Just Stop.

Take a moment out of your hectic day.

Take a deep breath and slowly exhale.

Slow it down, take a moment and simply sit with your thoughts for a while.

Early this morning my Uncle Russ called to tell me, my Aunt Jenny passed away. They were eleven years apart and she was like a mother to him. He could barely speak.

She was 92 years old.

My dad was a year younger than Jenny, whose given name was Giovanna. She was named after her father’s brother Giovanni. My Uncle Rossario (Russ) and my dad Salvatore (Sam) were named after each of their grandfathers. When I called my 91 year old dad, he was sobbing. They were heartbreaking sobs. And my heart hurt for my dad’s loss.

This was his beloved sister. There was never a crossword between them. They were raised in a close-knit Sicilian home where God, family, food, love and music we’re abundant and revered above all.

Yes, she was 92.

Yes, they had enjoyed many, many years together.

Yes, we believe she is now reunited with her husband and her parents in what we hope is even a better place than she left today.

But. When I spoke with my dad, I realized the concept of time is a mystery.

The fact he and his sister lived into their 90’s may have been of some comfort to him. Yet, I could tell his memories of his sister weren’t time-stamped, they were timeless.

His heart was full of love for her and time did not lessen the abundance of love or loss overflowing within him today.

Today is St Joseph’s Day– which was a very, very special day for my dad’s family.

When I was a kid, no matter what day of the week March 19th fell on… my dad’s entire family, The Rizzo Clan, gathered together at the extended 25 foot dining room table for the traditional multiple course feast of San Giuseppe, at Nani & Papa’s house on the Westside of Buffalo.  

It was the one time of the year my Papa’s seat at the head of the family table was replaced by the life sized statue of San Giuseppe, draped in Christmas lights with a foil wrapped aerial TV antenna “Halo”.

I’m not sure exactly when we gathered for our last Festa di San Giuseppe, but believe it was probably in the mid-80s, shortly before my grandparents passed away and we sold the family compound.

I have photos from one of those last celebrations. My Nani had hand crocheted and sewn costumes for all her great-grandchildren. They were dressed as St. Joseph, Mary, Jesus and angels.

Losing Aunt Jenny on St. Joseph’s Day is bittersweet. I am sad for her loss, for my dad’s heartbreak and also for the passing of an era my children will never know. I grew-up immersed in european tradition. But so many of those wonderful customs and traditions passed with my grandparents.

Today I am reminded just how quickly time passes by. I am reminded by the importance of family. And most of all, I am reminded how important it is to keep family traditions woven into our busy, hectic lives.

Today, stop.

Just Stop.

Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

What were some special traditions or customs you remember from your childhood? Make time to celebrate special moments with your family and friends. Find ways to continue to make special memories.

Slow it down, take a moment and simply sit with your thoughts for a while.

Happy Saint Joseph’s Day!!

~1975 (Aunt Jenny is on the far right)

~ 1983 Nani and her great-grandchildren

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