Where I am from

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life14 Comments


Last week I flew out to Seattle for the funeral of my best friend’s sister’s husband, Bill. Bill was a phenomenal human being and I’ve known him since I was 14 years old. He was 54 years old which obviously is far too young to leave this Earth.

We gathered to say goodbye and to celebrate his life.

When I say Seattle, what I really mean is Everett. Everett, Washington is my hometown. I moved there when I was 6 lived there almost continuously until I left for good at 19.

My best friend Molly and I met at the Rollerfair Skatedeck in 1979. She had black boot covers on her skates and I thought, “What a cool girl. I want some of that!”

Something about the two of us clicked and in spite of a few ups and downs over the years, we’ve been friends now for 37 years. Holy shit, that is a long time. She makes her home there and I make mine here, but she is the person that would drop everything to help me in any hour of need. I know that deep in the core of my being. I’m no fool to know that kind of devotion is a gift. Truly. Suffice to say, we have a lot of history.

(That’s my other dear friend on the left, Shaun, and Molly is in the middle. There were four of us in high school that made up our particular gang. The fourth girl I lost track of immediately after graduation.)

Molly’s family is special. She is the baby of five and growing up, being around her and her family always felt very special to me. They were different from my family. It wasn’t just the size of their family. They seemed to live a bit more out loud, laughing with ease and expressing their emotions more readily. They were siblings who seemed to truly liked each other. They were Irish Catholics, too. I remember that seeming so exotic to me at the time. And just like knowing Molly, being around her family made me feel cooler. Being part of the inner Moran family circle made me special.

I realize all these years later that it was really just the longing for feeling a part of a larger connection. As it was back then, when I am around her family I feel like I am part of something bigger. Something special.

You know the show Parenthood? That’s her family to me. And I think it is to her, as well.

Most of the visit was spent preparing for the funeral and communing with extended family and friends. As we were driving around between Everett and Lynnwood, we popped over to my old neighborhood. That sign has been there since the late 60s and save for a few paint touch ups, it remains as it was the day it was erected. I can’t say the same about that little 6-year-old girl who called this place her home.

I know people move away and gain perspective. There are things I would never change because when I left Washington, it was something I needed to do and I’m so grateful for the events that brought me to where I am today. But I didn’t appreciate where I am from as much as I do with each passing year.

Being there reminded me not only how short and precious this life is, but how one person can touch so many people. Bill’s son spoke at the service so eloquently about how the best way he can honor his father’s memory is to live with the enthusiasm, kindness and joy that Bill brought to everything he did.

I returned home with much to consider about my life, my family and how I choose to live each day that I get to be here.

This was sung at Bill’s funeral. I was driving yesterday, running some errands and it came on my local radio station. I’ve never heard this played on the radio before so I’m taking it as a sign.

Thank you to the Moran and Perez families for letting me share this time with you.

God speed, Bill.


Cathy ZielskeWhere I am from

14 Comments on “Where I am from”

  1. #2
    Kris Beauregard

    I know what you mean about the magic of those big families – it is such a cool dynamic – every gathering is a party – heck, even dinner is a party! I have longed to be part of that kind of family, and I try to emulate it in my own family (not quite there yet)!

    Today I will be chewing on this:
    “I returned home with much to consider about my life, my family and how I choose to live each day that I get to be here”.

  2. #3

    Molly is very blessed to also have you in her life. Good friends are not easily found like the one you have in Molly. It is so very true that these life changes really rattle us and put perspective in our days. There really isn’t anything better than family and friends. Cherish each and every day, life is way to short for some.

  3. #4
    Jenny B.

    So sorry for your loss. He sounds like a truly wonderful man who is part of an awesome family. It is really neat to see where you grew up. I, too, have a much greater appreciation for my hometown as an adult than I did living there as a child. Thanks for sharing.

  4. #5

    Going home is hard sometimes, but also can be very, very good. After all, it is where your story began and has everything to do with who you are now. So sorry for your loss, but so happy that you have some good friends that still matter after all these years.

  5. #6

    Oh chica, I so understand…I really and truly do. I am fortunate enough to be within a 7 hour drive of the little beach community I grew up in and where my two best friends still reside with their families. I have been blessed to be part of gatherings where I feel like I belong, just like a family member and always welcomed with open arms. We are so blessed to experience that “bigger picture” sense of family aren’t we?

  6. #8

    My best friend’s husband died almost 6 years ago. He had been my friend since they started dating in college; I was their “third-wheel” for a long time. He was 49 and left this earth too soon also. Profoundly affected me and still does today. And as for signs that bring us comfort and clarity, absolutely believe God sends them to us. Have never seen as many butterflies as I did the summer my father died. Thank you for sharing your heart and insights; am so sorry for your loss.

  7. #9

    Sorry your return to Everett was for such a sad event. You probably passed my street while you were here!

  8. #10
    Christine K.

    Very touching story. I love how you were embraced by your friend’s large family. You are lucky to life-long friends like that. Sorry your trip back here was for such a sad reason but I admire you for supporting your friends in their time of need.
    Israel was a much loved and admired musician. I was living in Hawaii at the time of his death. People crowded the streets and freeway overpasses to watch the procession taking him to his final resting place. It was a very moving and unforgettable memory 18 years ago.
    I hope that you make another trip out here real soon. Bring the family.

  9. #11

    So sorry for the circumstances that brought you home. I have two visceral connections to your post…

    That version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow has very special meaning for me. Seconds after my daughter was born, I turned to my husband and asked him to play it. It was the first song my daughter heard while panting and lying on my chest.

    And, Everett was my home for 5 years. We moved there right after we got married in 1997 and lived in a small apartment on Marine View Drive.

  10. #13

    Very poignant. Sometimes it takes a major life event to come back to where you began. Sounds like Bill was a wonderful soul who left this earth too soon. At least he was surrounded by love.

  11. #14

    Israel Kamakawiwo’ole–another man who left the world too soon. SO sorry for your loss, but how wonderful to have the relationship in your life.

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