Saturday, May 9, 2015


Mother’s Day has been a kind of ‘Remembrance Day’ for me, it seems, for most of my adult life. My beloved mother reposed on the 25th of November, 1986, twenty-nine years ago.

It seems a lifetime and a world away. The proof of the resurrection of Christ in me is her faith, in which she now is safely harbored in life eternal, waiting for the rest of us to arrive, her whole life in God now poured out for others as she always wanted, but could not achieve, on this earth. Out of the sound of her accuser's cries, she rests in the paradise of God. Αιωνια σου η μνημη, αξιομακαριστος και αειμνηστος αδελφη ημων. May your memory be eternal, dear sister, for you are worthy of blessedness and everlasting memory. Może pamięć wieczna, droga siostro, bo jesteś godzien szczęścia i wiecznej pamięci.
I post this at the clock time of my mother's repose, just as I marked it in my Jerusalem Bible, after parsing off the psalms for the twenty-fifth day, the day of her birth (on Christmas) and her death (Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week).

Though these wretches have almost done for me,
I have never abandoned Your precepts.
Lovingly intervene, give me life,
and I will observe your decrees.
Lasting to eternity, Your Word,
Yahweh, unchanging in the heavens.
Psalm 119:87-89
corresponding to 7:30 p.m., November 25, 1986


My mom was the second child of her parents, Pawel Milewski and Maria Kozinska, the eldest of three sisters, and she grew up in inner city Chicago in the 1920's and 30's. The family was Roman Catholic from Warsaw, Poland. Their house was in a Mafia infested neighborhood, and my uncle, her brother, married a Sicilian. The household was very cultural in a Central European bourgeois sort of way, and it didn't change after the war.

As a child staying there in the 1950's, everything was just as it was in the 20's. I always felt it to be a magical place, another world filled with wonderful things I never saw anywhere else… persian rugs in profusion, rare tropical birds uncaged on their perches and other birds, just as rare, in their cages with the little doors often open, so they could exercise their wings at will, plastic covered overstuffed couches, my grandmother's collections of rare dolls, her little family of rare dogs… pekingese, pomeranian, spits, chihuahua… the half-lot garden which I remember now as being a veritable paradise to explore but which was only a strip of ground two and half yards wide that flanked the house on one side, where the lawn swing was.

There too was grandpa's basement hide-out, his workshop, and the little bedroom in the back porch that had a secret connexion back to the kitchen through a high windowlike opening where a large cookie jar was placed on the ledge, reachable from the kitchen or the bedroom. One always hoped to be invited to stay the night, because of those cookies that could be had without asking.
This is where my mother grew up.
I love this old photo from her first holy communion. Mom is the girl on the right. It would have been taken around 1928. The clothes the kids are wearing, and their non-chalant poses, are so cute. It's nice to know that Mom’s crowd was a lot like ‘the Little Rascals

My mother did not have a happy life, but rather one with a lot of personal tragedy, and as a result she fell away from Christian community from about age 40, and became even more isolated. She and her siblings were a violent bunch, and what could have been a virtue in her, a vibrant and athletic personal energy, gradually decayed into a life of unending vendetta, and a kind of mental illness set in. She made her marriage unendurable, and it ended. Eventually her devotion to her children drove all of them off except me, except that I moved away, first to Canada, then to Oregon, and never to return. So she wrote me often.

From a letter dated January 4, 1974…

I’m always and forever thinking about God, and never—not once—have I blamed God for my unlucky life. Just knowing that God and I know this to be true is what’s keeping me on till God wants me. Even if everyone on the face of the earth ignores me or is angry at me, I don’t care. I have God if no one else, and I’m happy. I can pray and talk to God and I know He hears me. I’m always praying for everyone, but I don’t go telling them, and I ask God to forgive them, because they don’t know any better.

I do not demand from God. I only feel I got what I had coming, and I will get what I deserve. There is only One God, and He only knows. I even thank God for all the bad luck I’ve had. Hard to believe, but it’s the honest truth. And again I say, God and I only know this. I expect to be punished by God, if I need it, but also forgiven, if I deserve it.

I really wish I could be a nun, even at this late age. By God’s standards I am a sinner, but God understands and forgives me, I know. All I ask God is to help me do the right things, to be with me always, there to help me in this way, and to forgive me and give me another chance. All I can do in return is live a life like God wants us to. I never ask God to give me something, only to help me and show me the way to do my best, and never to give up.

You see, I’m not without sin, but I don’t blame God. I ask Him to stand by me and never lose faith in me. I can’t help myself, and maybe I’m taking longer [than I should], but I’ll always keep on trying, because I know God is with me.

I could say more, but I’ll close on this note. We’re all sinners. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

And from another letter, written September 2, 1974, these words about her repentance…

I sit and think all the time, how we only have one life, and how people can really waste it, like I did. The only time I feel so good is when I’m trying to go to sleep. I talk to God, and I just can’t explain how I feel and what I see, how it will be when I’m gone. You know, I feel so very happy, and I’m not afraid. God will remember me and forgive me, because I never blamed God for my bad life. I only remember what was good, and how happy I was. The rest that happened was only when I went off [on] the side road, and it took me longer to get back. Remember, it was [when we lived] on Ross Street, you were telling and showing us about that road, and how one can stray. It took me longer [to get back] because the devil was stronger than me. I feel I could have done something sooner and will never forgive myself for straying that long, but I know God will forgive me. So now, all there is for me is the straight ahead road, and I’m sure not turning either way. It’s too close to the end to let the devil win again.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you, brethren, for helping me stop and remember the soul of this dear sister, my mother.

1 comment:

Sasha said...

Thank you for sharing the story and the letters, brother. May she rest in Paradise and me you there! +