Obituary of Renee Catania
“Put Sugar on It.”
Renee Catania, our loving, smart, strong, dearest mother, grandmother, and friend died at her beloved home in Daisy Hill in Los Osos on April 7, 2019, two months to the day after her 90th birthday. One might think it’s easier to lose your mom at that age, but you would be wrong. Renee remained a vital, loving presence in all our lives.
Renee was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan on February 7, 1929. She and her older brother Harold and sister Gloria were raised by a loving, divorced mother who moved her family from relative to relative to make ends meet. When Renee was 12 years old the family drove across country to find their fortune in Southern California. Renee attended Franklin Junior High and Wilson High in Long Beach.
Renee remembered working at a movie theatre on Ocean Blvd when VE Day arrived. She closed down the cashier’s booth and ran out on the streets to celebrate the end of World War II. In her teen years she loved to roller skate and walking home in the rain in Long Beach. Later, she enjoyed and excelled at golf, bridge, and entertaining her many friends. She had a flair for design and always created a beautiful home. Renee worked for many years as a top-notch bookkeeper, but her first priority was always being a mom.
Renee married Albert Eselun, the father of her children, the day before she turned 19. She had three children whom she loved more than life. Renee leaves behind her daughter, Terry Eselun(and wife Diann) her sons Steve Eselun(and former wife Anne) and Michael Eselun (and husband Scott), and her only and most precious granddaughter Elaine Eselun. Renee would have set herself on fire to keep her kids warm. Her greatest achievement in her mind was her children and her grandchild.
While living at Daisy Hill for 30 years, Renee met the love of her life, Glen Johnston, with whom she shared 15 years of loving memories. His family became part of her family. In fact, all the Johnston’s attended Renee’s 90th birthday party on February 4, 2019. She said, “She was excited to be able to say goodbye.”
Renee faced many challenges throughout her life, but she always found ways to adapt and grow. Her resilience, her fierce loyalty to her family, but mostly her love will be carried forever within each of us. Renee was fond of telling how her brother teased her when she was young. When she wouldn’t eat what was served, he’d say, “Put sugar on it, Ma! She’ll eat it.” Renee sprinkled sugar, her special love, on everyone and everything she touched.
Poem by Renee:
Part of Me
For so long the struggle of God became my
As I needed to know the reason, the understanding
of my destiny.
While searching the sunsets, the morning light,
the answers were there for me to see.
The birth of a child, the growth of a tree,
the growth of Yosemite and me.
The struggle was gone and confusion no longer
For now I know that a power stronger than me
Some Final Thoughts About Renee
Renee had a dry, witty sense of humor. And, she maintained it through her last hard weeks. When mine, and her, dear friend Andrea arrived to sit with her in her final days, Andrea came close to Mom’s face while she lay in her hospital bed. The conversation went like this:
Mom: “Is that my Andi?” (Mom had macular degeneration and was legally blind) Mom stroked Andi’s face.
Andi: “Yes, you remember me,” she said. “I’m the tall, thin one.” (Andi is under 5’ and a bit stocky)
Mom: “Oh, bullshit!”
They both laughed.
Even next to the last evening of Renee’s life when Eva, her dear caregiver, got Renee up standing so that she could straighten the bed, Renee made light of a difficult situation:
Eva held Mom up and said, “O.K, we need to step to the side, kind of like you are dancing.”
Mom proceeded to shuffle sideways as she playfully shook her hips.
Renee’s sense of humor will be remembered by many that knew her.