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Blog: Stories and Insight

The Warmth of Family

As Margaret Thatcher once said, “Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” And that’s exactly what it meant to Angela “Cookie” Laino.

Photo: Angela surrounded by her  warm family circle at Christmas.

For more than 50 years, Angela’s Christmas tradition brought everyone together to experience the warmth of the family circle. She would prepare her special Italian gravy made with anchovies, a seven fishes feast, and a holiday cookie assortment including ricotta and chocolate chip.

She rejoiced in celebrating her four children – Frankie, Gina, Ralph, and Nick – four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild through these delicious traditions.

Photo: Angela and Frank, her husband.

“Seeing the Christmas tree lit and decorated always brightened her day — even more so as her illness progressed,” said Granddaughter Gia Mosetter.

Small Gestures, Big Impact

At age 76, Angela was diagnosed with lung cancer and started chemotherapy. After about a year, the side effects from the treatment were increasingly difficult for this Philadelphia native to manage. A brief hospital stay and time in a rehabilitation center were followed by some time at home. But when Angela’s health took a turn for the worse, the family decided to call Samaritan.

Photo: Clay hearts Talia and Gia made for Samaritan.

Angela only spent one hour at The Samaritan Center at Voorhees before she passed away. While her stay was brief, the expert and compassionate care Angela and her family received resonated far beyond her final, peaceful moments. The family’s gratefulness for Samaritan deepened even more when the hospice nurse presented an assortment of colorful clay hearts.

Granddaughter Talia Laino said, “The nurse gave each one of us a heart and told us to place them in my grandmother’s hand so that we would have a piece of her to carry with us forever. This small gesture meant so much to our family, and really helped us cope with our grief.”

Giving Back

In the months since Angela’s passing, The Laino/Mosetter Family continually bring their warm family circle together to reminisce and share stories about their beloved matriarch. During one of these gatherings Granddaughters Gia and Talia decided to make clay hearts as a way to give back to Samaritan.

Photo from left: Talia, Angela, Gia

“My grandmother would have loved that we were making the clay hearts to help other families because she always loved helping others,” Gia said. “The clay hearts really helped us with the grieving process and keeping her memory alive so we wanted to make them for Samaritan in honor of her.”

Gia and Talia molded the bright red, orange, and blue clay together with the same delicate care and compassion their grandmother received from Samaritan. As each heart was made, the family talked about their favorite memories and which of Angela’s recipes they’d like to try in the future.

They miss Angela. The loss of her physical presence and warmth is sorely missed in the family circle. But, they’ve found that leaning on the bonds of the family she fortified, along with the special clay heart keepsakes, is a way to honor Angela’s legacy of family and love.

About the Clay Hearts

Hear about the hearts in this tribute video: “We’re still here – the hospice grieving process”

Would you like to help comfort our families? Contact Sharon Wenner at 856-552-3238 for information and instructions.