“Before I begin, I want to thank everyone for coming today to celebrate my mother’s life. Mommy was a devout and wonderful woman. Standing up on the lector right now, I can already imagine her sitting at one of the pews on the far left side. Just like she did every Saturday night when we attended Mass together.
For the past 30 years, I’ve lived in two different worlds. There’s my American world, which includes my friends, my job, my dreams, and my education. Then there’s my Italian world, which basically consists of the following: my household, Dish Network, Mommy’s hearty home-cooked meals, our spoken Sicilian dialect, and last but certainly not least, the unconditional love and support from my family, particularly my parents.
In writing this eulogy, I could not help but think back to about two months ago, when I celebrated my 30th birthday with some of my friends from work. Mom had asked me if she could come along. I said, “Of course.” My milestone birthday was much a celebration for her as it was for me. It was also the anniversary that we, along with my dad, became a family. She was an instant hit with my friends, partly b/c she brought an Oreo Blizzard cake from Dairy Queen, but also because, as always, she showed immense pride for me. I will always be thankful that she got to share in that moment of joy with me that night. I was her “gioia,” which means joy in Italian. Words cannot express what a joy it was to be her daughter.
When I think about my beloved mother, I see an adventurer who left her small village in Sicily with her father to join her brother and sister in America and later began a new chapter with my father that was filled with unexpected blessings. I see a trailblazer whose world was shattered after finding out that her eight-month-old daughter had a major physical condition, but still found the hope and courage to give her baby girl the love and normal life she deserved. I see a warrior who overcame obstacles of her own, managed to get up every morning to do her daily activities without complaint, and cherished her quality of life until the end. I see a confidante who dropped whatever she was doing to help or to give a listening ear to any family member or a friend. Finally, I see a teacher who taught me to be strong, to deeply appreciate my sense of self and gave me a love of telling stories. She always reminded me to have a strong faith in God, to take things one step at a time, that anything is possible as long as I set my mind to it, and that what God gave me was never a physical condition or a disease but a gift.
There are many more nouns that I could describe my mother, but the most heartfelt things that I can say are that she will always be the bestest of my best friends and the love of my dad’s life. She was extraordinary. She is my inspiration. I am who I am today because of her (and dad, of course), and the life lessons that she has taught me. My mother’s gifts of authenticity, originality and possibility will forever hold dear in my heart. Her loving spirit will forever be nestled in my heart as well. To my dad and I, our guardian angel will forever be our amazing Grace.”