It is often said there are angels disguised as human beings living amongst us. On February 3, 1916 in the small town of Greensburg Pennsylvania, one such, sweet angel was born. That sweet angel’s name was Rosina Pandolfi.
Rosina traveled to Italy at the age of 2, grew up in the charming town of Ceccano, married her beloved Cesare D’Annibale at the tender age of 18, and gave birth to two children Pasquale and Fabrizia, whom she loved with a tremendous force which knew no limits. She crossed the ocean once again at the age of 38, and she and her family made America their permanent home, settling in Mt.Vernon, NY.
She became a doting, loving grandmother three times with the births of Larry, Lisa and myself. And it was through the blessed arrival of her three great-grandchildren, Lauren, Antonia and Joseph, that her love, affection and joy grew even larger.
Let me share with you some of the wonderful qualities of this angel, which will keep her in our hearts forever.
She was courageous and strong, leaving behind a life in Italy that no longer served her family, and started a new one, in a foreign land, where she did not speak the language.
She was a generous spirit, graciously giving of her food, recipes, advice, love, and life. Her heart was a deep well, which knew no bottom.
She was direct and forthright – when she witnessed something that was unjust, she had no problem in telling you straight out what she thought. As she used to say, “I say what I see, and what I see is not right.”
She was independent, often stubborn, and liked to do things her own way, which earned her the title of “the general,” by her grandchildren.
She was a hardworking seamstress, and what little money she made, she saved and sacrificed, always putting her family first.
She was a skillful negotiator. Grandma could make a vendor at a farmer’s market sell his vegetables for half price, and in the process, make him feel grateful for having made less money.
She was a master cook—we loved her panetone at Christmas, her cheesecake at Easter, and her savory polenta, pizza, and homemade pasta. We made our sauce with her preserved, Bell-jarred tomatoes, and smeared our toast with her fresh grape jelly, which she skillfully made by hand every autumn.
She was an intuitive and talented designer, able to create outfits without the use of patterns; and knit blankets, sweaters, and baby clothes, all while having a conversation with you, and never once looking down at the yarn and needles.
She loved the TV show JAG, a series about a former Navy fighter pilot. She was a committed fan, even when no else was watching, or had ever heard of the show.
She was a teacher, friend, and wise woman who touched the lives of many. And if you were lucky enough to be hugged by her, engulfed in her strong, protective arms, then for sure you have been blessed forever.
These are just a few of her many, precious qualities. The qualities of an angel. For when we embody these virtues, and live in a loving, creative, generous, and courageous way as she did, we will not only become better for it, but we will be honoring our beloved Rosina, simply by the wonderful example we put forth in our lives. We will miss you grandma, but we know your Spirit lives on in all of us. Thank you so much sweet angel, for gracing us with your beauty.