On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, my grandma, Theresa Gloria Carlucci Pacciano passed away. To the world she was “Terry”. Her passing was not completely unexpected as my grandpa, the love of her life and her eternal dance partner, passed away a few months earlier. We knew without him, her other half, that her time with us was limited. She was the other “T” in what my grandpa coined “T-N-T”. Terry was the silent business partner of the pair. She was quiet but she was the decision maker behind the scenes guiding their life together. As my mom would so lovingly say, “She was small but mighty.” Terry worked as a secretary in Manhattan in the early years of her marriage. After those first few years she stayed at home to care for her family. When her children were in high school, Terry began to work again. For a time she worked in housekeeping and became a unit secretary in pediatrics at the JFK Hospital, Edison. But most of her years were devoted to family. She loved children and babysat for her grandchildren allowing her daughter to build her career. Even as she aged, it was her great-grandchildren who could always make her smile.
Terry loved to collect Madam Alexander dolls. She also collected Lladro, Hummels, Lenox and Sterling silver Christmas ornaments. And dad went right along with her, driving her to stores to get her special collectables, building stands for the collectables and displaying them in hutches. They were a very special couple. When one was happy the other was happy. As long as they were together, life was good. Up to 5-6 months ago, when mom would pass dad at the dinner table, heading to her chair to watch TV, she would lean down to give him a kiss on the cheek. They were a model for love…love between a husband and wife and love of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, family and friends Her unconditional love for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren radiated through her, and to each of us. She was the embodiment of the word grandma. Like every grandma, she taught her grandchildren some key life lessons. She instilled in us the importance of presenting themselves well and making sure our outfits always matched. She taught us that, when you go shopping and find something you like, buy it in every color.
Grandma’s love radiated to each of us but especially to me, her granddaughter, Kierstin. I’d like to share some of the special little things that I remember so well. I would only eat broccoli and ravioli that grandma cooked. Only grandma made a cake in the shape of a bunny and pink frosted Italian taralli cookies for Easter. Only at grandma’s house would grandma place my nap blanket on the kitchen floor where I would fall asleep watching, “The Price is Right” with her. All of these were unique and special to me because she was unique and special to me.
As I grew up, I would (of course) eat other people’s broccoli and grandma stopped baking her bunny cakes, but the love and the tenderness that grandma had for her grandchildren never faded. Over the course of her life, grandma would move from Jersey City, to Iselin, to Florida, then back to New Jersey where she spent her last 19 years living in a mother-daughter home with her daughter. Here she had the love of her life always sitting next to her, wonderful caregivers supporting her, and a family who loved her always near. I believe it’s safe to say that as lucky as I, and her family and friends feel to have been a part of her 95 years of life, she would argue that she was doubly blessed (if not more) to have us be a part of her life. So, with that said, grandma I will miss you more than you could possibly know. And as you and grandpa are dancing the night away, remember your little Italian princess loves you.