Suddenly, on Thursday, December 17, 2020. Wife of the late Robert Black; loving mother of Douglas (Tina), Robert, and William (Kimberly) Black; sister of Dorothy Chrzanowski and the late Ronald and Edward Chrzanowski; proud grandmother of Julia, Mia, Jacob, Zachary, Sydney, and Riley; also survived by several nieces, nephews and dear friends.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the SZAFRANSKI-EBERLEIN FUNERAL HOME, INC., where a private family Visitation will be held at 101 Third St., Carnegie. A public Mass of Christian Burial in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Phyllis will be laid to rest next to her husband Bob in Chartiers Cemetery.
Masks and social distancing are required for Visitation, Mass and Burial.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, 4 Gateway Center, 444 Liberty Ave., Ste. 1300, Pgh., PA 15222.
There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. This year has been marred with political unrest, violence, sickness, and this pandemic that has claimed the lives of thousands. For our family though, those have all been an afterthought. The passed 12 months have been more difficult than any of us could have expected. To put it into perspective, I saved the eulogy for my father as “dad.” Now I am writing, “Mom.”
Last December, the matriarch of our family, Laverne (aka Bingo, aka Gram, aka GG) died. She was a very young 94. Then in July, we lost our father. While he was sick and suffered longer than he should have, we knew it was coming. It did not make it any easier to bury him but at least he was at peace.
Now, our beloved mom has suddenly died. She had more than her fair share of health problems, but no matter what she faced, she always pulled through. She was a strong woman. She took care of her kids and my dad our whole lives and was my dad’s caretaker when he became ill. She was a pillar of strength and resolve, almost too stubborn to let anything bad happen to us.
My mom graduated from Mt. Aloysius College with an Associate’s degree. She worked in retail her whole life doing something she loved, sewing, making crafts and clothes. She did everything from make Halloween costumes to fixing clothes that her sons tore regularly and even made a wedding dress. She would maintain boxes and boxes of fabric in the basement to make her kids things which became the punchline of many jokes. I am still waiting for a teal-colored mesh shirt to wear in the summer, do not worry mom it is ok. She maintained friendships with her coworkers long after she retired and appreciated their friendship.
My mom was 100% polish, something she took pride in. With her parents dying when she was very young, her aunts and uncles raised her. They shared traditions and recipes which she mastered. She was an excellent cook and baker, that everyone knows. Every dish she made was incredible and probably should have been served with a Lipitor. She even learned recipes from my grandmother, learning to make red sauce, fried shrimp for Christmas Eve and so on. The polish delicacies included stuffed cabbage, cabbage and noodles, and pierogis. Anyone who knew my brothers and I growing up, knew that we were loved so much. My parents showed their love with food and we were never skinny little boys. To know my dad is to know what a ridiculous sweet tooth he had. Well, there was only one person capable of satisfying those cravings and that was my mom. She worked tirelessly perfecting recipes for cookies, pie, cakes, and everything else. My cousins and aunts would attest to this as she made it a priority to send those special treats to them for the holidays. Right now, her fridge has completed Christmas cookies and all of the ingredients needed to make her famous nutrolls. Anyone who ever tried them has been blessed. Any of us could pick her chocolate chip cookies out of a lineup. She made homemade pizzelles for my dad, lady locks, and countless others.
Our mom always put others first. She was always the last to sit down to eat. She would always sacrifice for her kids. Anything we wanted, if it meant sacrificing anything, she would do it. Without having the money for a lavish birthday party, my mom would let us pick anything we wanted for our birthday dinner. I always picked lasagna, and she made the best damn apple pie ever. She was our biggest sports fan and supporter, never missed a game if she wasn’t working. She took it to the same level with her grandkids, never missing a baseball game, hockey game, basketball, volleyball, dance recitals and Christmas concerts. She loved her kids and grandkids so much, both my parents did.
Some of my mom’s favorite things….
• My mom spent almost 49 years married to my dad. Yes, he was an exceptional man but not without his faults. She was always the person we would all ask to resolve arguments, fights etc. She was a loving faithful wife for a long time and stood by her husband through the hardest times.
• She liked to try different types of food but with my dad being as picky as he was, she didn’t try too much. She would always burn the steak because that’s how he liked it, she would overcook the pasta for him but it was still delicious!
• Before my mom had knee issues, she could polka dance really well. My dad was a great lead but she loved it too. She got in a few good dances at each of her son’s weddings.
• As much of a great cook and baker she was, she also liked and appreciated anything that was prepared for her. Whether it was a simple dinner out, a fish sandwich during Lent, or a cookout in the summer, she would always say the same thing over and over. It tasted great because she didn’t’ have to make it.
• Mom loved a sale! She would clip coupons for things we didn’t’ even need because it would help us. She would tell us about special sales at stores, and would do whatever she could to make us fit in with whatever fashion trends were in. Yes, she would find sales in the basement of Kaufmann’s department store, brag about the Kohl’s coupons she would get, and laugh about how little she paid for something she got us. It was out of necessity, but it was something she took pride in. Once, after spending what seemed like hours in a downtown department store looking for back to school clothes, my brother asked what time it was. I replied 1:19. My mom shouted, “$1.19? Where?” That became a punchline as well….God bless her.
• She loved her kids and grandkids. That is an understatement. They should always know that their gram and pap-pap will always be with them.
• Mom was a devout catholic. Even when she couldn’t attend mass for health or weather-related reasons, she would still watch mass on TV. She volunteered at school for all church fairs, parent teacher guild activities and countless bake sales.
• Most importantly, she loved the life she had with her family. She was the reason Kennywood was fun. She was the reason our limited vacations were memorable, and she always made sure we were happy one way or another.
As I wrote this out, I realized how much we learned from our mom. She tried teaching us how to make stuffing for thanksgiving, her BBQ sauce, her red sauce which had to be sweet for my dad, or her nutrolls. I have tried several times but there was always something missing. She said it was great….but we knew better. It was not hers. It was missing the extra love she put into everything she did.
Our mom was the glue of our family. When dad was being strict, we would always go to our mom. No matter what, she would help us. When my brothers and I would argue and fight, it was our mom who would be the neutral party resolving the issues. She was Switzerland. She never wanted to hear that we were struggling but would still always listen. Mom would minimize our problems in a way that made sense. She would make it feel like our problems were not as big as we thought. In that way, she was wise! Everything would work itself out. Everything would be fine. She was right.
Again, I have no words of wisdom to take away the pain of losing her especially in the unexpected way we did. She would always do anything to take away our pain or cheering us up when we were down. I hope these memories helped put a smile on your face, that’s what she would have wanted, and I’d like to think she is smiling on us all now. She is in Heaven with God and my dad and her parents. We will all miss her dearly, but I am sure she is pain free and happy to be reunited with her husband who she missed so much.