February 07, 2018She was a force of nature with an iron will and indomitable spirit second to none, all wrapped up in a tiny little package.
But don't be fooled. Her strength matched that of men ten times her size. We used to tease her—saying she was a "four-foot-ten chick in a six-foot-two world." Woe to anyone who messed with her or her family.
At the same time, she had an incredibly tender heart, with an unforgettable lightness of being. She would sing lullabies to us in Italian, draw sometimes embarrassing stick figures on our lunch bags—sometimes embarrassing because it was a practice she continued through our high school years. She even palpated our sick pet goldfish's body in an attempt to save its life.
It was that tenderness and compassion that made her the one people called upon when they were sick, or even dying. She would sit by their sides, nursing them back to health or helping them cross over into the great mystery.
In fact, she was the first homeopath I ever knew. My sisters and I would often come home from school or playing outside to find her applying a butterfly bandage to one of the neighbor kids' cuts, wrapping a sprained ankle or wrist, or splinting a finger or thumb with popsicle sticks. She was unafraid, capable, intuitive.
That remarkable, uncanny intuition was her amazing gift—one that served her and helped us right until the end. When we were growing up, we weren't so thrilled about it. You could put NOTHING past her, she always just knew.
Anna Minolli with 'all of her girls,' Dawn, Catherine, Roseann and Virginia at her surprise 85th birthday party in October of 2016.
She heeded signs, and received many. They were always portents, confirmation of her amazing gift. Even when miles away she knew if you were going through something, needed help, or just needed a reason to laugh or smile.
That was another of her great gifts. She made many people laugh and smile with her lightning quick wit and surprising sense of humor.
She also made many people smile with sheer hedonistic joy around the dinner table. For those who never got to taste her cooking, I am truly sorry. Her culinary skills matched those of a five star chef, and her Italian dishes were worthy of the highest honors. She could literally cook up a storm—we'd often tease that she was in the eye of the tornado in the kitchen. And then she'd emerge. Apron off, beautifully dressed and put together—another scrumptious offering in her hands. It was heaven on earth.
For the grandkids—Charissa, David and Eddy—she made the ordinary extraordinary. They'd marvel over her scrambled eggs, cooked light and fluffy and loaded with butter; crave her delicious pastina, also light and fluffy and loaded with butter; and always request "Nonni's special sauce," her signature mix of oil and vinegar dressing on salads.
Every meal was a banquet, full and well rounded, made more delicious by her love.
Along with showing love through food, friendships were very important to her. Every single day she talked about how fortunate and blessed she felt by the support, kindness and generosity of her friends, our aunt Zizi Teresa, and her hairdresser Courtney, with whom she shared a special bond. It was among my mom's many talents that she drew people of all ages and walks of life to her. She loved to hear their stories and adventures, and always listened with compassion and humor.
In fact, in the last hours of her life Mom reminded us to have fun, and then have even more fun. Fitting advice from a woman who found a way to get through the loss of our dad—the love of her life—and all the curve balls life threw at her.
Mom shares inside joke with her best friend Alnora Gallo at surprise party.
She was strong and devout in her Catholic faith and love for her family. She leaves a legacy of strength, love and lightness of being unmatched by anyone.
Anna Maria Minolli, 86, passed away on January 29. She was the eldest daughter of Umberto and Virgilia (Leopardi) Rossi, and sister of the late Lena Ciatti and Rino Rossi. She was married to the late Francesco 'Frank' Minolli for 59 years, and is dearly missed and mourned by her daughters Roseann, Catherine, Dawn and Virginia, as well as her grandkids and many others.
Her gifts were many, the loss so great. She was one of a kind, and we are beyond blessed to have had her in our lives.
Email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.