Another Loss, Not As Tragic But Heartbreaking Still. Goodbye Mom, Until We Meet Again.
I am sorry for not getting any blog posts up the past few weeks. I have turned the page on a new chapter in my life. I lost my mom, Marie M. Butala Skokoski on August 2 at 4:20 pm. It has been hard on me , especially coming after the tragic loss of my beloved sister Linda and her husband Charlie last October. We lost dad, my mentor, hero and best friend five years ago. It is a strange, empty feeling.
I just couldn’t bring myself to write or post photographs since her death without sharing some thoughts about mom. I have revised and rewritten this post a number of times. It is hard to put a lifetime of feelings in a few paragraphs. So, I decided to go with some quick thoughts. I hope to do a more fitting tribute in the future, but for now, this will have to do. Her passing has changed me. All continuity to her past is gone. All the memories we shared, the knowledge of her parents’ family, and our family. And, of course, my time with her. Both parents. Gone. It will change the way I relate to my life, travels and friends. It already has.
And don’t get me wrong, a lot of folks, including four in my family had it much worse. We were blessed to have mom, and dad, a very long time. Mom was 88, dad 89 when they passed. Still it is such a different and lonely feeling, especially in a close and loving family as ours was.
Enough of my problems, more about mom and her life. Mom grew up in McAdoo, Pennsylvania a few mile from the Crystal Ridge the patch town my dad grew up in. Her mother died when she was a young girl and she had a difficult and sad childhood. She meet my dad, fell in love and married. I was her first of five children, my three brothers, John, Joseph, Michael and middle child, sister Linda. We were a poor family but she would often say she was a millionaire, because of us. . She loved her grandchildren just as much.
After her death, I spent a few hours sitting alone in her house. So many memories. Mom and dad’s most precious treasures were us, their children and grandchildren. Our high school graduation photographs were proudly displayed on the wall.
I sat in the room were she spent most of her time for the last 7 or 8 years. We moved her bed and my dad’s bed downstairs when they couldn’t climb the steps anymore. I got much closer to her after the loss of my sister last October. Linda was very close to her and her caretaker. My brothers and I took over that responsibility after Linda’s death. Her death was hard on mom and I believe contributed to the deterioration in her health.
After spending some time reflecting on her passing I left my parent’s home and I drove to McAdoo. I first visited the house she grew up in. My first memories were in this house. It has changed a lot but just standing on Butler Street took me back in time.
I was standing on the porch with mom. Playing in the sand box and watching her make homemade noodles. These memories are my treasures. We moved to Green Ridge when I was two but I do have some happy memories of mom, dad and my grandfather in this house.
It was somewhere along these tracks where one of my first memories occurred. I was one year old. My mom, who was expecting my brother John, went to the Doctor. My grandfather was watching me and he decided to talk me for huckleberries along these tracks. He left me sit on the rails as he picked the berries. I remember crying which didn’t seem to stop him from picking the berries. My grandfather didn’t tell my parents and they panicked looking for me. I remember seeing my mom running to get me. I heard dad was not to happy with my grandfather. Memories are our greatest treasure.
I spent some time at the grave. My mom’s mom died when she was 9 years old. I wondered how often mom would visit this grave. It is only a few blocks from her house. Pretty often I am guessing. I remember coming here every All Souls Day and placing s candle on the grave.
I sat near her bed and observed her unfinished rosaries. As I stated above, she was a devout Catholic and made rosaries which she sent to foreign missions or handed out to anyone she would meet. She prayed many hours each day and was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. When she was young and healthy she would attend mass regularly and participated in all of the devotions in our parish, Transfiguration Church.
She liked to talk and had the gift of gab. I inherited most of that. But I now learned she also like to write and keep a journal. I have found journals from her travels to Europe and they are very detailed with times, places where she ate and observations she made. So much alike we were I am starting to realize.
Between my visits to McAdoo and my parents house, my brothers and I had to make arrangements for her burial. She and my sister had prearranged the funeral so we only had to carry out her wishes. It was still not easy. The wake and funeral service were beautiful. She was laid to rest next to dad, her partner in life. The were so unlike. Dad was quiet and mom liked to talk, and yes they had their disagreements, but they did love each other, and they created a beautiful family. The love they gave us will be their lasting legacy. Goodbye mom, we miss you so much.
“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
― Mitch Albom