|Post Op-session dinner|
|Mom admiring Tony Koester's portable O Scale layout|
A loving mom, she lived for her children, husband and her mother. We feel God gifted mom with a long and productive life as she devoted nearly 20 years to caring for her mother. She gave her sick mother total attention, feeding, cleaning and dressing her for years, and she did so without complaint and total devotion. She showed the same love and loyalty to her husband, Robert, and her four children, Bernard and Robert (the twins), Marco and Marlana.
Mom saw an amazing series of events during her life, including the Depression, World War 2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the onset of the Space Program, and the Information Age. Throughout she truly represented the greatest generation, learning and adapting to significant lifestyle changes. She even tried her hand at texting and Facebook while in her 90s. If we saw a text message with a bunch of emojis, it was from Mom, she enjoyed sending them.
|Mom in Cuba in lste 1940s |
She managed to get around visiting several continents. In the late 1940s she traveled to Cuba for a vacation – not a common thing for a single woman in those years.
She visited me when I was stationed in Germany twice in the 1980s. She befriended my landlord, Frau Forster. The two of them took the train to Nürnberg while I was working. It must have been a hoot as mom didn't speak German and Frau Forster didn't speak English, but they managed just fine. She visited many sights in Germany including Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden where she hid her head under the bus seat during the precarious ride to the top of the mountain on a road built by Italian laborers provided by Mussolini. She accompanied me with a bus load of US Army combat engineers as we toured the Iron Curtain on the East German border. Never before were US soldiers on a road trip so well behaved.
I took her to a German-American Military Ball at a candle-lit castle where she became the guest of honor. When the German Commanding Colonel introduced himself he took mom's hands, clicked his heels while curtly bowing his head, I thought she would faint. She danced with all the German officers that night, ate smoked eel, and acted as a mother to the wives of the American officers in our group. It was a fairy tale of a night.
|Visiting the Iron Curtain along the East German border |
with a platoon of US Army Combat Engineers
I never forget her reaction to the rest rooms on the Autostrada where the facilities consisted of a hole in the ground with two foot prints.
People seemed to like her right away. Once while we were admiring the dishes on display at a restaurant in Venice, the owner invited us to eat with his staff as he closed the door behind us.
In 2002 mom and my brother traveled to Japan shortly after our Dad died and she had her second hip replaced. Despite some pain, she took on the challenge of walking quite a bit around Japan. They had the privilege of visiting the Japanese Imperial Palace bonsai collection. While standing inside of the palace, she said, with her typical wonder, “Never in my life did I ever think I’d be standing in the Japanese Imperial Palace.” It must have been hard for WW2 survivor to take in but it illustrates the breadth of her life. In typical mom fashion, while on the trip she befriended an elderly Japanese industrialist who shocked her when he kissed her.
Anything Italian was great to her and my brothers and sister grew up with wonderful Italian cooking. Sunday sauce, which took all day to simmer, filled our home with a great aroma. Grandpa’s Italian pastry recipes (Grandpa was a successful baker in New York city) led to a whole host of delicious confections – Italian wheat pie, cannoli, sfogliatella and her favorite, cream puffs. In her last hours we played her Pavarotti as his music brought her joy.
As the last of her generation in her family, she leaves a hole in our hearts, but her love and devotion lingers in the ones she left behind. And one thing is for sure, the food in Heaven is going to taste a lot better with her cooking.
Violet Maria Kempinski March 27, 1924 – November 9, 2020