy Lumina to and from school. To get ice cream. Gram always gave hugs, kisses, and money to her grandkids when we would come around. If you needed a tissue, she had one up her sleeve or hard candy, mints or Mentos, she would pull one out of her purse. She never hesitated to play tea party or soldiers or color in a coloring book for hours with all of her grandchildren. Just two weeks ago, she would sit and have breakfast with Sophia in her room and marvel over Max, her “big boy” every time we would come to visit. She looked forward each June to visiting her grandchildren in Georgia. Everyone would pile in the vans and head down there. Another family trip that she really loved was the annual vacation to Ocean City. Where all of us would gather together, play cards, and enjoy the sun.
I could go on forever. It would be easy to describe her smile, her sense of humor, her teasing, and the way she loved a good joke. I could tell you how her heart ached for people who were sad and how she swelled with joy when she heard good news. She was so proud of her family and she loved without reservation. I could tell you how loved she made everyone feel and just how very much I am going to miss her. Just these few words won’t do justice to the beautiful person that Grandma was, but I hope that it gives everyone a little bit of joy to remember her sweet, kind heart. We love you Grammy.
Today, we said goodbye to Grammy. She graced this earth for almost 99 beautiful years. I wrote the eulogy above and read it with my cousins at her funeral. That was so much harder than I imagined. My life will feel a little emptier from now on, but I am blessed to have known her.