Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mom's Voice and A Tribute: In Memory of Rob's Mom on her Birthday

Mom in 2001
Today, June 19th, marks the day that would have been my (Rob's)  mom's 86th birthday. Mom passed on Dec. 29, 2013 so this is the first year we're not celebrating her birthday with her -at least in the physical sense. However, I thought it important to continue to remember my mom, and the best way to do that is to HEAR HER VOICE and  read the most amazing tribute to her. 
   I actually saved her voicemail message to me from Nov. 1, 2013 and figured out a way to bring it to everyone. I thought it important to have mom's voice so I'll never forget how she sounded. She always thought that whenever she left a voicemail on my cell phone that I could hear it, so she kept talking, as it if were an answering machine connected to a home phone!   So she'd keep saying "Pick up the Phone!" 
CLICK HERE TO HEAR MY MOM's VOICE: Norma's Voicemail Message to Rob on 11-1-13

Following is my mom's eulogy, that was written by my younger brother Doug and spoken by him at her services at St. Ann's church in Quincy on January 2, 2014. Doug really captured the spirit and spunkiness of our mother, and who she was. I hope you'll read it, and get to know her a little. Doug did an amazing job on this and Tom and I thought it deserved to be memorialized on our blog. Thanks, Doug, and Happy birthday, Mom. Love, Rob and Tom

Mom’s Eulogy – Jan 2, 2014
Written and given by Doug Gutro

On behalf of my brothers - Thank you all for coming and for your outpouring of love and support.

Today we Celebrate the life of our mother,

Mom at NASA in 2009 as an Astronaut!
Norma Gloria Gutro - she loved her name – You may have noticed HER NGG initials sewed on her blouses, sweaters and pocketbooks  -  If you live in Quincy, you may have seen her license plate around town NORMA 5 – The 5 stood for five people in our family (mom, dad, and her 3 boys).  It adorned a half dozen cars over the past 40 years from Station Wagons, to her Lincoln Continental, to her current SUV – for a woman who stood barley 5’ tall, she loved big cars. 

Born in the depression - adored her parents Sarina and Giramondo Tutela, as well as brother Ralph and she had the typical sister relationship our aunt Tillie.  If you knew her, she was proud of her Italian heritage.

Rob, Jill B., Mom, and Jim B.
Mom recalled the most Vivid Childhood memories and friendships with her family growing up on the streets in East Boston and Dorchester – she enjoyed dancing, the family traditions, and friendships that seemed simpler back then.  All these years, she stayed in touch with her friend Marion, who she has known from Kindergarten.  

A few months ago, she got to reminisce and reconnect with her cousin Rosalie who she hadn’t seen in 50 years and who meticulously researched their Tutela family back to Italy in the early 1800s. It was a special day, with photos of relatives and ancestors – she knew all their names – wonderful stories, tears, and laughter.  I’m grateful to have shared that walk down memory lane with my mom.

Franklin, Dolly and Cooper in 2009 with Mom in Md.
In 1955 - she married our dad, Edward J. “Buddy” Gutro. They were Fated to be mated she would say. Together they owned 3 new homes including the one they built and lived in on the corner of Puritan Drive and Adams Street since 1963 – She’d say it was on the 18th hole of the Furnace Brook Golf Course – Our dad's home town - she was proud always to live on adams street and in her neighborhood – A pride I've carried forward.

As my dad worked 3 jobs my mom raised 3 boys - many joyous and memorable holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries growing up.  They went to steve’s band concerts, my basketball games, and supported Rob in all he did.

Jill Beyer and Mom make faces
If you hadn’t noticed, our mom had a Knack for Fashion - sharp dresser, her clothes always matched her shoes and handbag, and she almost always wore heels - She could remember names and events from 80 years ago with clarity and she shared them frequently with all who would listen and many you were great listeners.  We learned never to question mom’s memory of an event.  Like a great politician, she never let the truth get in the way of a good story – although I’m sure her embellishments were never purposeful, but a result of how she wanted to remember things or simply a fading memory.   Norma was much like the sun – she could brighten a room with her presence or laughter, things always seemed to revolve around her, and if you got to close, sometimes things got a little too hot for comfort. 

Jeff and Mom joke around during dessert 2009
At home, she had clean house – you took your shoes off before entering. Today, her living room still looks like it hasn't been lived in. She was great cook and loved to feed you – even now making pizzelas and strudels for Christmas – this year the strudels still sit on her dining room table for Christmas that she didn’t make.  She was creative and enjoyed painting and artwork. She made homemade Halloween Costumes and painted comic book or cartoon charters on our shirt or sheets. She loved to talk, enjoyed music, scratch tickets, watching sports or police shows, and loved to laugh. She just wanted to be loved.

As my dad’s career advanced and they traveled the U.S and to England. She had fond memories of those days. This was their heyday - They were living the American dream. 

As we grew up and moved out, Mom & Dad became inseparable.  Walking the neighborhood, working in the yard, shopping, sharing a quiet meal at their favorite restaurants, playing cards, and going bowling. She'd get dolled up as my dad sat on the porch reading his book.  He was proud to be with her. The simple pleasures we all take for granted.
Mom insisted that Tom play the piano for her!!

Kids moved, married, time passed as it always does. We lost my dad 5 years ago. And mom was never the same. Her soul mate, compass, North Star was gone. She struggled mightily and we struggled to fill the void.

Her life returned to making or maintaining her home and yard and affirming that clearly she wasn't moving from the place she loved.

In the good weather she was always doing Yard work - 5 ft firecracker with a saw in one hand always cutting down some trees or branches – you’d think she lived in a forest. A friend of mine who drove by, called me immediately after witnessing the spectacle and asked why I’d let my 80 year old mother climb a ladder and saw trees.  You try to stop her I said.  We both laughed. He knew my mom.  Up until the end she was still driving, shopping, visiting neighbors, looking good, and even wearing heels.

Mom at Christmas 2006
She loved her family and people. Like many of us, she sometimes had a unique way of showing it. But she did. She was proud of Stephen for following my dad in the insurance business.  Proud of Rob and for his work at NASA, The Weather Channel, and National Hurricane Center.  And she was proud of me for serving on the City Council in the City I was raised in. She was happy to see us settled with our spouses, who have been an amazing source of strength for us.  She adored her grandchildren - my boys Brian and Scotty. She loved and still recalled fond memories of her dogs Gigi and penny – who’ve long since passed and more recently enjoyed my brother Rob and his husband Tom’s dogs Dolly, Franklin, and Tyler.

On a personal note, she loved campaigning for me - Dropping flyers and holding campaign signs – she was tireless and proud. One day while walking the neighborhood she asked a man working in his yard if he'd put up a lawn sign for me - little did she know he was running for same council seat as I - he was a good sport and she made a new friend.

In recent years, she spent time walking the neighborhood, bonding with neighbors who always kept a watchful eye on her. She was Interested and opinionated on both neighborhood issues and city wide issues. She was always weighing in with my friend and her Ward Councilor Kevin Coughlin and I.

This past week, our mom succumbed to the effects of a major stroke in the home she loved.

When Mayor learned about my mom’s stroke he was among the first to call and offer sympathy or help in any way. I want personally thank him.  And upon reflection, I may take him up on his offer of help – Mr. Mayor - Councilor Coughlin and I put together a very long list of my mother’s neighborhood concerns, which we’d be delighted to share with you.

To those who called her – especially her friend Jane Ricci who spoke to her every day. Thank you. To those who visited her, Thank you. Those who invited her out or took her into your home, Thank you. She couldn't replace what she lost in my dad - but my brothers and I are forever grateful for your help in caring for our mom during these past 5 years.

Rob's late dog Buzz, and Mom trying to get his attention!
We lost her during Christmas season. It's a time when the world is prayerful and celebrates Jesus' birth.  She loved Christmas as she loved the blessed mother and prayed to various saints. For our family, it will forever hold a spiritual meaning as the time she rejoined my dad, her parents, and siblings at the Gates of heaven. A new life without burdens of pain or sorrow. She’s free again.  Like to thank Father Ronagan who is presiding to day and also said my dad’s funeral mass 5 short years ago and the entire St. Ann’s family. 

Let me close with this story illustrating mom’s feisty spirit and desire to love and be loved - more often than not since we were young boys up until this past week my mom would always say to my brothers and I as we prepared to leave her home - in her characteristically blunt and occasionally unsettling way - "kiss your mother it goodbye, it may be the last time you see me."  Shaking our heads, we always obliged, never believing it was true, always returning to hear it again.  Sadly, this past week mom, that day has finally come and with a heavy heart we reluctantly obliged. We love you mom.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next