Archive for July 4th, 2007


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Earlier today I learned that my dear stepmother, Laura Contino had passed away unexpectedly last night. She had been in the hospital with health problems, but it had appeared that she was going to recover. However, it was not to be. I am deeply saddened by her (what I feel to be) early demise. Laura was only 63.

I first met Laura in 1984. She had been married to my Dad at that time for almost 2 years, but due to the long distance between our homes (ours in CA and theirs in IL), as well as finances, we had not made it back to the Midwest to meet Dad’s new wife. We had flown into Chicago on a red-eye flight and did not get into O’Hare Airport until around 6:00am that day. Jeremy our son was two at the time, and the flight disagreed with his toddler tummy. Dad was waiting there for us at the terminal, and the first time he got to meet his new grandson, Jeremy threw up all over his poor, unsuspecting grandpa! Dad was so gracious about it though. After cleaning each of them up, we headed over to Dad and Laura’s home in the suburbs. Upon arriving there, Laura was waiting for us and welcomed us all with open arms and a kitchen full of a large variety of delectable pastries and goodies for breakfast. She must’ve gotten up very early to prepare all that she did for us. Immediately I felt right at home with Laura

Every time thereafter whenever we would visit Dad and Laura, she always was there to greet us with a hug, a kiss and a big smile. She was always so glad to see any of Dad’s six children. If they were Dad’s kids, they were her kids too. Laura loved to cook, and it seemed she was always putting out a big spread for us whenever we came by. She was that way with all of us Contino siblings. Some of the dishes we best remember her for are: her awesome stuffed shells, her antipasto salad and her delicious ribs. Everything she cooked was yummy. Laura loved playing games with all of us. Some of the favorites were Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzee, Rummikub and Kings-in-a-Corner, to name a few. Laura loved to laugh, and she had one of those hearty, gut-wrenching laughs. Just hearing her laughter made me break into a guffaw.

Laura not only spoiled us, but she spoiled all the pets she and Dad had. One pet especially that I remember was May-Ling, a buff-colored Japanese Spaniel. Every day Laura would feed May-Ling steak and chicken. She refused dog food after that, and I can’t blame her. May-Ling was a pampered pet before the term ever came into existence, thanks to her loving owner, Laura.

Laura was always thinking of others. I remember the last time we saw her was Christmas Eve 1995. Even though I’m sure she couldn’t afford it, she had brought all of us kids presents and even had one for our Mom, whom she just loved. Whenever I would write or e-mail Laura, I always began my missives with “Dear Lovely Laura”. Laura was lovely both inside and outside.

This past Mother’s Day, my brother Tommy and I called Laura to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. She was not home, so we left her a voicemail in which we sang to her. Later that evening, I received a beautiful e-mail from Laura saying that she had received our voicemail message and song and that it still had her crying. Laura also said that she had such a great love for all of Dad’s kids and would forever hold us in her heart. She was so choked up that she said she would not be able to talk to us if we called her back. I was touched by her e-mail, and in retrospect, I wonder if perhaps she sensed that she would not be around much longer. She had told us about her heart problems and asked that we pray for her. Although we will miss her sorely, we will always cherish and hold Laura Contino near to our hearts and all the fond memories we shared with her.

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