Clara M. Colaguori's Eulogy written by her son Louis
How do you encapsulate a life of 102 years - you really can’t. My mother was an ordinary woman who lived an extra-ordinarily long life. My mom was born on September 21, 1920. One month after the 19th amendment giving woman the right to vote. Woodrow Wilson was President. She lived through the administrations of 16 different presidents - She voted in 20 presidential elections. She lived to vote for a woman for president of the United States and saw the election of a woman vice president. She married my father on April 12, 1942, during the most dire time of the second world war - the marriage in itself a testament to their belief in the future. They had a wonderful life together. She was very supportive of him and he of her. They were married for 66 years. My father has been waiting patiently for her but I can just hear him saying: “Well it’s about time!” I said my mother was ordinary. There was nothing about her life that would be considered noteworthy by anyone who did not know her. But to those who did know her, her life was outstanding and memorable - not only because of its longevity - but because of the friendships she made - and kept - because of her ethic of putting family first - as well as the fact that she was just a genuinely good person. I honestly don’t ever recall my mother uttering a mean word about anyone. She was the least judgmental person I ever knew.
To me one story really resonates about what kind of person she was: As you may know my father was the oldest of four brothers. His family lived just across the street on Westwood Ave - you can still see the house from the front door here. My grandfather was a barber - he had a shop on Third Ave - within walking distance of their home. What you may not know was grandmother did in fact have a daughter, Anne, who died when she was about two years old - I believe her funeral was one of the firsts that the Damianos performed. That death greatly affected my grandmother and I don’t think she ever recovered from that tragedy. How this relates to my mother is that every day - and I mean every day - my mother would telephone my grandmother to talk to her - not just out of a sense of duty but they would have real and meaningful conversations. Long after my grandmother had died I asked my mother why she had called every day and she said that grandma had four boys - she didn’t have a daughter - and she needed a daughter. My mother was the third of six sisters. I believe she was about 7-8 years younger than Mary and 7 years older than Frances which put her right in the middle of the crew. By my count there was about 15 years spread between the oldest and youngest sister I also believe that at that time none of them left home to live separately until they were married so they all lived under the same roof for quite a while - can you imagine Grandma Bruno and six girls - My poor grandfather - no wonder you never heard him utter a word! The girls did all get along well together - I do remember that on holidays they all baked cookies for each other - sort of a cookie exchange - the thing was that they all used my grandmother’s recipes - the same recipes. When it came to tasting each other’s baked goods it sort of went like this: Mary to Theresa - T your cookies are great this year Theresa to Clara. - Clara you outdid yourself Clara to Anne - Annie the best ever and so down the line - the thing was that they were all working from the same recipes - the cookies all tasted exactly the same!
While they got along famously they were all different - Clara wasn’t as stylish as Mary - but she did have her own flair She didn’t have the dazzle of Theresa - but she could shine. She didn’t have the wit of Anne - but she could be surprisingly philosophical. She wasn’t funny like Jo - but she had a good sense of humor. She didn’t have Frances laugh - but she could certainly smile - and that smile - especially toward the end was infectious. What she did have was a calm presence - she had an ability to make you feel comfortable in her presence - My mother was sincere - she was truthful - she was a friend to her sisters and a sister to her friends. Being the middle sister , I like to think of my mother as the strong knot that held together that wonderful - beautiful - colorful - bow that was the Bruno Girls. My wife Linda always said my mother was the perfect mother in law - she never intruded in our lives or rendered an opinion or judgment unless it was supportive. She truly loved my wife. One complaint my Linda had was that when Linda was cooking - and Linda was a good cook - my mother would hang over her shoulder from time to time with a suggestion here and there. Just a suggestion mind you. My daughter Jen was her only grandchild. She loved her unconditionally and was so proud of her accomplishments and of the woman and mother she became. And when she twice became a great grandmother it was a gift she never expected. Typically she was happy not only for herself but for Linda and I as well as for Jen.
No one can talk about my mother without talking about my sister. You all know her devotion to my mother. It was something very special. You all have taken care of your parents as they got older but Linda was the gold standard. She certainly made my mother’s life easier and happier. My mother never complained, was very content with her life, and so much of that was made possible because of my sister. That is a wonderful legacy for my sister to have and I’m so proud of my sister for being the kind caring person she is. In my mother, my sister had a great teacher. If you noticed in talking about my mother I’ve mostly talked about family - and her relationships with her loved ones. One group I hadn’t mentioned - until now and that’s her nieces and nephews. She had a real and genuine affection for all of you - and not just the blood relations. - no such thing as “in law” to her - after all you were all family and that was all she needed - you didn’t need to earn her love - it was a given. So I’m going to ask a favor of all her nieces and nephews -My mother was the last of her generation. The original counsel is no more. All her sisters and brothers in law on her side and brothers and sisters in law on my father’s side are gone - we have lost their memories - not to mention those of our grandparents. So, the favor I’m going to ask is that we all make a concerted effort to preserve our own memories. For our children and grandchildren and maybe - if you are willing - for each other. Family histories are so important
So, I want to give each of my first cousins a book - an aide to help them prepare their own histories to preserve their own memories. - a book called “How to Write Your Own Life Story” I have been using this book as a personal guide. It’s an ongoing effort and it will never be finished - but like most good things the adventure is in the journey, not the arrival. I hope that you work in it as a gift for your families. At my mother’s 102nd birthday party just a month ago - she sang for us “You Are My Sunshine.” In one of the birthday e-mail greetings she received from her nephew Micky McCabe he said “YOU Aunt Clara are OUR sunshine” Its a simple song - - I’m sure you all know the words; As a parting gift to Clara I would like us all to sing the first verse of “You Are My Sunshine”. (Sing)
My mother had a strong faith. The prayed often but I think that she really never prayed for herself but rather for others - her family and friends - and mostly for those who were gone - not as an aide for salvation but as a form of remembrance to keep them alive in her mind and heart. A number of years ago I ran across a poem which in Jewish tradition is called a “Remembrance Poem” I kept that poem thinking that one day I would recite it at my mother's funeral - whenever that came. Little did I know that my Linda would die before my mother and I found the poem a perfect remembrance of Linda. I recited it at her funeral. I now recite it often I don’t think that Linda would mind if I recited it here for my mother
In the rising of the sun and its going down
I will remember you
In the blueness of the sky and the warmth of summer
I will remember you
I will remember you when I am lost and sick at heart
When I have joys I long to share
I will remember you
So long as I live, you too shall live
Because you are a part of me
And I will remember you
My mother was an ordinary life. But she taught us to live with love and compassion and to die with dignity. It was a life well-lived. Perhaps it wasn’t such an ordinary life after all.
Clara M. Colaguori, 102 of Tinton Falls, died on Friday, October 14, 2022 at home. Mrs. Coloaguori was born and raised in Long Branch and moved to Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls in 2015. Clara and her husband Anthony traveled in their Airstream trailer to 48 states and Canada and spent 37 winters in Melbourne Florida. She enjoyed sewing, knitting and watercolor painting. Clara was President of the Older and Wiser Club and was a parishioner of St. Michael’s Church.
Clara loved to gather her five sisters and their husbands, as well as her three brothers in law and their wives, for New Year’s Eve and barbecues in the summer. She spent her life making everyone happy with her positive attitude and caring ways.
She was predeceased by her husband Anthony in 2008 and her daughter-in-law Linda Lodge Colaguori in 2020. Surviving are her daughter Linda Colaguori; her son Louis Colaguori; granddaughter Jennifer Colaguori-Wexler, two great grandchildren and her loving caregiver, Joan Kelly
Visitation will be held Tuesday, October 18 from 4-7 pm at the Damiano Funeral Home, 191 Franklin Ave. in Long Branch. Funeral, Wednesday, October 19; 10 am from the funeral home with the service to begin at 10:30 am. Entombment will follow at Woodbine Mausoleum, Oceanport. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105. The family invites you to leave a letter of condolence by selecting the Tribute/Guestbook link above.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105