Good morning, everyone. On behalf of my dad, my brother, and our family, thank you for being here today. While I am going to do my best to put into words to share who my mom was, I’m not sure it is possible.
My mom was one of the most caring and genuine people I know, and all walks of life: the four-legged, two-legged, winged, young, and old knew it too. Her laughter, beautiful sense of humor, and her positivity rang through even though she had endured great loss. She wanted people to be happy and feel joy even through hard times like this.
The irony in her so genuinely wanting others to experience happiness was never lost on me as she did so while carrying perhaps the greatest burden a mother could know. The loss of one of her children, Jeffrey Joseph, when she herself was just 23 years old. For more than 50 years of her life, she struggled to understand and find peace in the anguish of such heartbreak. The way in which she still showed up as she did for her family and friends truly speaks volumes about the kind of human she was.
My mom loved Detroit. There was a lot of connection there for her from growing up there to bar hopping after work with my dad to tooling around in the convertible with me before my brothers were born, “just us chicks,” she would say. It’s where she was born and lived until she was twelve.
The neighborhood she grew up in was mostly Polish, “a bar at every corner,” she’d proclaim. She attended a Polish Catholic elementary school and her family lived with her mother’s parents on the top floor and my mom’s family on the main floor. It was a place steeped in Polish traditions, where family and the church came first, and of course good drink and good food.
After the sudden loss of her grandpa, her family decided to move to the suburbs of Allen Park. They left the comfort of the Polish neighborhood and their friends... which couldn’t have been easy for any of them. My mom shared many stories about this time in her life and beyond - always speaking fondly while looking off with a smile on her face, mischievous sparkle in her eyes, while spilling the brilliant stories of adventure and fun with joy filling her heart.
Her love of all things Christmas and the yearly trips to Bronner’s and annual ornaments for everyone warm my heart when I think of them. We have quite a collection as do some of you, and she always picked the perfect ones every year.
Her offerings of more food even after we just ate a wonderful meal she prepared. That was something my brother, Kevin, and I heard constantly throughout our lives from her. Even if we said we were full, we still got the rundown of what else there was to eat in the refrigerator or pantry. That’s Polish love for ya.
Her love of sports - both watching and playing. The no-hitter in slow-pitch softball she threw - yes, in slow-pitch -– is something she may not have shared but is worth noting now. And for those of you who don’t know, that’s a really difficult thing to do.
I always felt such pride watching her as I grew up and loved getting to know her teammates and dear friends. Eventually, my mom and I finally got to play on the same team; playing with the same women I watched as I grew up was quite an honor. Another summer, our whole family played co-ed ball together… that was every bit of the adventure that it sounds like. She would also spend countless hours in bowling alleys across the country bowling herself and watching my brother bowl. There wasn’t much she enjoyed more than watching and cheering on her loved ones.
Her love and acceptance for others was apparent as she always had room for one more in our family. The friends my brother and I would bring home while growing up, to the teams I coached, to the friends I have now were always “adopted” into our family. From pizza Thursdays in college, to my friends and Soul Sisters today. Known as Mrs. B, Mom B, Momma B, or Grandma she was adored by all as she was a great listener and never judged or turned anyone away... even though through her life some people judged, left her out, or turned her away.
She loved her grandchildren incomparably. She was so very proud of the humans they are and it was a privilege to see and feel her depth of love for them. She spoiled them as only grandmas can do, and they were truly buddies.
They travelled together to many places and had many, many laughs. From Joe Louis Arena for Disney on Ice to The Detroit Opera House and The Fox Theater for plays and musicals, to the drives through the old neighborhood and Elizabeth Park and more. They went on many adventures.
My daughter, Jordan shared some of her fondest memories which include how her Grandma went to every one of her bowling events and the two of them watching Big Brother together - even if they weren’t in the same location, they would call each other to watch it together in that way. She also recalls making macaroni salad together (she did make it best), and decorating Christmas cookies every year and even included Jordan’s best friend, Megan who is a dear part of our family.
When it came to my son Joshua, my mom absolutely loved to hear him play the piano and sing Fly Me to the Moon or other oldies for her - she was the only one to ever get a personal concert by the way. She also held very close to her heart the pieces of artwork he would create for her which some of you may have seen yesterday.
As you have heard, she was a wonderful mother; the perfect mother for me in fact. The perfect grandmother for my children. The perfect wife, aunt, sister, cousin, friend, and in-law for all of us here. Our lives wouldn’t be the same without experiencing her.
It was an honor to hold her hand and listen, to hold the sacred space for her as she transitioned, and I thought about how our relationship will change. For all the guidance she offered everyone in life, now she will be a guide for us from the other side. How lucky are we to have a new guardian angel like my mom?
As time was growing short and especially the last few days with her, I pondered all her kindness, her loving ways, and her humor. I thought about how wonderful of a mom and human she was. I realized I could never say enough about how she loved her family, friends, and pets deeply and unconditionally.
So, with a few short stories and reflections, maybe I shared something you didn’t know or sparked a memory or two. My hope is that your memories of her are held in the same loving way that she held all of you.
Mom, we will forever hold you, cherish you, and honor you. We will do so with laughter and tears, travel and good food, music and much love. You deserve it all.
Thank you, mom, for loving all of us so very much through all the times. It was the one constant we never second-guessed and never will.
We love you forever and for always and we know you love us more.
Dziękuję (Jankuya) and kocham cię (coham che)
And Goddess speed, lil’ mama.