Obituary of Emily Rerecich
RERECICH, Emily Peacefully on Monday April 5, 2021 at Allendale Long Term Care at the age of 87. Beloved wife of the late John. Mother to Janet (Tracy) and Mary Ann and Nonna to Sarah and Holly. Also survived by sister-in-law Fausta Zullo. The family will receive visitors via Zoom (see link below) on Wednesday from 3 - 4 p.m. and from 7 - 9 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday at 11 a.m. from Holy Rosary Church, 139 Martin St. Milton. The Mass will also be available online (see link below) and the family encourages you to use that option in lieu of attending in person. Church attendance is limited to 10 people. Entombment will take place at Resurrection Cemetery in Whitby. If desired, a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Alzheimer's Foundation would be appreciated, or to honour Emily's memory please reach out with a gesture of kindness to pay forward her kind and generous spirit. Messages of condolence may be left online at www.earlyfuneralhome.com BELOW THE ONLINE LINKS, PLEASE SEE THE EULOGY WRITTEN BY DAUGHTER JANET. Link for Viewing Funeral Mass on YouTube (please copy and paste in your browser) Thursday at 11:00 a.m. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4srwHgObMX3JdOuZRGXjXQ Thank you all for indulging me in this written online eulogy. These historic times ask us to be innovative with our solutions for replacing the ‘way things used to be’, and this is one of those solutions. When I think of the life of our mother, three things come to mind. First is that we come from a long line of people who just made ‘it’ work. Whatever ‘it’ was, we made the best of what life had to throw at us. I would often hear my parents talk with their friends and say ‘what can you do’? I never understood it until later, but it really meant acceptance for what is. You might not like it, but it's what’s happening. Saying ‘what can you do’ was a way of saying ‘okay, this is how it is’. Like in the Serenity Prayer… God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. It reminds us all to be grateful for what we have. Secondly, both my parents were strong, tough people. They endured much in their lifetime that made them stronger, but also made them grateful and appreciative of the good times. Lastly, they were devout Catholics and had very strong beliefs in divine intervention. When I tell the rest of their stories, no matter what your spiritual practice is, I think you’ll agree that they had some help along the way. They were children of the Great Depression in the early ‘30s. Their childhood was taken up by World War II; when people told stories of their childhood, I listened to them describe taking cover from the bombs, hiding from the army coming to take all the men away, getting coal in their Christmas stocking, and playing with unspent shell casings on the shore from randomly firing U-boats. If that wasn’t enough, post-war politics brought the loss of their islands’ Italian status, becoming part of communist-ruled Yugoslavia. Even though my father worked all day, he could only pay rent and had little money for food. A friend who was a cook on one of the port’s ships would save him a bowl of food for dinner each day. Neither of my parents had the opportunity to finish school, even though they were both very bright. My mother went to work at the sardine factory in her teens to help bring in money to feed the family. And then, the love story began. She met my father at the age of 17 and fell in love. It was a love story that lasted a lifetime. Even after my father’s death and in my mother’s final years where her Alzheimer’s played with her memory, she was consistent about one thing… her love for my father. Every time I spoke with her on the phone, she would ask, ‘Did you know I have a new boyfriend? His name is Johnny!’. They were married in February of 1956 and shortly after they decided that living in Yugoslavia was no way to live. So, on a Thursday night in November of 1956, they and two other men took a sailboat to escape in the night with the hopes of sailing to Italy. They left unable to say goodbye to their loved ones, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They could not be caught with anything more, and could not take the chance that their families might turn them in or be punished for knowing. At least this way, if they were caught, they could just say they were sailing or fishing. The adventure began well, but a storm kicked up quickly. In one way, it was a blessing: the police boats were always searching the seas for people escaping. Each time the bright searchlight was pointed in their direction; they were at the bottom of a swell, protected by the waves above. With enough space between them and the search boats, they carried on, but the storm was very intense. In the distance, they saw a large freighter. They had to decide if they should take a risk and seek help, a probable path to imprisonment, or risk their lives in the storm. They decided to seek help. My mother took her bra off and tied it to an oar, waving it around in hopes of catching the freighter’s attention. The freighter eventually spotted them in the storm and picked them up. As luck would have it, the captain of the ship was a friend of my father’s father. He stowed them aboard and took them safely to Italy. There they waited in a refugee camp until their application to come to Canada was accepted. My mother’s teeth were brittle and rotting from the lack of milk and calcium growing up during the war, but the boat to Canada forbade rotten teeth. Before getting on the boat, she had to take a pair of pliers and pull one of her teeth out. That’s correct. No dentist, no pain killers. Tough cookie she was. They landed in Halifax and made their way to Toronto to begin their new life together. Despite being in a strange country surrounded by a language neither of them knew, they figured it out, learning English and getting jobs. They settled in Oshawa close to others from the old country, giving them a large network of chosen family here in Canada. I say chosen family because they were all so much more than friends. Births, deaths, weddings and funerals… we were at them all and many of you are reading this today. There are wonderful memories of sharing all the joys and tragedies of life, and always, always around food. Good food, mouth-watering delicious food. Food is a central piece of how we all remember my mother. She was a great cook and a gifted baker. Her tiramisu is infamous! Holidays and weekends were often busy hosting ‘company’ or visiting others, and they were always filled with story-telling, laughter, and sometimes the singing of old Italian songs. Mom was also the greenest thumb anyone knew. She loved her garden full of vegetables and fruit trees and was expert at hard-to-keep indoor plants like African Violets. I’m sure many of you got to witness the viewing of the 3-foot giant zucchini squash they would grow each year. As children of a great cook, my sister and I have fond memories of our mom making lots of delicious things for us from birthday cakes to crepes to cheesecake. Our mom loved being a mom and a grandmother. Although her grandchildren lived far away, she cherished the summer visits and hanging around the pool with Sarah and Holly. She was a great mom and nonna and we were blessed to have had her in our lives for so long. Of course, no discussion of my mother is complete without talking about my parents love of dancing. It’s how they began their courtship all those years ago, with my mother needing an escort to the piazza to dance because back then, women did not show up alone to such things. Dancing was their true joy, and they were good at it. Really good. People would comment on how they glided with such ease and grace across the dance floor. Waltzes, tangos, polkas. They truly did trip the light fantastic attending several dinner/dances throughout the years. Typically, mom was wearing a new dress that she had sewn herself for the occasion. Their favourite place to dance however was on their annual winter cruise which they took in February each year to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Even after my father’s death, she showed us all that she was a strong woman. She needed to make a new life alone after 60+ years with the same partner. She made the best of it and found pleasure in her new environments. When I speak with the staff at Allendale Long Term Care, where she spent her final two years, they speak very fondly of Emily. She was always walking the halls to get her exercise, dancing, and making people laugh with her sense of humour. Emily, Milly, Mom, Nonna…you have been a force to the very end. You will be missed dearly by all of us. I think if we all listen carefully, we might hear them dancing to The Last Waltz.