Hospice of San Joaquin honored the memory of Riponites Rudy and Connie Giannini in its fourth Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies Friday night at the Mistlin Fountain park at 6 p.m.
Their grandchildren Jacob and Christopher Allyn and Julia and Jovie Ford were there for switching on the lights of the Tree of Life. Nearby were two other daughters Anne Allyn and Janet Ford with a crowd of some 125 people in attendance near the Highway 99 northbound off ramp.
Opening music came from the Ripon High Dreamcatchers Choir directed by Adam Serpa and the program cover artwork was provided by Ripona School third grader Esmeralda Ponce Reyes.
The event was hosted by the City of Ripon and Community & Youth Services Commission.
Christina Giannini – a third grade teacher in Escalon – said she and the members of her family are humbled to light the tree in honor of their parents.
“We feel this opportunity to share our parents’ story is very fitting. Our parents were members of the Swiss Hall where they renewed their vows for their 25th wedding anniversary. We also have a tree planted in their memory at the Swiss Hall in Ripon,” she said.
The daughter said their attending the annual tree lighting has been a tradition in their family since the passing of their father 13 years ago.
“After losing our father to bone cancer, our mom turned to Hospice of San Joaquin for support through its bereavement programs,” she noted.
Christina said it was during her mom’s journey of healing that their mom beame a true believer and a passionate advocate in the mission of Hospice.
“Everyone has a story to tell,” she recalled her mother saying. “And, although everyone’s story may be different, we share the same grief and pain.”
She made it her mission, Christina explained, to listen to each person’s story and those stories helped her continue to heal after the loss of their dad.
“Tonight as I share our parents’ story, and our mom’s personal journey, I hope it offers all of you comfort and healing as you move from grief to remembrance.
She said their mom had unconditionally began caring for her own father when she was 15 years old “that she did with humility and integrity” until he passed away two years later before she was 18.
“As years passed she continued to care for her brother, her mother, her brothers-in-law, and finally our dad who fought a short but courageous battle with cancer,” she added. “Care giving came naturally to our mom and so it was no surprise when she became an active volunteer for Hospice of San Joaquin after our dad passed away.
Christina said she knew it was her way of giving back and saying thank you to those who had helped her in her times of grief.
“When she would receive acts of kindness in return or was told her words or support had helped someone, she would often say to me, ‘I am only one person, how could I make that much of a difference for someone?’”
Christina said her response to her mother was, “Never underestimate the power of one.”
She then quoted the words of Helen Keller, “I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something,” that special woman, blind and deaf, throughout her life was quoted as saying.
It was four years ago that the family will never forget when their mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and died six weeks later.
“She had prepared us for her grief journey – children and grandchildren – and that she was at peace with her cancer news because she knew her job was done. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of our parents. After all, they were our first teachers. They taught us humility, compassion, integrity, gratitude, grace, sacrifice and most importantly, how to care and be an advocate for others – character by very definition means moral excellence.”