Teresa Stella Caraccioli|
Teresa Stella Caraccioli was born in Cassola de Bassano, Vicenza, Italy to Giovanni and Maria, on May 9, 1923, in a time when the country was very poor. Their 11 children had to work as soon as they were able. Her first job at age 7 was in a silk factory, to which she walked several miles daily.
She survived 43 aerial bombings in WWII. A nearby rail line, repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, was a key target. Once, when she and several others hid in the nearby bomb shelter, a dud actually slid down the descending entrance stairs, but did not explode. All inside would have been killed. For years later, sudden loud noises startled her.
She studied to become a licensed practical nurse after the war -
working in the hospital near Bassano from 1950 to 1958. She married my father, Julius, an American, in Roveretto, Trento in August, 1957. Speaking no English, she immigrated to the United States, where she made a new life for herself.
My mom fund-raised door-to-door for the March of Dimes, showing gratitude for their support after she lost a premature baby in 1960 (I accompanied her at age 6). She supported the Red Cross after recovering from a nearly fatal fever after her second child was born. It wasn't the first time, nor the last, she showed strength as a survivor. She continued to volunteer with church guilds.
She painted in oils, displaying remarkable natural artistic talent. Still life scenes and landscapes were her specialties.
A reunion with three long-lost first cousins from Ohio followed in 1979 - children of an uncle who'd immigrated to America near the turn of the 20th century. She recognized Mary immediately when she stepped off the plane. First cousins Bernadine and Joseph also accompanied. The story made the Kent News Journal. When asked for her thoughts, my mom said it was like finally having the perfect minestrone recipe - the missing ingredients had been found.
She displayed kindness and sensitivity, whether inviting in grade-schoolers waiting for the school bus in a downpour, or comforting a crying cub scout in first grade, or taking care of my father for years following his heart attack. She had a big heart for the quiet and hurting.
In the words of a friend, she was a true original. She never minced words, had amazing insights, and had no place for insincere people. She went out of her way to make guests feel welcome. Her Biscotti were legendary. Visitors were routinely greeted with a tray of home-made treats, with tea and coffee. When dining out, she always insisted on paying, sometimes with great fanfare.
She became a paraplegic, bed-bound the last five years of her life due to spinal stenosis and other health problems. Having just celebrated her 90th birthday and mother's day, she died peacefully in her sleep Sunday May 26 in an Adult Family Home, where she was teaching the caregivers how to speak Italian. She is survived by her son Carlo, her youngest sister Emma and youngest brother Mario, and many nieces and nephews in Italy.
Thank you to her many healthcare providers and caregivers too numerous to mention, for all you did in the last five and a half years. Special thanks go to Teresa Bernasconi, another first cousin who was there for my Mom for nearly 60 years.
A rosary service will be held at Holy Spirit Parish in Kent, at 7:00 PM, Thursday, June 6. A memorial mass will be held at St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic church, Renton, WA, at 11:00 AM Friday, June 7. Today she is secure in God's hands, as promised in John 14, and with my father.
She is dearly loved and will be missed. Donations in her remembrance may be made to the
, perhaps some she supported. If she were here now she would thank you, and offer you her welcome and hospitality, as she did for so many.
Published in The Seattle Times on July 2, 2013