We Are Her Legacy
Family… Like branches on a tree our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. Each of our lives will always be a special part of one another.
Several years ago I wrote a piece for a mother’s day contest. And while it was my own mother (and my father, lest he think I have forgotten his importance in my being!) who bore me and started my feet on the right path…a faith filled path…I wrote the story about my mother-in-law. You see, it was a Staten Island company who was running the contest and since my mother-in-law lived for 50 years in that Borough, one of the 5 that comprise the great city of New York, it seemed appropriate to me. And since today marks the day she passed from this life into the next, I wanted to share the very special story of her, and the impact that her living….a dying….had on our family during another event in our history! I am sharing it pretty much as it was written in 2010, although I may edit it just a tad. I have, after all, learned much in the 2 1/2 years since I began writing my “Thought”!
This is about my wonderful mother-in-law, Margaret Bruscella, who was born in 1911, and bore witness to 16 Presidents of the United States….from William H. Taft to George W. Bush.
Margaret was a little bitty thing….only 4’11” tall, but her heart was as big as the moon and she was a true Italian matriarch. (I sometimes joke that the Bruscella family bleeds Marinara sauce!)
When I met her in 1973, she didn’t quite know what to make of this 18-year-old girl her son had brought home. I wasn’t Italian, or Catholic or from Staten Island but if I was good enough for her son, the entire family would just have to learn to love me! And they did, whether they wanted to or not!
She embraced me and taught me all she could about the family and it’s traditions. In the kitchen, she taught me to make her Sunday “gravy” (spaghetti sauce) and she made me love all things Italian. (My waist-line is proof positive of that fact!)
Now Margaret and my father-in-law, Dan Sr. were fortunate enough to be able to travel the world and they made frequent pilgrimages to the Holy Lands, as a testimony of their deep and abiding faith! And Margaret walked from her house to her church (about 1/4 mile) every day to worship!
She loved nothing more than her family. She could hold her grandchildren for hours at a time in her arms, and she was famous for her holiday feasts when the entire family, sometimes 2 dozen people or more, would gather together.
One year, the “Great American Pie Fight” took place in her basement, started when Grandma Balbo (Margaret’s mother) dared Uncle Mike Balbo (Margaret’s brother) to hit her in the face with a piece of pie…and he did! Soon pies were flying everywhere…the pies my mother-in-law had spent days making!
In her later years, health declining from complications from kidney disease which necessitated dialysis treatments 3 times a week, and also weak from the effects of breast cancer, she prayed for guidance from God. She was tired and was more than ready to join the Lord and the man she loved with all her heart, my father in law, in the kingdom of heaven. She often told us that she wondered why God was letting her live with the pain and discomfort she was feeling.
The entire family traveled to Staten Island on 8/24/01 to celebrate her 90th birthday. It was the last time most saw her alive. She passed away 9/7/01, all according to God’s plan because, even in death, this remarkable woman, and devout Catholic, was a savior.
Her funeral was 9/11/01….a day that will surely live in infamy! Many in our family worked in lower Manhattan, in and around the World Trade Center, but because we were celebrating her life that fateful Tuesday, most (not all, but most) were spared! (And now you know why God let this remarkable woman live…and die…when she did!)
She was, and always will be an example of all things good. She knew God and was grateful for all of the blessings He had bestowed on her, and most especially, the gift of her family! It is her legacy that I now share with my grandson, Landon, especially everything she taught me about family, traditions and all things Italian. And by the way, Landon absolutely loves his grandma’s Sunday “gravy”! 😀
Margaret and Dan Bruscella
Dancing at my wedding, June 7th, 1975
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many woman do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive , and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
Proverbs 31:26-31 NIV
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