My aunt - my mom’s sister - passed away last week. She was my godmother. She was a feisty woman with a heart as big as Boston itself. My cousins gave me the tremendous honor of delivering the eulogy. So please, take a minute to get to know her.
Last night, while the family was at dinner, my father mentioned that a eulogy should both honor Angela and lighten the mood a little. Why you two chose me, I’m not sure.
Angela Stephanie Fiore Cosgrove was born on July 28th 1945. She was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. She was the type of person who wanted to make sure that everyone was taken care of - in the true Italian way. Whether it was with meatballs, a helping hand, or just someone to chat with - and we all know how much she loved to chat - she would always be there to help out. In fact, I remember in the Fall of 2006, I was leaving to volunteer in a very poor part of Jamaica for a year. When Angela found out she asked me if I was crazy. “Why do you have to go to Jamaica? We got poor people right here in Boston. You can stay with me.” And then, as was typical of her strong Catholic faith, she handed me a small medallion with an image of Jesus on it. “This belonged to Ch
arlie,” she told me. “You take it. They’ll both be looking out for you.”
At four years old, Angela became an older sister, first to Stephanie and then Anthony. One of Anthony’s memories as a small child was of Angela carrying him down the stairs and slipping along the way. She bounced down all the stairs, all the while holding Anthony so tight to make sure that she was the one who got hurt, not him. After bouncing down every stair – boom, boom, boom - they reached the bottom and Anthony looked at her and said ‘do again?”
Angela was also the oldest of all her cousins and was frequently Auntie’s little helper to manage all the younger kids. Angela made sure that everyone held hands and that no one got lost, especially when Auntie took them all to Niagara Falls. Both Auntie and Angela feared that, somehow, one of the kids would get swept over the falls.
Growing up Angela attended Everett schools and made her way to Boston College - a place she told Andrea was “the greatest place in the world!” At BC Angela was involved in choreographing musical performances and, of course, played hostess to the cast in the basement of her parent’s house at Churchill Road. Her father couldn’t wait for her to graduate because, if nothing else, it meant no more parties in his basement!
Angela went on to become a teacher and met Charlie at Sonny’s Bar in Kenmore Square. They were married in April 1970. Lauren came along in ’73 and Andrea in ’75. Angela was a very loving wife and mother. She chose to be a stay at home mother while Lauren and Andrea were young; and she always made sure that Charlie had a hot dinner every night. Then again, every so often, when he got her going – and let’s be honest, Charlie knew how to push her buttons - she would take the food away!
As Lauren and Andrea grew up, Angela made every special occasion special. There were new gloves and corsages at Easter, new pajamas at Christmas, and flowers at every dance recital. Angela had her own small dance studio and she was Lauren and Andrea’s first dance teacher. She made sure that they continued dance throughout their childhood. Angela always supported their activities too. She’d say, “You can do whatever you want – but you’ll always take ballet!” Angela made sure they took swimming lessons and learned the basics of skiing. And during their high school years, Angela made sure that Lauren and Andrea had opportunities to go to Europe and learn about other parts of the world. Recently, Angela herself had the opportunity to travel to Italy with family and meet more family. Those of you who are Italian know what kind of a never-ending escapade that can be!
There were two major lessons that Angela always instilled in her children. Number one: If you don’t take care of yourself, then nobody else will. (And I doubt anyone would argue that Lauren and Andrea don’t know how to take care of themselves. Yes, Tom and Conrad, I’m looking right at you!) Number two: If there’s one thing you don’t skimp on, it’s food. When Lauren would ever bring up those pearls of wisdom in later years, Angela would just reply with her smile of vindication, “That’s right” ☺
Angela went on to be the editor of the Lexington Minuteman and a copy editor for the Lowell Sun. She helped on the campaigns of many local and state politicians. It was while working on campaigns and making phone calls for the candidates that she tried to lose her Boston accent. However, whenever it was discussed, Angela was quick to remind… “I talk right ya know…everyone else has it wrahng!”
Angela met Helen Harlow who became her mentor at Mary Kay Cosmetics. She was introduced to a whole new world of friends and relationships that would last for years. She enjoyed so much the positive camaraderie of Mary Kay. And here too people witnessed Angela’s supportive nature. During her time with Mary Kay, Angela was reached a level of directorship an activity symbolized with the wearing of ‘the red jacket.’ Not long thereafter, Angela met Monica, a woman who was new to the company and who Angela judged showed a little self-doubt. Recognizing this, Angela took off the red jacket, put it on Monica, and told her, “You’re going to wear this jacket someday. I can see it in you.” Today Monica is thriving at Mark Kay and is proof of something Angela knew: an encouraging word from a mentor can be a powerful thing.
A recent delight Angela had in her life was her renewed friendship with her old BC classmate, Dennis or “Doctor Denny”. Thank you Dennis for the happiness that you brought to Angela in these recent years.
And so here we are with all of our fond memories of such a special woman. The smiles, the hugs, the kisses and the laughs that we all shared with her – it’s all here. And as she rides off into heaven to be with Charlie, she would tell us that she is not really leaving us. She would tell each one of you right now to pat your shoulder, and tell you that that is where she always will be, because that’s where she’s always been: right there beside you.