Grace Canarie – mother, caretaker, breadwinner

Brendan Canarie

 

Grace Ann Canarie – born Grace Ann Bellizzi – was born October 22, 1923. She was the daughter of Frank and Delia Bellizzi of San Besile, Italy. She came from a humble background, and worked as the secretary to a local manufacturing plant immediately after graduating high school – during a time where if was very difficult for women to get jobs. She married Frank Canarie, a WWII veteran, in 1956, and had four children. After suffering from a debilitating stroke, Frank was unable to work, and the family survived off of a disability check and Grace’s secretary salary. She was a care-taker, a mother, and a bread-winner. She was also member of St. Brigid Parish, the St. Brigid Ladies Guild, the LaSalette Mission Guild and the Catholic Women of Connecticut. Every week she volunteered at CRIS Radio, where she would narrate programs for those with impair vision. In 1995, she received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontice medal from Pope John Paul II.

But that doesn’t truly show who she was. That can be summed up perfectly by her name: Grace. She was simply the epitome of grace. She was always humble, never proud and never arrogant. Everyone and everything revolved around her, but one would never guess just by looking at her. Even if she knew how important she was to her family, her friends, her job, her community, she never showed it. She offered unending kindness and expected nothing in return.

Grace Canarie was my grandmother. During the last decade of her life, she suffered from dementia. It began as small things, but grew; during the last five years of her life, she could not recognize me.  Though she was still alive, she lost the things that made her who she was. During those days, when it felt like I had lost my grandmother as she once was, pictures like these were helpful. They show who she was: a beautiful woman, inside and out, who radiated grace.