New York Times Portraits of Grief
Marie Pappalardo's passions were deep and varied. Once, with a friend, she finagled her way into the stall of Affirmed, the Triple Crown-winning racehorse, and hugged him. "Because he always ran with such love, and he was strong, he was something she always loved," said Ms. Pappalardo's daughter, Maria Koutny.
She was profoundly devoted to the Feast of the Three Saints, celebrated on Labor Day weekend at her home church, the Holy Rosary in Lawrence, Mass. When she neared the end of her pregnancy and was told that her daughter would be born that Sunday, she said she would not give birth until she had been to the feast. And she was right.
Ms. Pappalardo, 53, who was returning home to Paramount, Calif., on Flight 175 after visiting the Boston area — for the feast and Ms. Koutny's birthday — was also a devoted protector of cats, catching wild ones and taking them to her vet for shots and spaying.
"She made a hole in her garage so they could come in and eat and get out," Ms. Koutny said. "One was Goofy, one was Daisy, one was Minnie, they all had those kinds of names. Hopefully the person living there now is still feeding the feral cats."