Negron: Too Good to Be True! Jenny Says Good Bye on Broadway

October 27th is a day I will never forget. I would go to the Krauss Funeral Home to see my mom. I knew that when I saw her laying there it would really put a finality to the situation.  My wonderful mom was really gone.

My whole life, the one person that would never die was my mother, Jenny. She was my Superman, or in this case, Superwoman. She was not afraid of anything or anyone. IN my mind, she would always be there.

I was supposed to be at the funeral parlor at 2 p.m. I arrived at 1:45. Two of my closest friends, Charlie Santoro from the YES Network and Richard Gere were already there with my other very close friend Russell Hernandez.  Richard Gere would say “Why are you late?” and we laughed.  All my friends made it easier for me. They understand my great bond with my mom. I never hugged so many people in my life. Some of them two or three times. My buddy Alfred Zaccagnino sent flowers so tall that it almost touched the ceiling. My mom loved flowers and Alfred knew that. I told him that he should not have spent so much money on them. He said that I should mind my business because she deserved the best.  I loved all the flowers, however I couldn’t help notice how beautiful the flowers from Randy Levine, the New York Yankees team president were. When I thanked him, he responded by saying that it was an honor. Some of my cousins ran over and asked, how did Aunt Jenny know Frankie Valli? I responded by saying I think it was more like he knew her.  Frankie and his band sent incredible flowers.  Knowing my mom she would have said let’s take them home. Frankie was in town performing on Broadway with the Four Seasons, so I knew there was no way he was going to be at her wake.

A beautiful video done by Bill O’Connell really honored a wonderful life.  Bill worked around the clock to get it done. My mom’s last sibling, my Uncle Chris, couldn’t attend because he just had major surgery but I know how much he wanted to be there.  My dear friend Dave Jurist drove over three hours to be at my mom’s wake not even two weeks after saying goodbye to his beautiful daughter Eileen.  Dave has been the type of person who has been there for so many, whether he knew them or not. What really got to me was when I saw Fran, a Yankee Stadium cook, who always took care of my then baby son Ricky while I would be busy with Mr. Steinbrenner and a very kind stadium guard named Harris who has always showered me with kindness and respect.  There were just so many wonderful people that came to give their love to my mom. My dear friend Reggie Webb who also just lost his mom and brother. I am so sorry that I missed their funeral. However, I knew he would be at my mom’s service because he has always been a man of true class and I’m proud to call him my friend.

3The next day was the burial. As we were pulling out from the funeral parlor ironically the radio was playing the Jose Feliciano hit, “Light My Fire”. It made me feel so proud that Jose had wrote a song for my mom when she was in the hospital entitled “ Si Yo Me Salgo de Aqui (If I get out of here)”. It’s a song about what she would do if she ever got out of the hospital. My mom loved music very much. A lot of people didn’t know that about her. Her favorite past time was sewing. My childhood friends Hector and Ivan reminded me how she was always whistling and humming as she sewed.

After the burial everything has been a blur. My buddy Richie Canata, an original member of the Billy Joel Band honored my mom by playing a “New York State of Mind” for her. He told the audience that Jenny was looking down on us.  Every time I hear that song I will think of her. Thank you Ritchie!

Saturday I was in a complete fog. I was just driving around to anywhere and nowhere. I was just listening to music when my phone rang. It was Craig Pilo, Frankie Valli’s drummer and just a real good guy.  He told me to get to the Lunt-Fontanne theatre and meet Frankie and Robbie Robinson backstage before the show.  I picked up my great friend Aris and we rushed to Broadway.  When we got there we met with Frankie in his dressing room. Then we went back stage. Frankie and the band said a wonderful prayer led by Robbie Robinson which honored my mother Jenny.  At that point as the group was going on the stage they took a picture of my beautiful Jenny on the stage with them. Can you imagine my mom on stage with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I sat backstage. I said to myself what an incredible once in a life time seat. Frankie and the band were better than ever. My mind was playing tricks on me because even though my mom was not a dancer I could almost see her dancing to every song that Frankie sang. When Frankie got to the song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” I knew that it was for her. I listened to the words carefully, “you’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you, you’d be like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much. At that moment, I was overwhelmed with tears of joy for my mom and sadness for me. I never thought that I would miss my mom, my greatest teacher, so much, but I do. It was such a beautiful moment on stage that it was almost like the ending of a great movie and I decided that it was time to let go, walk out of the theatre and to my next stage in life.

5Because of Frankie Valli and his whole organization, I got to see Jenny on Broadway before finishing her trip up to heaven. That night, I had a dream or at least I thought it was a dream. My mom arrived in heaven, Jesus and Frank Sinatra in a white tux were at the pearly gates. A beautiful orchestra behind them started to play the music to the wonderful song, “All The Way”, and Mr. Sinatra, looking about 30 years old sang it only like he could. As soon as he completed his song, he led my mom to his right where heaven’s philharmonic orchestra was, and all of a sudden there was Elvis looking only like Elvis could look and he sang, “The Wonder of You” to my mom. She was so happy. She got even happier when all of a sudden all of the people that she knew on earth came running to her. Her parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends. She even got to see some of my friends. I am sure you know who I’m talking about, and yes with all his fighting, curse words, and kicking of umpires, Billy Martin is there too! At that moment, Nat King Cole and his daughter, Natalie, came over to Jenny and told her that the greatest time ever is there an now. However, remember that for the people that you left behind, you will forever be “Unforgettable.”

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of the hearts of my sisters, Naomi and Nancy, our pop Ciro,  and all the grandkids for the tributes that were paid for a very nice person: the original Jenny from the block.

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