Sunday, May 31, 2015

R.I.P. Mary Torcivia.

Mary Torcivia, with her sons Joe (left) and Bob (right). 

Mary Torcivia, my mother, passed away on Saturday, May 23, 2015, at the age of 88 - following a three-week illness.  

She was an amazing lady, as my eulogy for her reproduced below, will reveal.  And, consider THIS EARLY BLOG POST something of a prelude for what i'm about to say.  

Here is my eulogy for my mother, delivered on May 27, 2015: 

Today, we say good-bye to Mary Torcivia – devoted wife of Joseph P., loving mother to Joseph M. and Robert, mother-in-law to Esther, and grandmother to Kyle, and Joseph III. 

More than a loving mother, she was an amazing inspiration.  For a small and quiet person, she demonstrated great strength – strength that often surprised me. 

From a disastrous full staircase fall slamming into a door in 1979, to her husband’s death in 1992, to an out of control SUV nearly destroying her home in 2007, to fracturing her hip three days before Hurricane Sandy and enduring 11 full days in the dark and unexpected bitter cold that followed in 2012, to her remarkable grace throughout her terminal illness of 2015… she faced it all with the great strength that I will always remember her for.   

To the very end, she fought against the effects of the disease that took her, all the while doing her best to remain as upbeat and cheerful as was humanly possible during her final week at home. 

In the time I spent with her every evening of that final week, she made certain to say how proud she was of her sons, Bob and I, and how well we worked together to make her final wish come true.  To spend her final days in the home she lived-in and loved, since February, 1969. 

In addition, for me, she was a wise sounding-board and a comfort when it came to relationship ups and downs and acting upon life’s necessary choices.   And it is that aspect of our relationship that that provides me with my final story of my mother. 

During an unpleasant personal period for me, we found ourselves alone together in her house one evening.  Oddly, she enjoyed science fiction related entertainment to a degree you might not expect of someone of her gender and age.  But, over the years, we enjoyed things like Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, and Kolchak the Night Stalker.  She was actually watching The X Files and Lost before I was! 

Noting my unhappiness, as only a mother could, she was watching a movie on HBO – a movie about some “dirt-poor desert town”, under which there were giant monster worm-creatures that would spring-up and eat people.  It was called “Tremors”, perhaps you remember it. 

Anyway, she asked me to sit and watch it with her, probably knowing it would somehow distract me from my situation.  And it did.  We enjoyed the film immensely. 

Later in the week, as HBO used to do, “Tremors” was shown again – and again she invited me to watch it with her.  It, and the experience, were better still the second time around. 

I’d not given a thought to “Tremors” in many years since those two nights of fun. 

On THIS SUNDAY, after conducting some additional business for Mary at the funeral parlor up the road, I had some expiring Best Buy coupons and stopped at that establishment on the way home.  

I walked past a huge circular bin of randomly and sloppily strewn Bargain Blu-Rays – and what do you think catches my eye… THIS DAY OF ALL DAYS!   (Take Box out of jacket and hold it up to the audience!)

Yes! It was “Tremors”!  It was “Tremors”!  I had not given a single thought to “Tremors” in SO MANY YEARS!

And, of the hundred or more items in that bin, it was the ONLY COPY of “Tremors”!  And, it caught my eye totally at random!

…Or, maybe NOT so random!  Maybe it was a reminder from Mary of a good time we had!  I dare not say! 

But, there was no way I was leaving it in Best Buy!  I took it home and watched it that night (this time with Esther), and relived a special, forgotten moment shared with Mary.  Though I might have forgotten it, something tells me that she did not!

Thank you, Mom – for everything!  Speaking for Bob and myself – and Esther and Kyle, we love you!   


Deb said...

My condolences for your loss. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Deb!

Clapton said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. I wish you and your family the best. As deb said which is also true of me you'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

Elaine said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Joe. Thanks for sharing your eulogy with us--it's a lovely peak at a wonderful woman. And I'm glad that DVD of Tremors mysteriously caught your attention and brought back a great memory of her empathy (as well as her appreciation of some of the finer things of life!).

This is the second major loss for you in a short time, following the loss of Chris Barat. 2015 is a year of much grief for you, as well as a year of fun new beginnings imprinted with "IDW". I hope that your memories of love and laughter are a consolation to you in both losses.

Joe Torcivia said...


Thank you. The best thing is that she did not suffer for very long.

Joe Torcivia said...


Thank you. She was indeed a wonderful woman. The “Tremors” story was so mind-blowing – and so perfectly timed-and-placed that I had to craft her eulogy around it. And, by doing, share with everyone an experience we shared that even I had forgotten until that fateful moment!

For me, those were the best things. The “little and quiet” things that I tend to forget – even if she apparently did not.

ramapith said...

The "little and quiet" things are always the best. Joe, your mother was clearly one of a kind, filled with indomitable strength and endurance—and she couldn't have passed them on to a better friend.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, David.

And, just so you know, she was very proud of my working regularly on the comics! So, thank you for that!

scarecrow33 said...


Thank you for sharing. I am grieved beyond words for your loss. It's good that you can reflect on what a wonderful person your mother was, and I'm so glad you have those pleasant memories. That was an extra-special blessing to find a copy of that movie--the ONLY copy--on the same day after saying farewell.

Last year I lost my aunt, who has been an important and special person in my life since I was born, and your column reminded me (in a good way) about her. One of the special movies that we enjoyed together and frequently discussed was "The Sundowners". Another was "The Land That Time Forgot."

Aren't parents (and aunts) wonderful, the way they can pick up on your mood and manage to cheer you up like nobody else can? They often know just what will perk up your spirits!

From your tribute, I feel like I have gotten to know your mother--at least a glimpse of her. Thanks again...and God bless you and your family.

Comicbookrehab said...

I can imagine Mary being quite entertaining if she had a blog of her own - "Tremors" DID get a lot of rotation on HBO..kind of like IFC with "Goodfellas" and Showtime with "Maid In Mahattan"...did she ever catch the "Teemors" sequels or spin-off TV series?

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Scarecrow.

Glad I was able to bring about good feelings about your aunt, with these words.

And, yes… Parents ARE wonderful. Often, you don’t fully realize just HOW wonderful until you find yourself without them!

Joe Torcivia said...


Come to think of it she WOULD have been entertaining with a Blog of her own! Alas, she never really learned how to use a computer.

No doubt she would have had interesting things to say about LOST, MAD MEN and the like. She’d have also loved THE WALKING DEAD, if she’d seen it from the beginning. We occasionally talked about coming to my house to binge on the DVDs. And, she *did* come over for an occasional Bogart or Cagney film. …Though I’d probably skip her Blog posts on DANCING WITH THE STARS, a passion she shared more with Esther and definitely not me!

I know she sought out the various sequels to “Tremors”, and told me about the TV series. I may have to seek those out now, just to see what I missed.

Pete Fernbaugh said...

Ah, the wonderful "coincidences" that tend to follow someone's passing. They come in various forms and ways, but they rarely fail to be comforting and sweet. Your eulogy was truly beautiful and honoring to the woman I met only once and spent only a few days around, but never, ever forgot.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Joe! Our time in this world may be short, but our smallest gestures, our kindest actions and words can last many lifetimes after we're gone. Your mother's love, kindness, and humanity have ensured her a legacy that will last for many generations. Cling to those memories!

My sincerest condolences to you, Esther, and your family!

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Pete!

And, even though she only met you that once, back in 2001, she always asked for and spoke well of you!

Then again, she always was a good judge of character.

Mark Lungo said...

My condolences, Joe. I can relate to your situation all too well.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Mark.

And I’m very sorry that you *can* relate!

Comicbookrehab said...

OMG, I have inadverently watched every season of "Dancing With The Stars" since it's premiere in 2005 - ironically, there aren't many blogs devoted to commentary on it; I would've loved to have read if she also thought Kelly Monaco got robbed whenever they brought her back - first in the forced rematch with John O'Hurley, second in the "All-Star edition" when she lost to Melissa Rycroft (?)! Or if she had a "Wish list" of stars she would've loved to have seen on the dance floor...anybody watching that show has one. :)

Joe Torcivia said...

Equally “OMG” back at you, “Rehab! …And how does one “inadvertently watch every season of Dancing With The Stars”? Non-accidental, purposeful viewing *must* enter the equation somewhere along the line.

I can safely say that you would have enjoyed meeting my mother -- and she would have enjoyed meeting you!

Monday and Tuesday nights tend to be the nights I catch up on my reading, comic-writing, and Blogging because, here with Esther or three blocks away at my mother’s house, DANCING WITH THE STARS was always on – and it was time for me to retreat and run for cover!

Now admittedly, some of it was fun to look at as I would pass through the living room (…and maybe I tend to blame it for the cancellation of HEROES), but it and other “contest shows” and “reality TV” are just not to my taste. …But she sure loved that show, in particular!

I *did* take some interest when John O’Hurley (voice of The Phantom Blot) or a football star I liked, such as Emmitt Smith, was on. So, despite my “official position”, I certainly can’t say it was all bad!

My not liking it eventually became a great recurring joke – for both her and Esther. They'd even gang up on me! However, regardless of my personal level of interest, I’d always listen when she would talk about it. And, to think… you could have “relieved me” on occasion!

joecab said...

My condolences as well. I know what that's like -- my mom would have been 88 herself today, coincidentally. That was a fittingly lovely eulogy for a well-loved woman who sure went through a lot. But I think I love the Tremors bit most of all. :)

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, JoeC:

And another coincidence, of many lately.

The “Tremors”thing occurred SO coincidently (…or, some would say, perhaps not) that I HAD to make it part of the eulogy.

Thad Komorowski said...

Please accept my condolences, Joe. Obviously she was quite a woman if she turned out as solid a guy as you!

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Thad.

That's very kind of you.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Thad.

That's very kind of you.

TC said...

My condolences to you and your family.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, TC.

Adel Khan said...

My condolences to you and your loved ones about the passing away of your mother. I am glad that she was in her house during the final days, rather than being in a cold hospital.

It was a well-written eulogy containing how special she was to you and all her loved ones. Thanks for sharing the story of how you and your mother watching “Tremors”. I can feel the impact of the relationship between the both of you. I cannot emphasize how vital a role mother plays in the family unit. I can relate to how my mother was a big source of comfort during my trying times. One time, she knowing my love of “Hanna-Barbera” called me down when “YOGI’S FIRST CHRISTMAS” was airing. We both had a fun time viewing the special. Among her favorite characters in the “H-B” universe are: Snagglepuss, and Augie Doggie.

As Elaine said, I cannot imagine the experience having to both your best friend and parent within the same year. We all have experienced where our loved ones pass within the same year. For me it was two years ago when my friend and my paternal grandmother died.

As you expressed she was a “woman of tremendous strength”, I feel that she has passed on her remarkable sense of optimism down to you.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Adel!

And, yes… The “Yogi’s First Christmas” story does indeed sound like mine with “Tremors”! Glad we both had such moments!