Donna Pratola, age 66, passed away peacefully while holding her son Christopher’s hand on July 15th at the Penn Medicine Inpatient Hospice Unit in West Chester after a near four-year battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
Born on February 21, 1954, Donna was the second of three children born to the late Fred Pratola, Sr. and Angeline (Giroso) Pratola. She was a 1972 graduate of Kennett High School. An extremely intelligent woman, Donna received a certification in Laboratory Science from St. Francis Hospital. She worked in the hospital lab for several years until she had her first child. Donna had many jobs during her lifetime including working as an Administrative Assistant to the Director of Plant Operations at Kennett High School and later as the Administrative Assistant for The Vice Principal at the school. She took night classes and graduated with an associates degree in Medical Transcription which enabled her to work for a decade at A.I. du Pont Hospital for children. Always wanting to better herself, she graduated from the Dawn Career Institute with a certification and license in massage therapy. She received multiple certifications in various types of massage including, pregnancy, infant, deep tissue, and Reiki. She had a passion to help those living with chronic pain to feel better. Her last job was working as an assistant activities director for Brandywine Assisted Living in Longwood. She had a natural ability to show kindness, understanding, and love to those whose lives she touched. She loved using her massage therapies with several residents of the facility. She took great interest in their lives and became friends with many of them, especially the ones who did not have regular visits from family members. She looked out for them and spoke up for them if necessary.
Aside from being a mother, Donna loved, cooking, music, dancing, singing and playing the piano which, she could do by ear often creating beautiful melodies by just sitting at the keys. She also loved animals and her home full of rescue dogs and cats.
Of all of Donna’s jobs in life, she had said the most important thing for her was to be a good mother. She loved her two children with an intense drive to make sure that all their needs were met. She was blessed to have the ability to be a stay at home mom. At home, she educated, played with, and watched over her children with unconditional love. Some would say she was overprotective, but for Donna, keeping her children safe was at the top of her list of duties even when they became adults. There was never a moment when she was too tired or wanting to do something for herself. She was selfless in her care for her children and for other children as well. Once her youngest child was school age, she joined the PTO at New Garden Elementary eventually becoming president of the organization. Her creativity started some of the school’s traditions that lasted many years. She, along with other mothers who were her friends, created talent shows, led fund raising Hoagie Days and was part of the team that created the famous “New Garden Elementary School Cookbook” which contained recipes from some of the town’s best “chefs.” The book has had two printings and is in many households. When her children moved to the Middle and High School, she joined them by first being a volunteer and then as an employee.
Tradition was important and she was immensely proud of her parents and her immigrant grandparents who showed what it meant to achieve the American Dream. She did her job exceptionally well and those who knew her know that she was the best mother she could be.
Her son Christopher was her caregiver from the beginning of the diagnosis until the moment she took her last breath. The journey of her illness was not all bad and she and Christopher shared many special moments that he will always cherish. She was able to attend an Adult Day Center where she participated in activities with other individuals suffering from similar conditions. She always had a smile on her face at the end of the day. She and Christopher enjoyed quality time reminiscing, going to the movies, out to dinner or lunch and just becoming as close as possible.
In addition to her loving son Christopher Carozzo, she is also survived by her brother, Fred Pratola, Jr, her Aunt Mary Pratola, her Aunt Betty Pratola, two nephews, one niece, four great-nephews , one great niece, and many cousins.
Along with her parents, she was predeceased by her grandparents Michael Pratola, Sr. and Grace Esposito Pratola, her uncle Ralph Pratola, Sr., uncle and Godfather Michael Pratola, Jr. Maternal grandfather Joseph Giroso, Uncle David Giroso and his wife Irene Giroso.
Christopher would like to thank the many people who helped during these last difficult years. There are many but a few are: The Staff at Active Day Center in Longwood, friends Sandy Miller, Anne Roberts and neighbors Jim and Gail Wickline. Frank Mc Mullin and Lesley Brightbill of McMullin and Associates, Scudder Stevens, ESQ., Louise D’Amico, Candy Guiliano, The nurses and staff at Willow Tree Hospice and at the very end, Penn Medicine Hospice. In addition, Christopher would also like to thank Nexus Home Care and the wonderful Aide and friend, Shannon Rodriguez. Christopher thanks his friends for their emotional support, letting him vent his frustrations and for their prayers. We learned that family is not always blood. Family is those who are there for you without condition and Christopher is grateful for all those who proved to be family.
Donna was a once in a lifetime person. She was positive when things were bad. She always had a smile even when she was in pain and dying a slow death. Her laugh was contagious. She was tiny in stature but huge in terms of the amount of love she gave without expecting anything in return. The kindness that she shared with others is something that will not be easily forgotten. She will be deeply missed, but her strong spirit will live on in those who loved and knew her. She is free from the cage of dementia. May she fly free in eternal peace with God.
There will be an invitation only service for Donna, at the request of her son Christopher.
To view an online tribute, please visit www.kuzoandfoulkfh.com.
Arrangements by the Kuzo Funeral Home, Kennett Square, PA.
In lieu of flowers, donations made be made in Donna’s memory to The Alzheimer’s Association: 225 N. Michigan Ave, Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601
The Alzheimer’s Association
Funeral ServiceThere will be an invitation only service for Donna, at the request of her son Christopher.
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