A Month Ago


A month ago I was feeling pretty good. Rocking this homeowner thing, planning for our 6th anniversary. I had lost 10 lbs and was really practicing some good habits. I felt like I had a pretty good handle on adulting.

Then, three weeks ago my great Uncle Sal passed away. It was unexpected although he was 92. He lived a great life, full of love and laughter.

I think we all feared that the news would be too much for my dear great grammy. That was her last living sibling and the baby of the family. She made it through his funeral, but had a stroke a few days later. She passed away at home with her family March 29, 2017.

Another extended family member, Viviene,  mother of our cousin Dan also passed away. It seems unfair to lose so many dear to us in such a short time. Although, the world tells me often that life is not fair.

Since then, I have felt like we have been swirling around in some Wizard of Oz-esqueezes cyclone. Not knowing where we will land and how we will be once we get there. I’m exhausted and have succumbed to a summer cold. Well a spring cold, but it’s still pretty rough. The kids are fighting it the best they can, but I think my body is telling me I have to rest. And then I have to get out of the cyclone. It’s hard to face life’s challenges. They aren’t really “unfair.” Just tough to tackle. There is so much that I want to do, but I am struggling to focus.

A month ago, I was feeling pretty good. Now, I just feel tired. I’ve written a poem in honor of my Gram. My Aunt Cindy had hoped we could write one for the funeral, but I didn’t have words until now. Love you, Cinny.

A Rose Amongst Thorns

Sweet Grammy would light up when I brought the babies around to see her.

She would hug and kiss them with unadulterated joy, playing patticake and tea party and letting Sophia brush and brush her soft white hair.

Grammy always offer candy even if you said no the first three times because everyone could use a bit of chocolate. She always had one with you so you didn’t have to feel bad for eating a candy by yourself.

Grammy fed our souls with joy. With her devotion to her faith and her family she warmed our hearts. She fed our bellies with food even putting her own plate in front of us to make sure we ate.

She laughed and had a great sense of humor. She could tease you with a straight face and you couldn’t belive your ears until she cracked a little smile. She could beat you at cards, but sometimes she would let you win.

Grammy always asked how you were and really meant it. She cared so deeply about those around her. She was kind.

She was truly the best of us.

Eulogy 


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. 



 

RoseMarie Matassa


I come from a long line of strong Italian women. Women who run the show. These women know how to whip up a feast for a hundred people, not only to feed their bellies, but warm their hearts, pray a direct line to Heaven when we need prayers, give the clothes off their back and the food off their plate, and always, always how to keep their family together. Italian women know the secret to family success is throwing a great party where everyone can laugh together. My Great-Grammy always loved a good party. She would thrive in a crowd. It was just her way. That sweet little grin would light up a room when someone new walked in to say hello to her. 

    I told myself that I would take these next two days and celebrate like Gram. Hug and kiss my family, tell all the old stories, wax poetic about the fact that she had almost 99 years on this earth. But, to tell you the truth, I am not doing so well at it. 

    Another great party it is just what we need after the past few weeks. The loss of our Uncle Sal, Grammy’s brother, and now saying goodbye to her too. To bring us all back together again to laugh (and cry). So we can reminisce.

    But I couldn’t sleep last night, or really at all this week. I woke up today with a heavy heart because throughout all of our celebrating one thing is true. I really do have to say goodbye to my Grammy. A woman so loved that even my friends called her Gram. 

    As practical as I can be, I know she was 99, and lived a beautiful life, but I know it will hurt to not have the chance to hug her, to sit with her, and to see love radiate from her. I will miss her so much. So very, very much.

    I’m going to give myself a minute. Then, in true strong woman fashion, I will brush my tears off, put on a dress, and a fresh coat of lipstick (Thanks, Nana). And celebrate with the best of them. 

    My Gram raised a loving, special, crazy stuck like glue family, one of the best damn families I have ever seen. And I thank you for it, Gammy. We wouldn’t be here without you. 

    Love always,

    Aly