Nancy M. Giannuzzi
November 17, 1920 - July 6, 2012
Nancy Giannuzzi, a beautiful Italian women who had an incredible adventure with 91 years worth of stories to tell.
My mother-in-law, Madalyn wrote this eulogy:
What a Life!
What a Character!
The quintessential Italian momma.
Nancy, Momma Mia, Mom, Sis, Giannutz, Grandma and Gigi.
She answered to all of these titles and had a personality to fill her assorted roles.
Her most recent nickname, Gigi, came about as a result of becoming a great-grandma – the G.G. stood for Grandma Giannuzzi as well. It just seemed to fit her 4'6” frame.
Think of how the world has changed in 91 years.
Gigi spent her childhood living near her grandparents farm on the island of Ischia. It was a happy time.
She spoke of the vineyards, the chickens and rabbits as fond memories.
She recalled her grandmother baking bread every morning and preparing the noon meal for her husband and their workers. They even had a horse drawn cart.
Happy times for Gigi but not so for her father, Ernesto. Work was scarce and he knew that the dictators Mussolini and Hitler were power hungry. He looked to America as a brighter future for his family. It took him eight years to get everything in order to bring his family along. In those years, the family only saw him occasionally.
Gigi never received a formal education. She went to school in Italy, but, the focus was placed on domestic duties. As a result, she became a fine seamstress and cook.
In 1936, Gigi, who was seventeen at the time, her mother Angelina and two younger brothers Ernie and Frank came to New York.
They didn't enter through Ellis Island, since they already had their paperwork in order. They were docked nearby. Gigi recalls seeing the throngs of people entering Ellis Island. A younger brother, Anthony, was born in America, in 1939. My uncle Frank is now the only one remaining and he resides in Florida with his wife, Emily.
Ernesto attained the American Dream. He ran a little candy store in New York and the family lived above it.
One day some men paid him a visit and commented on his large picture window – they told him that he needed to buy insurance just in case the window was ever broken. He sent them on their way and, a few days later, his window was shattered. The men returned and said he needed them to insure that his window would not be broken again.
This extortion continued until Ernesto just couldn't take it anymore and he eventually moved the family to Connecticut.
My grandfather had an expression:
He would shrug his shoulders and say, “What are you going to do?”
Gigi was married and divorced twice. So, as a single mom she raised, Rudy, myself and Angie with the help of her mother, Angelina. She worked assorted jobs as the years progressed.
In the spring of 1956, the family moved to California and settled in Torrance where the three of us kids grew up.
We eventually met the Scotto family. Tom & Nancy used to raise rabbits in their backyard and my mom and grandma became regular customers of theirs. Some of my earliest memories are of us running down the aisles of rabbits in their pens.
Gigi and Nancy Scotto became fast friends – and they , also, got into the best shouting matches. One of them would say to the other, “Oh, shut up.” – the other would respond with, “No, you shut up.” And back and forth they would go!
It was always on the tip of my tongue to say, “Maybe you should both shut up.” But, I was just a kid at the time and after all – as pop would say, “What was I going to do?”
When Gigi was 51, she met and married Bill Giannuzzi – her knight in shining armor. They lived happily for 16 years until he passed, in 1986. We all loved him and miss him dearly.
You, all, honor us with your presence today. Many of you have traveled hundreds of miles and I can't tell you how appreciative we are of your efforts. Your sentiments have really bolstered us.
Our friend, Anna made arrangements to have a candle lit at an Italian church near Tuscany, Italy. Mom would have loved that!
I want to thank my family for their unwavering support.
I also want to thank Rod and Teme Christiansen who have been Gigi's caregivers for the past 15 months.
Because of their efforts, she was able to attend Michelle & James's wedding.
She couldn't get up and dance on her feet anymore, so, she danced with her hands.
At Anthony & Karen's wedding she attempted to catch the bouquet.
And, at Dominic & Julie's wedding she danced as much as possible.
Last year was a particularly rough one for Gigi. In March, she fell and broke her left hip and arm and then in November she fell and broke her right hip.
The skilled nursing facility had a name for patients like Gigi.
They called them Falling Stars.
So, as the song suggests, I will catch her falling star and put it in my pocket and never let it fade away!
Aunt Angie got up and spoke and emphasized the love G.G had for everyone and the warm greeting she always gave. She mentioned they were not rich monetarily but they were certainly rich in love.
I didn't take any pictures inside the mortuary but I snapped a few at the mauzeoleum where she was laid to rest.
Dominic(Anthony's twin), Kevin(cousin) and Anthony were pallbearers.
After 2 days of stormy, cloudy weather, we were greated with a beautiful sunset as the family all gathered together at an Italian restaurant for dinner after the funeral.
Here is the video slideshow I put together for the memorial service.
I'd like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I'd like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I'd like ot leave an echo
whispering softly down the way,
Of happy times and laughing
times and bright and sunny days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun,
Of happy memories that I leave
When life is done.
Arriverderci G.G, you will be missed!!
Thank you for all of your love!