A little over a year ago our extended Rinaldi family began a roller coaster ride that reached the sudden climax while we were still driving to get to Colorado. Just before we crossed from Iowa to Nebraska, we got the call we didn't want to receive, but one we thought would come. The family that was present had a great gathering in Cathy's hospital room, and just after they were leaving to call it a late night, Ray stayed behind to spend the night with his beloved wife. And, she was gone. While we couldn't be with them, it was so good that most of the family was able to be together, celebrating Cathy's life before she took her final breath.
One of the legacies that Cathy left us with is a strong sense of what family means. And in her final act on earth she, once again, brought the family together. We came together to grieve, try to cope with a sudden sense of lost time, lost opportunities, and missing her famous hugs. Oh, some of us (me included) felt more than a little guilty at also not missing her sharp criticism, and her raw sense of humor. But, mostly, we wandered each home in Colorado, knowing she would just be around the corner. Or she would be coming, but just a little late. Your presence was palpable, and more than once I just knew if I walked in quick enough, I'd see you weren't really gone.
What I have come to realize was how she showed me the reward of being a feisty, opinionated, compassionate and hard work woman. Her kids and their families often stood in awe when she turned into the mother tiger protecting her cubs. We also celebrated so many joyous and other sad occasions under her direction. The next wedding will be hard without her hovering, and making sure everyone is having a good time! It can never be said that you could walk away hungry or thirsty when Cathy opened her door. Plenty of grandchildren joined her and Nonno for games of Phase 10, Rummikub and Farkel.
Lynn Cathleen Rinaldi ... you welcomed me into the crazy Rinaldi clan in your own unique way. Thank you for believing in us, for being our cheering squad, for offering opposite opinions, but allowing us to make our own way. And thank for you for never once saying "I told you so" when our choices were not your wiser ones.
We pray for your soul every day, Cathy, and hope that God's mercy has been showering you with some of the love you missed when growing up. We hope that you are side by side with all your dear friends and family who departed this world before you. We hope you'll be there when we each come across the veil to join you, waiting with open arms for a much needed hug and gentle "I love you" whispered in our ears.
Any Rinaldi's reading this post, know what we are sending our love out to each one of you. We'd be hugging and listening to you in person if we could. Most of all, if you can, give Ray one huge, long hug from us!