November 17, 1930 ~ May 24, 2022
Born in: Brooklyn, NY
Resided in: Smithtown, NY
I hate to admit this, and to hear all of you say it is even more painful, but apparently, I have passed away. I never thought this day would come. Even though I have seen so many of my dear friends and family members leave this wonderful world before me, I am still shocked that it happened to me.
The story of my life began on November 17, 1930, when I was born to Francis and Louise Iaquinta. Even today, as I walk along the clouds above you, I am amazed to think I was born in the first half of the last century. I grew up at 112 Gatling Place in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. I was thrilled to be the oldest sister of Vera and Mary, who I considered not only my family but best friends. From the day my sisters and I were born, until the day we each got married, all of us lived in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge.
My father, a tailor in the garment district and my mother, a retailer at the Daisy shop worked long hours. I often looked after my sisters until they returned from work. Looking back, I remember praying for my parents to come home early so I could shun my “older sister” responsibilities. Little did I know that those times with my sisters were the foundation of my ever-living quest to be close to family.
My memories of my childhood have never escaped me. I remember my father, until the day he died in 1990, spoke with a very strong Italian accent. I can still see him sitting out front on the stoop of our apartment building; stained yellow fingers, listening to the Italian radio station, and smoking his Parliament cigarettes. As for my mom, she ruled the house. Watch out if you did anything wrong, you would get smacked across the knuckles so hard with a wooden spoon. That spoon came out of nowhere and hit your knuckles faster than John Wayne’s shootout in True Grit. Some of my favorite times were simply playing house in our tiny apartment with my sisters and then watching them in awe as they began their careers working together at the VA Hospital. I attended elementary and high school at St. Joseph’s and after my high school graduation, I skipped college and entered the working world.
My sisters passed away way far too soon—Mary in 1976 and Vera in 2010. My mom tried hard to overcome the death of Mary, but she never was the same. Five years after Mary passed away, my mom soon followed. Fortunately, each of my sisters had two amazing children that would make their moms proud of the way they are living their lives and the families they’ve created. Mary’s daughters, Kerry and Mary Frances are still a big part of our family. Spending Christmas Eve with them in my home and seeing them each year at the cousin’s party became some of the highlights of my life. Until my last week, I spoke to Mary Frances daily, somedays 2-3 times a day, and she even visited me in the hospital during my final days. She filled my days with love and kindness, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Vera had a son Eddie and a daughter Donna. Vera was extremely proud of her two children and as I got to know them through the years, I can see why. I am proud of them as well. Like me and my family, the happiest days in Vera’s life were when she was with her children and grandchildren. Donna and I would talk daily. These days, of course—I send her messages in other ways, but she has yet to notice. Pay attention everyone, I am sending messages to most of you in this room.
After I graduated high school, I had three goals in mind: make my first million, meet the man of my dreams, and make new memories, not necessarily in that order.
My first million…. This paragraph is going to be short. It never happened. End of paragraph.
New memories…where do I begin? I remember having to tell my parents we were moving to Long Island into a brand new $17,000 house—they thought it was on the other side of the world. I remember so many trips and parties with my beloved husband and close friends through the years. We called it “club”, but it was really an excuse to take a break from the children, drink some highballs, smoke cigarettes, and escape the world for a few hours. I remember the birth of my three children and the up and down years that raising children bring. I must say, my life was filled with so many more ups than downs and for that, I view my memories as special treasures in my mind. The Thanksgivings at Peg and Al’s house, Christmas Eve in the early years in my parents’ tiny apartment and then in my house years later. The birthday’s, Easter, Lake George, graduations, theatre plays, ball games, and in my later years, the days my children and grandchildren would give me a call or visit me in my home. I will be forever filled with love and appreciation for my family because as much as we had fun, I could be a handful. Memories are not always good ones. Living as long as I lived, I saw far too many deaths. My sisters, mom, dad, in-laws, and the most devasting, my husband Ernie. By the way, I just saw him, he does not look a day over 61 and sends his love to everyone.
The man of my dreams…oh, let me tell you about the man of my dreams. I met Ernie at a Knights of Columbus dance when I was 21 years old. He was short, dark, and handsome, just the way I liked my men. He swept me off my feet and within a year we were married. The wedding took place on June 1, 1952. It was a cool rainy day. Some say it is good luck when it rains on your wedding day. I guess they were right. I was so proud to be called Mrs. Louise Beltrani and excited to begin our new life together. Our first 5 years of marriage were spent in a two-bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. We lived there—Ernie, me, our oldest child Debra (born on 11/9/54) and Gary (born 8/15/56). We talked about having 3 children even though money was tight. We worked, saved, and found a way to move out of Brooklyn to a house 50 miles east on Long Island. Soon after, we moved into the house in Smithtown where we celebrated the birth of Ernie Jr (born 9/9/60).
The story of my life continued even after Ernie’s death in 1991. I was fortunate to live 31 years after him, although many days were lonely and difficult. As fortune would have it, Ernie Jr. had a son (Michael) who he raised in my house. Some say it was a blessing for Ernie to have help raising Michael since Ernie was a single parent. Whenever I heard that I would laugh, I knew I was the lucky one for having my son and his son be a part of my life. They each filled my days with companionship, love, and some days a little craziness.
Debra married Ed Donegan in 1979 and raised their three children, Lauren, Thomas, and Tara in Lynbrook NY. Lauren and Tara have two wonderful husbands and they each have two beautiful daughters. I used to long for the days that they would visit the house, now I get to look upon them every day. Thomas left Long Island to take a job far away in Arizona. Fortunately, Thomas and I talked several times a week. I loved our calls. Although you cannot hear me now, keep talking to me, I am listening.
Gary married his wife Lori in 1984 and raised their three children, Alex, Katie and Abby in Setauket, NY. Today, each of his kids are scattered around the country and I miss them dearly. It was always a special treat when they were in town and stopped by the house or called me on the phone.
Debra was my medical concierge that placed and guided me every step of the way. The past ten years as my health was failing, Debra found me the best doctors, hospitals, and path back to health. Without her support, this obituary would have been written in 2012. Gary, my financial consultant took care of all things financial to make my life easier and always had my back if I needed the support. Thank you both for being there, never bickering, always being supportive and for filling my world with love. But Ernie, oh Ernie. Thank you, for filling my days with love, patience, and kindness. For shopping, driving, and putting up with me all these years. I know I was a handful and I also know without you I would have passed away long before this week.
Lastly, to my sister in-law Dolores (Dee) and my friends. Dee, we did not see each other much during the last 20 years but I always loved you like a sister. By the way, I just saw Joe, he looks great and told me to tell you not to rush, enjoy your life down there. I have been blessed with too many friends to mention. Let’s start with Blanche, my sister from another mister. I love you—what more can I say. You filled the last 30 years with unconditional love and friendship. Thank you, Joann, Donna, Edith, and all those I failed to mention, thank you for your friendship—I love you too.
Throughout my life, my best days were the days I was with my family. I will be forever filled with love and appreciation for my family.
It is now time to say goodbye. To my children, grandchildren, great granddaughters, nieces, nephews, son-in law, daughter in law, and all those I have loved and for those that loved me. Please don’t cry because I’m gone; instead, be happy that I was here. I am dancing without a walking device and without an aide to bother me – Today I am happy.
Remember, I am the love in your heart and the air you breathe. I will always be with you.
Love you forever.
Mom, Nana, Louise, Aunt Louise