A fond farewell to a fabulous neighbor

If you asked me today how to spell the word “neighbor,” it wouldn’t start with the letter “n.”

And it would be two words, not one.

Forget n-e-i-g-h-b-o-r.

The correct spelling is K-a-t-h-y F-a-c-c-i-n-t-o.

The hearts of the Kiaski family ached at the news of her passing at age 84 on March 27.

The sting of that loss is a sobering reminder that an older circle of people who have had such a positive, loving impact on our lives is ever shrinking as they go on to glory.

They are no longer in our midst, now only in our memories.

Kathy Faccinto moves into that it’s-hard-to-believe category.

Until a later-in-life move to Weirton, Kathy and her husband, the late “Uncle Louie” Faccinto, had been our next door Steubenville neighbors to the left of us for many, many years.

If you have great neighbors, you are greatly blessed and know where I’m coming from with this tribute.

I think what I admired most about Kathy is that she always had time – she didn’t have to make it, the way I always feel pressed or obligated to do – and that time was often used to do something special for someone else.

This would include assuming the role of honorary grandparent to our kids Adam and Sarah, who were about the same age as her grandchildren, Anthony and Natalie Reese.

Together, those kids were “the Four Musketeers” indulged time and time again by a woman who was a big kid herself and always had the welcome mat out.

She hosted backyard picnics, served pancake breakfasts, made Kool-aid and cookies, read books and played games and never minded not once that a spare bedroom would be messed up, transformed by blankets into a giant tent in which the Four Musketeers’ adventures could unfold without interference.

And she was always one to have a camera at hand, ready to document these special moments of life, including the kids jumping into a pile of just-raked leaves or standing proudy in front of outdoor decorations she had them help with on of every holiday that rolled around.

Kathy loved kids, animals, and the thrill of a good yard sale bargain.

Cooking and gardening were among her many talents.

No one could make fried zucchini like she did, and no way could I ever duplicate it, despite the many times I quizzed her about the process and the ingredients.

My daughter’s birthday never came and went without Kathy producing a beautiful arrangement of freshly cut flowers from her yard.

Kathy was a woman with a good heart.

And she will be m-i-s-s-e-d.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)