KAWECKI, Helen M.

KAWECKI, Helen M.

Helen M. KAWECKI (nee Cashiotta) age 83. Beloved wife of the late Daniel L. Dearest mother of Michael (Cheryl) and Lawrence “Larry” (Mariruth). Loving “Nonna”of Michelle, Stacey (Ryan), Timothy (Jessica) and Carey. Dearest sister of John and Joseph Cashiotta, Fran, Josephine and the late Mary Ann. Dear aunt and friend to many.

From Helen’s son Michael…
You can’t write about someone’s life and what they meant to you in just a couple of short paragraphs, but here are a few things that I remember.
As a young child I remember cold mornings before school, sitting next to the heater vent waiting for my mom to fix a nice hot bowl of Maypo for breakfast.  Getting my lunch box ready with a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, cookies and thermos.  Then coming home, watching cartoons on TV, waiting for dad to get home so we can have a nice home cooked dinner where we sat at the kitchen table together to eat.  I still remember to this day the aromas coming from her kitchen every time she cooked dinner.
Although my dad was the mechanically, logically & mathematically inclined parent who taught me how to fix & build things and deal with the physical world,  it was my mom who was the creative influence in my life that allowed me to think freely without such strict disciplines.  She always had some arts & craft project for my brother and I to work on, especially on rainy days.  I remember one time making a Christmas wreath out of a stack of IBM punch cards by bending them over and stapling them a certain way and then painting it.  She taught me to think spontaneously, to use my imagination and to create something from just a pile of things laying around the house.  She taught me to see something for what it could be, not just the way it was.  I give her credit for much of my success in my professional life as I applied her philosophy of creativity & imagination to my career.
Mom was an accomplished seamstress, as a child I remember seeing a big ball of yarn and hearing the continuous ticking of knitting needles in the living room as she was making some sort of sweater or blanket for someone.  She rarely made things for herself, always thinking of what others might want or need.  Her knitting skills advanced, to crocheting, to sewing, to computerized sewing machines.  She could make ANYTHING from just a piece of fabric. 
Her grandchildren, would visit during summer vacations where she would teach them her skills and pass along her cooking, sewing & gardening secrets.  They were always excited to visit and spend time with their “Nonna” as she wanted to be called. I know my mom left an indelible mark on each of their lives, one that will last forever.  Even my son cooked one of her breakfast recipes for me that she called “egg-in-the-moon”. 
Mom was always very appreciative for everything we did for her.  She would be grateful for even the smallest things. It meant a lot to her when someone helped her out with something.  I remember how she loved the magnolia tree we planted for her, the patio bricks we laid and how she looked forward to going to Red Lobster whenever we visited.  She loved her pets, especially ‘Cookie’ the poodle that Cheryl and I got her one Christmas one year.  For as long as I can remember she always had pets – dogs, cats, birds and fish.
She was a very dedicated wife to my dad for their entire marriage. She took such good care of him especially during the time he started having health issues.  She stayed with him up until the very end, never leaving his side. 
You were the best mom anyone could ever have.  Thank you for all the love you have so freely given to all of us throughout your life.  It hurts me to my soul to say goodbye to you. 
I love you mom, you will always live on in my heart.

From Helen’s granddaughter Stacey…

Words really aren’t good enough for expressing how much Nonna meant to me, let alone all of us – but I’m going to try.
Nonna’s house was home, and it was home because she made it that way. No matter what, we were always welcomed with open arms and simmering chicken and dumpling soup. Every summer growing up, we went to Nonna and Jia Jia’s. That tradition continued well into adulthood. She always had a spot for me and whoever I brought with me. One time I decided to drive to South Dakota with some friends for a road trip. Our first stop (after a solid 12 hours of driving) was Nonna’s house. She so kindly welcomed me and my two obnoxious 20-something yr old dude friends. Not only that, she made us a literal feast to bring with us. Apple pie, sausages, and made sure we were all fed and rested before heading back out on the road. 
Nonna had a passion for creating things, and she instilled that passion into all of us as young kids. She was an incredible teacher – she taught us everything she knew. On rainy days, we’d be doing running stitch patterns on styrofoam that she made for us, or she’d teach us how to crochet. But we were always helping with dinner. Her love of cooking inspired my love of cooking and baking. I remember making breadcrumbs from scratch with the stand mixer that sits in my kitchen today. I remember making zucchini bread from zucchinis she had grown, with that stand mixer. She taught me that every good dish starts with onions and garlic in olive oil (much to Tim’s chagrin). She always kept all user manuals, and I still have the user manual and attachments for the kitchen aid stand mixer she got in 1985. 
As she got older and I started making more foods for her (occasionally hippie dippie green shit), we’d watch Dancing with the Stars because she loved both ballroom dancing and the costumes they wore. She had an opinion about everything and I’m pretty sure I get that from her. She’d surprise you in the most hilarious ways too. I remember on Christmas day in the early 2010’s, we watched Magic Mike (yes, I watched Magic Mike with my Nonna, on Christmas). And when she was talking to Tim later that day, she said we watched a very good movie, Magic Mike, and it had a good story behind it…and in front of it. I cried laughing so hard. She had a crackling sense of humor, would laugh readily. She always had pictures of her family up on the walls, every Sunday we’d clean her glass tables and the bathroom and she thrived in routine. She loved beautiful flowers. Her red canons were so vibrant and beautiful – and her roses. And her magnolia tree(s). If it flowered, she loved it. 
I have three quilts in my house that were made by Nonna. They are beautiful pieces of art that she painstakingly embroidered herself. I have hats she made, and slippers, and dish towels that button onto your stove. Nonna never sat still (I wonder where WE all get that from…). She made her bed – every. single. day. Taught us all how to make eggs an egg in the moon. And pancakes! She helped me make an apron and a quilt for my best friend. She taught me that giving something hand made can mean so much more than buying something for someone. It’s probably why I hand make small gifts for my friends – because I know how much I appreciated the care and effort that went into making things. 

We all had a special relationship with Nonna. To me, my favorite times of all are sitting out on her swing together, with a dog in tow, Nonna smoking her damn Winstons, swinging gently, with a summer breeze and wind chimes singing in the air. She was the best grandma a person could have and I love her still. As Michelle said, she was one of my absolute favorite humans on this planet and she will be fiercely missed.

From Helen’s granddaughter Michelle…

Nonna was more than a grandmother to us; she was a guardian and nurse, educator and mentor, counselor and cook. Whenever her grandchildren were in her house she transformed it into a classroom and art studio, playground and theater- a wonderland full of magic and memories. Nonna’s house was more than home, it was a sanctuary.

I remember making pies and pastas from scratch, sharing coffee with her in the mornings, helping her cut grass and paint the fence. She treated bee stings and sunburns, cut our hair and made our clothes. She taught me to sew when I was so young I don’t remember learning how, the way you don’t remember learning to walk or talk but just always naturally knew how.

Nonna was one of the most influential people in all of our lives, and one of my most favorite people in the entire world. She’ll be with me every time I sew a stitch, make chicken soup, enjoy a cannoli, or watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. She is a permanent part of me and, though I miss her dearly, she will live forever in my heart.

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Messages of Condolence

  1. Crystal Webb on January 5th, 2021 5:37 pm

    The things I have just read in the obituary were things I as a friend witness much of! I also know the whole family when that was her main love! Our best times were creating something accomplishing something, conquering something or sharing something new one of us discovered! Towards the end for us were were into CD’S!!!!! Never a dull moment, pinochle was a fun time for us!
    There is many stories for both Helen and Dan, Like Mike said it just cannot all be said in a small space!
    We wish Mike and Larry and the whole gang fulfillment in the memories we all have of her! Hoping that will help the hurt of the loss! How comforting that Dan and Helen are in a beautiful dignified place of rest, with surrounding good people!
    Are thoughts are with you!
    Lowell and Crystal Webb Good friends from bowling!!!!!!!

  2. Diane Kisley (Kawecki) on January 6th, 2021 2:25 pm

    To my Dear Aunt Helen you left a mark on Everyone’s heart that had the pleasure of knowing you and those memories will never be forgotten.
    To my cousins Mike and Larry, I’m so very sorry that you no longer have your mom physically here on earth, but she will always be with you in so very many ways. Now she is in Heaven with your dad at her side.
    I have lots of beautiful memories of spending time together with your family, some of which you have touched upon.
    There were days when school had a recess or vacation and for some odd reason your parents trusted me to stay with you during the day.
    I think I may have gotten you into more trouble than if you would’ve been home alone. She would leave a note for me to take up to the corner store and bring home her cigarettes , sure can’t get away with that today. LOL
    When your dad would drive me home instead of going straight home we would all go to the drive-in and see a movie together, I always look forward to those moments.
    As I grew older and started a family of our own I would go to my appointments not far from their home. Just like one of you mentioned she was always making something for somebody and I cherished our visits and the beautiful knitted or crocheted items she made for our babies. She tried to teach me but I didn’t have quite the knack of keeping the lines straight or the same gaps in between.
    Going back to my high school home economics class I couldn’t get a crocheted tablecloth finished by the due date and she finished it for me. She never hesitated to be there to help anyone who needed anything. One of you also mentioned the key punchcard wreath that you made together. As I went to computer college and then my first job, I had access to a lot of key punchcards, and made that same wreath that one of you spoke of, I think it was sprayed in gold.
    She definitely had a lot of talents and not only cooked the Italian meals but the Polish ones too.
    My deepest condolences to you and the entire families that you boys have created. These condolences are not just from me but also my husband Frank and my mom, your aunt Lillian. She is not able to attend or write a condolence herself because of her failing health. I’m sure if she could she would remind you of times visiting us in Valley View and enjoying a swim in the pool.
    May you find comfort with each of your family members and share in all the wonderful memories for many, many years to come.
    If it were not for Covid and the risks involved specifically with my health, I would attend the viewing and give my support in person.
    It’s an unfortunate situation with this Rapidly spreading virus, but know that my heart aches for you, along with My Mom, brother Ed and his wife Debbie, all wish we could be there with all of you to say good bye to an amazing, caring, beautiful family member.
    Sending love, hugs, prayers and caring thoughts to all of you.
    Love, Diane and Frank Kisley

  3. Edward L Kawecki on January 6th, 2021 8:53 pm

    Mike Larry and family I am so sorry for your loss of your mom, my Aunt Helen. I have fond memories of you guys and your mom and dad when we were young. There were times they would pick me up and take me along on the 4th to watch the fireworks at Edgewater park and picnic. Going to Washington park to watch and play ball and Sunday dinners at Busia’s. Uncle Dan was my influence to play the accordion and be a better baseball player with my first baseball mitt that your Mom and Dad bought me,which I still have. Uncle Dan was also my sponsor for my Confirmation. In Dec.of 2017 at our cousin’s memorial service I had the pleasure of spending time talking and reminiscing with Aunt Helen and having some good laughs. Man, where did the time go? Sorry for not making the service. We have my mom, your Aunt Lill living with Debbie and I and being 95 and declining health I did not want to take a chance going out in public with the Covid and possibly giving it to her. Hope we can get together sometime. Aunt Helen and Uncle Danny were the Greatest! Your cousin, Eddie.

  4. James Webb on January 7th, 2021 6:35 am

    I had so much fun with Helen she loved to cook. we talked on phone for hours everyday. we also played cards we had so much fun. Love you Helen your friend Jim.

  5. Timothy Kawecki(grandson) on January 8th, 2021 8:04 am

    Nonna…who knows where to begin…Decades have passed since our long anticipated rides, which might seem like torture to some, where the three of us kids would tetris into Dad’s Mitsubishi Starion and set sail on our 448 mile voyage across state lines. I still remember brimming with excitement with the passing of every state welcome sign. By the time we exited 480 and began our descent down W130th my ability to remain in geometric position faded with every landmark that passed. First the Big Boy, the bowling alley, Nickels bakery, and finally we would make our turn onto Middlebrook Blvd. At this point I could no longer be considered a passenger in the vehicle… but instead a rabid monster that clung to the headrest of the seat in front of me. We would bank the final curve and I could see Ember’s house then Johns, and alas, we would pull into the driveway…With my head cocked to the side, like some sci-fi monster, through what little I could see from the Starion window I could always catch a glimpse of Nonna putting the final touches at the kitchen table before she raced to the back window to greet us. Such warm memories. I can still remember the groves of mint behind the garage that Nonna planted and her hands reaching to them, although strong, would gently embrace the leaves and put their beauty on display before she would pluck them for us to try. It was important to appreciate, before we simply took. This simple philosophy has been such an impactful force in my life. It is the lens in which I view and interact with the world around me. To this day I identify mint in remote mountainous locations miles from home and civilization and it transports me back to Nonnas yard, with a bushel of mint at my side peering over the garden and admiring as trains traversed the property line. These are times I cherish dearly, Nonna was such a warm presence in our lives, and so unbelievably important to us all. Nothing I say could even come close to expressing the gratitude I have for her unwavering dedication and seemingly boundless love. She taught us to cook and create and inspire, and how to love unconditionally. Every egg in the moon I make, every strand of hand drawn spaghetti we pile onto baking sheets and the handmade quilts that will continue to bring us and our families warmth for years to come is only a fraction of her legacy. Nonna’s love and nurturing heart will echo through us for generations…Nonna is truly a void that can never be replaced…With a heavy heart, may you Rest in Peace

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