A woman who lived a life of adventure that was book-ended by two pandemics has died of COVID-19.
“I think my mother would have been around quite a bit longer” if she hadn’t contracted COVID, her 61-year-old daughter, Dorene Giacopini, told The Associated Press. “She was a fighter. She had a hard life and her attitude always was … basically, all Americans who were not around for World War II were basically spoiled brats.”
105-year Primetta Giacopini was two years old when she lost her mother to the flu amid a 1918 pandemic in Connecticut. That pandemic killed about 675,000 Americans — a death toll eclipsed this month by the 2020-21 coronavirus pandemic.
Her foster family brought her back to Italy to be a seamstress, until Benito Mussolini forced her to flee.
After returning to Connecticut, she worked as a steel worker in a factory.
Primetta gave birth in 1960 to Dorene and was shocked to learn that she had spina bifida. Her daughter would require crutches or a wheelchair.
“My folks were born a long time ago,” Dorene said. “Their attitude about disability, and my mother’s attitude about disability, was it was lucky I was smart and I should get a good job I really liked because I probably wouldn’t be getting married or have children. They did not take parenting classes.”
She moved to San Jose in the 1970s, where she lived until she contracted COVID-19 earlier this month.
She suffered from the disease for one week before succumbing to it on Sept. 16.
“I made sure we said ‘I love you.’” She did the ‘See you later, alligator.’ I think we both said ‘After a while, crocodile,’” Dorene said. “That was the last time I saw her.”