This is not easy for me to write about and maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long. Angelia, my wife, died 1 year ago on November the 12. She was 36... Of course it was CANCER. What else? For 4 years she endured 3 major operations, chemotherapy, a feeding tube and then a slow painful death. Unbelievably, she was able to do this with dignity, courage, humor and most of all love. It was a blessing to be part of her life from the 1st day I met her until she took her last breath as I held one hand while her mother held the other.
I will forever be thankful to have witnessed the extent of her mother’s love. Her mother, Diane lived with her for the last year of her life and was her primary care giver. Diane was so gentle, caring, supportive and brave. She knew instinctually what Angelia needed before anyone. More than once she nursed her back from death’s door and gifted us all with a few more precious months so we could spend time with her. I will treasure the last few months of her life when we had game nights with the kids, pizza and Friendly’s ice cream sundaes. I’ll even treasure the last five weeks of sleeping on the floor, her mother, her son, her brother Wayne and me. Her smile soothes and haunts me.
A defining moment in my life was the decision to get married. We talked about it about 1 month before she died. It was actually her idea. It went like this. I was lying next to her on her bed in the living room looking into her deep blue eyes when she smiled and said “ My mother said you’re going to propose to me”. What could I say? Of course I said yes. One week later I made up my mind and called her at Noon to let her know that we were to be married at the house that evening. She wasn’t thrilled about being married at home, which at this point resembled a hospital more than a home. She asked if we could marry at the Holiday Inn where my office was and where we worked closely together for many years. I told her I’d see what I could do and hung up. My co-worker, Lanie suggested the back room of the HUB where we often dined and were friendly with the owner’s, Matt and Kate. They opened their hearts and their restaurant to us. From then on it was a flurry of phone calls and errands. Before I knew it we had food, music, decorations, cake, rings and a wedding party in less than 6 hours. Who said it takes a year to plan a wedding? I even sent my friend Lisa from Scizzor Sisterz hair salon to Angelia’s house to help her get ready. Angelia insisted she do her own make up. Always in control she was.
When she arrived at the front of the restaurant in a wheel chair with an intravenous pain pump dangling from her shoulder, she was determined not to be wheeled in by her son Chuck as we had planned. She stood up and to the applause of the HUB diners, walked down the long hallway to the back room followed by her daughter Kori, her maid of honor Shannon, my best man Mark, who is gone now too and Nate, our ring bearer who is Chuck’s best friend and who was like a 2nd son to Anglia. When she turned the corner and our eyes met, I knew that I had done something wonderful. She was so beautiful and happy. Her mother still talks about that moment, how Angelia’s smile lit up the room. The evening was a dream come true.
Three weeks later she died surrounded by those she loved. I learned so much from Angelia and her mother during that year. I learned a lot about myself, what I am made of and what I am capable of. I will be eternally grateful and forever in their debt.
Life is precious and the ones we love never live forever.
SUSHI FEST 2012
Over 50 sushi lovers had a festive evening at the North Adams American Legion while supporting a worthwhile cause. Jim Sisto of the Berkshire Elder Law Center organized Sushi Fest 2012 to support the Alzheimer’s Association. Ample amounts of Sushi, Saki and Japanese beer were on hand to the delight of attendees. A silent auction featuring the works of local artists was held where paintings, jewelry, photographs and more were taken home by the lucky bid winners. In all the event raised over $2,000. Sisto thanked the attendees, donors and volunteers for making the evening a great success. Sisto said that “Alzheimer’s doesn’t care who you are or what you do, anyone can fall victim to this dreaded disease”. The night was also a way of acknowledging the wonderful contribution artists have made to help transform the community. This is the time of year when the Alzheimer’s Association holds its biggest fund raising push which is capped of by the Walk To End Alzheimer’s which was held on September 29 Cheshire. Information on the Walk or to contribute to the cause can be found at on the Walk to End Alzheimers website or simply by calling Jim Sisto at (413) 664-7700.