A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.

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The un-official start of Summer looms, but we’re doomed still wrestling with winter’s sleeper hold. Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but it is cold. Mother’s Day required the thermostat to be adjusted and I must  have had three throws on to keep toasty warm.

We got a bit spoiled last week; a tease really. Highs in the mid-seventies. And no, I haven’t forgotten that I live in Buffalo, New York (If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it’s sure to change) but this strange bit of meteorological bullshit  just seems to make the seasons choke the life out of one another; last one standing wins.

There are no grins. No muted sighs of relief. Even our laments of grief hold their blackened tongues. The unsung heroes of this conflict is me and every sick bastard like me who remains rooted  here where the Buffalo Wings roam. There’s no place like home as long as the Blue Cheese dip is in good supply.

We love to complain. We live to complain. Next to our sports, complaining is our favorite past time. And our football and hockey teams have become invisible for the most part, and if your heart is still in it, I hope for your sake they both win it someday. In the summer we catch some dog days here. And we complain it’s too hot. The winter is too cold; or has too much snow; or not enough snow; or… We tend to fore go happy ever after for anything that would be crappy here and now, or anywhere else.

But don’t get me wrong. This is a great place. Some major landmarks and spots of interest (to be highlighted here). Some great history with equally famous names attached: Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Millard Fillmore, Grover Cleveland,  Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Law Olmstead and more. And equally infamous “Lacakawanna Six” (Terrorist cell), O.J. Simpson, Leon Czolgosz (William McKinley’s Assassin).

But it is we, the “lesser lights” that make the Western New York area a great place. The people of this area are top of the list when touting our resources. Caring, compassionate, helpful, (although sometimes thin skinned when an outsider (or dubious insider) puts our weather down) but we are resilient and always bounce back stronger. I won’t go on much longer…

…but we DO complain too much.

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It is said that the greatest gift you could give your children, is to love their mother. It is unfortunate that I did not always strive to present such a prize to my girls. Thankfully, people can change. It seems I’ve finally gotten around to giving my girls the gift that they always deserve. What my daughters have learned in the growing we all did as a family can be attributed to the lessons I was taught by my mother. No better day to pay that tribute forward.


Irene Marion (Kura) Wojtanik 1930-1986

My grounding was the same as hers, being raised in the very same house into which she was brought, an old wooden clapboard three family house on Wood Street. (I don’t know how they did it then, but I guess you did what you had to do) It was near the railroad tracks that guided six or seven different lines through the neighbor every day for three-hundred and sixty-five.

Raised with her brother and her sister (half-sister/cousin) by my grandparents; he a Naturalized Citizen from Poland and she the American born sister of his first wife who had succumbed to Tuberculosis. My mother’s sister was a product of that union and thus the confusion. But they grew as true siblings. (I never knew the convolution until I was much older researching our genealogy)

The closeness had been expressed in later years when after meeting, dating and marrying my father brought me and six siblings into the tight confines of our house. We each offered different challenges, but she handled it and all subsequent speed bumps with her motherly grace and resolve. Her toughness was exhibited when my oldest brother (her firstborn, Joseph) died nine hours into life. (Complications from her toxemia). The next year she welcomed my sister and we moved forward from there.

As we got older and started to find our footing in the world, mom found our independence both comforting and disturbing. She was glad we had direction. But she also worried that the family was fracturing in that we didn’t spend times together as a family. My mother out of frustration would always tease (threaten), asserting that “one of these Christmases, I’m taking a long trip and I’m not coming back!’

She became her own self-fulfilling prophet when on Christmas Eve 1986 my mother died from a brain aneurysm. The loss of her on such a day could have been devastating for the family, but it began the process of pulling us together closer. That found completion when four days short of the twentieth anniversary of her death, our father passed from this life.

But in all that time (27 years this December) there hasn’t been a day that I’m not reminder of my mother. I have her hazel eyes and her facial features; my youngest daughter bears a strong resemblance to my mother as a young girl (from the photographs I’ve archived). I don’t need to look far to find her.

My mother is always with me. She is the whisper of the wind rustling the leaves as I walk down the street. She’s the feel of softness in my freshly laundered socks; the consoling hand on my brow when things are not well. She has presented me with my creative flair.

My mother lives in my laughter, and is crystallized in every tear drop ever shed for her. From her I have originated, she was my first home. When I need direction, she is the map I follow and she guides every step that I take. My mother becomes the model I consult when my parenting skills go askew.

She remains my teacher and supporter, my mentor and friend. Mom is my protector, steering me from disaster. She is everything I could have ever asked for in a mother. She had been my first love and my first heartbreak and nothing in this life has been able to separate us. Not time. Not space. Not even death can remove her influence from my life. My mother is gone, and she is always with me.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mother, my wife Janice and her mother, and all mothers on today your special day!