Friendships often happen between people when unexpected circumstances bring their lives together.
Such a bond formed between Nicole Zamora, her mother, Consuelo Roberts, and Eddie Goff, all members of St. Clare Parish in Roseville, when Nicole took care of her mother in her home for a few years, until Consuelo’s death from cancer in December 2017. It’s a friendship that Consuelo and Eddie treasured, and one that Nicole and Eddie still treasure today.
Eddie, a founding member of St. Clare Parish, met Consuelo when she moved from Stockton to Roseville in 2015 to live with Nicole, her husband, Art, and their two sons. Consuelo joined St. Clare and became involved in the Tuesday morning women’s faith sharing group, of which Eddie has been a member of since 2002.
Eddie and Consuelo became close friends in the faith sharing group. “It was lovely that we met and we established a friendship while she was still well enough to come each week,” Eddie recalls, with tears welling up a bit in her eyes. “When she got so sick and couldn’t come, I would go to Nicole’s house and visit her. I loved visiting her – I could have just stayed there forever. She always made me happy – always. Even the day before she passed, Consuelo made me happy.”
“It’s like my mom and Eddie should have always met,” Nicole adds.
Consuelo “wanted to put her affairs in order for my brother Trevor and me,” Nicole recounts. Following Mass one Sunday in 2016 at St. Clare, Nicole and her family joined Consuelo in attending a presentation by Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services. “I knew we had to talk about it as a family, and my mom knew we had to talk about it, but it was one of those things you don’t want to do,” she says.
In the summer of 2016, Consuelo asked Nicole to meet her for lunch and to visit Calvary Cemetery in Citrus Heights. Nicole also brought her youngest son, who was eight at the time. “My mom wanted to pre-plan her Catholic funeral services and burial arrangements, to make sure I didn’t have to do it all,” Nicole says.
Consuelo chose a family heritage option on the lawn behind the chapel at Calvary Cemetery. Three generations of family members can be laid to rest there in the one location. Consuelo “wanted an area where her grandchildren would feel comfortable gathering after Saturday 10 a.m. Mass, and where my brother and I would bring our families,” Nicole says. “We would pray for her at Mass and then gather right outside. Our kids wouldn’t have to feel like it was daunting or scary. That’s how my mom decided on her location.”
Nicole shares: “It was a hard thing for me to sit next to my mom when she was discussing her funeral plans. I went home that night and described it to my husband. You are on the cemetery grounds and talking about death. It’s a peaceful place, but still you somehow don’t want to be there. My mom knew she wanted her vigil, funeral liturgy and committal on consecrated ground, and she wasn’t going to compromise on those.”
Consuelo didn’t know that Eddie had made her arrangements also at Calvary and had chosen a burial place on the back lawn, not far from where Consuelo’s final resting place is located.
“I asked Consuelo if she had picked a place for burial and she said yes. I asked her where it was,” Eddie recalls. “She showed me her place on the back lawn and I said, that’s where mine is! It was just coincidental, as we had never planned it together. I had already started my plans and my payments before she made hers. We were just so excited to know we would be near each other.”
Eddie, who grew up in Oakland and is a graduate of St. Lawrence O’Toole School, has two adult children and two grandchildren and has lived in the Sacramento area since 1974. Coincidentally, her two grandchildren, Nicole and Trevor, have the same names as Consuelo’s children.
“I was blessed because I got to witness all of my mom’s wishes unfold with the experience of her death, funeral and burial. As I now talk about the importance of advanced planning, I’m not talking about what someone explained to me, but I’m speaking from my own experience in a personal way." - Nicole Zamora
Eddie’s parents are buried at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery in Hayward. She says advanced planning was important to her, because her younger brother died in his early 60s and there were no funeral plans in place. “I thought I am older and I don’t want this to happen to my family, so I should have my plans in place,” Eddie says.
One factor in Eddie’s decision to choose a Catholic cemetery is that it is an extension of her parish and a place for prayer and reflection, hope and remembrance. “I want this to be an expression of my faith, and I also want to be buried on consecrated ground,” she notes.
Nicole and Eddie are grateful they became friends during the last few years of Consuelo’s life. They didn’t know that their experiences would bring them on the same page regarding pre-planning one’s funeral and burial arrangements. They both cite the benefits of advanced funeral and cemetery planning as one of the most loving and responsible things you can do for your family. They add that celebrating the gift of faith with family and friends is an essential part of the grieving and healing process.
“In planning for her funeral and cemetery needs, my mom ensured that her wishes were met and provided peace of mind for herself and her loved ones,” says Nicole, who, in the last few months of Consuelo’s life in 2017 began a career with Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services as director of community outreach.
“I was blessed because I got to witness all of my mom’s wishes unfold with the experience of her death, funeral and burial. As I now talk about the importance of advanced planning, I’m not talking about what someone explained to me, but I’m speaking from my own experience in a personal way. I don’t wish this on anyone, but it was destined for me to learn about this ministry through my mom’s death.”
About the ministry of Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services or speak with a Family Service Advisor by visiting www.cfcssacramento.org or by calling 916-452-4831.
Listen to Nicole Zamora, together with CFCS co-workers Kevin Danz and Diane Gordon, on The Bishop's Hour:
In photo above, Nicole Zamora, right, of St. Clare Parish in Roseville, and Eddie Goff, talk about how they came to know each other when Nicole took care of her mother, Consuelo Roberts, in the years before her death.