Stories: Who We Have Lost

My Grandpa's Story

Story aboutMichael Perna

My grandpa, Michael Perna, passed away from Covid in April 2020. He is dearly missed by his entire family every day. He was the absolute best grandpa and best friend. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and how much he would have loved and enjoyed to see something or listen to a story I would often share with him about my day at work. My grandpa was a family man and a very hard worker; everything he did was for his family and there was no greater joy he had then seeing all of his family together.
Often when our family gets together to this day and everyone is laughing and smiling, I feel my grandpa’s presence and it’s because he instilled in his children and grandchildren that there is nothing better than family and practicing that throughout our lives keeps him alive forever. And I know he is smiling down from heaven watching us and very proud of us all. When I go back to my childhood home (the house my grandpa was born, lived in and raised his family in), all of the memories and times spent with my grandpa rush back to me. I am so very grateful I was able to live with him for 29 years of my life and to have made all of those memories I will cherish forever. Lately, I have been seeing feathers everywhere I go, in the most random places and I like to think it is him coming to say hello. We will love and miss you forever, Papa.

I would like to share with you my grandpa’s story:
Michael Perna, our Mikey, Dad & Papa, was the eldest son of Amelia and Albert Perna born in Corona, Queens, New York on September 16th 1940. He was born and raised in the very same house his grandfather and father grew up in along with his brother, Tommy and sister, AnnMarie right on 108 St and 52nd Avenue.

Michael attended and graduated from St. Leo’s Academic School where he also received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation. After graduation, he attended a trade high school. He went on to work as a handy man for Rosenthal Associates in New York City and worked his way up to becoming Superintendent, Chief Engineer and Fire Safety director for the building. He worked there for 53 years before retiring in 2014. He would wake up and walk down 111st Street in Corona to the 7 Train and get off at the 42nd St stop every day for the 53 years he worked there. On his lunch breaks, he enjoyed walking in Bryant Park and stopping at the local church. He married the love of his life, Pierina Pitoscia at St. Leo’s Church on September 10, 1960 and they raised their four beautiful children in Corona in the very same house Michael was born and raised in. His sons Albert & Michael and daughters Anna & Rachel. In the years to follow, he welcomed many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Michael was a family man and devoted to making the best life for his family. He was so proud of the family he helped grow & enjoyed spending time with all of them. He loved when his family and friends would come over to celebrate holidays, birthdays or just be together in the basement. Even though his family outgrew the basement, it will always be a place filled with happiness, comfort and love. He loved to build and fix things; you would often see him always working on painting or fixing something around the house, especially always cleaning his Jeep in his backyard. Throughout his years of working in New York City, he would collect trinkets that he would find and place them around the house or on his desk or share them with his children and grandchildren. If you looked around his house, you would see the initials “MP” or stickers of his name & address on all his belongings as he would love to label things. We like to now think of this as his way of showing us that he is always with us. He absolutely loved being down the Jersey Shore sitting on the porch of his beach house looking out at the lagoon listening to his favorite tunes. When he would go down the Shore, he would love to spend a day or two in Atlantic City with his wife playing the slot machines. Throughout the years, he donated to multiple charities such as the Sons of Italy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, St Jude’s Children Hospital, St Anthony’s & St. Francis as well as many others.

Michael is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Pierina Perna; his children, Albert, Anna, Michael, & Rachel; his grandchildren, Melissa, Amanda, Alissa, Dana, Andrea, Christopher, Samantha, Jonathan, Tinamarie, Mateo, Enza, his great grandchildren, Valentina, Jimmy Jr., Adrianna, Michael & Natalie and grand pups Gioia & Arya.

. . . and brought him to his favorite diner: Yesterday’s . . .

Yesterday’s is a diner in Floral Park near my Dad’s house where I used to meet him
almost every Monday and Wednesday afternoon for brunch between my husband’s
cognitive and vestibular therapy appointments for two years, from 2018 through 2019.

There just happened to be enough time to grab a quick bite for an hour or so, sandwiched
in-between these two appointments and Yesterday’s was conveniently located, kind of
right between these 2 locations . . . and we had to eat at some point anyway!

Oh, what simple and well worth their price in gold these times were!
These were the most casual and loving conversations.
At the time, we didn’t realize how special these simple get togethers were.

Yesterday’s was our place!
We even had our usual waitress … with whom I caught up with about six months after my Dad passed. I ran in for five minutes to tell her what had happened!
She knew. She remembered my Dad. She gave me a hug. We both cried.
She knew how special those times at Yesterday’s were.
(I’m crying now!)

A little while back …
I had a dream that I broke my Dad OUT of the hospital and brought him to his favorite diner, Yesterday’s!

It’s The Little Things

Story aboutMy husband, Mike Whitmore

My husband Mike did so many wonderful things for me over our almost 50 years together. Maybe the big things were to be expected when you love each other. But it was the little things that truly showed his love for me.

There are many but the one that always comes to my mind is when our garage was always so full of stuff that I usually couldn’t pull my car into it. So every morning before I went to work, Mike would go outside (he worked from home so he was usually in his pajamas) with his paper towels and wipe all the condensation off my windows and mirrors so I would be safe. That was just one little thing that meant so much to me. He would turn on the car and heat it up in the winter or turn the air conditioning on in the summer so it would be comfortable for me before I left for work.

When I came home at night, he would have the bed made and our bedroom vacuumed. He knew how much I appreciated that. He is the love of my life.

Silence

Story aboutMeryl Sabat

My beautiful momma — such quiet presence in life. With her loss comes a deafening silence.

She lived with me. I took her with me everyplace. My person. My best friend. My constant. She brought color to my world. Our crazy casino trips, meals out, shopping, hair salon visits and our drives on a beautiful evening, just because. Sunday fun day. Cooking good food and screaming at the TV at our Philadelphia Eagles. Oh the joy with that Super Bowl win at last! She kept telling me to calm down. She was afraid I was going to have a heart attack! Lol

Some of these things and some of these places are now so hard to face. Some unbearable. Places I have not been back to but will eventually. I’m determined to watch football again this year and enjoy it! It’s just hard to confront. I hear her in my head. When I’m walking in from work, “Hey Barb! I’m so excited your home.” Or the call at work “Can’t wait for this weekend! I missed you this week.” I’d say that I’d be home by 5 and she’d always say “I like it when you’re home. You’re my girl and don’t you forget it.” She always said that.

All our crazy laughter at whatever may have been going on in the world. Just getting from point A to point B in the car was enough to send us into hysterics. “Mom which way? Left? Right?” Whatever she said, I always took the opposite. We ALWAYS got there! My mom was 92. She was beautiful. Looked not a day over 70. I was so proud to show her off. I took pride in taking care of her. It never was a burden. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It wasn’t easy, she had a lot of health issues.

No matter where we were people would comment on our relationship. We were extraordinarily close. It showed. I wanted to make her happy. She hadn’t had an easy life. She had a hard childhood. Buried a husband and two sons. Not one bitter or hard-edged bone in her. When we would be saying goodbye to each other, I would always lean down to kiss her and say “give me your face!” It was our “thing,” she’d say.

Now good days are hard but bad days are harder. Nobody ever loves you like your mom. I walk in from work, silence. Look at my phone during the day while at work, silent. Driving in the car, oh the quiet … doesn’t matter what I make for dinner now or what I buy at the market. No one to care for and worry about. Seems weird to miss worry but I do. It all seems so black and white, no more color. Oh the silence? It is deafening.

Anniversary

Story aboutMichael Mantell

40 years ago, on September 12th 1982, I walked down the aisle and married my husband, Mike.

We met at Pace University in NYC. He’d noticed me in class, though I never even knew he was in the room. We went out on our first date and when we leaving for the night I turned to him and said — we are going to get married. You are the one. Of course he looked at me like I was crazy. One date with this man and I knew he was the one.

This would have been our milestone: 5 kids, a bunch of grandchildren, tuition loans finally paid off, and almost done with our mortgage. And you are not here to celebrate but in my Heart.

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