Obituary: Franceschina Santoro Trotta passed away Friday, May 30, 2014 at 1:30am at Villa Scalabrini in Sun Valley, California. She was born May 18, 1919 in Paola, Calabria, Italy. In 1939, she married Giovanni Paolo Trotta (1911-1993) with whom she lived in Scarcelli, Italy and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, until they immigrated to Burbank, California in 1960 with their six children. Frances was a faithful member of the Catholic Church and her biggest satisfaction was caring for her family. A nurturing and loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, Frances was also an avid gardener, cook and health enthusiast. She...
Franceschina Santoro Trotta passed away Friday, May 30, 2014 at 1:30am at Villa Scalabrini in Sun Valley, California. She was born May 18, 1919 in Paola, Calabria, Italy. In 1939, she married Giovanni Paolo Trotta (1911-1993) with whom she lived in Scarcelli, Italy and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, until they immigrated to Burbank, California in 1960 with their six children. Frances was a faithful member of the Catholic Church and her biggest satisfaction was caring for her family. A nurturing and loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, Frances was also an avid gardener, cook and health enthusiast.
She is survived by her four sons, Franco (of Colorado), Carlo (Washington) Joe, and Jerry Trotta (California), and two daughters, Giuseppina Buono (Washington) and Ilda Hershey (Oklahoma); 15 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. Other living family members include a sister, Concetta Santoro Perrotta (age 93) in Paola, Italy and a brother, Antonio Santoro (age 90) in Sao Paulo, Brazil as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
There will be a Visitation taking place on June 12, 2014 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Valley Funeral Home. A funeral mass will be held the following day Friday, June 13, 2014 at 10:30am at the Mission Rey de España Chapel in Mission Hills, interment to follow at San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Please access the chapel through the cemetery entrance. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Burbank or to the charity of the giver's choice on behalf of Frances.
We say goodbye to our nurturing, brave, faithful, strong, and loving mother, Franceschina Santoro Trotta.
We remember mom for taking care of us and teaching us to live healthy, meaningful lives. We remember her sense of humor, positive attitude, and laughter.
She took our welfare seriously, making sure we ate well and took care of ourselves. She changed diapers and burped so many of us: 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and so far 14 great grandchildren. She cared for nieces and nephews too, village children in Italy, and later, neighborhood kids in Burbank.
As her children, we remember her cooking for us from scratch. All food came from mom. Mom and dad were a nurturing pair - together they raised food in the back and front yards at Buena Vista Street to feed all eight of us, and they fed us well…those fava beans, peas, avocados, figs, plums, zucchini, grapes, herbs…everything they grew made it to the table. Varieties of tomatoes were eaten fresh, cooked, or canned with basil. The wine was homemade and diluted with water or Bubble-Up until we were old enough to drink it straight.
Mom taught us how to make frittatas with zucchini flowers – to cook anything for ourselves. In Italy, she taught us how to forage for wild foods like dandelions and mushrooms and how to distinguish which ones were poisonous. In Calabria during WWII, she labored in the fields from sunrise to sunset, had no electricity or running water, and managed a full household.
Food was nourishment and medicine according to mom. Around the table her mantra was, "mangia, mangia, che ti fa bene!" – Eat, eat, it's good for you! Mom was always the last to sit down to dinner and her hawk eyes scanned the table to make sure everyone tried every dish. And there were many dishes; she recognized the importance of variety. Everything tasted good. Carlo remembers that mom never cooked anything he didn't like and she never complained about cooking. She cooked with love and enthusiasm all the time.
Frank remembers that later, when we visited mom as adults, we were immediately invited to eat and drink and pick fresh produce from the garden to share with our families. The life lessons mom gave us on growing food, cooking and eating well were an expression of her love and concern for us.
Mom was also very positive about situations and this was rooted in her strong faith. Pina remembers if money was tight, mom would say not to worry, "Che dio provede" – God will provide. At least we had our health, she would say. When we got hurt, she wouldn't allow us to feel sorry for ourselves. And if others complained about this or that, mom would try to lift them up with words to let them realize that things were not so bad.
Jerry remembers that even if there were problems mom never showed sadness. When dad was out of work and discouraged, she would always look on the positive side. She was the best mother anyone could have, truly a survivor and a resourceful provider.
One of the values she instilled in us was to always keep learning. Our entire lives, we should keep on learning because there was so much to learn and do. Her father instilled this in her along with: "Chi ama Dio ama se stesso" – Who loves God, also loves his own self (by taking care of himself).
In addition to being a farmer, chef, spiritual leader and nutritionist, mom was a self-educated nurse and veterinarian. In Italy she administered injections to town's people, she sewed up wounds, and aided the sick. She also tended to livestock, which in Burbank consisted of rabbits, ducks, and chickens, including her favorite hen, JayJay. She made our clothes and she cared for injured birds. She raised five children in post-WWII Italy for years while dad worked in Brazil to earn enough money to create a better life for his family, which would later be in California. Many sacrifices were made.
Some things surprised and delighted us about mom. She enjoyed roller coasters, she danced, she liked French fries, and she knew how to make or fix virtually anything. She enjoyed fashionable dress, but no matter how few dollars we had, she made sure her hair was done and her clothes clean and pressed. Her nickname was "Chichina" because her siblings couldn't pronounce Franceschina. To this day, nieces and nephews in Italy still refer to her as zia Chichina.
Mom had unique ways of expressing her feelings. Joe remembers the day he left for Viet Nam duty in 1966. During a morning good bye, mom asked him to open his right hand. He did, she placed her wedding band into it, and with both hands she turned his right hand into a fist and said, "I want you to bring it back to me."
Our mother was proud, she loved God, her family, and she lived life to the fullest. She was deeply in love with our father, Giovanni Paolo Trotta and they shared over 50 years of marriage. She missed him dearly after his passing in 1993. Surrounded by family, friends and faith, mom continued in good health until close to the end of her 95 plus years.
In anticipation of mom's 95th birthday this past May 18, Ilda thought how much mom would enjoy a family gathering at the park, or some pizza with familiar faces all around. Unfortunately mom's health was not good enough for a big birthday celebration this year. She was blessed to enjoy many celebrations in her life, however. She would have liked this gathering here today. Thank you for coming to celebrate her life.