These are the women who raised us

My grandmother climbed mountains in her bare feet, raised hell and three hearty children on the edge of a small Pennsylvania mining town. Oldest child of the indomitable Baba Melnyk, who hitched a ride to America all by herself when she was just 13-years old, my grandmother earned her matriarch status with a sharp tongue, keen mind and perfectly rolled apricot cookie.

These are the women who raised us.

My mother touched a cloud on Machu Picchu, bought a scarf in an Egyptian market, sipped tea in a Japanese garden. She commuted 180 miles to earn her Master’s Degree, raised hell and four hearty children on the edge of a city park.

These are the women who raised us.

My mother in-law wrote children’s books, practiced yoga and cheerfully criss-crossed the country to support her growing brood. Sharp-witted and sweet, she raised hell and nine hearty children on the edge of a cornfield that disappeared into the quick gulp of suburban sprawl.

These are the women who raised us.

My sister Kathy climbed Mount Rainier, toasted her engagement in a Paris restaurant and became a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year. My sister Jenny walked with icons, produced a flawless flash mob on a Chicago city street, raised hell and a tiny spitfire.

These are the women who raised us.

My nine sisters in-law form a perfect circle of sophistication and support. They are writers, teachers, lawyers, computer programmers, nurses, artists, wives, mothers and friends.

These are the women who raised us.

We are mountain climbers, ocean swimmers, beach walkers, tennis players, sunset seers, book readers, garden growers, cancer fighters, chocolate eaters, belly laughers, birthday wishers, morning joggers, scrabble players, kitchen dancers, movie goers, private prayers, shower singers, life toasters.

These are the women who raised us.

Girl power on the beach! My sister Kathy's wedding just added to the women who raised us.
Girl power on the beach! My sister Kathy’s wedding just added to the number women who raised us when she married Keith this summer.
My mother in-law and me on the eve of another Biskupic wedding.
My mother in-law and I toast our birthdays on the eve of my sister in-law Elaine’s wedding this year.
My sister in-law has become the consumate family host.
My sister in-law has become the consummate family host.
Three of the women who raised us.
Three of the women who raised us.
My sister in-law Nancy and Katherine.
My sister in-law Nancy and Katherine.
A pre-Christmas 2013 photo of the Kostelnik women.
A pre-Christmas 2013 photo of the Kostelnik women.
My grandmother is sitting to the right of her mother, Anna Semko, who became Anna Melnyk. Baba Melnyk, twice widowed, raised hell, a bountiful garden and seven children in her company house on 20 Row.
My grandmother is sitting to the right of her mother, Anna Semko, who became Anna Melnyk. Baba Melnyk, twice widowed, raised hell, a bountiful garden and nine children in her company house on 20 Row.

5 thoughts on “These are the women who raised us

  1. You were very lucky, we didn’t all have the same women raising us. My mother died when I was eleven months old and the world was at war. My eldest sister acted as my mother, she was cruel and abusive. A few years ago I wrote a book describing my unhappy childhood :Lily & Me”. However I did survive and I have climbed Mount Fugi to see the rising sun.

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