We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to cherish and honor the life of Edward Litto, beloved husband, father, brother, and dear friend. As everyone knows, these last two years since his stroke have been extremely difficult and a combination of medical factors took their toll on his body, and even with the best of care, it was all too much, and it was time for him to go. We are at peace with that aspect of things.
And so with our hearts at peace, we can think and talk about his life. He was raised with his late sister Judi and we offer our condolences to her family, Norman, Hope and Brendan, Jonathan and Jacob. Jacob is 13 and he recently thanked Ed and Betty for being such good role models. We also offer Ed’s nephew Andy and his son Noah our condolences.
Ed went to Temple University in engineering and worked for US Electrical Motors. This work took them from Philadelphia to Ohio and then as National sales manager he came to Ct in 1975. They almost moved again to St. Louis but stayed here because it was Jeff’s senior year. He changed careers and worked for the Ct. Medical Group as Practice administrator and then went to Yale and did IT. He just loved this because he got to play with computers. He loved that job.
But then the medical difficulties got worse and then there was his stroke two years ago. Remarkably, he never complained about the loss of his left side. He just took it in stride and never lost his sense of humor. Most people might complain if they had to turn from side to side and again from side to side in order for an aide to get him dressed. He just called it “rockin’ and rollin.’”
After his stay at the Willows for seven months, he enjoyed the new wheelchair-accessible home that Betty worked so hard to create. They lived close to restaurants where he would ride in his motorized wheelchair on warmer days. On cold days, they’d take accessible cabs to places like the theatre, barbecues at friends’ houses and going to see Jason run the 20K at the New Haven Road Race. He went “cruisin’ after dinner every night around the complex. On colder nights, he went “cruisin’ up and down the halls of the condo.
We want to recognize his aides, especially Bernardo and Desmare and all his therapists – Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists and his nurses that cared for him.
Eddie so looked forward to Tuesdays to meet with Romeo’s (retired old men eating out socially) for lunch.
Ed took his life roles of husband and father as seriously and as thoughtfully as anyone. As a father to Jeff and Jason, he was simply the best.
When he was with US Motors he had a business trip to California and took Jeff and later he took Jason to see an unmentionable team in Texas.
Jason quoted this saying: A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you get.
This is from Betty, given to Ed with a small statue of a father carrying his son on his back,
When the boys were little you were always there for them even when your job required so much traveling. As the boys grew older, the weight of fatherhood was never too heavy- you were always there for them.
As we look back at a time in our lives when the weight was much too heavy to bear-you grew closer as a father, a husband, and as my very best friend.
Fatherhood definitely agrees with you. I see it in your eyes when you’re with Jason or talk about him to others. You take so much pride in who he is and how he has matured into a beautiful, caring and sensitive adult.
When you open this gift, don’t view it merely as a father plying with his child. It represents you as a father-loving, strong, carrying whatever load on your shoulders whether it be our boys at play or our boys needing help in some way—YOU ARE THE BEST OF FATHERS—you are always there.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY
All my love
All my life
It was his devotion as a father to his two sons that made Jeff’s passing beyond impossible. When I spoke at Jeff’s funeral, I think I said something like, “Jeff Litto was every parent’s dream and what happened to him was every parent’s nightmare.” People say that time heals everything, but nothing could heal a tragedy like this. Jeff’s passing affected everything. We all know of couples that could not stay together after the passing of a child. But Eddie and Betty only drew closer.
Ed and Betty found comfort with others who had also lost a child and they became very involved with Compassionate Friends. Ed as a group leader showed the men that it was okay to be emotional.
And Ed and Jason were always there for each other. Ed met Jason in Colorado on the way back from California. They camped out and traveled and it was quite a wonderful memory. How proud we are of Jason and of the work he does with people who need it most, rapidly becoming an expert in his field. How proud we are of the son he has been.
THIS IS FROM JASON
Throughout my entire life my dad was always there for me. If I ever needed anything, I didn’t need to ask, it was done. Over the years I learned quite a lot from my dad. Two years ago he had a very significant stroke. In many ways he was no longer able to be there for me, at least not in the way I was used to. However, in these past two years he has taught me the most important lessons in life. With all the challenges that he faced on a day to day basis, he truly took one moment at a time and still enjoyed life.
There is a quote from Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. that best describes my dad. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” That’s my dad. He was faced with such significant challenges over the past two years and lost so much of his physical capacity, but not only did he keep moving forward, he did it with a smile on his face and a joke to brighten up the day of all those around him. He did not dwell on what he no longer had, but every day expressed thanks for all the amazing people who were a part of his life and all the good things he still had.
Dad, you are a true inspiration and you will be missed. May the four winds blow you safely home.
That’s from Jason
Eddie and Betty. On their first date they went to see Peter Paul and Mary and they have been married 46 years. Our condolences go to Betty’s family. We remember Susie today, and offer our condolences to her brother Bill and her sister Edie and her husband Richard, their daughter Jessica and her husband Tom and their family.
Betty and Eddie’s mantra was:
In this thunderstorm of life
You are my umbrella
People who are in relationships, especially marriage, argue and fight. They have ups and downs. There are issues between them and there are external factors that affect them. But Betty and Eddie had an unusual if not unique relationship. They went through everything together. They hardly ever disagreed and when they did they worked it out. He was so proud to tell people how many years he and Betty were married. When asked what the secret to a long marriage he would answer – 3 words….communication, communication, communication.
When Betty was sick, Ed was with Betty at every chemo, made all the appointments for her when it was hard for her.
When he got sick, she took over managing his doctors. A woman told Betty: Whenever anyone sees you with Ed, they go home and they’re nicer to their husbands.
We want to thank Ed and Betty’s wonderful friends. You have been great, real friends when it counted the most. And I want to say something a little pointed to some of Betty’s friends. Don’t feel sorry for what Betty has done in these last two years. She has had an incredible opportunity to do something that is more important than any other thing in this world and in this life
To take care of a loved one.
There is nothing higher or better in this life.
There are so many memories.
Of Eddie and the Edsels and Ed as a big grape from the Fruit of the Loom commercial singing “I heard it through the grapevine.” Ed had a great sense of humor, but Eddie as a big grape sorted of tested the limits.
Memories of long bike rides with his friend Ira,
of the famous ice cream cake from Ashley’s that made it intact to California for Jason’s birthday,
Of Sidona, Arizona which he found very spiritual and where he enjoyed hiking,
Of the great pride he had in having the honor on this last Rosh Hashana of opening the Ark on this bima.
Of his pride in enjoying this last Hanukkah at his home with aides around the table
There is one set of memories that stands out in my mind. When they lived at 88 Townhouse Rd., each of the boys had half of the newspaper route for the development. On Sunday mornings, they would pack the heavy editions and Ed would drive them and the boys would sit on the back of the Datsun and drop off all the papers.
I’m not sure why I can’t stop thinking about that scene, but I guess it’s precious to me because they were together and happy and full of life and purpose.
I’m drawing great comfort from that scene.
Now you can say that this is a trivial memory; it’s not from a Bar Mitzvah ceremony or some big event. But maybe the moments of togetherness are the big events. Maybe when things are done in love, there are no small things. Nothing seems trivial. Maybe there are no little things.
Eddie was an expert at Trivia, right till the end. He watched Jeopardy every night at 7 o’clock for years.
With his late sister Judi, he would play trivial pursuit well into the night.. At Willows Rehab, he looked forward to the daily recreational programs – especially trivia. In fact, he gained the reputation of trivia champ and enjoyed the competition.
He loved trivia but it feels to me like his life was filled with anything but trivia.
And maybe, for Ed, all those so-called trivial facts about the world kept him rooted in reality; maybe his knowledge gave him some sense of control over what was going on in his world.
In a good family, love goes back and forth
Eddie’s favorite song was “Teach Your Children.” You know the lyrics. Parents teach their children and children teach their parents. We have to teach each other. We have to be open to what our loved ones are saying and they need to be sensitive to our fears and our hopes.
Eddie Litto lived a life filled with this kind of openness and sensitivity.
I hope that no one here ever goes through the emotional and physical things that Ed went through. But if you do suffer at some point, I hope you have an angel like Betty to take care of you, and I hope you have a child like Jason to be there. One of the reasons we can be at peace is that they made sure that Eddie got the best of care and attention during this time. Betty and Jason are more exhausted than they even know. They have lived with such worry and fear every day and every night. But now they can be at peace knowing that every single thing that could have been done was done, that they fought for him when they needed to and did as well for him as anyone could have done.
Last Tuesday night, Eddie was lucid and clear about what he wanted. He said he was going to see Jeff and his parents again and he was ready. He told Betty how much he loved her. And he thanked Jason for 40 wonderful and fun years. He was at peace with all this. We should be too.
Edward Litto was a mensch, an honest, hard-working, caring, sensitive person. He was a loving husband and a loving father. And he was a good guy. And he was a righteous man. May he rest in peace. Let us say Amen.