Bleulogy - Joanne Ellen Petrangelo – Words of Remembrance
December 22, 1954 - July 17, 2017
The core of this blog is what I said during my mother Joanne Petrangelo’s eulogy (words of remembrance) at her funeral on July 22, 2017. I called this a “bleulogy” because I incorporated my eulogy into this blog. I share these words for those who could not attend the funeral and to share the joys, sorrows, and lessons of her life. Parts of the eulogy have been adapted and added to for this format.
My mom had two motto’s:
Hug Two People a Day
Consider hugging two people a day. There is research to back up my mom’s motto. A 2015 study from Carnegie Mellon University showed that hugs can have health benefits. The study’s lead author Professor of Psychology Sheldon Cohen stated, “Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds that are often associated with stress. Hugging is a marker of intimacy and helps generate the feeling that others are there to help in the face of adversity.”
Therefore, on the wise recommendations of my mother, for your own health, and to reduce the chances of getting a cold, consider to hug at least two people per day: 1) someone close to you and; 2) someone else in your life you need to grow closer to. My mom loved hugs. I will be the first to admit, I have not been the best with hugs in the past, so I will be working on that as well.
Live and Love – 2 parts of “Live, Laugh, Love”
When you spend time honoring the dreams of Joanne Petrangelo, you are standing up for the things she believed in. When you do the things she loved to do, you are saying, “Joanne’s life continues to touch my life.”
I believe that my mom has left her body but she has not left us. The day before the funeral, Todd got a call from a very respected member of our community. One of the things that he said to Todd was, “I want you to know that your mother-in-law was one the top 5 kind-hearted people who ever lived in this community.” Many people have made similar comments to my dad, my brother and me.
Ask yourself, “Are you part of the 5 most kind-hearted people in your community?” “What would it take for you to be a part of that top 5?” “What are the characteristics of a human to be considered part of the top 5 most kind-hearted people?” “Could you imagine if we all became part of the 5?”
Use your memory of your time together with her as a motivation to keep growing and becoming a better person yourself. Your actions towards growing as a better human yourself offers Joanne continued love. For today and after, be devoted to being a living reflection of the dreams and love you shared with Joanne who has passed on.
One thing that my mom could NOT stand was having an issue with someone and not talking about it. She could NEVER fake a relationship and act like nothing was there, if something was. She ALWAYS dealt with her “elephants in the room.” I always joked, “Good thing you never lived in the southern part of the US. You would be expected to just be a good southern woman and just smile and act like everything was ok.”
Therefore, to be real to who she was, I will not “fake it” and will "real” about her and her life. Many people don’t know how painful her childhood was. She did not just get married at 16 because she found her prince and love in my father John Petrangelo. She left home at such an early age because she had to. She was so fortunate to find a loving man in my father, who she was married to for 46 years.
Knowing that she had so much pain and hurt in her childhood is important. Think about it. Here you have a woman who had an incredibly painful childhood and NEVER transferred that pain onto other people in her life. She only gave love. So, for those of you who have also had painful childhoods or traumatic experiences in your past, know that you don’t have to live out that pain by hurting others.
You should know, therapy helps. It really did make a big difference for my mom. She even said to me one time “Therapy saved me.” She utilized a therapeutic technique called EMDR.
My mom hated when there was conflict between people that she loved. She could not stand it. Therefore, I know that there is conflict between a number of people in our community and our family. Live her legacy by being the one who comes forth and works to repair that relationship. This is the most significant way in which you could keep her legacy alive.
When I was thinking of what I was going to say at her funeral and what to write in this blog, I knew I wanted to tell you to make up with people you have conflict with in her honor. That same day I found myself getting two texts from two separate people giving their sympathies about my mom. My first thought after getting those texts was, “I am NOT responding”. And then, there it was! See how easy it is to stay in conflict. It may have taken me a few days, but I did respond to both of them in a genuine and kind way the night before my mom’s funeral.
My mom also loved to laugh! Laughing was a huge part of her life! Have you ever read a Caring Bridge like hers before? We always had SO much fun writing those – often at the expense of my dad!
My childhood and the childhood of my brother was so far from my mom’s. In fact, she only recently shared with me the details of the violence and abuse that took place in her childhood home. When she first told me about it, I was so shocked. My shock was based in the fact that she was such a remarkable woman and NEVER transferred her childhood pain onto me, my brother, my father, or anyone else.
A lot of my friends work in the domestic violence field. I remember one particular time when we were all together and we were talking about our childhoods. I told the following story and life experience to my co-workers:
“My mom was just the best. She did everything for me. In fact, up until my last day of high school when I was 18 years old my mom was my alarm clock. Every morning at 7 a.m., she would come into my room, gently rub me on the shoulder and say, ‘Melissa, it is time for you to get up.’ She was so gentle in her actions when waking me. I would wake up and go to the kitchen. On the kitchen table was a plate with Eggo waffles on it. The Eggo waffles were toasted, buttered, cut into perfect squares, and had syrup on them. Mom’s are just the best!”
I will never forget the look on my co-workers face after I told this story. One of them said, “Are you kidding me? You were 18 years old, a senior in high school, and your mom still cut up your food for you? Um, no! Not everyone had a mom like yours. Your official new nickname at work is the ‘Waffle Princess!’”
I remember this moment in my life very clearly and realizing for the first time that not everyone had a mom like I did.
There are a number of fun and simple ways you can carry on my mom's legacy. For example:
To my dad……..you are right. Your wife and my mom truly was an angel. I have heard my dad tell many people in the last week, “God wanted an angel that day, so he took my wife and their mother!”
So today and hereafter, devote your life as a demonstration of how deeply you have been touched and loved by Joanne. Because I know that she truly loved every single one of you.
Writing all of those Caring Bridge posts with my mom has inspired me to write my first book with my mom’s life story as the core content. It will be called, “Non-Transferable on Da Range: A Memoir.” It is a metaphor for how my mom never transferred her childhood experience onto others while living on “da Range.” The tone of the book will have a mixture of humorous tales, my mother’s childhood experience, and life lessons she lived and taught our family. I have no idea how long this will take me. Stay tuned!
This photo below came from thinkgrowprosper on Instagram. This image and art represents our innate and authentic self that wants to resolve conflict.