I thought I would share with you all my tribute that was read by my peer, mentor, and friend at the ceremony. Pope Jim always kept me in check on my bad spelling, horrible use of punctuation, and bad grammar…but even with all that this may be my best work, I somehow think he would have given me his stamp of approval.
My Wonderful Wife by Patrick Latronica
I am a man of many stories, I have been blessed to have lived a life full of adventures and random encounters. I will not bore you with my endless droning as many of you know I am skilled at, but I would like to share my most valuable encounter and some of my contemplations of my wonderful wife.
I have had the pleasure to meet and hang out with many iconic people in my years, but the most important encounter I ever had was a chance meeting.
I was 19 years old and dating a girl, we were going to a hard rock concert at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood on Friday April 7th 1978, that afternoon she called and said she was sick and couldn’t go. After mentally analyzing a very long list of friends I could ask to attend, I choose to call Roger who was a guitarist in a Garage Rock Band. I figured he would value the guitar work of the band playing, not one of my closer friends but a logical choice.
Roger accepted the invitation we drove to Hollywood, rocked out, and drove home. We got off the 605 freeway we were only a couple blocks from my parents’ house about to turn and Roger turned to me and asked, “Would you like to go to my girlfriend’s apartment, she has a roommate?”
Being a young red blooded American boy I said “yes”, and we turned right instead of left. That roommate I met was Terri…I have never before or since appreciated which way a car turned more.
We all know the experience of meeting and talking to Terri, you soon feel as though she is an old friend and her sense of humor brightens you. You want more of what she has even if you don’t know what it is, it’s called the X factor. Her warm radiance made you glow more, you were better after seeing her than you were before.
You absorbed her stunning beauty and smile like sunshine, it was as if her energy elevated you. I like many people wanted to bask in that glow as often as possible. Her gift was so great that it could transcend distance and could reach you whether by phone, letter, Facebook, or text.
Her sense of humor was witty and sharp, many people underestimated her intelligence and new that was a mistake before long. Her laugh was infectious and even if you did not fully get the joke (which was probably on you) you could not help but laugh along, dare I say you wanted too.
Terri may be the most photogenic person I have ever met, as much as she would not like some pictures, she always looked good. My god the woman’s driver’s license photo is spectacular, typical Terri.
She had an excellent sense of fashion and always dressed impeccably, she could turn some heads.
Terri was a social person, Italian by proxy, I can assure you she is looking down and enjoying the dynamic of this setting.
Terri was an excellent mother, she managed to raise two magnificent young women, not an easy feet in this day and age. Our Daughters had many friends whom stayed at our place for long extended periods and Terri was able to help them mold into women, I know they would all testify that they were better for knowing her.
Grandmother was a role Terri slid into like a glove, Nona fit her well, she treated Tony’s son Gage as her one of her own. Her love for Izabella surpassed any love before, we had all become number two.
I am convinced that in the last few months Terri fought so hard for her opportunity to be in Izzy’s life. I know she is Izzy’s angel and will be close to her heart and I intend reinforce that love in Izzy if I do nothing else.
Terri’s family meant so much to her she loved her aunts, cousins, brother, father, and mother so much. Her love was so strong it extended to even my chaotic family which all loved her too.
Her love for her mother was unbounded and she honored her memory always. Her brother was like her friend and they spoke regularly, no brother has ever been so lucky.
Her father was the only man who ever held sway over Terri, she loved him so much, and her only goal was to make him proud.
Terri’s list of friends is incredible, all who knew her sought out her counsel men and women alike. She could guide, advise, or just listen…a skill hard to master. She was as good as a therapist…maybe even better.
An excellent cook, she could even create a gourmet meal when she wanted, she would taste something she liked at a restaurant and spend as much time as needed reproducing the flavor to perfection. Simply remarkable, the women could cook and my waist line is proof of it.
Her skills in decorating were legendary, her living room was always considered magazine worthy even when she barely had two nickels to rub together.
In fact she was redecorating right up to the day she went to the hospital, she did the living room, family room, foray, and bathroom.
She was preparing to start the dining room and kitchen when she returned from the hospital, a project I pray I have the where with all to complete for her.
She made several ocean wreath’s, decorated vases and jars in an ocean motif, and even was starting to give knitting a go the last month before entering the hospital…unstoppable is the word that comes to mind.
She always had a knack for crafts and gifts, she knew what you wanted even if you didn’t. She was perceptive to the highest degree and proved it to me when she always knew what stupid book I wanted or what music to get me even with my ridiculously unorthodox listening taste.
Don’t get me wrong a 36 year relationship is not all roses, we had some rough patches and there were times we almost didn’t make it through, but with the strength of love that Terri held out to me, we always managed to get through the roughest waters.
Terri was always in control whether you knew it or not, and so it was on Tuesday April 22nd. It was a beautiful spring day in Folsom California, the type of day Terri loved, cloudy with sun sometimes your warm, sometimes it’s cool.
We had several family and close friends bedside telling stories and reminiscing, laughing more and crying some.
At 11:00am our scheduled time for Terri’s departure I asked the staff when we could start and they said the doctors were late.
It was approximately 11:15, when I asked for the room, everyone left and I shut the door and drew the privacy curtain. Outside the clouds were obscuring the sun, so the light in the room with a large window was subtle.
I explained to Terri how much I loved her and how I have been dreaming of her every night and I want her back. I told her she fought so hard and so valiantly, that it was ok and to go to her Mother, my Dad, her stepmom, all her grandparents, all of her and my relatives, and even our good dog Bella…they were all waiting to guide her across…
The machines tracking her vitals began to drop steadily, the nurse knocked and entered she tried to bring Terri’s heart rate back up, she said uho. I called my son in law in the lobby and said get everyone in quick.
All arrived in time to see her pass and as she did the clouds parted and the sun came out, the light shone through the window and illuminated her peaceful face, it was 11:30 am.
We walked outside to see a magnificent sight of the entire area surrounded by clouds and the sun shining down on this little hospital on top of a hill.
As we looked up and imagined my wonderful wife’s spirit rising, a lone prison siren wailed from nearby Folsom Prison for just about a half a minute.
Typical Terri she always made a spectacular entrance and exit effortlessly, never late and always in control, she didn’t wait for the doctors and she didn’t let the machines stop her.
Many of you like me may be wondering should I have done something different, should I have said something more?
Terri’s love and kindness was so strong we can be certain that we need not second guess ourselves or hold on to any gloomy thoughts.
The light of her love shines on us all and if we let it, it will keep us from those dark places she would never want any of us who she loved to go.
I for one can say that so long ago a random turn of a car to the right rather than the left lead me to a lovely being that enriched my life beyond belief and I can only thank God that we made the right turn.
Let’s allow ourselves to once more swim in Terri’s ocean of love while we listen to the song she would play every time she went to the ocean and would first see the water. It tells us that no matter what has happened or what has been said there is renewal and redemption when love is stronger than pride.