Hospice workers grant Harrison man’s wish to visit his wife’s grave | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Hospice workers grant Harrison man’s wish to visit his wife’s grave

Emily Balser
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio of Natrona Heights with employees of Monarch Hospice as they prepare to visit Amelio’s wife’s gravesite, as he had been doing for more than 17 years.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio of Natrona Heights with employees of Monarch Hospice in front of an engraved, granite bench he had made with a memorial to his wife. He also had these two trees planted years ago to protect her.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio of Natrona Heights with employees of Monarch Hospice at the mausoleum he had built for himself and his wife, who died about 18 years ago.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio of Harrison wanted to sit on top of the mausoleum where his wife was buried ab out 18 years ago and where he someday will be laid to rest. He tended to the site for years but no longer is able. He had workers with Monarch Hospice to take him there for a visit.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio of Harrison sits on top of the mausoleum in a Ross cemetery where his wife was buried about 18 years ago and where he someday will be laid to rest. He tended to the site for years but no longer is able. He had workers with Monarch Hospice to take him there for a visit.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
A cemetery worker came to the tomb site to shoo away the group until he saw Carmen Amelio, who he then warmly greeted.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Detail on the mausoleum for Carmen and Josephine Amelio
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Here’s part of the inscription that Carmen Amelio had etched into a memorial bench at his wife, Jospehine Terena Amelio’s tomb: “In loving memory of my beautiful wife ‘Jo.’ Having you as my wife and best friend was the greatest gift God could ever have given me. I will never get over your loss. My dear sweet ‘Jo.’ Eternally yours, Junie.”
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Once a pair of cemetery workers realized it was Carmen Amelio coming to visit his late wife’s resting place, they agreed to a group photo.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio of Harrison is surrounded by staff members of Monarch Hospice who accompanied him to the mausoleum where his late wife, Jo, is buried and will also be his final resting place. Amelio had tended to the site since she died 20 years ago. He is no longer able, so the hospice granted his request to visit the site.
Courtesy of Monarch Hospice
Carmen Amelio enjoys a day out and a meal with his escorts from Monarch Hospice, who granted his wish to visit the cemetery where his wife, Jo, was laid to rest 20 years ago.
Courtesy of Carmen Amelio
Carmen and Josephine "Jo" Amelio on their wedding day.
Courtesy of Carmen Amelio
A portrait of Josephine “Jo” Amelio when she was a teenager.
Courtesy of Carmen Amelio
Carmen and Josephine “Jo” Amelio.

When Carmen Amelio’s wife died in 2001, he wanted to give her the grave site he thought she deserved.

So Amelio set out on a labor of love.

He invested nearly $30,000 in his wife’s memory. He paid for a mausoleum so he could be buried with her. He installed a bench engraved with a memorial to her and planted two trees so they would grow and provide protection for her.

“I bought everything,” he said. “I’d go every day. I’d work on it.”

Josephine “Jo” Amelio died when she was 69 and was buried in Christ Our Redeemer Cemetery, formerly known as North Side Catholic Cemetery, in Pittsburgh.

And Carmen Amelio visited his wife. He drove from his home in Harrison to the cemetery in Ross every day for nearly 17 years. But at 86, he became too ill to make the drive. By the time July rolled around, Amelio hadn’t visited his wife’s grave for about a year.

That’s when workers at the hospice company who care for Amelio stepped in.

The nurses and caregivers with Lower Burrell-based Monarch Hospice granted Amelio one of their “Monarch Moments,” which give clients a special wish of their choice.

Amelio’s wish was to visit his wife at least one more time.

So the employees banded together and made a day out of it. They drove Amelio to the cemetery and took him to lunch.

“Ever since we put him on our services, that’s all he talked about,” said Lori Hank, Monarch administrator.

Amelio’s caregivers have grown close to him and his story over the past year.

“He’s a rare find,” Hank said. “He’s just so sweet.”

Amelio was overjoyed to get the opportunity.

“Good people, I tell you,” he said of the staff. “Everybody had a good time.”

One of his nurses, Tia Phillips, said it was an honor to take Amelio to the cemetery. She has spent a lot of time caring for Amelio in his home, where pictures of his wife adorn walls and countertops.

“You can really feel the love that he had for this woman,” Phillips said. “He’s just such a great man.”

Amelio had T-shirts made for the nurses and gave them all a Blessed Mother pendant as a token of his appreciation.

“This could have been the worst year,” he said, “but these girls made it good.”

Although they met when they were kids growing up in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood, Amelio and his wife didn’t marry until decades later. They continued to stay in touch while Jo Amelio raised 10 children with her first husband.

The couple got married on a rainy day in November in the mid-1980s before a judge and had a small reception where she wore a blue dress and he a black tuxedo. Amelio, then in his early 50s, retired from his job at Westinghouse Electric to travel with his new bride.

“We were married 17 years,” he said. “I thought it would be longer.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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