The name of this blog is “Hooray for Hollywood,” and usually I write about just that, Hollywood. However, there are times in life when you realize what is most important. My grandmother passed away two weeks ago. No, she was not a movie star. I don’t recall discussing film or Hollywood with her at length. But she meant more to me than any star or Hollywood ever could. If it wasn’t for my parents and grandparents, I would be nothing. You go through life wondering how things will turn out, wondering if you will be successful at what it is you want to do. Looking back, I know now that I have always been a success because my grandmother loved me. And in the end, no matter what happens in life, no matter where you go, or what changes around you, that’s all that really matters.
REGINA L. MIELNIK LONCKI (REGIE) SEPTEMBER 1, 1927 – FEBRUARY 9, 2015
I would like to share this eulogy that was read at my grandmother’s funeral and written by my mother and myself:
My mom wore many hats.
She accepted responsibility at an early age. She helped her parents care for her younger brothers and sisters, and had many chores to do around the house. So much so, her sister Dorothy called her Mama Regie. So my mother was a caretaker for her family.
My mother was a devoted wife to my father for almost 60 years. She cared for him, kept his schedule of meals that he liked to follow, and kept him busy with her many shopping lists. And when they were dating, she didn’t want to embarrass him so she would wear flat shoes because she didn’t want to look taller. My father was six foot two, and she was five foot two.
My mother was devoted to my brother and me. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for us. And she never complained. She taught us all our prayers. I can remember many a night when we were small, kneeling in her bedroom saying our rosaries. She made sure we always had nice clothes and we were neat and clean, and that we were respectful and used our manners.
She expected my brother and I to do well in school, something she couldn’t finish herself. And even though she didn’t graduate from high school, she was one of the smartest persons I knew. She could spell anything I needed help with, was pretty good at math, and could write beautiful letters. She also liked to take over our school projects until we begged her not to.
My mother was tough. When someone was picking on my brother in grade school, my mother was waiting on the porch when the young boy was walking home from school, and gave him a piece of her mind! He didn’t bother my brother again.
Mom was very devoted to her church, St. Hedwig’s. She was the longest serving President of the Rosary Society and raised so much money for them. For instance, she was able to buy the carpeting for the whole church. Her Rosary Card Parties were famous. She took great care in choosing the right gifts for Chinese auction and special raffles, and they were very successful. And let’s not forget the Election Day bake sales that raised money for the church! She was also on the choir, helped to clean the church, and washed and ironed the Priest’s albs and the altar cloths. She was also in charge of decorating the church for Christmas and Easter. All done beautifully!
My mother was a devoted homemaker, baker, and cook. Her sheet brownies and yellow cake with chocolate frosting, (a favorite of my father’s) pineapple squares, orange fluff jello, and nut rolls were some of her specialties. As well as Sunday dinner, chicken and roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. We always enjoyed going to mom’s house for Sunday dinner and spend hours visiting. We never went hungry as she always made sure we ate.
My mother loved polka music and going to dances in her younger days. She was very proud of my brother’s polka show that was on many years ago, and she recorded all his shows for him. I can still see her with her finger on the record button waiting for the show to begin. Her favorite artist was Lil’ Wally. My mother and my father always enjoyed going to his dances and standing in front of the bandstand to watch him perform. When we were older, she would take me and my brother to see him in Buffalo or Cleveland. I thought we were seeing a major star. We would go to Erie’s Polka Days and this would be one of the big events of the year for her. These were probably some of her happiest times.
She collected angels. She was an avid catalog shopper with Sears and JC Penney’s. They knew her by name and my father would be there often picking up her orders.
My mom loved politics and watching elections and was a loyal democrat. She loved President Kennedy and collected everything about him, so much so I thought we were related! She loved to watch investigative shows. And her most recent favorites were Princess Kate, Prince William and baby George.
My mom kept up our beautiful Polish traditions. We never missed Christmas Wigilia or Easter Swieconka. And Polish Christmas music, Koledy. Our house was always so beautifully decorated for Christmas; my mom was like an interior decorator. The fireplace and mirror had those poinsettia lights and trees and angels. The windows had a Christmas star and candles and lights and tinsel. The village under the tree was always a sight! She had made all the ceramic Christmas houses for herself and for me and my brother for our trees. And the outside was decorated from the roof to the porch with many lights, a church, angels and a manger where Lil’ Wally Koledy would be playing.
My mother was a wonderful grandmother. She was very proud of her grandchildren Bobby and Bethany, Matthew and Aaron, and loved to hear what they were doing. She was a great babysitter for Bobby and Bethany and they always enjoyed spending time with grandma and paco. When I still lived upstairs at the old house, she would come upstairs in the evening and help with Bobby’s bath and sing “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” In the summer, Bobby would be excited to go to Camp Grandma (which I called it), and she played for hours with him and helped set up Bobby’s play store, and was a devoted customer. And she enjoyed reading books to Bethany and watching Bethany perform. My mom helped take great care of Bobby and kept him occupied when I was having problems with my pregnancy. And Bobby loved to talk to grandma on the phone. He remembers her teaching him Polish songs and words in Polish.
My mother was a constant worrier. She believed if she didn’t worry, then that meant she didn’t love us. So she worried a lot. After I moved out of the old house to our new home, I would have to call her by 9 o’clock every morning. Well, sometimes, I missed. My mother would engage reinforcements. One time I went to the chiropractor and thought I would be home in time to call her, but I wasn’t. When I did come home, one of the neighbors came over to tell me my mother had called her to see if I was alright, because I didn’t call. So, she had my neighbor’s phone numbers just in case. Another time, we decided to take Bob out to dinner for his birthday. I didn’t think to tell my mother. Well, she called the house and I didn’t answer. So this time, she sent my father over to see if we were still alive. If the kids got a cold, it might as well have been pneumonia as far as she was concerned. So, sometimes we didn’t tell her………
My mom was our bishop. If the weather was bad, she would call and say, you’re not taking Bobby to church! It’s too bad out, so she would grant us dispensation for not going to church in bad weather. And also told me when I should keep the kids home from school in bad weather.
She always worked hard and kept busy.
After my father passed away on April 17, 2007, a part of my mother seemed to die along with him. He was her rock and nothing was ever quite the same. She had cared for him for so long, that she no longer knew what else to do. And now she is at peace. And now my parents are together again, and my mother is reunited with her parents and brothers and sisters. I wish you rest, mom. You deserve it. I never wanted to say goodbye to my mother, so we would always say goodnight. So good night mom, love you. “Idź z Bogiem” “Go with God.”
by Margaret Widdemer
She always leaned to watch for us Anxious if we were late, In winter by the window, In summer by the gate. And though we mocked her tenderly Who had such foolish care, The long way home would seem more safe, Because she waited there. Her thoughts were all so full of us, She never could forget, And so I think that where she is She must be watching yet. Waiting ‘til we come home to her Anxious if we are late Watching from Heaven’s window Leaning from Heaven’s gate.
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal . 2014 Bobby J. Sulecki