One of a Kind……
I am going to stray away from the political realm and just simply talk about someone that has made a major impact on my life. That person would be my mother in law, Pat Zanella.
My Dad taught me early on that when you choose a woman to spend the rest of your life with, take a good look at her mother because that will – more than likely – be a good implication of what your next 50 years together will resemble.
I dated my wife Tina in high school, a few years later we were married, and have been for almost 30 years. It was then, when I was in high school that I first met her mother, Pat. It was from day one I knew that if Tina was going to turn out like her mother, I was done searching for a wife. I knew then she would be the one.
As I got to know Tina’s her immediate family, that made things pretty easy, but her cousins, uncles, aunts and all others involved, made this a very easy choice for me, not to mention that Tina was (and still is) very easy on the eyes. She had a sense of humor, and laughed at my stupid jokes. She was right up my alley.
Her Mother was the center of the entire family, the gatherings, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, and a lot of other times, for no reason at all, we all got together to share one of her mother’s fantastic meals. After having her mother’s homemade ravioli (yes, they’re Irish /Italian), my first Christmas gift to Tina was an oven mit. I was simply hoping she could cook like her mother. My gamble paid off. She can.
Pat Zanella was a person who grew up in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, the coal region. She grew up without a lot of material things but with a great family, a strong Catholic religion, and an incredible work ethic.
When her husband Joe gained employment as Director of Financial Aide at Mount St. Mary’s University, they moved from Pennsylvania to Emmitsburg in the early 70s. What a gift Emmitsburg was getting when that happened. Little did this town know what a saint they were receiving in Pat Zanella.
Emmitsburg is a funny sort of town, I knew early on in my life it was different than the rest of Frederick County. It was different from my home town of Thurmont.
While Thurmont is a nice place, Emmitsburg is totally different. The sense of community in Emmitsburg is something you won’t find in many other places. The volunteerism, the way neighbors interact, baseball, softball, the legion, VFW, the Mount, the Grotto and the Vigilant Hose Company, all interconnected with a strong purpose which makes this community great.
In order to stand out up here, you have to be near perfection, and that is what brings this article back to Pat Zanella. It’s hard to stand out in this community because there are so many good people doing good things every day. They’re not looking for awards, it’s just the way Emmitsburg is, a solid community.
Pat Zanella stood out for her kindness to everyone. She stood out for her sense of right and wrong. She stood out for her willingness to volunteer. She stood out for her compassion for others. She stood out because she was always more concerned with everyone other than herself. I’ve been around her for over 30 years and don’t think I ever heard her complain. She always wanted to know how I was doing, when I would ask about her, she’d change the subject. Not quite sure how she always got away with that?
She would be in the Jubilee grocery store for hours because in every aisle she knew someone and had to make sure they were doing okay; was everything okay in their life; how were their kids; and always with some encouraging words to make someone’s day.
Pat passed away on December 18, 2015, unexpectedly in her home, with her family and with God watching over her. A sad day in some respects, such as younger great grandchildren who will never know what an angel they had for a great grandmother; a family that misses her with all their heart, and a town that will miss her smiling face and words of encouragement on a daily basis.
The part that makes the sadness worth it……Well, Mrs. Z, I can tell you this, you made a huge impact on my life that I am forever grateful. You’ve taught my children the value of love and family just by being you. In a town that has so many good people it’s hard for anyone to stand out………you stood out.
I will miss you every day, but if it came down to knowing you for those 30+ years and the sadness of losing you, or never knowing you at all, I’ll gladly take those 30+years.