Sunday, November 20, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1841, November 20th, 2011

My late mother in law, Anna Waskie. She shared a birthday with Thomas Jefferson. This photo was taken on her 93rd birthday.


We lost Mrs. LuLac’s mom last Tuesday. She was 94, closing in on 95 and led a pretty incredible life. As her son in law, we were essentially partners in crime. My wife is a type of pizza snob, she’s not real crazy about Domino's or Pizza Hut. So when she’d go out of town on a library conference, I got her mother that pizza for her evening meal. I’ll miss that, as well as her. What follows is her obituary and a copy of the eulogy given at her funeral.

Anna Waskie-1917-2011

Anna M. Waskie, 94, of Wilkes-Barre, passed away on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, in Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. She was born April 13, 1917, in Parsons, daughter of the late Anthony and Anna Maciejczyk Wojcik. Mrs. Waskie attended the Wilkes-Barre schools and was formerly employed by Freider's Cigar Company, the Osterhout Free Library, Parsons, and in the local garment industry. She was a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Plains Township, its Mother's Guild and Altar and Rosary Society, where she served as president. She also was a member and served as president of Living a New Life. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Alexander, who passed away in 1969; sisters, Lucille Matiska, Frances Buzinski, Helen Kempka, Josephine Wychock, Julia Wychock, Mary Pokrifka; brother, Peter Wujcik. Surviving are her daughters, Mary Ann Yonki and her husband, David, Wilkes-Barre, Alexis Edwards and her husband, Kenneth, Carverton; grandsons, Ian and Todd Edwards. The funeral was held Saturday from the E. Blake Collins Funeral Home, Wilkes-Barre, with a Mass of Christian Burial. Memorial donations may be made to Cori's Place, 495 Wyoming St., Hanover Township, PA 18706, or to the Osterhout Free Library, North Branch, 28 Oliver St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18705.


"Thank you Father Joe for opportunity to speak.
March 22nd, 1980. That was the day that I met Anna Waskie.
Full of myself, I strode into her living room on Kado Street. She was sitting on her couch with a cup of tea and her dog. I said to her,
“My name is David Yonki and I’m here to take your daughter on a date”.
She looked me up and down, looked at the dog, then looked at Mary Ann rolling her eyes saying, WELL, AREN’T YOU THE LUCKY ONE!!
It was then I learned that she did not impress easily.
The only three things that truly impressed her were THOSE THREE SPIRITUAL VIRTUES, Faith, Hope and Charity.
We all have our circle of friends, today it’s referred to as an entourage.
All of us gathered here today are part of Anna Waskie’s circle of spiritual values, faith, hope and charity.
THE MOST immediate part of that circle is her daughters Mary Ann and Alexis. She was so proud of their accomplishments. A common thread among depression/world war II era folks like my mother in law was that they not only wanted but demanded a better life for their children. No matter how tough the times, there was always money for books, for learning. As depression era parents, both Alex and Anna made sure their daughters had the chance to succeed. They had faith and they had hope.
THEN THERE WERE HER GRANDSONS. Ever since the first born Ian was 5, every time she saw him, she’d hand him a buck. You do the math, a buck at least three times a week, for 25 years, uh, anybody who needs a loan ….see that guy.
Todd was her second grandson. There’s a wonderful scene in the 1958 movie “Auntie Mame” where Rosalind Russell tells her nephew Patrick that she is going to take his son and travel so he can see the world. Twice Todd went to Poland with his grandmother. One month he was in school in South Wilkes Barre, a few weeks later he was in a village in Poland.
Faith in the future.
MY BROTHER IN LAW Kenny and I never got those jokes about mother in laws that people told. She treated us more like sons, than in laws.
Faith in the good sense and obvious excellent judgment of her daughters.
Then there was her husband Alex. It was 10 years before they had children but they had faith.
Unlike husbands of that era, Alex never held her back. He had faith in her. One day Anna’s uncle John was on a trip to Europe. He got robbed and mugged in France and was essentially left for dead. Never having been on a plane, not speaking French, never having been outside the United States, she found him, and brought him home to safety in America. Dan Flood the Congressman helped, but she got on the plane. Faith, hope and fearless charity.
When her husband died in 1969, after 30 years of marriage, she was shattered but certainly not broken. The second act of her life was a testament to the type of Catholic woman she was.
IT WAS NOT UNCOMMON for Kenny and me to load up her car with clothes, dry goods, cereal and money to the folks under the Communist thumb in Poland. When she made her visits to Poland, all told about a dozen, they knew who she was by her acts of charity. I can’t help but think that her charity, gave them hope against the Communists.
HER ROOTS were very important to her. We’d have conversations about her childhood where she and her siblings would pick berries and sell them. Even though she worked in major cities like New York and Philadelphia, she longed for a time when people grew their own food and were close to nature. And that’s how her cabin in Forkston came about. In her 70s she’d spend weekends up there with her books, sometimes her family but always with her prayer book and rosaries.
Faith: Whether on a big busy city neighborhood or up in the country, it was always with her.
EVERY JOB she had involved helping people. Whether it was cleaning up the Libraries after the ’72 flood or helping to raise other people’s kids, she helped.
THAT WORK EXTENDED TO HER CHURCH. She was involved with various projects under Father John and then Father Joe. One day, Mary Ann and I were in a doctor’s office and this lady was eyeballing us. She finally said, “You’re Anna Waskie’s daughter, right?” and Mary Ann said yes. The woman said “I’m on one of your mother’s committees for the church but I don’t like doing it”. I asked why not and she said, “BECAUSE SHE MAKES US WORK!”.
SHE’D LOAD UP HER CAR with girlfriends and visit nursing homes around the holidays. Now closing in on 80, she’d yell up the steps to us and say, “I’m going with my friends to the nursing home to sing for the old people”. One day I said, “Some of them are younger than you” and she said, “Oh keep quiet” and toddled out the door. CHARITY.
BEFORE LONG, THE SEATS IN HER CAR started to empty. Her old friends began their own long journey into God’s kingdom.
During this time, our family was blessed with two wonderful caregivers, Gerry Drozda and Marian Wooten. On my way to work, I’d hear Gerri reading the newspaper to her. On weekends, Marian and she would bake.
After years of giving, it was time to receive. Gerri would tell her countless times that it was her turn now to have others do for her. Reluctantly, she agreed.
In these remaining years, she’d use two words that are rare in today’s society. Whether it was handing her the church bulletin, making her a meal, fetching a cold drink or putting in her eye drops, she always said simply and sweetly in a tiny voice, THANK YOU.
WHERE EVER SHE IS TODAY, I’m sure she’s nodding her head and saying THANK YOU.
And the only fitting response that all of us who knew and loved her should be:


At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Junction said...

Wow. Dave you were so blessed in having such a wonderful person in your life. It is a shame that in many cases people take for granted their older family members and what they can contribute to the betterment of our lives. She was truly a special person. May she have eternal peace. God bless here soul.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, Outstanding. My lunch buddy has many talents and important character traits. Loyalty and appreciation are high on the list.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous B.Goldsworthy said...

A wonderful tribute David--well done!


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