Another Loss, Not As Tragic But Heartbreaking Still. Goodbye Mom, Until We Meet Again.

Another Loss, Not As Tragic But Heartbreaking Still. Goodbye Mom, Until We Meet Again.

me and mom
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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 3  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.  mom and dad's wedding photo

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. Frank , John Linda Joseph and Michael children of Marie

As were photographs of her nine grandchildren. photos of grandchildren

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. statute of Blessed Virgin Mary in mom's house

She was a devout Catholic. She was devoted to the Blessed Mother and traveled to Fatima, Lourdes, Rome. I traveled with her to in Yugoslavia

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. mom and me

 We would come back to visit and stay overnight. So I walked the streets I remember walking with mom and my grandfather on these visits. streets in McAdoo

We would usually stay over on Easter Sunday and attend mass at St. Michael’s Byzantine on Easter Monday. St. Michael's Church McAdoo

I was surprised to find the Church was open. I sat down, alone, and reflected on the long masses and many funerals I attended in this beautiful church with mom.altar in St. Michael's Church

And we would spend a few days at my grandfather’s house  in the summer. I loved running around these streets with my brother John. streets in McAdoo

I returned to McAdoo the next day, and walked out the railroad tracks near my mom’s house. railroad tracks near McAdoo

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. railroad tracks near McAdoo

I followed the railroad tracks to the cemeteries on the west side of town. cemetery in McAdoo

I first visited my mom’s grandfather and grandmother. Look at the date of my great grandmother’s birth.  1881. my great-grandmother's grave McAdoo

I then went to my grandparents grave. Look at the year my grandfather was born. She was 14 years old when she had  given birth. Not unusual in the coal mining patch grandparent's grave McAdoo

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. St Michael's cemetery in McAdoo

I continued my walk through the streets of McAdoo, reminiscing about the many walks with mom as she visited nearby relatives and friends. Long forgotten pleasant memories. streets in McAdoo

I would return to the now empty home of my parents  those first few days and reflect on the many warm memories I had with her there.

I remembered her singing to us at night, playing ‘button,button who has the button’ and other games with my siblings. As a young child, I would help her plant flowers, cook and fix jigsaw puzzles. 

I also remember walking to church with her on Easter in first grade and seeing tulips in bloom for the first time on the walk.

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. last known photo of mom

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.

Well I could fill many pages with my memories of mom but this was supposed to be a short tribute to her. There will be more posts in the future, about her, dad and my sister. 

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






  1. Joan Lockwood Smith on August 22, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Frank,you certainly outdid yourself with your post about your much beloved Mother.
    I truly enjoyed seeing all of your beautiful photos.
    You’re definitely a perfect blend of both of your wonderful parents.
    I’m especially impressed with your Mom’s Rosary making.
    Her rosaries must’ve all been so beautiful & so very special.
    I see such a resemblance between your beautiful Mom & your beautiful sister Linda-2 such amazing ladies.
    Thank you for sharing from your heart Frank.

  2. Pattie Corcoran on August 22, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Such a beautiful tribute to your mother?I am sure she is so proud of the person you have become. All of your wonder traditions and memories will become a comfort to you.

  3. Cathy Hoffman on August 23, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Frank this is a very touching tribute to your Mother. Loved reading about all your memories of her and looking forward to reading more, love seeing all the old time photos. You have a loving and caring family ❤

  4. Sean Duesler on August 23, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Thank you, Frank, for sharing these memories. You were truly blessed with having your parents with you as long as they were. Your loving nature in taking us back in time gives a wonderful insight into what has molded you into the man you have become. Thanks again. God bless. Please accept my deepest condolences.