May 30th, 1954 – May 9th, 2020
*Author’s Note: To my lifelong guardian angel on earth, Shirley. It was my sincere honor to help you celebrate and pay tribute to the life of your dear husband, Peter. With the service having taken place during the pandemic restrictions of Spring 2020, many friends and loved ones were not able to attend. The following are excerpts from the Celebration of Life service for Peter Marano for you to read, reflect, and pay your respects privately.
There are 3 candles lit up here today to represent 3 families of people that meant the world to Peter. One is the loving family he was born into, the second is the family he built and grew with his dear Shirley, and the third is the family of friends that he carefully chose. There are people from these groups that cannot be in attendance today but they send their sincere love and may we recognize and appreciate them in our hearts and prayers. We acknowledge that the global circumstances surrounding us make this service less than traditional. While we give thanks for those of us able to gather today, may we find comfort in the hope that a larger gathering could happen in the future.
While Peter was loving and lovable, you all know that he was not much of a hugger. So, he would be in approval of the social distancing that we respect today. However, as one of Melissa’s close friends said this week, “If there is something I have learned from this it is to hug your family a little tighter and cherish your friendships a little more.” Peter would very much approve of that advice.
So, let’s give thanks for all of the loved ones in Peter’s 3 family groupings present and absent as we celebrate and honor this wonderful man.
Mark Twain said, “The mind has a dim sense of vast loss- that is all. It will take mind and memory months and possibly years to gather the details and thus learn and know the whole extent of the loss.”
It has only been 1 week, and the sudden loss of Peter may still shock you, take your breath away or make you stop in your tracks. His loss will always be felt. There will be many moments you’ll wish he was still here. You may some days even pick up your phone to call and tell him something before your brain reminds you that phone call can’t be made. Time won’t always take away those urges. Some folks say that time heals, but missing someone you love lasts for always.
It is only natural that we experience great sadness today, because in a practical sense, Peter is no longer a physical presence in our lives. We have a powerful sense of loss. One cause of the pain you feel today may be because you didn’t get to say good-bye. Peter’s death was sudden and shocking. We are left with questions, confusion, and a situation we couldn’t control. You no longer have Peter right here but maybe just maybe you can have enough faith that where he is he is ok…and that the answers may or may not come but you, too, will eventually be more ok than you are right now. Grief is a journey. Look around you. Know that you do not walk this journey alone.
Where we are experiencing his loss- a missing piece- Peter is experiencing completeness- wholeness. He is home now in the loving embrace of our Lord in heaven. His journey is complete. He is reunited with his parents Carm and Dora, his brother Mark, his Uncle Gino, and other loved ones. He is surrounded by love.
When God called Peter home at 65 years of age, Peter was ready to follow. While no length of time ever seems long enough, it is an absolute blessing to have had this man present on this earth for over 6 decades. His time here and his time spent with each of you was a precious gift. While right now it seems that time went way too fast. We blinked and it was over. May you be ever grateful for God’s gift of Peter in your life and may you learn from his words and actions and how he chose to spend his precious time.
He would not want your hearts to be troubled. May you find comfort in sweet memories, may you find peace in the ways you find him to still be a part of your present, and may you find hope in being reunited with him some day in the kingdom of God.
Everyone here knows the stories. You know the Italian boy born and raised in Kenosha. You know the dedicated business owner. You know the guy whose friend Eddie told Shirley about in 1982 saying, “I gotta guy that maybe you should meet.” You know the man who welcomed two children into the world, Carmine and Melissa. You know the friend that would always give you advice. You know the brother, father, friend, rule-maker, scolder, by-the-book guy that played an important role in your life. The stories will be best told by each of you. I invite you to share the stories, share the memories, share the laughs and love with each other today at the luncheon at Melissa’s home and in the days and years to come.
Since the good-byes did not happen as we would’ve preferred, wife of 33 years, Shirley, would like these sentiments expressed on Peter’s behalf:
Peter missed Mark with every fiber of his being. While he did not choose this outcome, may we find solace in them being together again.
To Carm- You were his pride and joy. He gave you a hard time some times because it just gave him pure joy for you to be around. You picking Haley was icing on his cake! Haley, from day one Peter was on board with the little Italian girl who had stolen Carmine’s heart. He would not have let Carmine go to anyone else but you.
To Melissa- his “princess.” You were the only one to get unlimited hugs and for Dad you could do no wrong- especially in picking Ted! He delighted in your enthusiasm and your sense of adventure- though he certainly did not understand your passion for traveling outside of Kenosha. Ted- you know Peter loved you for how you love Melissa and he loved you almost as much because of the hardworking, ethical man that you are. If it was up to Peter to be able to pick, he would’ve chosen Haley and Ted to be with his children.
To Rick- Peter loved you and wanted you to be the man that he knew you were capable of being. He was truly always in your corner.
To all of you- Peter fiercely loved every person in this room as well as those that couldn’t attend today. You know he did, but the reminder is important. His loss deeply affects not just his wife and children. You were important to Peter and he loved you.
To Shirley- Peter was always doing for everyone, but you were always first in his heart.
For the many surgeries at Froedtert Shirley would usually just drop Peter off. Now, with the extra restrictions, Shirley was not going to be allowed to stay any way. Good thing Peter was a little bit nervous about being alone and he told the doctor, “I think my wife really wants to be here.” The doctor made an exception and Shirley thought, “Oh, great. Now I get to sit here for hours.” What a blessing that time ended up being because she was able to see him after surgery.
We weren’t prepared for there to just be no more time with him. Our most fervent wish will always be to have had more time. The lesson we can learn is to not let the routine of life get in the way of living. What if this is the last dinner? The last phone call? The last good night? Since we never know that answer ahead of time we need to be present in our own lives.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” -Michael Altshuler
As difficult as this is for all of us now, may we be grateful for the past 4 years since the accident that Peter miraculously survived and miraculously recovered from. He beat all of the doctors’ projections because he was steadfast in his resolve to be independent and recover. These 4 years were a bonus for him and for us. Peter became known as “Dump Truck Guy” amongst the caring staff at Froedtert. He accepted that title proudly. He fought hard then and he fought hard again this time. It was because of each and every person here that Peter was able to fight the good fight and have success in his recovery.
For Peter, working hard was not a means to an end, it was his passion, his joy, and his goal to be able to keep working until the end. And he did that! Retirement was not in his plans anyway, although he may be slightly upset he was just a few weeks shy of collecting social security. God makes the plans not us.
Peter did not settle for what he had. He celebrated what some of us take for granted- a roof over his head, his health, and especially the love of his family and friends.
To many of us he was a hero. He saved people with tough love because he always thought he was right- which he usually was. He was your go-to guy. He was the guy you called first because you’d always get the truth from him. You would almost always follow his advice, but if you didn’t and it didn’t work out, oh the joy Peter would get from that! One of his final bold, honest, and typical statements was, “It’s a big surgery. I don’t know how it’s gonna go because the smartest guy in the room is gonna be asleep.”
Being close to family was a priority. Not just “close by”- we’re talking you need to keep the same zip code close. There was no need to be any further away from family. Gina, Waukesha was too far.
He loved you fiercely. He encouraged you, he scolded you, he taught you, he teased you. He reminded you that you did not need a lot of stuff to be happy. Although, it is ok to throw a curve ball once in a while. For as practical as Peter was and as tall and big of a truck driving man he was, he one day came home with a teeny tiny Smart car- which he loved!
While Peter was a blessing to all of us, we are left wondering how 65 years went by so fast. May you learn from Peter’s precious time and embrace and share with others the qualities of Peter that you love and miss so much so that his legacy may live on. If you’re at Froedtert, get the pork chops. Peter loved those. Peter’s social style is now the widely accepted trend and it’s ok to just say “Hello” and not hug. I encourage you to look to the good times, learn the lessons, and live on fully knowing you will be reunited with him again someday.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 18:2
The name Peter is derived from the Greek word Petros meaning “rock” or “stone.” Peter was a rock in all of your lives. Because of his strength, commitment, concern, and love his family and friends were able to take refuge, to build a solid foundation, to grow and thrive. You could always depend on him.
There’s a saying, “If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.” These rocks have been gathered from the shores of Lake Michigan here in Peter’s beloved Kenosha. Each of you may take a rock, hold it, keep it in your pocket or your purse, keep it in a drawer, take it out and talk to it, put it in your garden, give it away to someone you love as a token of remembrance or place it somewhere around town…use it as you see fit. But remember Peter and the rock that he was in your life.
Peter would have a comment when the closing song at mass would go into the third verse. “Do we have to stay for the whole thing?” But the Maranos always sat up front at St. Mark’s so there was no walking out early. Our closing song today is a long one, and yes, Peter, you have to stay because you are up front. I will invite you up during our closing song to give your love to Peter and take a rock if you’d like.
My sincere condolences and love, Holly