Art of Aging: Recovering from grief and loss

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A local Italian mom has turned cooking into a recipe for recovery from grief and loss.

A local Italian mom has turned cooking into a recipe for recovery from grief and loss.

When Elisa Constantini lost her husband, she felt that she'd lost her whole world. Her children were worried that she'd never recover her zest for living.

Her son Frank Constantini said, "She had taken her place on the sofa, kind of like a 'God, take me' mentality."

"Oh, yeah, I was ready to die," added Elisa.

Elisa and her husband married when they were 20 and came to America 50-years-ago.

They built a home and a family here, but when it came to cooking, Elisa always stayed true to her Italian roots, and made things the old country way.

"I was in a drawer and I found some old scribbles of recipes. I said we need to put it in a book," said Frank.

The Constantinis didn't have the money to self-publish a cookbook, so they started a Kick-starter campaign and got $6000 in contributions in just 3 days.

Within a month, they had $27,000 and enough to create what they called "The Italian Mom's Cookbook."

"Frank says, "It wasn't just supporters that came forward with money. We had a women who came forward, and offered us help in how to put the book together. Editors came and offered their services. Local photographers came and offered to help us."

And getting back in the kitchen, helped Elisa get back to her old self.

"I can tell you what it means to me, my sister, and our family - it's brought her back to life," said Frank.

The cookbook has sold 3000 copies since it was released last fall. And while the family wanted book sales to supplement their mom's retirement, Elisa had other ideas.

"Mom has decided to give back to the community. So we work with local schools for fund raisers," said Frank.

Elisa's skills in the kitchen were auctioned off at Pope John Paul School in Royersford recently. She donated $1000, and offered to cook a meal for 12 for the highest bidder.

Her book is more than just recipes. Its' filled with pictures and stories about life "back in the day."

For more senior stories, visit our Art of Aging section.
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