This was an extraordinary woman. I will eternally feel the magnificent love she had for my father and for me. She would joke we were the Holy Family, and we were. She was born Brooklyn, raised in College Point and then college educated at Marymount in Rome. Her childhood is filled with lovely stories with her mom (Nonna, to me) and dad, and brother, Eliseo, and dogs. I have never seen a love between a man and a woman as I saw between my parents, who raised me in a home filled with true love. They filed it with music, a joy which they shared and which she taught (specifically, piano). She meant so much to so many, but I’ll speak from only my own heart: she was my best friend. My role model. We had 11 years after my father passed when we doubled in closeness every day. How will I manage without your giggles, mom? Your most beautiful aquamarine eyes! Or the sweet, soft way you always smelled and felt. My favorite of all, how you would always call me “Mommy”? Our delightful travels together. Your powerful faith, your fearlessness to see things clearly and speak your mind. The way you’d always order the best thing on the menu. All the millions of fun facts about you: that you loved to play gin rummy with me (and would always win!), that you would do these little dancing figures with your fingers. You would write little poems for utterly everything, and little drawings all over the house. Your love of flowers and plants, of complex things made from intellect and simple things created with love. That you could float in a pool for minutes on end without ever moving a muscle. Your appreciation of every culture and person you would meet. How did I ever get so lucky that you would be MY mom? That I would resemble you in even the slightest way. You were insatiable for life! May we all remember you filled with the fireworks that were incredible you. You were and always will be LOVE. -Rita Joan
In lieu of flowers: Tell someone you love today that you love them so much. And do it again tomorrow, and tomorrow after that. You get it. Do it for Rita.