LYNN — Through tears, Angela Masucci fondly recalled memories of her late sister and best friend, Vanessa (Masucci) MacCormack in front of hundreds of mourners during a funeral service at Sacred Heart Church on Monday, calling her someone who could turn tears into smiles and whose own smile could not only light up a room but a whole city.
“My sister and I did everything together,” said Masucci, 28. “She was my everything. She was all I ever talked about to people. I was so proud of her. She would give me anything and her last gift she gave me was her daughter whom she loved more than her own being. This is a gift I will always cherish. I kiss Adrianna every day and I look up and I thank my sister for this gift.”
Masucci said 1-year-old Adrianna was her sister’s world — Vanessa wanted her daughter to have it all and to say she adored her would be an understatement. “It hurts us all more than anything that Adrianna runs up to pictures of Vanessa with her hands up screaming mama, mama, mama.”
“Adrianna loved her mama and that bond of being one together in the same body is one that death can never take away,” Masucci said. “Death can never take away our memories of Vanessa’s big, beautiful smile. Death can never take away our memories of her laugh. Death can never take away our childhood memories and death can never take away our immense love for Vanessa as a daughter, sister, mother, cousin, friend, niece, auntie and teacher.
“Ness, we all love you so much and although someone has ripped out a piece of my heart, I take comfort knowing that a piece of my heart has wings.”
Many of the mourners were brought to tears during Masucci’s eulogy. Vanessa was a beloved second-grade teacher at Connery Elementary School for five years and spent seven years in the Lynn Public Schools.
Teachers and administrators from the Lynn school system, including Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham formed a line of honor as funeral mass attendees filed into the church. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, chairwoman of the Lynn School Committee, and members of the Lynn delegation, state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), state Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) and state Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) were also in attendance.
Masucci recounted how her sister went from an intelligent, but extremely shy preschooler to someone who became outgoing and a strong athlete during her later school years.
Masucci said her mother, Karen Masucci, always laughs when she tells the family the story about how Vanessa’s preschool teacher was passing out school pictures to the parents. As the teacher gave each parent ahead of her mother their children’s pictures, the teacher would say, “what a great picture.” But, Masucci said when the teacher got to their mother, she stopped and said “oh they offer retakes.”
Masucci said her mother looked at the picture of Vanessa, who had her chin tucked to her shoulder with her shy face and looked at the camera with a half broken smile. Naturally, Masucci said her stubborn father, Vincent, told her mother that the teacher was crazy and it was the most beautiful picture he’d ever seen, one that he would cherish, which he did.
Vanessa attended Sacred Heart School and then St. Mary’s High School. Masucci said her sister outgrew her shy phase and became outgoing during her time at Sacred Heart, where she made many lifelong friends and played basketball with her father as the coach.
At St. Mary’s, Vanessa had many friends, received good grades and played basketball and softball, Masucci said.
After high school, Vanessa attended Bridgewater State University, where she joined a sorority and made many lifelong friends that she called her sisters. Masucci said although it made her jealous to hear Vanessa call someone else her sister, her love for her sorority sisters was clearly evident.
After graduating with two bachelor’s degrees and high honors from Bridgewater State, Masucci said Vanessa enrolled right into Salem State University to get her master’s in criminal justice.
While working on her degree, she said Vanessa worked at Head Start, where she loved working with the babies, and which brought her true passion in life, which was working with kids. She decided to become a teacher — the day Vanessa got hired as a teacher at Lynn Public Schools was one of the happiest days of her life, Masucci said. She said her sister loved the Connery community and her students as if they were her own.
Masucci said Vanessa also had the best relationships with their brother, Joe, 26, and their parents.
Masucci said Vanessa was her mother’s best friend — anything Vanessa wanted, her mother would do for her. She said their father thought the world of Vanessa — he never missed any of her games and was the loudest in the crowd. Masucci said she and Vanessa called it “the connection” — they would look at each other whenever their father made a lame joke.
Masucci said when she and her siblings were young, Vanessa was Joe’s boss, and he obeyed. She said Vanessa was known as the “big cheese” and she took full advantage. When Vanessa’s friends would come over, Masucci said she would laugh and make their brother sing “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, but she made him add her name to it.
When they shared a room and it was their time to clean, Vanessa would throw everything into a corner and delegate Joe to clean it, Masucci said.
One time, Masucci said she and her brother thought they could stand up to the “big cheese” and practiced all day by planting their feet and leaning against each other. They thought they were ready and called Vanessa into the room and said “Ness, you can’t move us from this spot.” But, she said, with one single hand, Vanessa pushed them so hard that they went flying and broke the closet door, which left them on the ground with the door on top of them.
As Joe grew and grew, Masucci said she could no longer budge their massive brother. As the years went on, she said Vanessa developed into a loving, protective sister and never missed any of Joe’s football games. She said Vanessa adored Joe’s wife as a second sister, and loved her new title as auntie to her brother’s son, and was so excited that Adrianna had a cousin so close in age to grow old with.
“I know that she will still see this happen, just from a different point of view,” Masucci said.
Masucci described her sister as a loyal wife, who stood by her husband no matter what, which was the reason she chose “Stand By Me” as their wedding song. She said before Vanessa’s husband became a monster, there was love there, which produced Vanessa’s most beautiful creation, Adrianna.
“She treated him like gold,” Masucci said. “I will never understand why he chose to throw this all away so senselessly.”