I would like to thank everyone for coming here today to share my mother’s life and experiences with her family. My mother, Rose Karagjozi, was born March 4th, 1940 in Visoka, Albania. She lived in Albania during World War II and left with her family on the boats from Ulqini. My mother lived in refugee camps from 1944-1949. It was during this time that Rose was exposed to the democratic leaders of Albania, like Midhat Frasheri. Mom learned and embraced their vision for the nation. My mother’s parents were founders of Balli Kombëtar. She learned the ideals of Balli Kombëtar, which was committed to advancing the national identity and Albanianism. Rose, like my father, was determined to create a better life for the Albanian people. My mother’s focus was to see the end of communism in her lifetime. She came to the United States in 1949 with her family. They resided in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. One day Midhat Frasheri came to visit Rose and her family. He was a close friend to the Peshkopia’s as they spent many nights together in the camps. It was believed that Frasheri was killed that night, the same time Kim Philby, the British double agent, was in New York. This death impacted my mother and reaffirmed to her the great dangers of communism.
My grandparents, Eqrem and Nekia moved their family that consisted of Adevi, Hector, Rose, Tako, Mary and later their beloved younger brother Albert, to Dearborn, Michigan. Rose attended public school and this is where my mother’s U.S patriotism developed. For Rose, she grew up during a time of change in America, where women’s rights, civil rights and humans rights were advancing. She always fought for the underdog and the little guy and was a strong advocate for women’s rights, especially in the workplace.
My mother started dating Agim Karagjozi in 1958 and were married the next year. They had three children, Zuhdi, Angel, and Shpetim. In addition, they had seven grandchildren, Billy, Matthew, Hannarose, Grace, Luke, Evan and Tyler and nieces and nephews. Each she shared a unique and special bond with.
Shortly after my parents were married, Agim joined Vatra. Due to my father’s commitments to Vatra, he was gone much of the time, leaving Rose with the children. This forced her to be more independent and strong willed. Vatra was always a big part of Rose and her family’s life and she was a staunch supporter of Agim and his efforts with Vatra. Without her constant support, my father would not be able to contribute and accomplish what he did for Vatra, Albanian lands and the Albanian diaspora.
Rose was a great listener and when she gave advice it was exactly the right solution to the given problem. Our mother had a wonderful heart and love for people. She always tried to help ones in need. Mom was a take action person and encouraged all of us to try and attain our dreams. We all valued her wisdom, generosity, caring and love.
We learned more and more about all of Rose’s qualities growing up. Starting from early on in her marriage and my life mom continued the Albanian tradition of Besa. I witnessed people from relatives, like Albert Peshkopia, to old friends, like Galip Gallixhi, coming in and out of my home feeling welcome and grateful to have a place to stay as long as they needed. This tradition of Besa characterized Rose as the benevelot person she truly was.
Another example of my mother’s big heart, is when communism fell and the conditions in Albania were dire. My mother and father worked around the clock to put together food packages and clothes to provide to the suffering people in Albania. Also, they had their real estate office as drop off point for other packages to be picked up and shipped to Albania.
Mom was a unique woman of her time. She followed her own rules and always stood for integrity. Rose was never afraid to speak out, even if the timing might not have been appropriate. Mom was also a very bright woman who made very smart business decisions, which helped keep afloat their Kara real estate business and provide for their family.
My mother loved her children very much. She was very happy when I went into the real estate business and we would spend hours on the phone talking about different business issues I had and the economic and political issues that could affect my business. My mother cherished the moments she spent with our children, Hannarose, Grace and Luke.
Rose was very proud of her daughter, Angel who attained a law degree while being married with two toddlers, Billy and Matthew. They were my parents first grandchildren and brought great happiness to my parents. Mom was very close to the boys and was always there for them. She was very grateful she got to watch them grow up into the men they are today.
My mother was also proud that my brother who had secured a career in the insurance business and married his wife, Lori. He was the youngest child and like in many families had a special place in my mother’s heart. Evan and Tyler were a big contribution to keeping Nene young and happy.
Rose Karagjozi was a feisty, caring and empathetic wife, mother and grandmother and Aunt. In her last days mom was having great difficulty and was having outbursts. She made sure that she would not leave us with memories of her upsetting us. So she would apologize if she said anything that upset us. Mom didn’t apologize very often, but she found it very important to leave us with loving memories of her. Mom will always be remembered for her strong support to end communism and her love for the Albanian people and the lands. Rose did it her way and lived her life with no regrets. We will miss her dearly.
Also, I am glad I have this opportunity to thank Mom’s two caregivers Dorette and Laura, who took care of her and loved her very much. We will always be appreciative for it.