Family and Funerals

I lost my mother on January 31, 2013.  A week later my uncle and God-Father Kenny died. My uncle Frankie died  less than two weeks later.
My dad died in 2005 and my only sibling, Joey, died in 1992. “Adult Orphan – When Parents Die” syndrome was a very real and very unexpected feeling for me.

It has been an enormously emotional time for all of us.

I don’t get to see my father’s side of the family that often. Through Facebook my wife and I recently reconnected with many members of the family. Also through our interest in dog rescue  we reconnected with my cousin Jodi who has  established her own 501 (3) (c) foundation Running For Rescues.

It has been deeply comforting and wonderful to be with my many Aunts, Uncles and Cousins during our recent losses.

Even though many years pass by, and in many cases decades, I always pick up exactly where I left off when I see them.

My father kept  them informed over the years, and he would also tell me what was happening in their lives… So – for example – even though I hadn’t seen my Uncle Frank in perhaps 10 or 15 years – all the memories from my childhood – all the conversations with my father – I felt I knew him well. He was a musician too, and so is his son. There is the added “way” musicians understand each other that I think we shared too…

I was really blessed to have the opportunity to visit with my Uncle Frankie, his dear mother Filomena “Fanny”, Aunt Marie and Cousins Frank and Jay during his final weeks – and to share some music with him. I can’t put into words how blessed I felt to be able to play for my uncle and his family. When asked to play Amazing Grace at the cemetery service I was absolutely honored. I can communicate so much of what is in my heart through music – and I just felt like I had so much to say. I wanted big Frank to know I looked up to him – if only from a distance. I wanted his family to know I understood and shared the pain of their grief. I can’t express any of these things 1/1000th as well as I can with the horn.

I didn’t get to see Uncle Kenny as much. But he and Aunt Tessie were my God-Parents and present when I was baptized over in the “other” church on the hill in New Canaan. Kenny served his country in the Navy and the New Canaan Fire Department for fifty years. These men are people I’ve looked up to – their sincerity, passion, values – and perhaps most important their ability to take the good with the bad and come out ahead of the game each time.

During the services and receptions I had the opportunity to see much of my family – My parents divorced in 1973, and so of my cousins were still being born. I have first cousins I never met until these funerals – and while its so sad to mourn the passing of a beloved father and uncle – it is also deeply joyful to reconnect.

I’d look across the room and know by the face who all the Soccis were. Its an unmistakable look we have in common. Then their children – and THEIR children. What beauty and sadness at the same time.

I know I look a lot like my father – and he talked about me quite a bit. As I sat on one side of the room I’d look to the other and catch the gaze of one of my uncles – and we’d just stare and smile. No need for words. Recognition. Love. Family. Straight from the heart.

RIP – my mother, Lily Strange Socci July 30, 1924 – January 31, 2013

We’ll have more to say later. For now, the obituary I composed. Rest in peace ma…

Lily Strange Socci of Centerbrook died at Middlesex Hospital, Middletown, CT on January 31, 2013. She was 88 years old.

She was born Lily Louise Strange, the youngest of three children, to Louise (Wright) and Charles H. Strange on July 30, 1924 in Pottsville, PA.

Lily was best known for her one woman show, “The Pink Lady”, which included original comedy, songs, and impressions of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Mae West. She had appeared on stage or worked on stage productions with such notable celebrities as Art Carney, Joe E. Brown, and The Public Theater of NYC’s Joseph Papp.

She was the mother of two sons, Joseph Peter Socci born 1964, and Charles Strange Socci born 1966 of Centerbrook. She was the former spouse of their Father, Peter Joseph Socci who was remarried and died in 2005 in Danbury, CT

In addition to her theatrical activities she was a tireless advocate for closing the large state institutions and integrating the mentally challenged into the community. She cared for her Downs Syndrome son Joey at home until his death in 1992.

She also briefly taught art in the public school system, and was a lifelong lover of painting, drawing and pastels.

She obtained her undergraduate degree in English at Penn State, her teaching certification at Southern Connecticut State University, and a Masters in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University.

Lily was an active member of many organizations during her life time, including: The Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Association for Retarded Citizens, the Cappella Cantorum, Trinity Lutheran church choir, and the The Middletuners singing group of Middletown, CT.

She was predeceased by her son Joseph Peter Socci,  her Father Charles Hodgetts Strange of Jacksonville, FL, her Mother Louise Wright of Centerbrook, and two brothers; Charles Alfred Strange of Milford, CT and Walter H. Strange of Pelham, NY.

She is survived by her son Charley and daughter-in-law Kristin Lynn Socci (McGarigle) of Centerbrook, two grand-children, Alexander David Charles Socci, and Norma Lucille Louise Socci of Deep River, her beloved dog Champagne “Shammy”, and dear family friend of 50 years Frances Outland of Middletown – as well as her lifelong childhood friend in Pottsville, Evelyn Berger.

Family and friends may visit the Swan Funeral Home, 1224 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, Thursday, February 7, from 5 to 7.  Funeral Services will be held Friday, February 8, at 1 pm at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 109 Main Street, Centerbrook CT.  Interment will follow at Centerbrook Cemetery.  Please visit for tributes and condolences.

Published in The Middletown Press  on February 5, 2013

I’ve composed a photo album for my mother, which may be viewed by clicking the following link. If you have any photos or video to share, please let us know! Our number is +1 860 581 8361 Lily Strange Socci Photo Album

Africa, What Have You In Store For Me?

Something I wrote down a while back.

Lake Kivu, Bukavu DRCOh, Africa, what have you in store for me?

I come from the west with a seed in my heart, what have you in store for me?

Things i can’t imagine, what does it mean to be human? Africa what have you in store for me?

Batuuli was raped by the rebels yet showers her love without limit on all she meets, Africa what have you in store for  me?

Haji’s hand was taken by the rebels yet today he plays the guitar, Africa what have you in store for me?

People with nothing yet rich beyond any measure in the things of the heart, Africa what have you in store for me?

Beautiful dawns, lush green days and tropical rains – nights filled with the smell of wood fires, Africa what have you in store for me?