Who was Suzanne?
Suzanne Rene Rossi-Cangelosi, my daughter, Dominik's mother, was born on December 14th 1967 in Alexandria, Virginia during a period in which I was posted in the Washington, D.C. area undergoing intensive training for an overseas posting.
Six months later our family was posted to Paris and subsequently to Amsterdam, then back to Paris. Much of Suzanne's early life was spent in private international schools where she learned French, of course, and initially, at least, enjoyed a rather carefree and active life.
Subsequently her baby brother, Steven, was born with multiple birth defects, primarily neurological. From that time forward her life became a bit more complicated as her mother and I tried to find help for Steven - frequently traveling with him to Philadelphia where perhaps the world's leading child neurologist had a clinic.
Subsequently, began intensive home sessions of "patterning" at the time a therapy (since disproven) espoused by many which aimed at improving Steven's brain function through simulation of his senses. The patterning required tens of people daily (ladies of course) to come to our apartment in teams of six to eight. Later, when Suzanne began having terrible headaches, we took her to Steven's Philadelphia doctor who prescribed anti-seizure drugs which she took for much of her life.
I mention all this because of what I believe were the major effects on Suzanne. First, certainly she felt left out as Steven became the center of attention. Second, and I could be wrong, it was at this time probably that she was instilled with a life-long passion for helping any living being, human or animal, who suffered.
The separation and subsequent divorce of her mother and me certainly exacerbated her feeling of exclusion.
Suzanne had a quite creative and inventive mind, a vocabulary which sometimes stunned me and an ability to write, particularly poetry and prose for children, which she developed later in her short life.
Her son, Dominik, was born in 1996 and she worked hard at being a good mother, although her chronic maladies and temperament made it difficult for those around her, including Dominik.
Twenty years ago she, who never smoked or drank alcohol, was diagnosed with tongue cancer. Thus began a long, painful, and heroic battle against this horrible disease, during which she underwent several lengthy and risky operations. Nature and, for believers, the supreme being, finally had their way and thank goodness her suffering is over.
Suzanne often lived in a reality conjured up by her active and inventive mind. This made dealing with her on a daily basis a bit difficult at times. Nonetheless that same inventive, fertile and caring mind enabled many wonderful achievements. I'll cite a few:
During a difficult period for her mother, Suzanne took over the care and responsibility for her brother, Steven.
She worked with handicapped people in several home and welcomed many into her own home.
She first worked at several pre-schools and, armed with that experience, she opened her own school which had to be closed when her first cancer treatments began.
She opened Patty Cakes, A " Kiddie & Maternity Resale Boutique" in Dunedin which she subsequently closed.
She began to study medicine so that she could become a Physical Therapist, as was her mother.
And, finally, against the advice of many but with the full support of her mother, she adopted a two-year old girl, Lucenia or Lulu, who is herself seriously handicapped physically and neurologically. Suzanne devoted much of her life since the adoption showering love and attention on this, now, young lady.
All of you who knew my daughter understand what a difficult person she was. She could be mean-spirited and deceitful. She was untrusting and secretive. But to those who suffered physically or mentally, morally or financially, she, who could not handle money at all, she was a hero. All those who suffer or are deprived of respect have lost a real champion - a person who truly cared and tried her best in spite of her own shortcomings and illnesses.