|Too soon, Joan
Coniglio Ketterer left us. The words below were spoken at her final
Mass, 30 January 2012.
It wasn’t long ago that I stood before a group in this way, and remembered
Joan’s mother . . . my dear sister-in-law and godmother Mary Modica
Coniglio. Joan was the epitome of all the good things about Mary (there
were no bad things). Like Mary, Joan was sweet and shy, but strong in
her love for her family. A true expert in her role . . . as wife, mother and
grandmother. My memories of her go back to when she was an infant, I thought
of her as a little sister. Always kind, never angry, loving in every way.
Uncle Angelo Coniglio
Mom was, first and last, a mother and homemaker - a lifelong job
that's becoming scarcer with each day.
She was an articulate, intelligent woman who loved to spend her time
reading, cooking and perfecting her recipes, crocheting gifts for
everyone she knew, and working in her beautiful garden. Everything
she did came from her heart and you couldn't help but feel it. She
kept an impeccable home and took great pride in her work.
When you stepped into mom and dad's house you felt warm and
instantly welcome and that was a tribute to my mother.
I remember going on family vacations to Oneida Lake, Lake George,
Cape Cod, and of course, as young children, camping at Timber lake.
We also spent many long lazy summer days together swimming, laughing
until we cried, and enjoying just being together. Mom knew how to
make everything fun and exciting and special. All of my Christmas
memories are those of wonder and wishes come true.
She taught each of us that we could have fun wherever we were as
long as we were together.
Raising five children certainly had to be a struggle at times, but
Mom gave so much to all of us.
To me, she gave the gift of dance. What began as one little activity
on Saturday mornings almost 40 years ago was to blossom into a
lifelong passion. Maybe she saw some talent in me or maybe it was
something she wished for herself, for even when I wanted to quit as
a child, her gentle nudges led me back to dance. Now, this gift has
been passed on from my sisters and me to the grandchildren . . .
another of Mom's legacies to us.
The impact our mother had on our lives is far too profound to be
adequately expressed in words on paper, but we’ll try. Reflecting on
our mother’s life, the most obvious quality to note is that she
truly lived, taught, and modeled the virtues of Christ and our
Blessed Mother. She was loving, compassionate, generous, humble,
empathic and selfless. Each and every day, she displayed these
personal qualities to all she came in contact with.
One of our mother’s favorite sayings was, 'If you give a rose,
you give love.' Mom was our very own Saint Teresa on
earth. To her, the roses she gave came in the form of nourishing
food, beautifully hand-crafted blankets and sweaters, or carefully
chosen gifts that she picked up and saved for the special people in
her life. She didn’t wait for your birthday to give you something
special. Mom made you feel like every day was your birthday and
every day was a new opportunity for her to do something nice for us.
Because of our mom’s generosity, we each have our homes filled with
reminders of her love. But you didn’t have to know mom to have
benefited from her kindness. She loved to donate her time, her
talents and her treasure to anyone who might need them - - including
Mom’s continued genuine interest in each of her children’s lives,
her ability to accept us for who we were, and her desire to push us
to be the best we could be has inspired each of us to do the same.
Mom’s love and service was equally strong when it came to her
grandchildren. She craved spending time with them. She delighted in
teaching them new things like gardening, cooking, and shopping for
bargains and giving them little surprise treats when she saw them.
When learning of her passing, her granddaughter
said, 'I lost my very best friend.' She quickly added,
'She’s the best angel God could ever need.' We were
blessed to have our angel with us on this earth for sixty-seven
Mom was a loyal wife and partner. She adored our dad. She told
us she fell in love with him at first sight at a high school dance.
It was as if no one else in the world existed, she said. Their
love has served as a beacon for all of us children to follow. This
is a gift we will always cherish.
Mom was modest and humble. After preparing the most amazing of
meals for her large family, she would only answer our compliments
with, 'Well, I guess it was okay.' She
would never give herself credit for all of her wonderful efforts and
Mom liked to have fun, too. To say she loved shopping would be a
tremendous understatement. She longed for spring and summer,
when she would spend countless hours working with dad on their
gardens. She especially liked finding baby plants in the
garden and sharing them with someone she loved, so they too, could
enjoy the beauty of that plant. She enjoyed politics and
debating – although we all learned at a fairly young age that we
could not win a debate with mom. She was far too smart and
Mom also enjoyed baking, finding seashells on the beach, and going
for relaxing rides along the river with dad on their boat. We
also must mention her love of chocolate! She shared the
benefits of this miracle food with us daily. Mom also loved to read
and research topics of interest to her. She sacrificed a lot
to raise five children, including the ability to finish her college
degree. But her thirst for knowledge and her natural
intelligence exuded from her.
There’s no way to say goodbye to our mother. And she would not have
wanted us to. In fact, she never used the word 'Goodbye'.
Even at the end of a phone conversation, she preferred to say 'So
long' or 'See you soon.'
Kim's words, below, reflect how all of us, husband, children,
grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and
uncles, in-laws and friends would like to say farewell to Joan:
until we’re able to
see your sweet smile and touch your soft hands again, let us tell
you that we love you. We appreciate everything you did for us
and gave to us. Every day, we’ll remember your love. And
we’re thankful to God that you are now in Heaven with the rest of
'So long, Joan.' Rest in peace.