Eulogy - Celebrating 101+ years of Rosa Rinaldi
Born April 29th, 1921, in Roseto Valfortore, Foggia, Italy, Maria Rosa Rinaldi (nee Trigiani), lived a life in
duration and fullness, that most can only ever imagine. Known to her friends and family as Rosa, Zia
Rosa, Mrs. Rinaldi, Ma, Mum, Nonna Rosa, Grandma Rosa and Mamma-Nonna, she exuded a strength
and resilience that can only be a product of the love she gave and received in her 101+ years of life. A
Centurion, having survived her husband by 25 years (the late Antonio Rinaldi, 1998), six siblings
(Rosalina (Michele), Michele (Giuseppina), Michelina (Francesco), Caterina (Giuseppe), Cosimo and
Filippo), son-in-law (Giuseppe (Joe) Basso), and hundreds of family, friends and neighbors, Rosa had her
share of trials through her century-plus long life. But that never kept her down long; she always had
more courage, strength, life, and love to give.
In 1938 in her small Italian mountain village, she met and fell in love with Antonio (Tony). She often
recounted how she had waited for him to return from war (WWII). After six long years, in 1946 they
were reunited. Rosa remembered how handsome he looked when he returned, how he had learned
English and the very first time, he kissed her. They married in January 1947, had their first child (Maria
Teresa) in 1948 and boarded the ship “Brazilia” in 1950 to start a new life in Canada. In 1952 they
purchased their first and only home in an Italian community in south Etobicoke. Rosa and Tony opened
their home and hosted many Rosetani who arrived in Canada. Every corner of their small bungalow had
beds in it. Sometimes as many as 15 borders at one time. She would cook and clean and they would lend
their skills and support to anyone living under their roof until they were able to find employment and a
home of their own. Her long kitchen table was always full of paesani, pasta, pane, and vino. In 1954,
they welcomed their son Lorenzo. Now a complete family.
A product of her era, you would never find Rosa idling. Upon arriving in Canada, she worked in the
laundry room at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Never having driven, on a few occasions when she missed her bus,
she would walk 2.5 hours home. In addition to running a household for not only her own family, but
others she extended her home to, she later worked closer to home at Polytainers as a factory worker.
One of her proudest stories to share was how she was promoted to ‘Lead Hand’. A huge
accomplishment for a woman in those times and the reward for being a dedicated, hard-working, and
loyal employee. She worked there with pride for decades until her retirement.
Rosa was content with living life simply and selflessly. Devoted to her family, she gave of herself
however and whenever she could. Whatever she did, she gave it 200%. Following Tony’s retirement,
they travelled annually to Cuba and even Argentina, creating lasting memories that she spoke of well
into her final years, forming genuine friendships and finally enjoying the hard work she had put into life
in general. It was often she would recount the long-distance phone calls she received from her dear
friends and how she enjoyed the conversations.
In 1998, she lost her husband of 51+ years. She often spoke of the sense of loneliness she felt with his
absence. Rosa remained in her small bungalow, living on her own until a few years ago. This was her
choice and possible in part to the thoughtfulness and kindness of her neighbors since 1955; for which
she was always grateful. Her strength and selflessness were passed to her daughter Teresa and son
Lorenzo, who continued to support Rosa’s wishes to remain independent and in the comfort of her
home, which held so many precious memories. She always welcomed her family with a Sunday lunch;
delicious and cooked with love. You might catch her staring at you from her assigned head of the kitchen
table seat, only to come to realize later in life, she was absorbing every moment, and taking it all in in
awe. The fulfillment she experienced watching her five grandchildren grow into adults and the cherished
moments being a great-grandmother to her five great-grand-children was exuding from the smile she
had when she spoke of any of them. Well into her 80’s and 90’s you might find Rosa putting a fresh coat
of paint on her interior walls while up on a ladder, knitting a blanket or scarf, making homemade tomato
sauce or focaccia slabs to feed a small village, shoveling her snow or more enjoyably, tending to her
enormous vegetable garden. Her garden of 100 tomato plants and a variety of other herbs and
vegetables was her passion, and joy. She had accumulated decades of valuable earned experience and
committed with pleasure to tending to it with pride.
On a nice day, if she wasn’t in her backyard garden, you might find her sitting in her garage, or on her
veranda, or perhaps even planting or watering her beloved red geraniums. In her younger mature years,
if the front door was closed or she didn’t answer her phone, she was likely walking with her buggy to the
local grocery store to buy her Cheerios and a few other simple items. In colder weather and in her more
challenging health years, she would sit and watch her Italian shows on TV and reminisce while looking at
all her family photos on her walls or flipping through her photo albums. She would wait for Teresa and
Lorenzo’s daily ‘check-in’ calls and get comfort in just hearing their voice. If their calls were late, she
would promptly call them and ensure all was well with them and their families.
Rosa always kept the front door open, to welcome any visitors which was often the highlight of her day.
She said time passed more quickly and enjoyably when her kids/grandkids/great grandkids would pop
in. She always had some taralli, lemon muffins or ice cream sandwiches to offer. You could not say no;
you would never leave hungry. And you were guaranteed to hear a story, or two, or five, which no doubt
she had told you many times before, but you sat and listened as though it was the first time because it
gave her such joy and pleasure to share her memories with you and have someone to keep her
company. When you didn’t call or visit for a while, she would nudge at you and sarcastically remind you
where she lived. Rosa would often spend her Saturday mornings sitting at her kitchen table with Teresa,
talking about anything and everything.
Five years ago, at the age of 96 following some health complications, Rosa required assisted living. She
settled in her new home at Villa Forum Long Term Care in the summer of 2018. Although never
comparable to her south Etobicoke bungalow of 66+ years, after having endured so much throughout
her already very long life, Rosa adapted and found new routine. She enjoyed the visits the home had
from heritage musical performers, the seasonal cultural activities, and events, and the conversations
and company of some new-found table mates and neighbors, relatives and paesani who also called it
home. Any time she was able to spend outdoors she enjoyed. A sweater over her shoulders, always a
necessity. Kind staff who took the time to know Rosa, had the opportunity to share the humorous side
of her personality and the spunk, wit, and fire she still had inside her until her last day. You couldn’t get
Rosa to do something she didn’t want to, even with her weakened body and at 101+ years old. She still
had an opinion and preference and made sure her voice was heard. She was always grateful for the
small kindnesses shown to her by some thoughtful care givers and greeted all with a smile. Her 99th
100th and 101st birthday celebrations through challenging restrictions, were made special by the staff
who spoiled her with compliments on her special day, and a few dear people who arranged the added
touch. Many would often be in disbelief when she shared her age. The food never quite measured up to
this Centurion’s homemade classic Italian standards, but she still looked forward to a visit to the Chinese
buffet to celebrate a family occasion. She enjoyed her daily little glass of red wine and ginger ale, well
into her senior years.
Rosa particularly enjoyed receiving visits from her family, whether that be her children, grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, friends, or relatives. She greeted you with “Cuore di Mama” and would sit and
stare at you and see in you the life she had lived so long ago. For many years in her family home, she
enjoyed the company of her canary Charlie; she was always playful when one of the family dogs came to
her new home for a visit. She would bid farewell to her great-grandchildren with “Nonna Love You”.
Rosa most treasured and looked forward to conversations with loved ones. She always enjoyed being
asked to recount a story of her youth, work, husband, family, or life in general; or tell you about the
people in her vacation photo albums or her garden. It was so meaningful to her when someone would
remember her on Christmas, her birthday or special occasion, or for no reason at all send her a card or
phone call, or surprise her with a silly gift.
It is unfathomable to catalogue the personal experiences this independent, strong, compassionate,
courageous, devoted woman witnessed, endured, experienced, and survived through. From sending
home telegrams to Italy in the 1950s, to seventy years later Facetiming her family in the 2020s during
pandemic lockdown. Wars; recessions; pandemics; global, societal, technological, medicinal, political,
cultural; devastation, success, development, innovation; the sheer amount of modern history she has
lived through is almost immeasurable and inexplicable in one lifetime. She endured, she adapted, she
survived, she thrived. Rosa lived a full life.
Even after 101+ years of a life lived beyond measure, this wonderful woman’s absence has created a
void that will forever be irreplaceable. She taught us that a life lived simply, surrounded by loved ones, is
a life lived fully. It is with difficulty we say goodbye to the company of our mother, grandmother, great
grandmother, friend. With profound sadness we announce the passing of Maria Rosa Rinaldi, who died
peacefully on Sunday February 12, 2023; at the age of One-Hundred and One Years and Ten Months; at
Villa Forum Long Term Care in Mississauga, Ontario Canada. Cherished mother of Teresa and (the late)
Giuseppe (Joe), Lorenzo and Joan; Beloved Mamma Nonna and Grandma of Len & Carla, Tony and
Maria, Rita and Frank, Katherine & Anthony, (the late) Rosa; Adored Nonna Rosa/Great-grandmother of
Calista, Cayden, Chiara, Sienna, and Adriana; Fur-Nonna of Molly, Luna and Cooper. Our family lost a
matriarch, but heaven gained an angel. What an incredible 101+ years of life she lived that will live on in
her memory in our hearts for an eternity. As she always said in Rosetano dialect “Volit’vi
Bene”....“Always Love Each Other”. We will always love you. Rest in peace.