Monday, January 19, 2015

Darkness vs. Light

I find it interesting how one image can spark a remembrance and a lesson....and then sometimes, sadness.

Years ago, for whatever reason, Stake Conferences were not held in the Stake Center but were moved to various venues...Lakewood  Civic Auditorium, Fairview Park High School Auditorium, etc.  There was more room, plenty of parking, more time for meeting up with friends without feeling we were being too gabby.

But there was this pivotal moment one year.  As we had arrived and chatted and settled down for the opening, the house lights dimmed, leaving only the lights on the stage lit as usual..  Suddenly the visiting authority (who I remember as being Elder Nelson) got up before even the first song and asked that the lights be turned back on.

Then he delivered the best instruction we would ever get, and all this before the first song.  We are to be directed by the Spirit in all things and the Spirit is Light and Truth. At no time are we to be swayed by darkness or incense or perfumes or candles or what have you.  We are not to be distracted nor distract from that Spirit.  Yes, the lights were turned up and never were lowered again for a conference. We had all been taught and had all learned a lesson.

I noticed this picture over the weekend, tagged to someone in my FB friends list (which is never a list that goes up to 100....I am pretty choosy but I also do not depend on FB for my friends nor socialization).  This is a bunch of men gathering for their standard party.  You can see what's going on.

I think I'm pretty savvy when it comes to internet games but truthfully I have no clue.  I now wonder why in the world would a bunch of men gather for a PARTY, sit in the dark, with earphones, and play games, on their own computers?  I understand the counsel given by church leaders as well as the counsellors who try and get kids/adults off this activity.  I NOW understand the spouses' worry and concern and anger and fear and tears.  They know far better than I what this does to homes and more importantly to individual spirits. It's such a horrible battle to fight as you attempt to teach your kids why this is not a party.ESPECIALLY WHEN 'EVERYONE' IS DOING IT!   You cannot dabble in things like this and not think it effects your whole being.

This picture kept me awake throughout the night til finally I had to get out of bed and post this.  I have no other words.


Sunday, January 18, 2015


Death's continue among friends I have or family of those friends.

Just last   Friday morning (Jan 16) this beautiful lady passed away.  Dana posted this pix of her grandmother in healthier days.  This woman is my friend Jan Wolf's mom.  Jan has been out in Utah to be with her mom in these last days and then the grandkids arrived.  Dana posted some amazing picture of her and Meghan snuggling with their grandmother.  Today I saw this picture of the grands, in the grandma car, drinking cups of Postum and remembering and laughing and being silly.
  I am sure the grandma was in that car with these kids, enjoying their laughter and stories.  I had responded with a promise to drink a cup of Postum in her honor and so I did.

I set my breakfast table as my grandmother always did...with the little sugar cubes and the 'canned' milk (evaporated milk if you've never heard that term...canned)...but this is not a rare thing.  I always do use little sugar cubes and canned milk.  NEVER would the Postum jar be on the table but this was for Dana and Meghan and Jan.  The cup/saucer are from my childhood and I hope the girls can each take a tea cup of their grandma home with them.  Mine is from the same company that now produces FiestaWare, Homer Laughlin.  I love Fiestaware but prefer the daintiness of this line.

On January 12, our Bishop's dad died.Walter Nelson Falke Good looking man, beautiful wife.  People have commented that Rob looks like his dad. I guess in a way he does but there's a great combo of genes for Rob of both his parents.  AND the bishop's wife, Robin, lost her cousin the day before.  It's going to be a week filled with memories for this family as well, and I also hope it's filled with laughter.

But for me, a death came my way again...way too soon after Uncle Johnny.
This is Carole Jasonne Morgan.  Carole and her husband Chuck were the stalwarts in our ward.  Amazing couple  Chuck died a couple of years ago on Jan 13...Carole passed on Jan 9.  Even on the previous Sunday Carole was in church, on her walker, lugging around the O2.  Last year she came in with a piece of jewelry on and I complimented her on it.  It was ladybugs and cute and spunky.  A few weeks later she told me to hold out my hand and when I did she placed that piece in it.  She assured me it was just some costume jewelry she picked up at a garage sale.  Carole was always doing this.  She was RS president, Primary President, Seminary teacher who a bunch of other callings.She loved the little children in church and each Sunday she had a piece of candy for one of the boys in church,Gavin.  I must remember to take a piece to give him today, in honor of Carole. She was often the one who quietly served others in her healthier days. Never demanding any thing in her not so healthy last days.  It was an honor to dress her and to participate in her funeral.  Carole always had an opinion about everything, not that we always agreed.  But at least I knew where she stood.

And today Carole and these other folks now stand in a different sphere, not mortality.  I find myself filled with a lot of melancholy.  I do love The Plan...just not when I'm the one left without those I love.  I missed my mom and grandmother a lot this week.  I can almost hear Bonpapa when I studied the lesson for RS last night.  Just like Ezra Taft Benson, he usually thanked more than he asked.  I long to see my other fathers...Henry, John, Richard ,Johnny.  I think of my friends who died in Vietnam or through illnesses that took them too early, or car accidents.  And I it fun in heaven?  Besides the work they are doing or the studies they have, are they having fun?  I am going to believe they do.  But I still miss them.  One and All.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Uncle Johnny's Funeral-January 5

On December 31 I picked up Patsy and took her to the funeral home and the cemetery, both on Crown Hill Cemetery in Twinsburg.  It took about 4 hours but luckily Patsy and Johnny had preplanned and prepaid..  It made it all so much easier but when dealing with death, it's always a long and sad process.  In the end Patsy only had to pay an additional $214 which is amazing.

Monday morning dawned cold and blustery but no snow.  Robert and I left at 7:30 to pick up Patsy so we could have her to the funeral home by 9:30, a half hour before the start of the viewing.  As it was there were already people present.  Robert told the one woman there that she would need to set up more chairs..and set up chairs she did...nonstop. The room was filled and people stood at the back.  It was quite a tribute to a man for his service to humanity.  At 94 most of his own age friends had already passed on.  The Lake County Society for Rehabilitation, where he and Patsy volunteered/served for so many decades, was closed in his honor as well as to allow the workers to attend.

The little card you always get at funerals did not have the standard Psalm or Prayer on it.  When it was discussed I told Patsy to put something on the card that would remind people of Johnny.  We agreed a joke would be perfect.  Johnny always asked children, "What's your name?"  They'd tell him and he's say (and this is what was written), "That's not your name...It's Toe (pointing to the toe), Knee (pointing to the knee), Chest (pointing to the chest), and then Nut (pointing to the head).  Tony Chestnut!  Everyone did remember that joke, especially my grandkids who had most recently heard it.

The funeral was lead by a priest but not Johnny's own priest who was very ill.  It was Catholic but not warm and inviting.  We filed out to the cemetery and it was SO COLD!  We had a buffet lunch at D'Angelos in Twinsburg and it was excellent.  Patsy had planned for 60 but there were a lot more than 60 who came and Patsy enjoyed seeing her friends and family.

Christensens returned home after the buffet.  Trefethens went home and then came back to our house for another evening with Cara.

 We were happy to have a picture taken with Patsy and then one with just us.
After the last guest left the restaurant we took Patsy home, took down the Christmas decorations that Johnny had put up high.  For Patsy to take down, she would have had to get up on a stool which would have been disastrous.  We left her to face her new life.  It's not going to be happy and certainly lonely times.  I've called many of her friends and people who I met at the funeral to check on her and they've done a good job doing this in the past week.

I cannot imagine a life without Robert.  So I just fear that Patsy will rile herself up and lead to her death!  She's so ready to get all this stuff done in a hurry and none of these things can be done in a hurry.  It all takes time.

The next morning, the world was filled with ice and snow.  I went with Dawn when she drove Cara and the boys to the airport.  The going was slow but I was grateful that Dawn drove with her heavier car.  Then we came home and napped for another 3 hours and then Dawn returned home to Michigan.

It is such an odd feeling to know that Johnny is no longer on this earth, where I can get to him.  I know we are going to die.  It's just odd.  That's all I can say.  I feel happy that he is reunited with Jeffrey but........  It's the one part of the Plan of Happiness that does not make me happy.  I just wish to email my loved ones.  Is that not just the most stupid feeling?  I know it is but it's how I feel.

THE weekend...January 3-4

Soon the family started to arrive, those that could.    I had spent Dec 31 with Patsy for hours, making the arrangements for Johnny's funeral which couldn't be held til Monday, Jan 5, due to the holiday.

Saturday, Jan 3, was when they said they would be coming in but had no idea the time.  Saturday afternoon we had planned and arranged for a celebratory luncheon for Ken Bruderer at Olive Garden. I actually was grateful the funeral wasn't til Monday for several reason, including this party.

In addition to helping Linda with her MS needs, Ken has been laid off from the steel mill several times but still went back to college to slowly complete a degree in electrical engineering.  When this was done, I felt we needed to party his efforts. we didn't tell him what was up but just left him to think it was just 4 couples (them, us, Staffords, Warrens) going out to eat.  We then included Jill and Mary Beth and the 2 Hansens and David Bruderer and his family. Both Ken and Linda were surprised.  It was a lovely afternoon.  While there I got a text that Jocelyn's crew had arrived.

So we went home to find them baking some cookies.  Soon Dawn arrived and after midnight, Dawn and Robert drove to the airport to pick up Cara, Kipp and Cody. I tried to fall asleep but know my kids were coming in I just couldn't sleep...and it was so good to see them.  I worried cuz initally Cara was going to drive up for the funeral but Jacob bought airline tickets for them.  As sad an occasion as a funeral is, the upside is that I got to have Cara here for her 40th birthday.  Jacob is so generous all the time but this was even more generous of him.

I think we had a pretty good lunch for her birthday.  It was a bit crazy at times.    We had 2 beef roasts and mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and I had made brioche rolls.  Then came the cakes and the gifts.
 I think Cody was very happy to see the DQ cake even tho Cara had asked for brownies (which she also got).

 Socks from Kipp and Cody as well as a scarf.

A pretty bracelet from us.  Cara had also asked for a picture of her as a baby with me.  That was a little hard to find but I did manage it.  This one was on her blessing day.

 This was Pioneer Day, 1975

Oh her first birthday 1976

Back when the kids were born there was no such thing as a selfie and I was usually the one behind the camera.  Cara was sweet enough to say that I was alway selfless.  I actually found 3 pictures and sent them to a Walgreens in her area to print off so she could get them and I would not have to worry about them being ruined in the mail or getting there late.

 A lovely handmade book from Scarlett.
 A lovely green scarf/wrap from Christensens.

 Cara collects hot wheel cars so Marissa/family and Dawn presented her with 40 new hot wheel cars!  And check out the green wrap/scarf from  Christensens.

 Dawn also gave her a lovely necklace that will arrive at her home.
 And who doesn't like DQ ice cream cake?  Oskar sure does!

January 1, 2015

Marissa and Hank brought the boys for New Years Day dinner.  It seems I need to feel family around me while I grieve the loss of Uncle Johnny.  We had a very scrumptious dinner.  Marissa had recently told me every New Year's Day was spoiled by my mom's dinner which was a pork roast cooked in saurkraut.  Again, poor Marissa.

So altho I had to serve saurkraut because it's tradition even tho I don't care for it much either but Robert and Hank love it.  I used Rita Kistner's German recipe which included smoked sausage and cooked in a slow cooker for hours.  I also made a pork roast that was encrusted with seasoned panko bread crumbs.  Good potatoes and applesauce and rolls and everything else.

The fun moment?  getting to put Simon in a high chair for the first time. I do think he enjoys being up high and having a tray to pound on.  Putting the little spoon in his mouth didn't seem to be pleasurable but here is that cute little boy.  I could eat him up.  He always smiles....ALWAYS.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

Despite the fact I was tired and emotionally wrung out, we decided to follow through with our plans to go to Daphne's home for a celebration.  And we are so glad we did.  It was just comfortable being with nice people.  Daphne and her daughter, Karla.  Daphne's brother Karl and his wife Karen, and two friend, Scott and Brenda.  We ate and I got a great dip recipe from Karla.  We talked. We placed pictionary and my team I'll never know since we started out so far behind.

We greeted in the new year with toasts and good wishes.  What was only going to be a 'stop-in' turned out to be the whole evening.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Death of my Uncle Gonny (John Ourednik

I could never say Johnny so it always came out Gonnie.  Here I am with my godparents, Johnny and Patsy Ourednik, 1995.

When I was born, we lived in a 3 story home.  Patsy with her parents on the first floor, my mom's parents and Carol on the 2nd and my parents and me on the third.  This is where my father died when I was 4 months old.  Immediately Johnny and Patsy were willing to step up and add the care I needed.  I am told that I could not say Johnny.  Instead it came out Gonny...hard G sound.  I would stand at the top of our stairs and yell down Gonny!  and he'd come arunnin'.  He was always there for me.  Many time he would be the standin for the daddy at daddy/daughter events.

Robert and I had run out to grab a few things and when I came home I had 3 messages and the end result was that Uncle Johnny had died.  We raced in to be with Patsy.  It's not like we thought he would live forever but it's still always a stunning moment when someone leaves mortality.

Johnny had a day of delirium Monday but Tuesday he awoke fine.  He's been pretty much confined to a wheelchair, but up until most recently continued to drive (that scared me to death).  His legs were pretty weak but his sense of humor was always in tact.  Most recently, despite being limited in what he could do, he told Patsy he didn't want to die yet, that he actually enjoyed his life.

He got out of bed, had breakfast and then had to go to the bathroom. That created a problem but Patsy got him all cleaned up and was trying to get him back to bed, telling him that he'd better not fall because she wouldn't be able to get him up.  And he fell right next to the bed!  Patsy ran to the hallway and called for anyone in the apartment house to come.  One man heard and came running. They couldn't get him up but made him comfortable on the floor til the ambulance arrived (6 men...cops, fire dept, and EMTs).  They put him on O2 and put him into the ambulance.  On the way to Euclid Hospital his heart stopped and he was bagged as they did CPR. When they got to the hospital, still doing CPR, they asked Patsy what she wanted them to do.  She looked at Johnny and said, "let him go...he's lived a good life."  And thus passed my wonderful godfather into the next world.

It's going to be difficult for Patsy and I wonder how long she will last.  The funeral will be on Monday.  I spent Wednesday again with Patsy, making the funeral arrangements with the cemetery and funeral home...thankfully they had everything all paid up and cemented.  Patsy has some good friends in the apartment complex as well as in the neighborhood.  They can get to her the fastest!  at least faster than I can.

Jocelyn posted the above picture. In it you can see most all the important people in my life. Sitting up tall on the left is my beloved Poppy. Patsy and Johnny (my godparents) in front of Poppy. Behind Poppy is Uncle Gus.  Across from him is his wife, my great Aunt Florrie (Floriday).  All that hair on the girl at the end of the table is the aunt I grew up with more as a sister, carol. The man on the right is my father, Henry Czekala, with my mom at his side.

One week ago Johnny enjoyed meeting Simon. Today Johnny was greeted at heavens door by his son, Jeffrey. What a reunion that was ! But how I shall miss the best godfather ever!!!!

Here are some comments and pictures my kids posted on FB concerning him:

 That's me (Susan) on Uncle Gonnie's head.

From Marissa:
My mom's godfather, known affectionately as Uncle Johnny, died today at age 94. You haven't lived until you've met someone like him. He 
was always, always joking, caring, silly. After hearing some stories about Uncle Johhny, Henry busted a few "songs" on the harmonica in Johnny's honor. "This one's for you, uncle Johnny!", he'd proclaim as he struck a few wild chords and in that moment, I felt Johnny's joy and I felt the way he'd fill a room. I felt him fill our room. See you on the flip side, uncle Johnny.

From Jocelyn:

Just learned that my Uncle Johnny passed away this morning. Kind, generous, a friend to all, a beloved protector of children, always telling jokes, and serving the humble, the disabled, and the fatherless. He was a true angel walking the earth. A true hero. He and his wife Patsy have changed our family forever for the better. He will be sorely missed but a great party is probably just kicking off on the other side. We love you, Uncle Johnny. I'd say R.I.P. but you weren't one to ever rest, so have fun, until we meet again! (To my family check your inbox for a Johhny-esque joke!)

From Dawn:
Today, my mother's god father passed be reunited with his son who had died 20 years earlier. This man was a quick with a joke and a smile and a few quarters to press into grubby little hands of my kids when they were younger. My mom's dad died before her first Christmas...and we love to hear the story how Uncle Johnny took her to every Santa in Cleveland by way of the streetcar. And when she needed a diaper change, or a bottle he simply handed the baby to one of the ladies restroom attendants and waited out side. When the diapering was done, the woman would hand her back out to Johnny.

Before I totally close out this post, I have to comment about how quick of wit Johnny great and silly his jokes were and how he usually saved the slightly off colored ones for me. Probably because I'd giggle. They weren't dirty jokes...just well, colored.  Jocelyn found this joke on the day Johnny died and send it to all of to remember him by.  Robert and I really laughed, as did Patsy when I read it to her.

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates. 

'In honor of this holy season' Saint Peter said, 'You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.'

The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. 'It represents a candle', he said. 'You may pass through the pearly gates' Saint Peter said.

The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, 'They're bells.' Saint Peter said 'You may pass through the pearly gates'.

The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.

St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, 'And just what do those symbolize?'

The man replied, 'These are Carols.'

A picture from 1969 with Johnny entering 5806 Belmere Dr, Parma

Same holiday...Jeffrey and Patsy..Christmas 1969.

 This picture was taken by Jocelyn a few years ago.  Me and my Uncle Gonny.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in PA

On Dec 23 I took Johnny to see his doctor.  Patsy was worried about these episodes he was having and the doctor said they were deliriums and would pass in a day or say which they have.  He was asked a bunch of questions to be sure he wasn't heading down into dimentia and he wasn't.  We stopped at a restaurant in Mentor and the Trefethens joined us.  Johnny and Patsy finally got to meet Simon. 

Jocelyn and Steve invited to come spend Christmas with them in Pennsylvania.  We went even tho Jocelyn was so ill and pretty miserable.  We ended up taking Niko with us because I didn't start early enough getting a place for him at a doggie care place.  He was fine and loved the new smells in their yards.  I added this charm to my mom's jewelry is a charm my grandmother always wore...with a 'gem' on Dec 25, 1932, the day she married my grandfather (after a horrible first marriage.)  I came across when I was looking for some jewelry for Jocelyn to use on the tree she had hoped to create...maybe in 2015!
 We drove up there on Tuesday night and made it safely through some pretty treacherous foggy highways and byways.  Marissa and Hank and the boys went the day before, right after dinner with Ouredniks and they all met us there.

On Christmas Eve morn, the Christensens hosted their annual pancake breakfast for friends.  This is an outgrowth from the pancake breakfast Gwen and Christ Miller served for years.  Jocelyn must have been quite ill and just didn't let on because I made a grocery run for butter, syrup, eggs, milk, strawberries, etc.  I am sure they had plenty leftover because altho quite a lot of their friends came there weren't the usual number.  That was probably a blessing because I am not sure how Jocelyn would have held up.

Suddenly in walked a man who Jocelyn said, "I was pretty sure I knew him.  I recognized his face but it was only through the gift of the Lord that prompted the name." This was David Czekala.  Years ago Jocelyn had taken phone books and called all the Czekalas in Scranton or NY area attempting to find a relative.  At last she called this David and a lovely relationship developed.  David was on his way to VA to visit his daughter and just decided to take a side trip and stop in to bring gifts to the family.  His gifts were spot on for every kid.  I believe he swapped the bourbon (since, as he said, Jocelyn's family were all teetotalers) for honey from his own apiary.

Here we are standing with our cousin.  David's grandfather Martin was my grandfather Stanley's brother.  David's Dad was Andy and mine was Henry.    When I showed this picture to Patsy Ourednik, she said that David had more of Henry's brother John's appearance but obviously was a Czekala.

Finally it was Christmas Eve and as an early treat, Santa stopped by with gifts for the wee ones, to hold them over til midnight.
 Raclette for dinner.
 I think it was an amazing Marissa commented...Jocelyn made everything so magical and she saw it on Henry's face in every picture.  This is so true.  This picture made me wonder. What was going through their heads.  Is there a gift for me?  Will I be remembered?  Oh I hope so!
 Even Oskar got in on the act...get a gift and don't cry!


 I think Guy was the first in line to give Santa a hug!
 Poor Marissa who had to suffer through a young lifetime of misery on every Christmas Day while visiting Aunt Carol Etzel with her live trees and many cats, now had to experience the same thing at Jocelyn's.  No cats but the live tree made her so ill.  I realize now how bad a mother I was back then but Jocelyn was the perfect hostess.  I asked Jocelyn in the late afternoon if we could move the tree outside, to the porch that surrounds the back of her house. Without a second hesitation she agreed.  But we also de-decorated it but left the lights on.  A bit later I noticed she had put on several fans to blow out the odors of the tree..or the sap...or whatever.  So altho the tree was outside, it was still lit and was enjoyed in a different way.  Steve even said that it was so pretty they might need to buy 10 trees and light them all up on the porch.  This is what it looked like from the yard...on one of my trips outside with Niko.

 The children put on the whole nativity story.

Scarlett wanted a long long grey beard when she represented Isaiah and she was perfect.  It was so sweet and tender.
 Then came the reading of The Littlest Angel. Robert started and actually got farther than most years before the tears came.
 Here is Marissa and Robert, shedding some tender tears.  Jocelyn finished the story.  
Simon had no clue what was going on but he was fine lying on his blanket amidst the chaos.
 This is Steve's gift for be revealed later.
 Oh yes, Niko got gifts and because they were treats which he could smell he had a wonderful time ripping the packages open.

Here's the fun hoodie I found for Robert.

 Anything to make Marissa feel somewhat better..even a towel wrapped as if she had mumps helped with the feeling of pressure in her head, poor thing!
 Hank made Marissa a nightstand but only brought the top for her to open because the interior of the drawers needed to be painted/stained/finished.
 He filled the negative space with epoxy and it was smooth and clear!

 An amazing electronic kit for Guy who then made all sorts of fun things.
 Perhaps it was a good thing that the tree was removed to the outside.  This gave the kids a lot more room to exclaim over their gifts and to play with each other and their things.

 Miss Honor...every the Frozen princess.
 with her doll to match!

 Steve rests with Simon and Honor.

Oskar loved the small flashlight.  He is a quiet one and seemed to just enjoy flashing it in small areas. I always wonder what is going on in his head.

 At some point, Oskar found a quiet resting place for his Froggie.

 A Yarn calendar of quotes from Dawn.

 AMAZING Chico items from Jordan and jewelry.

 From the Christensens.
 Oh my...all this activity tired Niko out.  He just so wanted to go to bed and kept agitating to do so.  I told Robert to get his blanket and before we knew it, Niko was fast asleep at our feet as we all continued opening gifts.

 These are poofs made by Marissa for her three boys...something soft to sit upon or rest against.

 A gift from their Ohio neighbor.  Each boy got their own name street sign.

 This is the gift Cara made us.  It's in a frame and came with a dry eraser marker to be used on the glass whenever you want to leave a comment.  The first comment is from Cara...the last line is what Robert added.
 The Christensens made this wonderful piece of art which now hangs on our's fun to see the handprints each day.

We spent Christmas just being family, napping when possible. Steve did the dinner as Jocelyn had just maxed out.  We left on the 26th to return home.  Sadly Hank's car died and had to be left in Lewisburg to be repaired. They rented a car to get home.

Later on I received a copy of Hillary's Tried N True recipe collection.  I had seen it at her home in October. She had told me it was made for her sister who just got married but she gifted it to all of the Hatch women.  What a lovely gift!



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