Marianne Howard

Obituary of Marianne C. Howard

Marianne C. Howard, born February 29, 1952 in Brooklyn, NY ended her life journey on April 13, 2021. She was most recently a resident of Norwalk, Connecticut.

Marianne was clever and witty, courageous and very strong willed. Her strength and humor throughout her turbulent plight with metastasized breast cancer never stopped her from being active, loving, caring, positive and enjoying life to the fullest extent. She was an inspiration to all who knew her and will be greatly missed.

A graduate of Fairfield University, Marianne was a Director of Sales at Citi Bank, Leasing Manager at Pitney Bowes, and her latest position before retiring was at NeoPost as a Portfolio Manager.

Marianne will be lovingly remembered by her devoted husband Louis Bianchini, his daughter Karen Bianchini of New York City, her mother, Lorraine Connors and her husband Tom of The Villages in Florida, her sister Prudence Carter of Longmont, Colorado and sister in law Marianne Balin, her brother Peter Carter and his wife Anh of Apex, NC, and two nephews, Peter and Matthew.

A private committal service will be held in Willowbrook Cemetery, in Westport.

Memorial contributions may be directed to: Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County (Palliative and Hospice Care) 22 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897. To sign her online guest register, please visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.com

 

A Eulogy for Marianne

 

I would like to say a few words about Marianne on this very sad day, as we say goodbye to our time with her here on earth. 

It's impossible to attempt to describe or sum up someone's entire life - or truly capture their whole essence in just a short reflection when their life ends. At 69 years old ,Marianne's life was both a life well lived with her zealous personality , and also a life cut short , and with many years under the cloud of battling serious illness .  But several things immediately come to me when I think of Marianne, just as I'm sure each of us has our own special memories and thoughts about her. 

 As we all know, Marianne fought bouts of this disease for a very long time and the first thing that comes to mind when i think about her is how she never once - literally not one time that i ever heard her express sorrow for herself , or anger about being sick , or ever wanted any sympathy at all. She stoically and methodically, originally had chemo , radiation, the  grueling 5 years of Arimidex, with those side effects . And then 5 years ago, when the cancer turned metastatic , she  took her daily Ibrance, went to all her many scans, tests and appointments, back surgeries,  enduring  so much physical discomfort all along the way, her stomach, bones…Yet, even carrying this burden and worry, she always had her chin up, and continued to enjoy a normal and full life.

I empathized so much about her thinning hair, and other beauty ravages that come with this disease and treatments .She bought all kinds of products for skin, eyelashes and brows, and kept her nails impeccably . She updated her clothes at her favorite store Talbots for the smaller sizes as she continued to lose so much weight ,and would put on a nice outfit  and  jewelry even until her last weeks when she was so weak .  Even a week and a half before she passed, and she could not even stand ,she suggested we get salon manicures , and we carried her onto the wheelchair,  and wheeled her to the nail salon . It was very tiring for her and she could barely sit up by the end , but as we were leaving the salon , She spotted a pretty pink flower , and said next time we come , I'm going to pick a nail polish  like that color . 

Marianne was so bright and clever as we all know, private and fiercely independent , even from child. Her sarcastic wit always so quick. She teased my dad for his old fashioned music taste, Englebert Humperdick and Tony Bennett, vs. her taste of The Rolling Stones and 60's Rock , for his crying at Hallmark movies , for being directionally and electronically challenged sometimes,  and many other things that their 14 year age difference lent itself to!   Recently my dad was trying to put an app on his Iphone and was getting all frustrated and mumbling to himself.  Marianne took his phone and said : " Here ! Don't you see the little cloud icon?!"   And my dad said : " Yes, I see the little cloud .....but what does the little cloud have to do with getting the app ?? “  

 I am actually wondering how we will ever use the DVR again!  And I'm secretly personally relieved to see that at least 2 favorite shows "This is Us"  and " A Million Little Things " are already set up. I also wonder how my dad will get anywhere aside from Post Rd without Marianne and only with the GPS!

We all know Marianne loved to read, loved to go to Foxwoods, slot machines, Cedars Steak house, loved Talbots, sushi, steak, Cosmos,  Saturday night live, loved political  humor , Fall weather, Christmas , and loved her dogs, especially Buckwheat , and we just found she had written beautiful letters to him for several years at Christmas time . She immediately embraced and loved and cared for Buddy when she had met my dad .She loved Buckwheat and Buddy so much, it was her wish to be interred with their ashes, as she will be. 

My dad met Marianne  when he had recently lost my mom - he was grieving and Marianne gave him a new light - they had so much fun and always  did day trips and discovered fun places on the shoreline , restaurants on the water, Maine, Christmas by the Sea , long road trips , Europe,  miniature golf,  The Big E,  they watched sports, especially The Patriots,  she exposed him to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, suggested books for him to read and get a Kindle, and even just day to day errands and activities were always done together all these years .They were instantly 2 peas in a pod, as I like to say,  and remained BUILT IN BEST FRIENDS to the very last day.  I've often reflected that theirs was a very different relationship than my parents'. It was a different time of life, different personality dynamics, and I've often said that their marriage was a true friendship and partnership. It was particularly inspiring to me to see before my eyes that 2 people could meet later in life and still form this kind of close relationship and bond. 

My Dad is so full of life and love himself,  and he throughout Marianne' entire illness would purposely put things on the calendar months ahead to look forward to ...  He'd say next  September we will go on this trip --- or Next year in November we will go here or there. And he said to me that these things are all on the calendar for Marianne to always have things to look forward to and be thinking about in the future. And worst case, he said " We know how to change a reservation if we must ." He did this for the whole 5 years. 

When my dad met Marianne-- my mother's parents and family were still here, my brother and I were still at home, still reeling from loss of my mom, and Marianne very quickly and very graciously spent  all the holidays and traditions with us. She was very respectful and warm to my mother's parents , and also became very good friends with my mom and dad's best friends Cathy and Paul , daughter Cristen and then later Cristen's own family , husband Tyson, and children Josephine and Paul .

Cathy and Paul, and Marianne soon formed their own friendship together, with most of the holidays spent all together and regular dinners, calls and texts.  You can't find more welcoming, kind, warm, generous in every sense of the word than Cathy and Paul, who truly are our family -- they mean so much to us . As adults, We never expect to make such close friends so late in life (we met them in 1986) but we did, and are blessed . Words can't express how very cherished they are in our lives.

From the day I first met Marianne, I learned that there was a very special highlight and presence in her life: The Saydeh family: Her closest friend Marlene , and her daughters Nikki and Lauren, she was their " aunt Mar"  all their lives  - and they were the apples of her eye  since they were born . Marlene whom we also  tragically lost almost 2 years ago , was a beautiful , elegant, classy and gracious woman ,inside and out, an amazing cook and hostess, with the best chocolate pie  I've ever had . I was lucky to have shared several holidays with her family, and she and her family always welcomed us . Marlene's untimely passing was a great loss for Marianne and for all of us  -- but we do take some solace in knowing they are both together again now. 

Marlene's daughters Nikki and Lauren are both gorgeous , caring, kind , strong women and amazing mothers, just as their mother was. I know Marianne loved  Nikki's husband Michael , and Lauren's husband Greg and was so happy they found such terrific men. She loved their children Layla, Jordan , Elara , Remington,  Marseilles  and Solene , and was so excited about Lauren's new baby, Everest. 

 Not having children of my own, I can especially appreciate Marianne's deep feelings of maternal love, care, concern, connection and gratitude she felt in being Lauren and Nikki's  aunt . They meant the world to Marianne-- and even in her last days, she expressed sadness to me that she could not fulfill here on earth the promise she had made to Marlene at her passing to continue to watch over them. But I know Marianne will still watch over them from where she is now for the rest of their lives - and as Nikki said, Aunt Mar and her mother will be laughing and teasing them from there ! 

Marianne had very long time friends Eileen and John, and their children Laura and Jay. Marianne was so glad that Eileen would be temporarily living in the same building, and I know it was a special friendship spanning many years. 

Robin, Who is here today, has been friends with Marianne since they were young teens - I've heard many fun stories through the years, and Robin and her husband Larry remained her and then my dad's friends too .

DJ and Debbie, and their family have been my parent's friends since I was a little girl - and I remember their now grown daughters Kristin and Kara as little babies in our backyard .   Marianne became friendly with them too, sharing many great times, and they had their own laughs and fun together.

All of these friends are wonderful, caring people who extended their friendships to include the other. It's a true gift to have friends who span and share so many chapters of our lives.

Marianne was very close to her sister Prudence and her wife Marianne ( same spelling as her name ) . She spoke to Prudence weekly, and had a lifetime friendship as well as being sisters . My dad and I have come to love them as well, and just shared an unforgettable bonding experience with them in the days leading to Marianne's death. We were SO fortunate to have had Prudence and wife Marianne here with us in what turned out to be Marianne's last days. No one could have truly known this when dates for the trip were set. In addition to being such a deeply caring and loving sister to Marianne , Prudence was also an oncology nurse, so her medical expertise at such an unsettling and upsetting time was a true blessing for all of us.

Just a few days before that , Marianne's mother Lorraine , 91 years old , and stepfather Tom traveled from Florida  at 3 am to come see Marianne - and these days turned out to be the very last ones that Marianne  was able to sit up and talk and visit , so it was very fortunate and very meaningful .Lorraine had to have the grace and selflessness to balance a very delicate line of her own pain and sorrow on this trip ,with having to remain calm and strong for Marianne , as only a mother could.  But one of the most touching and heart wrenching moments was watching Lorraine say her final goodbye to Her daughter the night before she left. We all know there is the unspeakable pain and unnaturalness of losing a child of any age, but Lorraine gathered every last bit of strength and love for her daughter in her final words of farewell and hug. Our prayers and love are with Lorraine, Tom ,Prudence and Marianne , brother Peter and wife Anh, nephews Peter and Matthew and her whole family.

I’m very grateful for Marianne and my dad for the very unusual and certainly not typical amount of quality time we were able to spend together, especially in the last 3 or so years . My being single since the last breakup , and  their moving closer to the city, we got to share many fun times at home and in many places like the Big E and Mystic , the outdoor  outlets , and all kinds of stores and restaurants . As my friend Howie said :“ Every restaurant in the state of CT must look at the front door and yell out : “Here they come ... TABLE FOR THREE ! “ I’ll miss Marianne's and my Sephora and Bath and Body works runs,  discussing the merits of each new  beauty product  , bringing her the Daily News from NY, finding her gifts she really liked,  sending her political and clever FB memes , guessing what she would order in restaurants like cheeseburgers ,oysters , cream sauces , cheese platters or French onions soup- and a Cosmo . Or Starbucks’s pumpkin scones and pumpkin spice lattes. And our jointly TRYING to convince my dad to go out to breakfast, or getting desserts , and Easter Peeps . Or watching the DVR'd opening segment and news portion of Saturday Night Live .

Having spent so much time in their apartment in the last 2 years, I learned two very valuable things : 1. Don’t speak to Marianne in the morning and 2. Don’t go anywhere near the dishwasher. After that, all was fine. 

Marianne got to know my close friends as well as the colorful cast of boyfriends I've had throughout the years. I will miss Marianne’s humorous yet always astute commentaries and assessments.  My close friend Jill (Marianne always liked Jill) has been a member of my family since we first met in 1986 - she was my first friend in Westport .We have shared many times with Jill , her family, her mother Virginia and son Grant . When Jill reflected on Marianne’s passing, she keenly said, and I quote : “ You know what ? Marianne was great - and she was always nice to Grant .Most people don’t care about other people's kids - Most people don’t give a shit. “

And I thought about those exact words. Marianne DID “give a shit”. She cared about the environment and recycling , she cared about the world, cared about  politics , cared about the Vietnam war, human rights , Women’s rights, cared about animals , was meticulous with cleaning and organizing ,  had a successful career in banking , leasing ,sales, was a graduate of Fairfield U,  she cared about finances , cared to keep up with new technologies, cared about her appearance , and cared greatly about her friends and family. 

From a daughter's perspective ,I could not have asked for a more loving , caring and devoted partner for my father than Marianne,  and for that I am forever grateful . I've never once had any reason to question or doubt her love and concern for my father. Even in her last few days, when she was so sick and could barely speak, she asked my dad if he had taken his Claritin .And my father gave her the same care, love and respect always.  It was truly remarkable, and as I mentioned, personally inspiring to me.

I feel so sorry for my father, as I know it is a tremendous, indelible loss for him. He lost my mother when he was much younger and still worked, ran a home, and had extended family and friends around.  I know it will be terribly sad and lonely for my dad who is absolutely distraught by this great loss of a very full and vivid person, and his very best friend. For the last 27 years, they have done everything together - even rides to Walgreens , Fresh Market, or my dad sitting in Talbots on the comfy chair . I’m praying he will soon stop bursting into tears, as he has been doing all week each time he speaks to anyone , or finds a memory at home .  And that time will begin to heal this deep pain and he will be able to enjoy again and keep Marianne with him in his heart as he goes on. Just as we all must find ways to muster strength from deep within, after each terrifying and life changing loss we face in life. My family has surely suffered our share of loss . And eventually we find that new reality, that somehow becomes drop by drop more comfortable and familiar as time goes on. 

My dad and I are so very, very grateful to our family and friends' great support and love - it means everything to us and it helps us more than you can ever know. I know Marianne would be very grateful as well, and she of all people would want us not to be sad but instead would love that we continue to  keep her memory in our minds and our thoughts as we go on with our lives. I can actually hear her saying “OK ENOUGH! Dah dah dah dah dah …Be Quiet now and Let me rest in peace! Just remember me and be done !”  We love you Marianne and will miss you, and your spirit  will stay with us.You fought very hard and very admirably .Rest in peace ....   Until we all see each other again ....  

  

 

 

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Final Resting Place

Willowbrook Cemetery
385 Main Street
Westport, Connecticut, United States
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