I want to tell you about my mom .......she was an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life.
Mom came to America at the age of 20, having never seen the ocean or an automobile. She grew up without electricity or running water. Mom came to our country to make a new life, for her it was like being in a dream. She made her life here and loved America for all the opportunities. She never looked back and never went back. Mom lived everyday as if were a wonderful dream.
Josephine is known as a devoted sister, The baby sister, she recently celebrated with her sister Mary, It was Mary’s 100th Birthday a few months ago, Mom was a loyal wife and a best friend to Dad, Mom actually had children from 4 generations (two unborn and Vinny came before the War, Frank and I were the war babies, Joe and Mary were the baby boomers and Flo the Generation x-er.. We see that Mom did not fool around; then again I guess she did fool around. Josephine was an aunt to 32 nieces and nephews, a Grandmother to 17 grandchildren and a Great Grandmother to 19 great children. Mom loved them all. They were her angels from God.
Mom was a seamstress. At age 15 she pleaded with her father to buy her a sewing machine, At 16 she made her own dresses, at 18 she made the Wedding Dress for Her sister Rose’s wedding in America. Mom made all our school clothes, I remember the brown leather jacket she made for me, and the Sunday Suits she made for the four Boys.
Mom was a life-long student with a thirst for learning, she never quenched that thirst. Mom discovered the radio and decided it was her path to freedom, she convinced dad to buy one for her. He bought it on time, 50cents per week. Mom learned most of her English from the radio. When Mom saw her Sister Jenny’s TV and how excited we were when we watched it, she knew she had to get one. Mom believed TV could be a great teaching tool. Dad said we could not afford to spend $700 for a Television.
He was working two jobs to keep his four boys fed. Mom, being a determined woman, took matters in her own hands and got a part time job at Pepperidge Farms. After a year we had a new black and white console TV, and were able to watch Bishop Sheen and the nature channel. On dad’s occasional days off we got to watch cow boys and Indians, The lone Ranger and Tonto, and Milton Berle. In mom’s later years she made full circle and asked for Bishop Sheen videos. We have the most complete collection of bishop sheen video available and upon request we can duplicate some for those that are interested. See me later we also have a great collection of mother angelic tapes
Mom was a farmer at heart; having grown up on a farm in Italy she had a love of the farm life. She continued that life here. In the 50’s, long before the greenhouse was built, we had a farm stand of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Mom and Dad also bought a section of the old Massiello farm and farmed it until Dad passed away in 1992
Mom was always trying to improve her produce, when she tasted and outstanding fruit or vegetable, she would take the seeds and dry them for next season’s plantings. Spread out on all the window sill were drying seeds from apples to watermelons. Whenever I went away, mom would ask if I could bring back some seeds. So I’m sure I was one of the few people who brought their mother home a gift of seeds from trips around the world. Eventually mom had several plants that were not seen in our part of the world.
Mom was an animal lover; she picked up stray cats, and wounded birds. We had generations of cats called kitty, and dozens of birds called birdie, it was strange mom spoke to them and they knew which kitty or bird she was talking to. A confession I never knew how she knew and how the animals knew until yesterday. When we had more than one kitty she would call and say hear kitty, one would come then she would say hear kitty, kitty and the other would come, and the third cat would be called kitty, kitty, kitty
Mom loved to play, her playground was her nursery and her greenhouse . She would play in the dirt and make plants grow. She is the only person I know who could cut the top off of a pineapple, put it in dirt, and have it grow into a pineapple tree. My wife Susie and I tried to grow pineapples but failed miserably. Late last year mom told Beverly, her caregiver, to give Frankie the pits from an orange she just eaten, Frank took the pits but did not believe they would grow, he did however plant them. So what happened? In January all eight orange pits sprouted and we have 8 orange trees growing. Mom talked to the plants and they talked back to her. When mom went into the greenhouse or out to visit her plants, she would tell Frankie which plants were crying and that they were crying for water
Mom loved to laugh and play around. she did not drink a drop of liquor for 90 years then on the wedding day of one of her Granddaughter's she decided to have a glass of champagne, and then she had another. I guess she liked it. You may have seen pictures of mom with grapes around her neck, or pictures of her in her Halloween costumes.
On Halloween, mom would sit in a chair in a new costume waiting for her trick or treating grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and about 100 other trick or treater’s.
Mom was a giver—giving food, flowers and vegetables, advice, more advice, love and more love . Dad often said mom was a soft touch, in reality mom touched many people softly. Josephine truly lives the biblical words that it is better to give than to receive.
Of all the things mom loved it was God first. She was a very religious person. One of the greatest days in her life was when Susie and I took mom and Cousin Betty to See Pope John Paul in New York’s Central park back in 1995.
Everyone in the family knew not to call Josephine . 3:00pm as she was on the phone with her two sisters Jenny and Mary and her brother in-law Louie they prayed the Rosary together in Italian.
Every Day mom and dad had a blessing day for each of us. Monday was Flo, Tuesday it was Mary, Wednesday it was Joe, Thursday it was Frankie, Friday it was me, Saturday was for Vinny and Sunday was for them. On that day they lit a large candle for one of their children. Mom would also call us on our blessing day. Mom loved her brothers and sisters, (I have never seen a family like that with so much love for each other), she loved her children, her grandchildren, great grand children, other people’s children. Today we rejoice that she is reunited with her two sons, her husband and family
In mom’s final days, when we knew she was passing, we asked her if she was afraid. she said she was. When asked what she was afraid of she said she was afraid that she might not have done a good enough job, although unfounded this fear was real, fortunately one of the social workers said don’t worry Josephine mother Mary is there, she will get you in through the back door if you have any trouble. It goes to show that even up there a mom is in charge
Thank you for listening to Just a few of the Josephine stories. At this time we invite you to continue the celebration of Josephine’s life, for a luncheon reception at the Sons of Italy hall in Norwalk directly after the burial ceremony. I encourage you to share a Josephine story at that time
(c) Tuchy Palmieri may 2009
I put my hands in yours and together we can do what we never could
Do alone . . .
(Josephine’s Loving Hands)
God looked around His garden and found an empty place.
He looked down upon the earth and saw your tired face.
He put His arms around you and lifted you to rest.
God's garden must be beautiful; He always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering; He knew that you were in Pain.
He knew that you would never get well on earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough; and the hills were hard to climb.
So he closed your wary eyelids and whispered "Peace be thine".
It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn't go alone for part
of us went with you
The day God called you home.
© Tuchy palmieri permission is granted to reprint any and all of this