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Eulogy for Regina Zawada

Thank you all for being here, to celebrate my mother’s life. My name is Ed Zawada and I am one of the four children whom my mother made her life's work to support!

Regina Catherine Zlotkowski Zawada was a beloved daughter, a sister who at a very young age helped provide for her family, a loving and steadfast wife and a caring and ever-present mother. She was also a dedicated employee and colleague, a good friend to many and an active member of her community and of this parish.

Mom was strong, intelligent and very capable, and despite her humble beginnings, and being without the opportunity to have gained the benefit of an advanced education herself, she envisioned for her family that which she did not have, aiming to elevate our lives, so that we might live more comfortably and with less hardship. She was selfless in this way.

My mother grew up during an immensely difficult time in our world history and as a young person she experienced hardships that we can only imagine through movies and history books. Mom was a first generation American, her family having immigrated to the United States from Poland before the onset of World War II. Mom was born less than a year before the start of the Great Depression, the 7th child in a family with eight siblings. By age 12, she began her work life, taking the only job a young student could find… at a local five and dime store. Already the seeds of survival were taking root.

After high school, Mom met a gentleman named Zdzislaw Zawada, a young Polish man who had survived World War II and who had in 1948 emigrated from a Polish concentration camp. They eventually married, and then she and my dad went on to have us four children: myself, my older sister Maryann and my younger brothers Steve and Fred. During Mom and Dad’s long marriage, they took good care of us and each other. At her passing they had celebrated over 63 years together.

My mom was a loving wife and mother whose family and faith were the center of her life. She and Dad proudly saw us children through a proper Catholic upbringing and Catholic schooling and made sure all of us enjoyed a college education. Mom was also a devote parishioner, here at St. Bellarmine for over 55 years.

In addition to caring for my father, for all of us children and for making ours a comfortable home, my mom was also a constant provider for our family. To this end she took on a variety of work, from being an executive secretary for the Westinghouse Corporation and a tool and die machine operator for the Ringsdorf Corporation, to being a census taker and an eBay entrepreneur. Outside of work, Regina enjoyed her role as a cub scout den mother, partaking in sewing, gardening and baking, doing crossword puzzles and reading and tending bees. She also enjoyed collecting Westmoreland glass.

And throughout her life, my mother was a supporter of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and the Polish National Alliance. She was very proud of her Polish roots and took a special interest in the PNA dance group in Wilmerding, sewing many of their folk costumes. Mom celebrated her Polish heritage and made sure its important traditions were passed on to all of us.

As Regina and Jerry’s son, I can say this… it was tough growing up with parents who had experienced such hardships. I understood somewhat what they had endured, yet was born into a much different world. I understand now that my parents never really had the opportunity to enjoy a proper childhood nor did they receive the type of parenting that most of us have come to expect as a matter of course. My mom and dad lived through some of the most traumatic times in our world and nation, yet miraculously they survived. I imagine that their strong faith and marriage had much to do with this.

What my mother did have, she gave to us: her intelligence, her tenacity, her practicality, her faith and her example of complete dedication to family. These are not small things. As we have grown to appreciate as adults, these values are everything.

And though mom did not have the benefit of advanced education, she understood its importance in our world today, and out of love and concern for our well-being, she and Dad saw to it that all of us completed college degrees. It was a matter of pride to both of my parents that we should have what they did not. And no matter my mother’s proximity to us over the years, she was always there for us.

This is her legacy. Her love elevated our lives well beyond what she had known and I cannot thank her enough for this.

My mother died peacefully at her home this past Monday. She had lived to be 93 years of age, of which 64 years were shared with her beloved husband, my father, Jerry.

I would like to take a moment to recognize and thank my brother Steve for the tireless support he gave to both our mother and father. He came to their home every morning and evening, checking on them and tending to whatever the day’s needs might be before retiring to his own house. We cannot thank him enough for his dedication.

Mom, I am so glad the suffering is over for you. Even in the toughest part of your life, these last three weeks, I was able to see you live out the very principles that you had taught us your entire life:

Live life to the fullest

Fight with your life for what you believe in and…

Giving of yourself is the greatest gift of love to others

Mom, all of us send you our love and we know you are still here today in spirit with us. I know you are now in a much better place, surrounded by all of your family and friends that have gone before us. One day we will be joining you.

I love you Mom, and Goodbye!

Ed Zawada


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