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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Guenter J Szczuka 1940 ~ 2017

July 27, 2017 8 comments

I had the honor of writing and delivering my Dad’s eulogy at his funeral this week and wanted to share it with those who knew him but were unable to attend.

my dad

My Dad was born in 1940.

Family en Szczuka

(R-L) Guenter, Papa, George, Irene, Mama, Christine

His early childhood was spent in war-torn Germany where he experienced firsthand the horrifying atrocities of war. He witnessed things no child  should ever have to see or suffer through.

At age 18, he left his parents, a sister and a brother to immigrate to this country. He followed in the footsteps of his older sister, my Tante Christine, in search of a better life.

For my Dad, that “better life” began when he met a beautiful, Irish-born woman who made my sister, myself and my brother, first generation Americans and to whom my Dad lovingly referred to as his Dah-ling.  Always.

They married in September, 1961 and while there were many things we didn’t understand about my Dad, there was never a doubt that he adored and cherished our mom. This year they would have celebrated 56 years of marriage.

kiss

My Dad had a strong work ethic, something he passed along to myself and my siblings.

He worked hard at everything he did, although work didn’t always come easy to him in the early years. Initially, he was a painter’s apprentice. My mom used to say it was “Feast or Famine” in the beginning of their marriage.

He was resourceful though and my mom would also, often, tell the story of how during one of those famine-years, when my older sister was first born, my Dad scoured the streets picking up discarded bottles in order to collect enough “return” money to  make sure there was a gift from Santa under the tree for her first Christmas.

young dad

Food was always a big part of my Dad’s life. I think because he had so little of it during the war.

He couldn’t bear to see it wasted.

He loved cooking and baking and was pretty good at it — most of the time. smile

treats
Special thanks to my niece Veronica for making “Opa’s -famous- Treats” in his honor for the luncheon after his funeral.

I have fond memories of my Dad making caramelized candy and fonder memories of him making donuts — real old-fashioned, delicious donuts in our kitchen.

The hardest part for us kids would be waiting for the dough to rise. It felt like forever but once it did, he would roll it out on the counter, flour the end of a drinking glass and drop the dough into hot oil. He’d sit us up on top of the refrigerator so we could watch the doughy-circle-molds expand into pure donut yummy-ness!

kds

My Dad loved chocolate, dressing up for masquerade parties, soccer and hockey. Pele was his man and the Islanders were his team. For most of our childhood, we lived on the 4th floor of an apartment building in New Rochelle and everyone, I mean EVERYONE in the building knew when the Islanders scored a goal.

He loved music. While other kids grew up listening to the Beatles, we grew up listening to the ever-popular, traditional volksmusik-singing-sensation & one man wonder — Heino.

Over 50-million records sold!smile

My Dad’s childhood left many scars on him. He was a complicated man.

As a teenager in High School I tried to make a connection with him. I would make his lunch every night for work the next day and leave a small note in his bag letting him know if I had a test, a game or if something special was happening that day. Sometimes I would just write “Have a good day!” but he never responded, acknowledged or mentioned them to me.

Many years later I found out that he had kept those notes, each and every one of them, in a box in his drawer.

He and I walked a similar path in some respects. We shared some of the same struggles. It was difficult for him to express his feelings — until recently.

What happened to my Dad changed him.

circle

I’ve come to view his recent stroke — as devastating as it was to all of us, especially him — as a blessing in a way.

He showed us again and again how strong he was at the core of his being.

After 3 weeks in the ICU, we were pretty much lead to believe that the chances of him ever speaking or walking again were slim to none. And although his dementia progressed during this time as well — so did his ability to let go of the chains of his past, allowing him to be the man I think he always wanted to be. He became oddly contented. He was more open and mellow. He was always happy to see us. He had a pleasant demeanor. He was clever and funny, full of playful humor, eager to engage in any way he could, be it a nod, lifting a hand, pointing a finger or sticking out his tongue.

tongue

He worked hard at his recovery. Not surprisingly, he DEFIED the odds.

We saw him walk AND heard him speak again — in English AND in German.

walk

Some might say that was a miracle. At a minimum, it was a gift.

And as difficult as this has been for our family — especially my brother who so gallantly & lovingly navigated my Dad’s care — we are blessed and feel grateful to have had this time with him.

Ihre arbeit ist getan Papa. Wir Lieben dich. Mögest du in Frieden ruhen.

all

Your work is done Daddy. We love you. May you rest in Peace.

Obituary

Photo Credits: ©2017 Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

 

Web

September 5, 2016 12 comments
Web

An early morn’ encounter with a web unleashes a host of provocative thoughts.

spider

The Spider and the Fly

 

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.”

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne’er come down again.”

Photo Credit: Web ©2016 KarenSzczukaTeich&Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

My Rose

April 28, 2013 6 comments

Just remember in the Winter

Far beneath the bitter snow

Lies the seed that with the sun’s love

In the Spring becomes the rose.

~ “The Rose”/Lyrics Amanda McBroom

seedThe season has changed and Spring has finally found us. The promise of renewal, rebirth and hopeful thoughts surroroseund us. The sun is shining warm again. Seedlings that were planted falls-ago have taken root over the winter’s long days and new life is emerging. Vibrant bursts of color are popping up daily. The unexpected is happening. Everywhere. Be alert with eyes wide open or be jarred, as I was the other day; halted by beauty; startled in an unanticipated moment, forced to pause and see the sweet rose that shot up before me.

How did this happen right before my eyes without me seeing it?

Parenting is busy, worrisome work. It’s constant, at times, all-consuming. It’s a life-long learning adventure. Like most things I become immersed in, the deeper I’m in it, often times, the harder it is for me to step out and back and linger in the minutes of  the milestones and accomplishments of our ever-changing, day-to-day lives. Hours become days. Days extend into weeks which turn into months that become years. Even though I’ve been there all the while, the details are clouded and what seems like, in the blink of an eye, the bud becames a blossom and I’ve been caught completely off guard.

That sweet seedling that was just laughing-it-up in the park yesterday...

Hannah @ Playpland Park

…has grown into a flower, more beautiful than I could ever have imagined…

spring-dance 004

… and is laughing-it-up on her way into the Spring Dance today, in concert with these other lovelies who are flourishing in their own beautiful gardens.

spring-dance 020

A Walk In The Woods

January 20, 2013 14 comments

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

For many, many moons now I’ve had the great fortune of a “standing“, weekly walk in the woods with a friend.  Last week, she suggested we tread a new path.

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

So, we did. We saw some interesting new sights…..

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

…and met a few new friends along the way. Standing still and strong and beautiful were two deer watching us, curiously and cautiously as we passed.

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

Cold Spring, NY ~ January 2013

Be true to your work, your word and your friend. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Mostly we lost sight of the path and got lost in the hour’s chatter like we always do. We talk about everything and nothing, all of which encompass the important happenings of our lives. We exchange intimate details that are meant to be freely shared with someone who will keep them safely to themselves. Trust. This ritual helps me stay centered within, ever reminding me to be grateful for the peace and beauty in the people and places that surround me and the ability to see them, touch them and be with them, giving me all I need to go forth.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Wappingers, NY ~ January 2013

Wappingers, NY ~ January 2013

For me, this is…

living life to the fullest, while fully awake. ~ Henry David Thoreau

What do you do to center yourself?

Photo Credits #1-4: Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Slipping Through My Fingers

April 1, 2012 9 comments

This week my daughter turned eleven.

Last night she had her first ever, awake-over sleep-over party.

Slipping Through My Fingers

~ Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning

waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

I watch her go with a surge of that well known sadness and I have to sit down for a while
the feeling that I’m losing her forever

and without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
that funny little girl

slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
the feeling in it

slipping through my fingers all the time
do I really see what’s in her mind
each time I think I’m close to knowing
she keeps on growing
slipping through my fingers all the time

sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
barely awake I let precious time go by
then when she’s gone,

there’s that odd melancholy feeling
and a sense of guilt I can’t deny
what happened to the wonderful adventures

the places I had planned for us to go
well, some of that we did, but some we didn’t
and why, I just don’t know

slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
the feeling in it

slipping through my fingers all the time
do I really see what’s in her mind
each time I think I’m close to knowing
she keeps on growing

slipping through my fingers all the time
sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
and save it from the funny tricks of time

Slipping through my fingers

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning

waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile……………

Mama Mia!

Categories: Family, Life, Love Tags: , ,
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