We girls observed that Doriene's smile is as big as ever. She's the best storyteller and remembers so many details. I listened intently, but at times, wished I'd had a tape recorder to capture the inflection in her voice and the giggles that erupted as she told her stories. Her 89th birthday looms in just two weeks, but she has the memory and spunk of a 39 year old!
And Uncle Joe - just two years older, has a great memory as well. He loves to tease and joked with us, often asking what we girls did to stay so slim! These two lovebirds celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on September 4th!
Karen and I took time to notice the picture gallery in the hallway. This side holds favorite family pictures of the Kopczynski's and Jacobs. The other side showcases the seven Jacobs children and their families.
This family picture was taken in 1967 or 1968. From lower left: Brian, Melinda, Barb, Shelly, Don, Geralyn, and Jodee.
Our all-time favorite Kopczynski portrait. Doriene's sitting on Grandma's lap. My Dad, Stan, the 5th child, stands in the back row, 2nd from the right.
The August and Marie Kopczynski family. Back row: Malinda, Edwin Stoltz(a nephew), my Grandma Lena, and Kate. Middle: August and Marie, my grandpa, August Jr. Front row: Cecilia and Mary. I remember the the stories about great aunts - the girls loved their only brother and vowed to stay close!
Aunt Claire Sager painted this picture of the Kopczynski home as a wedding gift for her folks in 1953, when they celebrated their 50th.
Doriene obviously adores her extended family and displays pictures of her brothers and sisters at various family gatherings throughout the years. I look at these pictures now and my heart fills with gratitude for the gift of large families. I said to Doriene, "I've often wondered how my Mom felt when she discovered she was pregnant again." Her reply, "she and all of us considered pregnancy God's gift to us." It's taken me years to appreciate the joy that accompanies large families. I got born into one, but in my child-bearing years, I did not want one. Now I know that God has a sense of humor because I did everything I could to prevent having more children and I would give anything to have more kids and grands doting on me in my old age....
Daughter Barb joined us later in the afternoon. Her brother, Don, greeted us when we first arrived, so we know that the Jacobs kids come and go and check in on their parents frequently. It's a big group when they all get together and Doriene said, "we've made rules that there will be no discussions of politics or religion when we are gathered together."
Barb and her husband, Neil, are retired and spend a lot of time golfing and obviously, supporting Gonzaga University.
We heard story after story - wish I could remember them all, but here a few tidbits. "Your Mom had a lot of fun with us when she came to visit in 1944. One night, after dinner, I suggested to Stan that he walk Bertha home to Aunt Susie's house and that is all it took for them to begin a long-distance courtship."
"I got kicked out of my bedroom on the second floor when the space turned into an apartment for newly married couples. I slept on the couch for month until Dad finally made a cellar into a bedroom for me. Jake and Gertie, Stan and Bertha, and many others lived on the second floor until they bought homes of their own."
"The boys loved music and formed an orchestra and often practiced all day on Sunday. People came to visit just to hear the music. All were welcome to eat and Mary complained that she spent most of Sunday peeling potatoes. It was typical to re-set the table three different times on a Sunday afternoon."
When I asked about Aunt Johanna, Doriene gave me the "look." Johanna always got her way, she was spoiled. "When Joe and I planned our wedding, Johanna insisted I ask Jeanne, her daughter, to be a bridesmaid, because she was an only child and would not have the opportunity to be in another wedding. Johanna bribed me by volunteering to host a breakfast and then she refused to invited Joe's parents. I was so mad!!"
"I chose Jim Reed to be the ring bearer and you'll notice he is not in the pictures. He went hunting or fishing with his Dad the day of the rehearsal and Les told him he could not be in the wedding because he wouldn't know what to do. He just clung to my leg and said, ' I can do it, please let me, I won't flub up.' But Les would not bend and that makes me sad to this day."
"We have a great priest here now who gives five-minute homilies. He says in five minutes he speaks to the people, if he speaks for 10 minutes, he's talking to the pews, and if he goes on for 15 minutes he's preaching to the devil."
I told Joe how scared I was when Mom suggested that I go help out the Jacobs when Melinda was born in August, 1960. Mom gave birth to Larry just three days prior, but thought Doriene needed the help.
Joe brought the fresh milk to the kitchen and I was supposed to pasteurize it in a machine of some kind, but left it in there too long and it spoiled and I got a royal chewing out! I also remember Doriene running from the bedroom to the bathroom, trailing blood, perhaps hemorrhaging. Scared me to death, I was sure she was dying, but I guess I followed her orders and called the hospital! Geez, I was just 14 at the time.
Doriene talked a lot about all the fun she had with her sisters! Someone brought these goofy wigs to our family reunion in August, 2008, and Mary and Doriene paraded around the yard, sang songs, and brought the rest of us to laughing fits. She still knows how to make us laugh!
We raise a glass to you, Joe and Doriene, with gratitude and much love! Thank you for sharing such great memories and encouraging us to live life with love and laughter!