by Lucille Sorrentino
Our mom is an incredible woman who turns 103 years old on Jan. 7. She is an example of a life well-lived and a good Christian.
Mary Mongelli was born in New York City in 1915. She was the oldest of seven children and when her mother died at the young age of 43, she took on the role of mother to care for her siblings. Their ages ranged from nine to 17 and she guided them through school, work, and marriage. In 1934, she married Peter Todisco and we lived in the same household as our grandfather, Joseph Mongelli. He was there to help, and he worked hard to support his young family. My mom did this all while taking care of her own three daughters, all of whom attended school and were married at St. Edmund’s parish in Sheepshead Bay. As children, we lived with our young aunts and uncles, until 1947, when Dad bought us a home in another section of Brooklyn.
Mary went to work in Lane Bryant when her youngest daughter turned 16. She worked in the sales department for young girls and became the department manager. She enjoyed this job because she felt that she was dressing her own daughters, and helped her customers make the best possible clothing choices. She became a top-notch sales person and customers always came back asking for Ms. Mary.
We lost our dad in 1970 after he and Mom had 36 years of marriage. They had a solid marriage and supported each other in so many ways. She was a true role model to many people. When Mary retired from Lane Bryant, she moved into her own apartment in our younger sister’s home and she joined St. Columba’s parish in Marine Park. She volunteered at the Golden Age Club and other activities there. She gave her time for 30 years in the kitchen and made coffee for the seniors. She served her church in any way that she was needed.
Mom has always been a hard worker, always enjoying her family, her children, and her great grandchildren. She likes to read, take a vacation, and also head to a casino now and then. She attended Mass and prayed the rosary daily.
Presently, she is residing at the Chateau Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. The staff and residence love her gracious smile and happy disposition.
Birthday celebrations are planned with a party at the Chateau, a trip to a casino, and luncheon at Perry’s Diner. Her birthday week will be filled with lots of love and attention, not only from her three daughters, Josephine Todisco Tacconi (St. Bernard’s parish in Mill Basin), Diana Todisco Cuzzolino (St. Columba, Marine Park), and myself.
Lucille Sorrentino lives in Scituate, Mass., where she is a member of St. Mary’s parish.