A Tribute to My Mother
Jeanne H. DiScala
December 26, 1927 – October 14, 2000
“Her Life Was Her Family, and Her Family Was Her Life”
On October 14, 2000 we lost the most important person to us. As you all know, I was extremely close to my mother. I would travel every other weekend from California to Connecticut to visit her. As a tribute to my Mom, we are publishing our eulogies, that we all gave at her funeral. Please, pray for my Mom and my family. If you would like to make a contribution to the American Cancer Society in her honor, please click here.
GOING PLACES WITH MY MOM:
My Name is John Einar DiScala, and I came very close to being the Ultimate Italian: John Anthony DiScala, but thank God, I was delivered two weeks early on my Grandfather’s Birthday. I never got to meet him, but I always heard stories about him from my Mom about how he came over from Denmark, and was a very strong, stoic man, who loved fish. She always dreamed of going to see the country and where he was born, but she never wanted to leave us as kids, so she chose not to go.
The one positive thing to come out of her cancer was that, I was able to give that dream to her. The Cancer made her realize life isn’t forever, and that she needed to start enjoying it. When she recovered from her first 9-hour operation I said “Mom when you get better were going to Denmark.” She said “No, I can’t I’m in Chemo.” I pressured her, and pressured her, and finally she asked the Dr. to give her a week off, she did, and she began to pack (a month early). I cashed in some miles and treated us to our dream trip.
First class tickets to places we only imagined about going. London (to shop and see theatre), Paris (to see where she would’ve studied if she took that scholarship from Parsons), and the most important place: The island of Fyn in Denmark.
When we were landing in Copenhagen, I looked over at my Mom staring out the window, she had tears rolling down her face. We met up with my brother and sister, toured the house my Grandfather grew up in (we even got to take home a piece of the brick), met long lost relatives, and had such a great time exploring. She was so cute and appreciative.
When we returned home, her cancer came back, spreading to her liver, esophagus, and gall bladder. She went through another grueling 9-hour operation. Every time she would go into that operating room at Sloan Kettering she looked like a soldier ready for the front line.
When she came out, I said Mom, you need to get well soon, because I just booked two more tickets to Europe. She had a sparkle in her eye, and the following summer, my Mom and I returned to Europe (this time alone, and I didn’t have to twist her arm). She even made her first plane rides alone, ever! She flew from LGA-to D.C. to meet me. My Mom had this special presence about her, maybe it was she just loved to talk.
We waited for our flight in the stuffy, but nice first class lounge. Everyone in there was all serious, and uptight. I put my bags down, and showed my Mom all the gourmet food, and went to the bathroom, when I came back, all of the workers were surrounding her, listening to her stories about how she is beating Cancer, and how lucky she was to be flying first class. When I walked over they told me how great my Mom was, and how lucky she was to have a son like me. I said your right, she is great, but she’s not the lucky one, I am. It was amazing in just a few minutes, she had all these ladies laughing, and bringing her gifts.
We had a great trip, visiting Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Paris, Denmark, and Sweden. With cancer, she managed to do this itinerary all in two weeks. She loved it.
When we came home we found out the cancer came back again, this time it spread to her lungs, but she didn’t lose faith. She told her Dr. what ever it takes, I want to see my three year old Grand daughter’s wedding. She did chemo every week for 10 months.
In the hospital this past week she was in tremendous pain. A few nights ago, I asked my Mom if she wanted me to spend the night, as I always did, but this time she said, it might be a good idea, it could be a rough night. I brought the cot in and while we were lying on our beds, we could hear all those terrible sounds that take place in a hospital. Across the hall the lady was screaming and moaning in pain, her other neighbor was being cleaned by the nurses because she just passed away.
I said Mom we need to get you out of this horrible place. Where do you want to go? She said “let’s go back to Europe… tonight”! I said, “great, Let’s go!” She turned out the light and I said “close your eyes”. I can feel it, can you? She said oh yeah. I said where are we? We’re in Strasbourg, going up the canal in the tour boat. I said “yes we are!” She said look at the picture perfect blue sky, with all those puffy white clouds, I said doesn’t the sun feel so warm? Yes it does she said and those flowers are so beautiful, and what a magnificent Church there up on the right. I said this is such a beautiful place. Where do you want to go after Strasbourg? She said let’s take the train back to Paris.”Great I can’t wait I said. And that night we both went to sleep, not in the hospital, but in a much better place.
I’m not worried about my Mom, I know her world is so much better, what I’m worried about is us, because our world just got a lot worse. The first thing we did when we got home after my Mom passed was throw away all of her medication and pain pills, because where she is, she doesn’t need it. As Martin Luther King once said “Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty [She’s] Free At Last.” My Mom is in Heaven now dancing with God, the Saints, her Parents, her brother Jens, Sister Martha, Niece Ann, Nephew David, and many others, and one day with me, and Mom I am so looking forward to our dance. I love you! I will always love you.
From my Sister Carol
I would like to tell you a little bit about my relationship with my mother whom I loved more than anyone on this Earth. But first of all her physical beauty. As you all know she was a true lady and carried herself with grace. Her long strawberry blonde hair and her peaches and cream skin and her soft robins egg blue eyes is the memory that I have imbedded in my mind. She was always there for me when I needed her. She wasn’t off playing tennis or having her hair done. Mom gave 110% and was always available for us. She was an extremely religious and intuitive person. She was always right and most importantly had the right attitude in a crisis. For instance, I would like to tell you about the two most difficult times of my life and how my mother pulled me through them. When my daughter Amanda Jean’s heart failed at nine weeks old and she was on complete life support. The Doctors all said that her condition was grave and that she would not make it through the night. I turned to my mother and asked her if she thought Amanda would survive. Mom said ” the Doctors don’t know, they’re not God.” She said “Carol, you just have to believe that she’s going to pull through. It’s important to Amanda that you think positively and give her positive support and strength. I also asked Mom if she could promise me that Amanda would make it , and she said “you just have to believe in God.” Then Mom said “just you wait in a year from now little Amanda will be up in Erie chasing your dogs “Harry and Spooner ” around the house. Sure enough Mom was right again. Out of a hundred children with this disease only a handful survive.
From my Brother Frank
Harvest Moon: It has been 4 days now since I have last held your hand and felt the warmth from your body. Thankfully, the warmth and the love that has supported us, mothered us, directed and reassured us did not come from your body. I know now that it came from your soul. Because I still feel it. I can still hear it in your voice that comes to me telling me “oh Frankie, everything is going to be all right”, and just as in life, I have to believe you Mom, because you were always right in life, more right than anyone I have ever known. I would not dare to challenge you in death. Your final full day on earth with us, was filled with examples of your amazing character. Friday was a beautiful unusually warm fall day. And that evening you rose from your bed to look out of your window on the 6 floor of the Norwalk Hospital to look out at the full moon rising in the sky. You never broke. You stayed strong to the end. It was just like you to spend the last of your incredible strength reassuring and carrying us, your husband and your children, who were dying with you. As your body began to shut down and the nurses and doctors attached more medical efforts to you, you stayed positive, and never once did you let anyone know that you knew that it would not be long. You kept hope alive. To your baby John you said “Don’t worry. I love you” To your daughter Carol, “Don’t worry honey, Don’t cry I’m not going anywhere” To Georgette, you said that “you love us all equally, except that you couldn’t help loving Frankie a little more than the rest” “Don’t cry for me” and “I love you all equally.” To me you said “I love you.” The ground has slipped away from under our feet, and we are trying, somehow, to sit in this empty space that has been left behind, in the meantime, without any particular success. I am incapable of finishing, but it appears that a strange hand, a miserable disease, has already finished for me. Having no choice, I part from you, my hero, and ask that you rest in peace, that you think about us and miss us, because we here — down below — love you so much. To the angels of heaven that are accompanying you now, to your father Einar, your mother Caroline, your brother Jens and sister Martha, I ask that they watch over you, because you deserve to be watched over, you watched over us so well.
We will love you, always.
From my Sister Georgette
I am so filled with love from my mother and I am so blessed to have been her daughter that I am comforted at this sad time. My mother is a very spiritual person who had an unshakable faith. She had metastatic cancer for over three years and treated it like a stomach ache. My mother was a mother to all living things, she religiously fed the birds, took in cats that had been abandoned, cared for plants and admired the beauty of a butterfly. She was an artist in her daily life and genuinely appreciated nature’s wonders. I feel like our mother is here with us and I know we will see her again. She died between a full harvest moon – the color of orange – the color of my mother, and a brilliant crimson sunrise. All of her children were in the room when she left. Her death was peaceful and her final expression was that of complete joy. Her death transformed my life, for I no longer fear death. She has given me many gifts but this was the most profound. For all of you that loved her, thank you for being a part of her life. She enjoyed her life. Mom was very optimistic, even at the end of her life, and said to all of us that she is not going anywhere. And I believe her. She taught us about courage through her daily acts of bravery and she was a fighter to the end. People are coming to me and telling me that Jeanne was the nicest person and didn’t have a mean bone in her body. This is true. A friend of mine who had met her only once, said he had felt privileged to have met her. He said that she was such an elegant person and yet down to earth at the same time. When I told her that, she agreed! She said she was as comfortable with a movie star as she was with the garbage man. As we were setting up for the service and putting pictures of Mom together, I noticed how odd the solo pictures of her looked. My mom looked more like herself surrounded by pictures of her family, for this is how she defined her life. She never unplugged the phone, even when she was very sick, she was always available for us. My mother was beautiful, loving and warm. She cared deeply about other people’s feelings. She was an elegant fashion designer, the daughter of a milkman, the lover of a poet, but most of all she was a mother.
From my father…
THROUGH GOOD TIMES
AND BAD TIMES
THE YEARS CAREENED BY
LIKE A SPEEDING ROCKET
CLIMBING A LIMITLESS SKY
WE ADDED FOUR JEWELS
TO OUR NEST ON THE LANE
WHO GAVE US MUCH HAPPINESS
AND SOMETIMES A LITTLE PAIN
NOW THEY’VE DEPARTED
TO A LIFE OF THEIR OWN
LIKE WILD WEEDS
THEY LEAVE WEATHERED AND GROWN
AND YOU MY LOVE
NO LONGER NINETEEN
ARE STILL THE MOST BEAUTIFUL
GIRL I HAVE EVER SEEN
AND I LOVE TO LOOK
UPON YOUR PERFECTLY FORMED FACE
WITH A BODY TO MATCH
AND YOUR UNFAILING GRACE
THE WAVES OF MY HEART
THE CREST OF MY LOVE
RISES TO HONOR THE WOMAN I LOVE
LOVER OF MINE
I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER
TO THE END OF TIME
OTHER POEMS THAT HAVE HELPED US GET BY
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am not there
And if I go,
Collen Corah Hitchcock