Eight years ago today, on this most horrible day in my life, my Mother got her Angel Wings. There is no way to accurately explain the incredibly profound grief and sadness that lives inside me since my Mother’s passing. It is mine. I feel it every day. Some days more then others. I miss her. I miss her. I so desperately miss her and want her back.
On this, her eighth anniversary in Heaven, I thought it would be fitting to share the Eulogy I wrote and read at her service. It’s the best I can do, for today.
So while you read this, I will be on a beautiful, white sand beach somewhere here in Florida, looking down next to me and hoping to see her footprints in the sand next to mine as I walk along and honor her life and her memory ❤
(Eulogy delivered July 21, 2007 – Unitarian Fellowship in Poughkeepsie NY)
“Good Afternoon. Thank you for being here today, for coming together and remembering my Mother, for sharing your memories and stories.
I am Jennifer Sarah, so named in this very room, 36 years ago. I am Tusia’s daughter.
My Mother was a strong, intelligent, funny woman. She worked hard to provide for her family, without ever losing sight of who she was and what her desires were.
As a child, I was in awe of my Mom. She was an actress, a nurse when I skinned my knee, a poet, a teacher sharing a book with me, a friend and most of all, my confidant. She wore many hats and she always wore them well.
I was no short order for my parents and I definitely gave my Mom a run for her money. In the end, we figured each other out and a new, beautiful relationship evolved. We were, after all, Mother and Daughter. A bond not to be broken easily, not even in death.
I always admired my Mother’s sense of adventure. She lived and married in Panama. She saw the great ruins of Greece. Soaked in the beauty of Australia and breathed in the scents of Italy. She walked the beaches of Mikanos, Florida, and the Caribbean. She left her footprints in some of the finest sand on the eastern seaboard. A lover of animals, she swam with the dolphins in Florida, accompanied by her dear friend Nancy, and made friends with the sea lions in Costa Rica.
So, Mom asked that stories be told in her memory. The funnier the better. I aim to please and make my Mother proud.
In the early 90’s, I went to an all day festival/concert in Upstate NY with Josh, Mary’s son. It was then that I decided to get my nose pierced. Mind you, I had been talking about doing this for weeks prior and Mom’s response was always the same, “Where are you going to live?” she would ask. Of course I never took her seriously, I mean, I’m too cute to be kicked out, right? So, I stand on line for an hour waiting to get my nose pierced. Once pierced, I enjoyed the remainder of the concert and made my way home. Josh was not in my camp, saying, “you’re so in trouble”.
For three days my face, with the giant stud protruding from my right nostril, was in front of my Mom, yet there was not one single utterance from her. Not during dinner, or watching a program on TV. It wasn’t until the fourth day, when we got in the car to go somewhere. I got in the drivers seat and she in the passenger. She turned towards me and this great shriek came out of her…”Where are you going to live”??? I told her that I was staying where I was. She didn’t like that idea too much. But, being the awesome Mom she was, she ignored what I had done, and eventually, to get a job during the Christmas break from college, I had to take out my nose ring anyway. She never said another word. She was truly a graceful and humble winner when it came to her parenting skills. By the way, I was immediately hired at my next interview.
Ninetneen years ago, in August of 1988 I had a serious car accident. Years passed and Mom told me that she held herself together until she went to the grocery store, where she promptly lost it in the potato chip isle, breaking down in tears, so grateful that I had survived something so horrible.
Now, it’s me in the potato chip isle, myself facing something so painful, and I can only hope to have half the courage and adventure my Mom did.
Mom was a lover of all things relating to literature and absolutely captivated by Shakespeare so I chose the following passage from Romeo & Juliet:
“….when she shall die
take her and cut her out
in little stars,
and she will make
the face of heaven
that all the world will be in love with night”
My Mom, she will always be my star…”
Roberta “Tusia” Starzynski Collier
A longtime resident of Hyde Park, NY, passed away June 20, 2007, at Mt. Sinai Hospital, NYC, surrounded by the love of her family. She was 73 years young.
She was born September 21, 1933 in Chicago, IL. The only child of Ignatius and Eugenia Starzynski, who predeceased her.
Tusia was a long time member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie, NY.
She was most proud of her charter membership in “That Element”.
Tusia’s achievements include her BA from Chatham College, Pittsburgh, PA and MLS from SUNY Albany, NY. She was an accomplished and published poet and actress. In later years, a talented artist.
Her final career achievement was as a Senior Secretary for the Astor Child Guidance Clinic in Rhinebeck, NY until her retirement in 1997.
The stepping stones to this crowning achievement began with her teaching career in Pittsburgh, PA, through active writing and other office jobs in NYC.
Survivors include her son, Jeffrey W. Collier of Jacksonville, FL, daughter Jennifer S. Castellazzi of Beacon, NY, son in law Frank V. Castellazzi of Middletown, NY, friend and previous husband William W. Collier of Wappingers Falls, NY, sisters Nancy Lazinsky of Hyde Park, NY, Mary Phillips of Highland, NY, Louise Spindler of Raleigh, NC, Jen Rabinowitz of Hyde Park, NY, Barbara “Bobbie” Post of Stanfordville, NY, Brenda Verbeck of St. Augustine, FL, Fran Sunderland of Poughkeepsie, NY and dear friend R. Chris Brown of NY, NY. She is also survived by her sister in law Sara Caiola and husband Robert of Slanesville, WV, cousin Paul Starzynski and wife Florence of Arlington, VA, cousin Susan Young and daughter Prashani of Kirribilli NSW Australia, cousin Louise Farmer of Eden Prairie, MN, and cousin Tom Farmer of Rock Island, IL. She was predeceased by her sisters Cecile Bannett and Trudy Evangelo.
Tusia will be long remembered as a loving Mother and faithful friend. For the sound of her wonderful, addicting laugh, her generosity and unwavering kindness to those dear to her heart.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in her name, for her undying love of animals, to the Dutchess County SPCA, 796 Violet Avenue, Hyde Park, NY 12538.
A celebration of Tusia’s life will be held at a later date to be determined.
In the poetic words uttered from Tusia’s pen from an inscription on the leaf of “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“An RX for the evil days when cynicism, a jaded body and a wounded spirit, play the ravaging tyrant within you, then let this potion work its balm.”