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Monday, November 8, 2010

Nonnon's Eulogy: by Anthony Kladitis

I knew this day was coming and I knew that I would find myself standing here delivering this Eulogy speech.

How can I keep a tally of the things to share about Nonnon? She lived almost a century…

What do you say about her?
Where can you start?
Where would you end?

What can you say about the women who had more will power than 10 men?
Or the fact that she had more pictures of Jesus in her house than the Vatican?
And her WWF addiction …AKA the “fights”

If there was a world record for number of phone calls in a day...Nonnon would own it.  And do you remember how Nonnon never acknowledged the person who picked up the phone!  (GIMME TALKA TO MUMMA!!) 

Do you keep in the fact that Nonnon called cars muchines?
How about that two lights were never on at the same time in her house?
Do you omit the “kidabotzanutcheed's” the “eh eh yeh's” and the “muduna a mee's?”

The Stories:
Well, let me start with my first childhood memories:

Nonnon, my first memories were with you…

When I would sleepover
You would always wake up early and go downstairs quietly – letting me sleep…
Then I would walk downstairs and see you in those old glasses you used to put on
Seeing you reading the Bible at the dining room table
In a language that I did not understand
But you would read it out loud to me anyway
And then have me repeat it back to you…
I did not know what I was saying, but that wasn’t the point…I was just watching you interacting with Jesus.

Afterward, you would walk me into the kitchen for breakfast
Eggs, always sunny side up (was there any other way for Nonnon???)
Next to the eggs. A massive hunk of Derosa bread (never sliced, never cut...just ripped from the loaf)
And you would sit
And you would watch
Until I was done

As evening approached and bedtime was near (which you all know translated to around 7pm)
In the pitch dark
Before a lit picture of Jesus you would go to pray
You would take me and kneel before Him
Praying in Italian.
Again I did not know what you were saying
But it didn’t matter...
I could tell something special was happening
And that thing special was love

More than any other person I have ever met
Nonnon, you really loved Jesus

See -Nonnon was never about putting on airs
She always lived in a way that emphasized what mattered the most…
And for her, that was her family and her faith

And lets talk about that Family:
Oh how she loved and dedicated herself to you all.
If you think about it, was there ever a Sunday that we were not together at her house?
Gathered together on Friendship Street...

Nonnon, loved these days.
Tables and chairs set up for an army
Food aromas that would make any chef jealous
On any given Sunday you could hear yelling, screaming, and arguing on just about any subject matter
Kids outside on the porch
Kids outside under the grapevine
Kids outside in the alley, stepping over food thrown out to feed the animals (Nonnon never threw away food…whether it went to a human or an animal…she always aimed to fill someone or something’s bellies!)

And her Reputation:
I have never heard someone speak harshly of Nonnon
The closest someone got was in the 7th grade, when some boy was making fun of our family
I immediately thought of Nonnon, and then I firmly placed my right fist into his left eye
This got me a 3 day suspension and in big trouble from dad…
But when I got home, my mom and Nonnon were standing in the kitchen and when Nonnon found out why I did what I did. She just smiled at me!

Nonnon’s legacy is set…she is a legend…And a success!
In world full of phonies, fakers, and wannabees
Nonnon was the real thing.  She had every quality a person would want.
And I honestly believe that if Nonnon did not exist in real life --you could not even make her up
The mold was truly broken with Nonnon…
The path she paved for us is what we wish to follow
Her example is something not only to be admired but to mimicked

Leader & Follower… Her Faith:
But the biggest twist about Nonnon’s life is that she not only was a great leader….
She was the greatest follower

And the One she was following…Jesus.
More than anyone that I have ever met…She truly had a love affair with Him.

I can remember coming home from Bible college and visiting her one day
And on my way out of the house she called to me from the alley and said, “Tony, remember to walk with One person”

Nonnon would say things like that:
“You never lose when you follow Jesus”

And She spent a lifetime doing this…

While men were out pursuing money, cars & better homes.
Nonnon was following after Jesus
While other women were out looking for clothes & prettying their houses.
Nonnon was following after Jesus
While other grandparents were asking where to go to brunch & which retirement home they should buy.
Nonnon was following after Jesus

So the one thing that I know Nonnon would want each and every one of us to continue to do -is follow Him.

It should be no surprise to any of us that Nonnon’s favorite passage of Scripture was Psalm 23.
It is a simple part of the Bible of a person who was following after the Good Shepherd.

“The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want
He leads me beside the quiet waters…”

I told you moments ago that Nonnon would end her day kneeling in prayer to Jesus
And when she closed her eyes on this earth this past Tuesday...

She met that Person

On the basis of her faith and on the way she lived her life….
I can say with confidence that Nonnon is now with the Good Shepherd
She resides with the Resurrection & the Life

It has been said that St. Peter meets you at the gates when you enter Heaven
But I have a feeling that this past Tuesday he was relieved of his duties
Because it was Jesus Himself that came and met Nonnon face to face…
Like a groom that meets his bride

What did they talk about? I wonder…
What did they say to each other? I am not sure…

But I believe they hugged for a long time…

I bet they embraced one another and then Nonnon proceeded to give Him her famous Nonnon kisses (you know the ones...when she grabs you with both of her hands, pulls you in, and then kisses ever square inch of your face)... and then they walked together into eternity.

So please do not remember Nonnon lying in bed at that old folk’s home
Or in that casket.

Remember the way she lived her life
Remember the way she loved her family
And most of all…

Remember the way she followed Jesus

-John 11:25

“I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live”

Almerinda Zeppetella Antuono

Delivered at St. Vitus Church on Saturday, November 6th 2010
by Anthony Kladitis
Pastor, Grandson and Follower of Jesus

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