Join our Community today!
Discover Sonya’s latest tips, resources, and inspirations at
Our Support Team
We were very lucky that we had such a large family upon which to draw for help and resources. Not only did Mom’s family want to offer assistance, but she also had a great network of friends who stopped in to visit often. Bob and I wish there were words to express how invaluable the loving support of our family and friends was during the care of Mom and eventually, Dad.
While we cannot possibly list everyone who offered assistance during Mom’s 10-year stay with Bob and me, a few notable names include:
Eugene Sestili, Mom’s younger brother was a good friend to us. He stopped in weekly for a visit. He had a keen eye for spotting things we needed done. He would mentally make a note of these items and would come back with the proper tools and repair them before we knew it. Sally Sestili, Eugene’s wife and Mom’s sister-in-law for 60 years, would visit every month, bringing their daughter Darla with her. Each month, they gave Mom a haircut then the four of us would enjoy a “girls’ lunch.” Without question, Sally and Darla are two of the funniest people I have ever known, and their visits were always eagerly anticipated.
Joe Rulli, Mom’s oldest son, was also a ray of sunshine and fun. He stopped in frequently to visit us. Joe always had a smile on his face and his hands filled with something to eat. He brought fresh fruit and vegetables as well as pastries, peanuts, and other goodies for Mom. His contributions were oh-so-appreciated in a household where the budget was beginning to feel the strain. Joe took care of our landscaping, planted bushes and flowers, and took care of the weeding. Because our time was stretched to capacity, his thoughtfulness was immeasurable. Joe succumbed to cancer in May 1999, two years before Mom. He had been my brother-in-law for 45 years and had become one of my best friends. We still miss him.
Kathy Buck had spent her childhood playing with my children and hanging out at Mom’s house. Now an adult, she came to my rescue many, many times. As a skilled elder care worker, she often came over to bathe Mom for us. She sat and visited with Mom, thus giving me time to run errands and go to lunch with my friends. She made Mom laugh with stories of her childhood antics with Stephenie.
Four of our best friends were Helen and Harold Buck and Sunny and Bruce Block. They constantly provided time and support which we appreciated more than I can ever say. Sunny and I had a standing lunch date every Tuesday, and Helen would come and have coffee with Mom and me every Thursday morning. They dropped in on a regular basis. Whether it was some fresh tomatoes from their garden (“We thought you might like this with dinner tonight.”) or a late-night run for medicine, both couples were on speed dial for emergencies and were always willing to help. After Bob retired, Sunny and Bruce treated us to a wonderful trip to Branson, MO. The four of us had a blast, and the trip remains one of Bob’s and my most cherished memories.
Salvadore Sestili was Mom’s youngest brother. He and his wife Mimi were among our favorite people to visit when we went out on “field trips.” They were the most gracious host and hostess. Nothing fancy, just casual and informal, they invited us to their home and demonstrated a genuine interest, not only in Mom, but also in Bob and me. They were great listeners; they wanted to know everything about the family, what we had been up to, what was coming up, etc. Sal was a low key, quiet guy who was very amusing. He and Mom would laugh about the times they got in trouble as kids and how much times had changed. Reminiscing with her brother was great therapy for Mom. Despite her chronic back pain, Mimi always had a smile on her face. She talked a mile a minute and loved our family and kids. She waited for our stories and would remember every detail.
My niece Alecia Ulcar and her husband Matt were also angels. They stopped in often, always with hands full from the farmers market or with fresh pastry. Alecia became my emergency contact for my Dad when we would travel. She was dependable, and I never had to worry while away – a priceless gift.
My niece Mary Jarosz, Alecia’s sister, was never far away either. She would call and stop by on a regular basis to see how we were doing. Again, full hands and an open heart willing to help. Florence Sestili, Mom’s younger sister, had lived next door to Mom all of her life. When Mom moved in with us, it was a big change for Flo. Fortunately, we only lived a mile away, so it was convenient to pick up Aunt Flo for regular visits. I would make them dinner, then Bob and I would go out while the sisters chatted.
I was very involved in my church, and many of my church friends dropped off meals, laughed at my stories, helped me deal with the stress of the situation. They were there for us unconditionally. I knew if I needed them, I could call day or night and they would help us. That was a very, very powerful gift. Bob and I were lucky to have them!
And of course – our children. Michael, Dino, Mary, Eric, Stephenie, Vicki, and Dina were instrumental and vital to us during Mom’s 10-year residence with us. They, along with their respective spouses and children, brought laughter and love into our home. They visited often, but even when they couldn’t, their encouragement would travel for miles! We are so proud of our wonderful children and the remarkable people they have become. Mom was grateful for Bob and me. She was grateful for her friends and family. She was a lovely, generous person with a kind spirit. She gave much and asked for little in return. Throughout her life, she was a blessing. She was grateful for life, love, and the people around her.