Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'd like to introduce you to my Aunt Bea, Bernice Czekala.  This picture was taken in 1975.  And you can see by the attending card that she died on Thanksgiving morning. Jan had called earlier to warn me that Bea only had a day or so left.  Funny thing about that picture of Bea.  One day about 5 months ago, it just appeared on the side desk upstairs.  Not sure where exactly it came from or how but it was there. So there it sat.  

Bea was the last remaining full sibling to my birth father, who as you know died when I was 4 months old.  So she's really the last one to have told me about my father.  She loved him.  He loved her (that I've heard from everyone).  And because I know there is an afterlife, I know they have enjoyed a wonderful reunion.

Bea had fallen down some stairs as a toddler and had some disabilities.   But she always had a sharp mind and and equally sharp tongue.  She sent me pictures years ago of my father, when she heard I had none.  More recently, as Jan was emptying out Bea's apartment, Jan shared some stuff my father had given Bea, plus more pictures.  These things I treasure.  I think Bea worked in a school, and I also seem to remember her working in the rectory.

The funeral was held at St. Jerome's in Cleveland this morning.  And it was lovely.  The church was long and had these wonderful vaulted ceilings.  Apparently there's an updated version to the words usually spoken by Catholics during Mass.  My godmother who went with us commented that these words are closer to the the original meaning as was had in Latin.  I looked around and saw my few remaining cousins and again felt the loss from decades of not being near them, not sharing in their traditions, their jokes (some of which I heard last night at the funeral home...but not nearly enough).  Their Polish tongues.  But in the grand scheme, I guess they are mine, always were, always will be.  But it was sad...despite what I know about the great Plan of Happiness.....but again, the sadness is all mine, all selfishness. 

I didn't know anything about St. Jerome so I came home and read up on him...mainly because  of the lions that adorned each arch in his church.  I took that picture above mainly for Mary Beth Lyon but it peeked my curiosity.  

I will miss Bea because she was, as her priest mentioned, quite a character.  But I will also miss her because there is no one else around to talk about my father.  He has 2 half siblings.  Uncle Kenny lives in CA and beautiful Aunt Natalie is deep in the abyss of Alzheimers, cared for mainly by a loving daughter, Kathy, supported by her siblings too, I need mention.  It's just such a sad disconnect when someone dies and I don't get to chat.

It's why I am always complaining about the lack of internet services between earth and heaven.  Oh, what I'd give for just a couple of text messages now and again. But I don't want to actually be in heaven to communicate with them...not just yet anyway.  I am not a big fan of flowers at funerals...a view my mom disapproved of.  I think it's a total waste to send flowers and just have them tossed on the ground over the newly buried person.  So I think I'll be going out to buy a special plant in memory of Bea this afternoon.

On the flip side of the funeral home card was this picture:  What struck me immediately was the same sort of statue that my grandmother had.  It sat on a table or was it a television when I was young....like in 50s.  And she changed the outfits by the seasons or perhaps it was by the holidays.  Overtop of it was a lovely thick plastic shield...kept the dust away, and the statue and the clothes very clean.  It was a place of remembrance and reverence.  I remember wishing I had a 'doll' like this one, kept special, kept clean.  We didn't....we weren't Catholic. But it's the perfect memory still in my head and heart today.  And perhaps because of the times I spent with my grandmother Zielinski, I learned to have a very different sort of connection with my Lord.  I wonder who got that statue and if they revere it as she did. I hope so.

So I bid farewell to Bea and sit here enjoying a picture of what I think heaven is like right now, with a new Littlest Angel to hold.  Off I go to find a plant....I think it's fitting, don't you?


Lin Floyd said...

lovely sentiments, we need to take time with living relatives while they are still around.

Anonymous said...


I know that we have not always been close and I am not sure why that was.

I read your comments and had similar thoughts. You were lucky enough to get to know our grandmother. Grandma died when I was only 2 and I have no memories of her; only photos. How lucky you are to have spent time with her.

The priest was right; Bea was a character. When she went into the nursing home she called me every day..every day without fail. The last time that I spoke to her was November 5th when I went to see her and take her favorite McDonald's chocolate milkshake. She had such a euphoric look on her face as she sipped her shake. Sadly, that was the last time we spoke.

I will miss Bea and her stories about growing up. After Ciocia Ann passed away Bea was the oldest living relative to pass on the oral history of our family.

I hope that we meet again and not at another wake for a family member.

Your cousin, now and always, whether you like it or not.


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