Farewell, Maria…

My darling mother-in-law, the witty, beguiling and wonderful Mary Zielinski, passed away early on the morning of December 26th at the age of 88.  Mary is one of the Greatest Generation – a woman born to immigrant Greek parents who overcame the Great Depression, graduated from college, established herself as a professional woman in the late 1940’s, married a doctor serving in Patton’s Army, lived in post-war Europe during the Occupation, and returned to the Southside of Chicago to raise her family.

Mary & Victor, Young and Fabulous.

I am eternally grateful that Mary and her late husband, the brilliant, passionate and challenging Victor Zielinski, welcomed me into their family and allowed me to share in their rich family traditions, including the rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church, their neighborhood of Beverly, and the fellowship of their “pareia.”

I’m a lucky man, indeed, to have had the good fortune of being Mary Zielinski’s son-in-law.

For those of you who knew Mary, here is the obituary that will appear in The Chicago Tribune on Monday and Tuesday, December 27 and 28, 2010.


Mary Zielinski (nee Kamberos)  beloved wife of the late Victor.

Loving mother of John, Christine (Jon) Noffsinger, Victoria (Paul) Barrosse and Anne (Keith) Schaible.

Cherished grandmother of Matthew, Michael and Peter Schaible, Maura Murphy-Barrosse, Emilia and Evangeline Barrosse, and Rebecca and Zachary Noffsinger.

Dear sister of the late Helen (the late Ken) Cooney, Mary D. (the late Constantine) Kamberos, Irene (the late Emil) Simich and Constance Kamberos.

Mary was a loving aunt, great aunt and friend to many.

The family will receive friends on Tuesday evening from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Brady Gill Funeral Home (Heeney-Laughlin Directors) 2929 W. 87th St. Evergreen Park. Trisagion Service at 7pm. 708-636-5500

Funeral Service Wednesday 10am at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church 10301 S. Kolmar Ave. Oak Lawn, IL 60453.

Interment Evergreen Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Endowment Fund are most appreciated.


Filed under Beauty

10 responses to “Farewell, Maria…

  1. Rob

    My heartfelt condolences to Victoria on the occasion of the passing of her beloved mother and to Maura, Emilia and Eva who loved their Grandmother.

  2. She loved you too! You were a loving son who alway, always made her smile. ‘You hur favorite’

  3. Nili Yelin

    SO sorry to hear about your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Much love, Nili, Bill and family

  4. I’m profoundly sorry for your loss.

  5. Colorado Mom

    A lovely tribute, and oh my goodness, does Vic look like Maria. Both of them are so beautiful.

  6. My heartfelt sympathy to you, Paul and Victoria. She will always be with you and clearly she gave you abundant love.

  7. Mary Lisbeth, Roy and Oliver

    Dearest Victoria, Paul, Emilia, Eva, Maura, and the entire extended Zielinski family,

    Our hearts are with you as you travel to Chicago and say a final farewell to your beloved Mary Zielinski. What an incredible woman, accomplished in so many ways. It is such an enormous blessing that Mary was able to pass away at peace, quietly, with Anne at her side, comfortable and safe in her own home. We send you many hugs and thoughts and are with you in spirit. We wish we could be there with you in person.

    Love you all so very much,

    Mary-Lisbeth, Roy and Oliver

    PS We hope the following poems give you comfort and peace. They are poems that have soothed us greatly during times of sadness and loss.

    Love Sonnet LXXXIX by Pablo Neruda

    When I die, I want your hands on my eyes:
    I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
    to pass their freshness over me once more:
    I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.

    I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.
    I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you
    to sniff the sea’s aroma that we loved together,
    to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.

    I want what I love to continue to live,
    and you whom I love and sang above everything else
    to continue to flourish, full-flowered:

    so that you can reach everything my love directs you to,
    so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,
    so that everything can learn the reason for my song.

    “In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver

    Look, the trees
    are turning
    their own bodies
    into pillars

    of light,
    are giving off the rich
    fragrance of cinnamon
    and fulfillment,

    the long tapers
    of cattails
    are bursting and floating away over
    the blue shoulders

    of the ponds,
    and every pond,
    no matter what its
    name is, is

    nameless now.
    Every year
    I have ever learned

    in my lifetime
    leads back to this: the fires
    and the black river of loss
    whose other side

    is salvation,
    whose meaning
    none of us will ever know.
    To live in this world

    you must be able
    to do three things:
    to love what is mortal;
    to hold it

    against your bones knowing
    your own life depends on it;
    and, when the time comes to let it go,
    to let it go.

  8. Thank you, dear friends. We’re back in Woodland Hills after saying goodbye to the mortal Mary Z, so that we may now fondly remember what is immortal about her: her wit, her charm, her devotion to her family and friends, and her zest for life. We were blessed to know Mary and to touch her while she lived — and now we are blessed to remember her with undying love and affection. Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts and sympathy with us.

    And Mary Lisbeth, we loved those poems!

  9. Elda Borroni

    What a lovely tribute to a wonderful woman! My condolences to Victoria, Paul and the three lovely granddaughters: Maura, Emilia and Eva. Paul, your description of your dear mother-in-law expressed so much genuine love; I’m sure your love was returned just as abundantly.

    Victoria — you and your mother, two beautiful women!

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