Thursday, November 20, 2014

Remembering Justine...Who Will Make the Nut Roll?

My Nut roll  post on Instagram received a lot of comments this week. It's a family tradition but takes on a new meaning this week. My sweet Aunt Justine died at the age of 98. She was also my godmother and a beautiful role model in my life. 
1952 my baptism

She was everything a godmother should be. She made me feel special, led a lovely life of faith and service and was a fabulous wife, mother and grandmother.
Aunt Justine, or Ciotka (Polish for aunt), as I called her, always made me feel special. Growing up in California, I lived 2200 miles away from her Pennsylvania home, but she never forgot a birthday or holiday and sent me small gifts well into my adult years. She always signed her cards, "May God Bless You" or "God's Blessings, love, Aunt Justine". It wasn't the gifts that were important, but the being made to feel special that made me love her so much. She really cared for me and vice-versa.
When I would visit her she always made my favorite Polish foods like her famous Polish hamburgers, paczek (jelly donuts), and pierogi and of course, nut roll.
As an adult, she was the reason I chose to become a Eucharistic minister at church. She was an active member of the local Polish Catholic church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania; a true Christian woman in every sense of the word. 
Her first child, a daughter, died at a very young age from spinal meningitis, before I was born. Years later she had a son, Jim, one of my favorite cousins. She doted on Jim and later his lovely wife and two children. Jim is another story; everyone should be so blessed to have a loving and caring son like him.
As Aunt Justine got older and her memory and health started to fail, she lived in an assisted living/nursing home. Each time Jim would visit her he would end their visit with the question, "Who's going to make nut rolls for me next week?" Sadly, Aunt Justine won't be making nut rolls for Christmas this year. She'll be singing Christmas carols in heaven.
So, I'm bringing nut rolls to Jim and his family. I'm off to Pittsburgh for the funeral, with several nut rolls in my suitcase. 
The timing is perfect this year for me to be gone the week leading up to Thanksgiving since my son and his wife are hosting the holiday dinner. I can fly home from Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving morning and arrive just in time for dinner. Mr. Romance will be left with some kitchen duties to do while I am gone, since I had volunteered to make the desserts and mashed potatoes. Today I am making pies and freezing them. Wish me luck. Oh and while you're thinking of me, please think good weather thoughts and safe travel thoughts.
Thanks, di
Here's a little trip down memory lane. I love looking at old photos and sometimes get too caught up in it and don't do what I need to get done for the day.

1957 me, always the ballerina, my maternal grandmother, Aunt Justine holding Jim, my mom's brother( Uncle Brownie) and my sister, Geri
1972 with her beloved, my Uncle Chester

1976  with our first born, Uncle Chey, Mr. Romance
1991 with grandson Vincent and DIL Rene

Aunt Justine's 98th birthday October 6, 2014
Jim and his wife, Rene

Rest in Peace my sweet Aunt Justine. 


Katie @SwimBikeQuilt said...

What a beautiful tribute and post. Made me tear up. Travel safely.

needle and nest said...

What a blessing to have your wonderful aunt grace this world for so many years. Your tribute to her was so sweet and full of love. Thank you for sharing. May her soul rest in peace. I will be sure to include her in my intentions when I pray the rosary tonight.

Leanne said...

Wow, what a woman to have had in your life and for so long too. It's perfect that you are bringing the nut rolls and I wish you a very safe trip there and home.

gpc said...

What lovely memories, and so sweet that food brings people back to us like it does. It sounds like my grandma was much like your aunt, and she made our version of nut roll in our family, which we called (phoenetically) 'boukta'. I'll have to make it this year now that you've reminded me! :)

Lynz said...

Oh, you're taking the nut rolls! *sniffs* That's lovely. Safe travels to you (both ways!) and thank you for sharing a wonderful lady's life and love.

Liz said...

Thanks for sharing your memories.

tusen said...

Thank you for sharing such precious memories of your ciotka.

Debbie said...

Very precious...blessings on you and the family as they celebrate Aunt Justine. So sweet you are taking nut rolls with you.

Valerie said...

Such beautiful words Di! What a special woman, and an honor to see how investing in someone's life brings a harvest of goodness that lasts for generations. That's how I want to love too! So glad you are able to be with your family right now as you honor her life. I'm sure the thoughtfulness of the nut rolls will be much appreciated :)

Dana - Old Red Barn Co. said...

Your words and memories are a beautiful tribute to her! Good travels sweet friend!

Katy Cameron said...

Aww, she sounds like a lovely lady, and how nice to take the nut rolls with you, hope you had a safe trip back