VIVIAN CASALDUC: The Hard Way to
Casalduc lived to make her family's eyes light up. Each
December, she would bake gingerbread for a giant candy
land, where the ground was coated with thick piles of
shredded coconut (snow) and the houses were studded with
lollipops and licorice. "She would make it the first two
days in December and let everybody look at it all month
long, and on Christmas morning, she'd let everyone
ransack it," said her daughter Angilic Casalduc.
Five small grandchildren spent alternate weekends in
her care, and would come home with cotton candy in a
kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. Turns out, Grandma had
bought a cotton candy machine.
A Brooklyn native who grew up in housing projects, Ms.
Casalduc, 45, married at 16, had three children and
divorced. Her job as a microfiche clerk at Empire Blue
Cross and Blue Shield moved two years ago from Brooklyn
to the 28th floor of 1 World Trade Center. Her commute
was longer, but the salsa concerts downstairs became a
part of her lunchtime routine.
Ms. Casalduc left one prescient lesson, her daughter
said: "Do everything the hard way." Why major in one
subject when four would do, or take a taxi when public
transportation was there? "Do it the easy way," Angilic
Casalduc remembered, "and you'll never learn anything,
and God forbid, anything happens, she worried we wouldn't
know how to survive."