ELIZABETHTOWN – On Friday, March 16, Lower Cape Fear Hospice team members and volunteers gathered for a special viewing party to watch a video highlighting the life of hospice patient Cecilia DiLello. The project was something DiLello requested as a form of a legacy she could share with her grandchildren and future generations of her family.
With the help of hospice volunteer Larry Hewett, DiLello was taped sharing stories of her life. Hewett worked with a friend to edit the footage, and add photos from DiLello’s life and snippets of her amazing singing voice into the video. DiLello’s son, daughter-in-law, care team members, and volunteers all joined to celebrate her life and watch the final product.
Kristina Yarborough also took 100 pages of notes that DiLello had written about her life and edited it down to a short story, which is another gift she will have as a legacy to share with future generations. DiLello’s regular volunteer, Jeanne Dellinger, who provides companionship and respite, helped prepare refreshments for the big premiere.
DiLello grew up on a farm in Montrose, Penn., as the youngest of eight children. She expressed that she didn’t like being the youngest because it meant she was always the last to be able to do anything, including having an opinion.
“I always had to wait my turn,” DiLello said. “And, sometimes it never came.”
DiLello shared several stories about her childhood including escaping a fire that destroyed the family’s home, attending a one-room schoolhouse, and having misconceptions about what her first communion would be like.
One thing she loved to do was sing.
“I loved singing in the empty silos on our farm,” DiLello said. “I loved hearing the sound of my voice as it filled up the empty space.” When not singing in the silos, she said the family’s cows comprised her audience.
At an early age, her teacher recognized that not only did she love to sing, but she was particularly talented as a singer. DiLello started singing in school programs and in her church choir, and grew into singing in many different settings including weddings, clubs, music festivals and concerts. She earned a scholarship to a summer music program led by instructors at Julliard, and later went on to study opera with Enrico Caruso’s accompanist. As a young adult, DiLello performed professionally singing on a cruise ship and in clubs, resorts and hotels along the East Coast.
When DiLello and her husband Ernie welcomed their first child, she stopped performing professionally and devoted herself to her family. However, she still sang at church and took the occasional soloist job or club performance.
These days, she’s a proud mother and grandmother living at Bay Tree Lake.
“I have the most beautiful grandchildren that there are,” DiLello said. “And, they are all very musical.”
DiLello says her family does not lack in love.
“I am so fortunate to have a family that loves me, is so supportive, and has been there for me during my illness,” she said.