October 25, 2010

A loss and a hiatus. All my love to my Aunt Eileen Cotugno

Very sad to share that I lost my Aunt Eileen over the weekend.  She had struggled with asthma her whole life.  She spent years of her youth in Denver at a special school away from her family because of it.
The last year she was in and out of the hospital but thankfully spent enough time out of it to get to see her first grandaughter, Sophia's first year and see her oldest, Marianne get engaged. 
My aunt was a such a strong woman.  Growing up, she was the "strict" aunt who lovingly called me honeybunch and made sure we got to the boardwalk during the summer (my family didn't take week long family vacations at the shore like most.)  She would put way too much butter in the mashed potatoes during the holidays, but I would eat two plates of them right now if she would join me at the table.  She had a great laugh, and kind ways.  She was an educator for years, and I'm certain made her imprint on thousands of children, especially the two of her own.

My Aunt loved children so much.  My mother was due with me in April of '78. Since I was born on her birthday, she felt compelled to name me Suzanne, but gave me Eileen as my middle name in honor of her sister.  Within a year Eileen adopted my cousin, and had a namesake herself.
Growing up we were always at the "kids table" during holidays, Little Eileen and Little Suzy.
Life moves on, and there's no longer a kids table. Little Eileen now has a child herself.  And I haven't even seen her in years despite the fact that she lives an hour and a half away.

My aunt's passing has brought my mother from across the country, and has had me thinking nostalgic thoughts as these times tend to do.  Losing this generation is hard.  You're reminded that death has no prejudice.  It's not reserved for the nursing home.  It's your 66 year old uncle, and your 67 year old aunt.
Losing them is hard, and even harder is knowing your cousins have lost their mother, and you're uncle has lost the love of his life after 41 years of marriage.  Suddenly ibus, foam retention, and bars' obsession with rotating tap handles don't matter much at all.

I'll be back soon.
The Obituary below is written by my cousin, Marianne Cotugno with her father, Harry.

Mom's obituary

by Marianne Cotugno on Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 12:25pm
Eileen N. Cotugno, 67 of Manchester closed her eyes one last time on Friday October 22nd at Ocean Medical Center, Brick. She loved her family and friends. She loved to shop. She was an avid collector of turtles. She loved every breath of life. Since she was two years old, breathing itself was sometimes a struggle. Under the care of Dr. M. Murray Peshkin, she was one of the first asthmatics to be treated with cortisone, and she spent several years as a child at Denver’s Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children. Eileen won her struggle for sixty-seven years. She did not go gently into that good night nor did she go with rage. She left us with grace and dignity; she left us with love. She was a well-loved and respected elementary school teacher for 38 years for the Red Bank Regional Board of Education and was awarded Teacher of the Year. She inspired both her daughters to become educators. Born in Newport RI, she resided in Lincroft for 31 years before moving to Manchester 7 years ago. She enjoyed spending time with her fellow Red Hats and Columbiettes in Leisure Knoll.

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