Zelinda came of age during the Second World War in Paterno, in the Abruzzi region of Italy. It was a difficult time for her family as German soldiers occupied their village. It wasn’t uncommon for her and her sisters to hide in the attic when the soldiers decided they would stop by for some food. For some reason the occupiers couldn’t understand how they never saw any young women anywhere in the village except for Sunday mass.
Zelinda and her family lived a very simple life without running water or electricity and worked long hours on the family farm and around home.
The prospects for a young woman after the war in Italy were few and far between. And by the early 50s she followed her lifelong friend Lina (Damiani) Camastra to Canada. While at English as a second language class Lina met another recent Italian immigrant, Mary (Aquila) Panacci. It wasn’t long before the two of them hatched a scheme to introduce Mary’s uncle, Liberato (Lio) Ferrari, to Zelinda. That blind date was the beginning of more than 50 years together.
Zelinda and Lio would have three sons, along with a daughter that died during childbirth. They worked hard together and found ways to both work full time while ensuring that one of them was home with the boys at all times. Baby sitters weren’t in the cards for them. At that time few women worked outside the home and even fewer drove a car and yet Zelinda did both without any trepidation. Eventually they would take all of their sons to Italy to understand where their roots were. It was a gift that always stayed with her son’s. She instilled a sense of a second home in a place that seemed so foreign yet familiar to the boys growing up in Toronto.
Food brought her family together and she loved it. Her famous lasagna with hand made pasta - and tiny meatballs the size of marbles - would make her sons, grandchildren, and great grandchildren stop in the middle of playing and run to the table. The most important ingredient of course was Zelinda love that just oozed out of every dish.
In spite of not being a native English speaker, she didn’t let that get in the way of her family flourishing. She encouraged them to do things that probably seemed very foreign to her like take swimming lessons, accordion, play sports, scouts, paper routes and travel to far off places. All of this would have been foreign to her but she made it happen.
In her retirement years she and Lio would travel to places they had only dreamed of across Canada and the Caribbean and of course the visited Italy.
Zelinda passed away peacefully on Friday November 15, 2019 in her 95th year. Lio, who passed away in 2003 would have turned 100 years young the day after. Their children: Joe (Nancy) (Christine d. 2015), Elizabeth (d.1952), Evan (Chung-Ying) and Phil (Sandra); grandchildren: Michelle (Joe), Richard, Daniel (Naomi), Gabriela, Adam, Steven; great grandchildren: Lorali, Koby, Nicholas; great-great grandson Max and honourary grand children Fili and Seanei.
The family sends heartfelt thanks to the staff and residents of Extendicare Brampton for their care, comfort and friendship of Zelinda for more than eight years.