Whenever Rosaria returned to her hometown in Sicily, even after having been away for years, and walked through the town, people who heard her voice would yell from across the street, “Is that Sarina Maniaci ?!” That is what is happening in heaven right now because God and all the angels know her voice so very well. There will also be a beautiful reunion with her husband, Teodoro, brothers Tony and Joe, and sister Antonietta.
Lovingly known as Mamma by her four children, and as Nonnina (or Nina) by her nine grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren, Rosaria of Lynbrook, NY, joined the Lord on Tuesday May 21, 2019. She passed away peacefully in her home under the loving care of her sons and daughter. Her final moments were filled with the kisses of family visits and with the smell of her son-in-law’s cooking -- filling the house that she herself filled with wonderful food and love for 58 years.
After 95 years of brightening up the lives of anyone who met her, she enters into eternal life. Her spirit is planted deeply in the hearts of everyone who knew her. The memories, stories, and moments saved up for the winter, like a homemade tomato sauce, until we meet again to dance that glorious tarantella in the sky.
A joyful game of Scopa is beginning, heavenly meatballs and pasta are simmering, and the angels are setting a new place at the table.
Teodoro is taking his weekly bath because it is going to be Friday in heaven for all of eternity, and they have 37 years of catching-up to do.
Born on October 3, 1923, in Sant’Angelo di Brolo, Sicily, to the late Francesco and Antonia (Ricciardi) Lenzo, Rosaria was named after Our Lady of the Rosary.
Rosaria and her sister, Antonietta, would get up early to make bread for their family’s store. Rosaria would also help make salami on the weekends. One day, Teodoro Maniaci stopped to buy some salami and Rosaria caught his eye. They were engaged when she was 16. She never took off the stone he gave her.
She had two children in Gliaca, Messina, Italy -- Carman in 1943, and then Maria in 1945. For a few years, she kept her husband’s appointments for his taxi business. In 1955, they embarked on an eight-day journey on an ocean liner, The Cristoforo Colombo, to move to the United States and provide a better life for their children. There, Rosaria began working in a factory as a seamstress. They lived in a small, 2nd floor apartment in Oceanside. In 1956 Frank was born and lovingly placed in a closet turned nursery. In 1961, Teodoro was born, and they decided that was just the right amount of kids to make the move to 24 Leach Street in Lynbrook.
Rosaria loved to sew and a tailor would bring work to her at home. For much of her life, private customers would bring clothes directly to her for alterations. She sewed for the whole family. It is well known that she could make anything the perfect size, even if that person was in a different hemisphere.
She and her husband worked hard and saved to make sure that all of their children would get a good college education.
Rosaria attended daily mass. Her passionately strong faith allowed her to be at peace, always. She made friends wherever she went. She was kind, forgiving, and accepting of everyone. She always made time to pray with, and for, her fellow churchgoers -- whether she was at home in Lynbrook or visiting Hong Kong, London, California, Australia, or Maui. Kindness takes you very far in life.
She had an adventurous spirit. She is probably perched precariously on a ladder right now, cutting down one of God’s cucuzzas from a towering tree.
She will be remembered for her capacity to love. She had so much love to give, gave it all, and would get it all back.
As Nonnina arrives in heaven, God’s garments will be perfectly hemmed. She’s known him her whole life; she will size him from memory. The angels are realizing the need to loosen their belts as she starts to cook meatballs, frittata, stuffed artichokes, tomatoes with onions, eggplants with olive oil and salt, sausages, lemon ice and cookies. Heaven’s garden is about to be full of tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, and basil.
She reminded us that anything could be used as a food container, that you should have conversations with a phone’s answering machine as if it will respond, always argue with the GPS, and that saying goodbye multiple times was okay to emphasize how much you love people. Making loud noises, be they vigorous clapping or squeaky kissing, makes a baby less startled. Dandelions are edible. Never throw anything away; it can all be used by someone. Give everything away. All your glasses and plates and scarves and worldly possessions should be used by others. Dance, regardless of bad knees, or hips, or concerned sons and daughters. Walk to church by yourself every day even after knee and hip surgeries, because God will make sure you get there and back safely. Know that your grandchildren will fly thousands of miles to sleep next to you in hospital beds and nurse you back to health. Know that the people your children and grandchildren marry will comb your hair, paint your nails, cook with you, collect hundreds of photos, and flip you in bed when you need to be turned. They will do all of this because they know there is nothing you wouldn’t have done for them.
Rosaria was selfless. Never a complaint, never a negative word about anything or anyone. Just a “bah” and a shrug. And then she carried on with what she knew was the right thing to do. She was never wrong, because when you act with pure love and good intentions the way Rosaria did her whole life, you never can be wrong.
Kissing and holding babies until the very last days of her time here on earth, Nonnina loved everyone she met and was loved by everyone who met her. And now we imagine her singing batti manini for baby Jesus, dancing the tarantella with Saint Anthony, and praying the rosary with The Holy Mother.
Her faith allowed her to be joyful about having had a full life, rather than be saddened by setbacks. She accepted all, and it allowed her peace of mind that she shared with everyone. Ours is the memory of a child’s hand in hers, and the sound of her singing, sewing, and laughing. We will meet again, joyfully, on the other side.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Mamma may be made to:
Parish Ministry at Our Lady of Peace Church
25 Fowler Avenue
Lynbrook, NY 11563
Attn: Sister Barbara
Our Lady of Peace Parish Social Ministry
25 Fowler Avenue, Lynbrook NY 11563