In drafting this article tonight, I realize that it’s five months ago this evening that I wrote my mom’s obituary, Virginia (Dolly) Dalessio who passed on April 21. Yesterday, on Sunday, I sat on my porch – very close to where my mom would sit during her visits to Sands Point and noticed all the things she would capture – such as the red robin she adorned, who was actually present yesterday. The sounds of autumn and the changing colors of the leaves on the trees depicted a change in the season – as my life and the life of my family have changed significantly since April.
Upon my mom’s passing, many thoughtful donations, food, cards, etc. were received. However, one special gift arrived one day from a special colleague – delivered from a company out-of-state called ‘Seeds of Life’ – a tree with a silver plate that had my mom’s name engraved. The tree is growing quite well and is planted in an area my mom would view and sit close to during her Sands Point visits – yesterday I tried not to ask why she could not be with us on Sunday, but as the priest that morning during Sunday’s mass indicated that when one passes, we should not ask ‘why’ but we should ask ‘what can we do’.
Normally, at this time of year, my family and I would prepare for my mom’s birthday on November 2nd – All Souls’ Day. And, last year, 2019, was very special – we were planning her 90th birthday celebration at this time last year. This would take us into the holiday season, which was a very special and favorite time of year.
This year, November 2nd and the holiday season will be very different. Listening to what my parish priest indicated yesterday, I’m honored that my mom will be the LI AHA Go Red For Women honoree. This is what I truly believe my family and I need to do – give back and tell the story of how the AHA and our health care systems in our local area played a role.
Not having to now worry (which I miss) about my mom’s doctor appointments – and there were many – and her medications – and there were many also – I ask myself, what’s next? One must not forget – that we must think about our own health and as the American Heart Association tells each and every woman – do you know your numbers? In February and throughout the year, the American Heart Association celebrates life and my view of celebration is to stay healthy. My mom would always respond when my family and I would care for her in so many different ways – she would respond by saying, “make sure you take care of yourself as you are young”. She was correct so I want each and everyone one of you to think about your own health – as my mom would want you to – because I’m sure there’s someone out there you care for or should care for, and if you are not in a good healthy state, you run the risk of hurting yourself and others.
My mom suffered from heart disease for many years but that did not define who she was – she was a fighter, a natural caretaker and never wanted anyone to know she was in pain – she was the one who never stopped caring and giving back. She never wanted anyone to go the extra mile for her – she wanted to do the heavy lifting – she possessed a lovable disposition and it was quite easy for us to have the desire to give her the world. As many have said, she was a perfect servant of God.
When I lost my mom, I knew it would be difficult and different – and it still is – however, one of my top mentors said to me – Tony, it’s difficult losing a parent, but think about if your 90 year-old mom lost you – that would be one less person to take care of her.
Losing a mom is hard but losing your mom or anyone during the worst time in history – during this pandemic – and it was not COVID related either – makes it hard to comprehend. But, I know she’s praying for all us – she is one of God’s angels. The rain drops fell when she left us on April 21, followed by the sounds of thunder. The tears of the angels signified that God and many others wanted and needed her, and those who waited for her to enter the gates of heaven were filled with joy.
At our luncheon on February 24, 2021, you will hear more about my mom’s journey with her cardiac issues. She suffered for many years with heart conditions, but her heart was full of an abundance of love. I will try to convey her connections with so many family members and others and how her heart was truly golden – red was her favorite color – Go Red!, and her legacy will always live on, and there’s something I mentioned to a former local American Heart Association Chair who inspired many – if my mom was given the opportunities I had (difficult time for a woman born in 1929), she would have passed me in business and in the board room. The fact that she took care of many others in the past and loved it – convinces me that she would have made an awesome doctor, nurse or heath care worker. So a huge shout out to all our healthcare workers – because you made my mom feel so special when she needed the care, you are all heroes not only during this difficult time today, but for yesterday and for tomorrow!
A well know quote that my brother-in-law has shared many times including during her memorial:
“I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night. Amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours…always, always. And if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.”
Thank you mom – you filled our lives with joy and we will miss you and never forget you – please don’t forget us!
Honoree, Long Island Go Red for Women Luncheon
American Heart Association Cor Vitae Society
Diego is the Communications Director for the American Heart Association in New York City. He loves sharing powerful stories that inspire people to take control of their health.