I usually try to write posts that will appeal to a general audience, no inside jokes, no personal details, because I believe the journey of an adult child is universal. However, I also write as therapy, so this post is different. You can probably stop reading right now if we didn’t grow up together. Or not. Anyway, I can’t blame the contents of this post on any one but myself–unlike those mystery thumb tacks in the door…
This will be my first Christmas as an “adult orphan,” my first with no living parent. Of course, that goes for my eight siblings as well. The nine of us will each get through the holiday in our own way, feeling their absence as individually as we felt their presence when we were children. Despite our being a pack of nine, despite the fact that we are still recognized in our home town, decades later, as “one of the Pola children,” there is no doubt we were raised to be separate, independently thinking units of one.
I had the privilege of delivering the eulogy at my mother’s celebration of life that took place at St. John’s church in Sandwich on April 19, 2017. Perhaps you’ve read the memoir that spurred this website… perhaps not (available here on Amazon). If you have, you already know the essence of my mother, Peggy Pola, as well as my father Carlo. If you haven’t read the memoir, I hope you’ll get to know her just a bit from the text that follows.
Margaret (Peggy) Pola
My parents were builders of bridges in so many ways. My father’s original poem merely laid the planks on top of what was already a solid foundation– and from there, the path stretched on and on. As my mother’s surviving sister reminded the family, the bridge still stands, it just now crosses a wider divide. Below you’ll read a little bit about my mother, Peggy, and perhaps understand why she stood as a shining example to us all. What appears below is the text of her published obituary.
I can just imagine it: the way his usually rigid jaw and tight lips would soften in a half-smile. When told, he would query quietly, “Am I?” His blue eyes would twinkle and he’d pause just a second then say, “Well, I guess I am,” and chuckle softly. He was not a man to wallow in his accomplishments but this is something he wanted for so long. He would have turned 100.
You would have never guessed his age. His appearance, like the rest of him, was both an open book and an enigma. Stripes and plaids, a copper bracelet, a belt of twisted cable, the watch he wore upside-down. Though he offered no pretense, you never knew him well until you read between the lines. He did not waste words but neither did he mince them. A single glance spoke volumes. He did not lavish praise but conveyed his love unfailingly.
“I’m ready,” she said as she struggled with the buttons on her coat. I wasn’t sure of her intended meaning. Did she mean for her upcoming appointment? Or a more permanent departure? Her heavy sigh revealed her fatigue but little more. I didn’t press the issue.
She livened up when we hit the road. The winter sky was too beautiful to ignore with its wispy white clouds sweeping across a field of blue, the sun too brilliant for her not to comment. We make our way now beneath this paler sky, but it is still beautiful and engaging. Eyes forward, we drive on to a new year and new adventures. Whatever comes, we’ll do our best to be ready.