Walter Kwiecinski, Steve’s dad, died on May 8, 1988. The first time Steve was in the Philippines he called home on May 8 and found out that Boomer, our beloved golden retriever, had cancer and would pass away soon. Steve never thought about it being the anniversary of his father’s death because May 8, 1988, was Mothers’ Day, and Mothers’ Day is the day he always associates with that sad event.
Walt picked the day to die. Seven months earlier he had suffered a stroke, and his quality of life was declining. Steve’s mother, Mary Anne, had been at the national bowling tournament in Nevada for most of the week and returned on Saturday night. Walter waited, then died in her arms on Sunday morning after saying, “I love you.”
We give a lot of credit to Mary Anne, who married a man almost 14 years her elder, and who had to know that his prisoner-of-war treatment meant she would likely be a widow for a very long time. Today makes an unbelievable 21 years. She had always been a very desirable woman, and even at 80 is an incredible dancer, and we’re sure she could have found another man to spend her life with, but we think she never thought she could replace Walt, and she was right. He wasn’t perfect, but he was one heck of a husband and father.
This tribute goes out not only to Mary Anne, our mother and mother-in-law, on Mothers’ Day, but to all mothers, and especially to any women who, like Mary Anne, chose to live with men who had gone through the hell of being POWs of the Japanese for almost three and a half years. We have had the privilege of meeting a few of these women over the years and they are indeed remarkable. We know that these men had to be extremely strong-willed or they never would have survived the experiences. We know that at times it must have been extremely difficult, as circumstances came along that made the men have to remember what had gone on, almost like reliving their worst nightmares.
So Mary Anne, Bernice, Esther, Jean, Judy and all you other amazing women, thank you for your devotion to your men.
Steve and Marcia