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Bell & Burnaby Funeral Chapel

4276 Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC

OBITUARY

Rosa Maria (nee Mastromonaco) ALFONSO

August 18, 1920March 14, 2020

Born on August 18th, 1920 in Morrone Del Sannio, Campobasso, Italy. We are greatly saddened to announce the passing of our beautiful mother in the early morning of March 14, 2020, a few short months before her 100th birthday.

Rosa was predeceased by her son Gabriele; her husband Angelo; her nephews Francesco and Nicola; her siblings Raffaele, Michael and Assunta. She will be deeply missed by her loving children; Joseph (Corinne), Giovanna (Gary) Dittrick, Raffaela (Don) MacMillan, Fernando (Lori); grandchildren Sandy, Debra, Marla, Brenda, Ryan, Donnie; great grandchildren Zara, Sasha, Sophie, Corey and Liam. Rosa will be remembered for her strong faith, hard work, wonderful stories and her love of family. Viewing and visitation will be Monday, March 23, 2020 at the Bell & Burnaby Funeral Chapel, 4276 Hastings Street, Burnaby. Mass of Christian Burial to be on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church 2025 Napier Street, Vancouver, BC. Due to current limitation on public gatherings, the family will have a private Funeral and Entombment. Thank you to everyone who would have attended to support the family. There will be an invitation to a Mass and a Celebration of Rosa’s life later this year.

Mom’s Eulogy by Giovanna Dittrick her daughter In August 18,1920 Rosa was born in a small mountain village, high on the top of a mountain in Southern Italy, called Morrone Del Sannio. Her life was hard for us to even imagine. Rosa was the youngest of four children. When she was nineteen her mother had an accident while up a tree picking olives. Her life changed after that. As the only daughter still at home she was expected to do all her duties as well as her mother’s. She married our dad Angelo in February of 1941. After 40 days Angelo went to war and she was left living with her in-laws, no income,and a baby on the way. After 4 years Angelo came home, from a German prisoner war camp, wearing a jacket he had made from old potato sacks. One day when Mom was working the farm and her mother-in-law was baby sitting, her beautiful 4-year-old son Gabriel…. had a tragic accident. He fall into a vat of hot water I cannot image the pain and sorrow of losing a son in such a violent way. Their son Joe arrived in 1946 and I arrived in 1949. Two years later Dad left for Canada. My earliest memory was walking with Dad to the car that was to take him to the train station. I can still remember the feel of my hand in his. The plan was he would go ahead of his family, work hard and buy a house, and then we would join him. How did our Mother who was 31 years old survive? When Dad left she had a 5 year old, a two year old, and was pregnant with Raffaela, and had the measles, She was left to run the farm which were little parcels of land out of the village, run her home and do all the other things you had to do to survive.. We as mothers cannot comprehend how difficult everyday life was compared to our lives here today. We had no running water or indoor toilets. Getting drinking water was a 20 minutes journey away to the community well. To get the water Mom would take a large copper pot down to the well. She would take her scarf and make a donut to cushion her head, put the pot on her head and walk up the hill to her home in the village, often carrying a child. Washing clothes was a two hours walk to the nearest river. Image that with a baby and two toddlers in tow … without a car Image washing sheets and towels kneeling by the river. Image trying to get everything to dry before you got it home. You could not go to a store to buy cheese, or bread, olive oil, flour, milk, tomato sauce, sausages, vinegar, wine, and grappa. These all had to be hand made. You had to grow your own fruit and vegetables. Raise your own goats and pigs. You had to sell what you didn’t use to buy things like fabric to make your own clothes. You had to knit your own socks. Dry and preserve fruits and vegetable for the winter. You could not turn on a stove …or turn up the thermostat. Instead you had a large walk in fireplace. And you could image the work and effort it would take to collect wood to last you through the winters. Your bed had to warmed up with a pan of hot coals before you could get in it. Everyone slept in the same bed, no private bedrooms for us. Image the challenges that would create. In 1954 we left to join Dad in Canada. I think the Boat ride was 16 days in rough seas. We arrive in Halifax and had to wait 2 weeks in quarantine because I had a fever. When it was time to leave Halifax.. Mom and our aunt went out to buy supplies for the journey to Vancouver. You can imagine the looks they got when they put their purchase on their heads and walked though Halifax to get back to the center where we were being held. The train ride from Halifax to Vancouver took 5 days. The first train we took we sat on benches with no padding just bare wood planks. The only food you could buy was from someone who came around with chocolate bars and soda pop but no real food. Now image this trip with a two, five and eight year old. Image 5 days sitting on a train, no way to sleep. We arrived in Vancouver at the train station on Main Street, in November of 1954. Dad met us and we took a taxi to our house on Adanac Street near Commercial Drive. (What a luxury I am surprised we did not walk) I think after almost three years without my Dad, and taking great pride in doing all that had to be done to survive, our Mother was a bit lost. She had to relearn how to do everything differently. Learning to take, a bus, or shop without being able to speak the language or read or write. Mom was faced with new challenges. We became her little translators. We lived in a three-story house with a huge front yard where we grew fruits and vegetable. The second floor was rented to a Canadian family and on the third floor were bedrooms for three Italian bachelors boarders. Two years after we arrived in Canada Dad went out one day with his brother Leo. When he came home he told Mom he had bought a house a few blocks further west. Buying a house without Mom and further west! No one from our hometown lived as far west as we did. I do not need to tell you what Mom thought of this, but she was not a happy camper. A few years later in 1959 we moved into their forever home 2073 Turner. This was her dream home. Though it meant a mortgage Mom was happy and proud of her new home. Mom lived in the home for over 60 years. Borrowing money was very difficult for my mom and dad. Dad worked three jobs and Mom started working in a small café on Commercial drive. Where she learned to speak English. When we were in our teens Mom’s cousin moved to Vancouver from Italy. Before this we only had Dad’s relatives. Having someone of her own was a great comfort for her. She was always very close to her own relatives and they were a great comfort to her, as she grew older. In 1963 our brother Fernando was born. I remember my father’s great pride in having another son. Mom raised us with a firm hand and lots of guilt. Her and Dad tried to give us more then they grew up with and they always did the best they could. She was proud of us. She loved her 6 grandkids. When her great grandkids arrived they brought her lots of joy. She could not always pronounce their names, and would often ask me “how is the boy”. Or she would ask Joe “how is the squirt” In her last years having Liam coming to visit, was always an event, and she would make sure she had his favorite cookies. February 1991 Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Joe, Raffaela and I planned it as a surprise for them. We invited everyone they knew. We went to church where they renewed their vows, and Dad presented Mom with a ring. They enjoyed it so much, we never regretting doing it for them. Our Dad passed in November 1994. In September of that year we attended a relative’s wedding and I danced for the last time with my Dad. Mom missed him very much and always complained about how hard it was to be alone. Mom loved to be surrounded by people and she loved when we all got together for her many birthdays. Joe and Corinne were always ready to put on a family celebration and we all pitched in and tried to make her birthdays as special as we could. All the relatives were invited, and it gave us a chance to honor her and indulge her need to be with everyone. The last two years of her life, she was not up to going to Joe’s farm and we all got together at her home to celebrate her birthday. Christmases were now potluck at Nonna’s house. On Feb 14th Mom had a heart attack and collapsed. She did not want to have surgery and we wanted to take her home. We worried about her being in a hospital with all the problems, with infections. When she developed a blood infection a few days later, we again thought we were going to lose her. But as always she surprised us and was glad to go back to her home. We were very privileged to have had some lovely ladies to help with home support. They are like members of our family and we would like to thank them for all their hard work, great patience and kindness always. We were very glad we were able to support her and that she was able to live her last days in the comfort of her home. She asked to speak to her two grandchildren who live outside of Canada…. At the beginning of March she was able to Skype with Raffaela’s son Donnie. Donnie was able to tell her he loved her and she was able to say I love you to Donnie. Later that same night she got a call for my daughter Brenda and they had a good chat. On Wednesday March 11th she took a turn for the worst and we had …all hands on deck to be there for her. She was ready to go. She was so tired and she just wanted to go. On Thursday March 12th I slept over and she had me chuckling all during the night. She wanted me to find her shoes. I said mom why do you need your shoes. She said to go to the funeral tomorrow. I said Mom whose funeral are you going to attend. She said “my funeral”. She had me double check the closet that her clothes were ready to take to the funeral home. She did not like where I put my cot and said her caregivers always had it further away. I said mom it’s ok this is where I want to be. I want to be close to you. After many tries to get me to move it she threw her sheet and blankets off and said “ok I will get up to help you move it”. She insisted I cover myself even though I was too warm and she woke up and pulled on my blanket to make sure I still had it on. At five am that morning she closed her eyes and slept peacefully. When the doctor came in that afternoon her blood pressure was low and her heart rate was too fast. Bye 2:00am the next morning she was gone. The last words she spoke were I just want to die. Who was Rosa? she was Strong Intelligent Resilient- Someone who always stood up for herself Proud- Beautiful- When my mother smiled at me It warmed my heart and I always felt the sunshine Talented - many of us were the lucky recipients of her amazing crocheted tablecloths and bedspreads. Though she was never sent to school …and she could not read or write, she was able to look at a crochet item and reproduce it without any problem. She was so fast it was very difficult to learn how to crochet from her. Her embroidered sheets from her dowry were works of art. Fast at any task…One day she picked so many pounds of blueberries, it set record at the farm we worked at. Intuitive – Knew how to grow any plant probably the only one I knew who could make a poinsettia bloom again after Christmas was over. Giving – For my daughter Brenda’s wedding and my niece’s Debra’s wedding she crochet all the little doilies to wrap the traditional almond candies. She baked so many cookies; we had enough for Debra’s wedding, her gift opening and our freezer. For many years the grandkids always got their Christmas money. Faithful- When Father Gino came to give her the Last Rites she prayed along with him and was not sad, but ready to meet her Lord our God. We will miss mom but I try to imagine her with my Dad My heart finds comfort that my Dad and all her loved ones who went before her will be waiting for her. I image there will be much joy, and light and peace as they walk with her to meet her lord. And when our time comes she will be there with open arms to greet us and tell us exactly what we have to do to walk that same path with her. We are sorry Mom we could not give you the funeral you would of wanted, but we tried our best in these very difficult time. We promise when this virus is all over we will have a mass said for you and we will celebrate you life with all our friends and family. We will miss you mom. Thank you for teaching us well, and making us the strong people we are. We will always be grateful to you.You can rest now, in peace. Amen

Services

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Memories

Rosa Maria (nee Mastromonaco) ALFONSO

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Ornella Iorio

March 25, 2020

May all the wonderful memories of happy times with your mother/grandmother Rosa lessen the sorrow left in your hearts.
Our sincerest condolences to the entire family and may the soul of Rosa be at peace with God.

From Giuseppe, Berardino, Ornella, Elio and Riccardo Iorio and Families

Benny and Cora D'Alfonso

March 23, 2020

I was but 12 years old when Rosa was part of our strawberry picking crew. There was an age gap but she was able to keep up with, or even exceed the younger pickers' pace. And we were in for it if we tried to pick in her patch.
Condolences from Cora and I to the family.
Benny

Carmela Bombara

March 22, 2020

Alfonso Family,

On behalf of Clorinda Crescenzo and I, we would like to extend our sincere condolences for the passing of your mother. May our Lord comfort you during this difficult time.

Every month we would bring her Holy Communion and she welcomed us with a soft smile. She was waiting to receive our Lord.

We were happy to meet her and visit her monthly. We will miss her. May she rest in peace.
Clorinda Crescenzo and Carmela Bombara

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY