Big sister Emilia and her smiles had no limits. Her two brothers were typically rambunctious and playful boys. She loved them and kept them tucked under her angelic wings of caring. Her brother Stanley was two years younger while brother Edjui (Polish for Edward) was nine years younger. When she and Stanley went to school each day, her little brother Edjui would tap on the window and wave good-bye to them. Emilia would blow him a kiss. All of them could not wait to be reunited on the return home when Edjui would be looking out that window for them. They were growing up in the ethnic neighborhood in the area of Nicetown in Philadelphia in the 1930s. Along with their Polish immigrant parents, the children were learning the value of caring for others and seeing to their needs. Emilia grew up to be tender-hearted and loving.
As the 1940s came, America was going to war. Her two brothers had enlisted in the Army and were headed for overseas…Stanley to Europe and Edjui to the Pacific. She was the letter writer in her family as her parents’ skills in writing were poor. She was now married to the love of her life, Joe; together they had two boys. Her mother’s health was poor so Emilia and Joe welcomed her parents into their home. Helping her husband run a family business kept her busy, too.
When her brothers returned from the war, Emilia and Joe welcomed them to their home so they could reacclimate themselves back into civilian life. Brother Edjui would entertain her boys with exaggerated war stories, suitable for the ears of four and six year old boys. Her tender heart reached out to her brothers who would soon depart to marry and begin careers. She nursed her mother Anna until she passed away. Emilia was always the perfect hostess in welcoming others to her family home.
In the 1950s, Emilia and Joe bought a new home in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia…a large beautiful home with big rooms and a grand garden. Emilia took up gardening and landscaping while she favored caring for her roses. It was not unusual for Emilia to have company, overnight guests, and family gatherings. Such a sweet, generous lady who was loaded with smiles, hugs, and kisses. As a child, I loved visiting with my aunt and uncle and my boy cousins. It also gave me the opportunity to visit with my Polish grandfather. What a treat to be with them all!
Aunt Emilia always remembered everyone’s birthday and sent them cards and letters. I treasured the notes she sent me. My beloved Aunt Emilia passed away in 2008, a year after her baby brother Edjui who became my father. I miss them all…I wish we could spend one more Christmas together.