Catherine Marie Cipriani was the second born---and oldest daughter---of six children born in Nova Scotia in the town of Sydney, and raised on Cape Breton Island. Her father was a security guard at the Dosco Steel Mill, but Marie said her mother was definitely the boss! It was a tight-knit family and she was close to her brothers Jack, Allan, Roderick, Angus, and her Sister Lorraine. After high school, she took a summer job at the phone company in Sydney. She did so well, the CEO singled her out and asked her to stay on; she even ended up getting Jack and Lorraine jobs, and she loved working at the phone company with her siblings.
Growing up in Nova Scotia, there was plenty of snow and ice, especially ice. She became such an avid ice-skater that she brought her skates to work, and went to the rink on her lunch-break. We should not take the totality of her lifespan for granted; she worked as a switchboard operator. Think of it; when was the last time any of us saw a switchboard?
Marie was so pretty she was voted Miss Dosco Steel in 1949. Shortly thereafter she met Anthony, who was umpiring in Nova Scotia on the baseball triple-A circuit. She married Anthony in 1951, and moved to the States where they enjoyed 53 years of marriage together.
They had one child, a daughter Karen, around whom the sun rose and set. Business people say there are two types of executives, Type X and Type Y: Type X is authoritarian---do it this way or else. Anthony was an unusually devoted father, but he was Type X. Type Y, on the other hand, motivates people to go through fire for them. If there was ever a Type Y mother, it was Marie. Marie had a very close supportive relationship with Karen, and they shared everything. When she was 16, Karen was enticed by her girlfriends to celebrate the start of football season at Milford High School one Friday evening. She does not remember how she got home from the football field, but she does remember waking up the next morning, missing a brand new shoe! Saying nothing and not even acting annoyed, Marie drove with Karen to find her shoe, sitting right on the bleachers. Anthony never knew about the shoe---and he also never knew about the ripple wine! Marie’s famous line was “don’t tell your father!”
The Church was an important part of Marie’s life. Her brother was a priest, and the family had the luxury of Father Rod officiating a private Mass at home on important occasions. She was a very proud Catholic, from a solid Catholic family. One day, two nice people from a religious sect rang her doorbell to proselytize. The mere thought made her shoo them away with no doubt of equivocation: “We are Roman Catholic!”
Marie kept her good looks all of her life. She had beautiful posture---never slouched---with meticulous attention to her appearance, always. Twenty years ago, when she was admitted to Milford Hospital for atrial fibrillation, I was shocked because I had never seen a patient looking so, well, unlike a patient. There wasn’t a hair out of place, her makeup was perfect, and her composure was as if she was hosting a bridal shower.
Marie was a gentle soul, and her warm family culture (gemutlichkeit) was very laid back; it was rare to hear harsh words, much less confrontational ones. At one holiday gathering, we were discussing various manifestations of passive-aggressive behavior. Marie said---and this is classic Marie---I’m not passive-aggressive; I just don’t say anything!
Eighteen years ago I said at Anthony’s funeral, “He has crossed that dark river to the far shore where all journeys end, and all paths meet.” Today, however, I will not say Marie has crossed that same dark river, to join Anthony---because that’s too gloomy, even for a funeral. I would much rather evoke the gentle image of being borne softly away on snowy white wings. If we bow our heads, we can all wish her godspeed…
My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun
Oh, come angel band, come and around me stand
Oh, bear me away on your snow white wings
To my immortal home.
(As sung a cappella, by the Jordanaires)
Herbert L. Cares, M.D.
Hopedale Village Cemetery
August 18th, 2022
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