Anyone who has read this far is aware of the Monshor family and the significance they played and still play in my life.
To make a long story short for others that might not have read all pages as yet, the Monshors were one of my eight foster families as a child. I was moved to their home three times for a period of six and one half years between ages two and eleven. Also during this time, I was in seven other foster homes and three institutions.
I came to love Mom and Dad Monshor as exactly that...Mom and Dad! Though I never lived with them past age ten, I continued to write and visit them until their deaths.
Their son (Sonny), his wife Marge and children Gayle and Maryann moved to Florida in 1959. I had no contact with them from that time until 2003. It was not due to lack of desire on my part, we all just happened to go on with our lives.
This changed as the twentieth anniversary of Mom's passing approached in April 2003. I wrote Sonny, though not realistically expecting to hear back from him. He surprised me and did respond via a phone call. During the year that passed since then, we have spoken on the phone a number of times. He also sent me some pictures of my childhood years with his family.
Of course the big news shared in that first phone call was that he and Marge had also attempted to adopt me. This happened after Mom and Dad had been denied.
On May 1, 2004, Sonny and Marge were to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I was invited to attend the celebration.
I was in for a shock as I got off the plane in Melbourne, Florida. Last year, I received a picture of Sonny and Marge taken on their 48th anniversary. Both looked fine and healthy in that picture.
Currently, Sonny did not look much different with the exception of grayer, thinning hair.
When I first saw Marge, however, my mouth dropped. She looked so old. Marge suffered a two strokes in the past couple of years. It has aged her significantly. Her mobility is poor. I had to help lift her right leg anytime we were to get in a car while I was there. She also suffers from a degree of dementia. She remembers in detail events of the past but can forget things from five minutes ago. She and I did sit on the front porch until late into the night my first night there, talking of the "good ole days." Marge also still views me as her "little Larry." My heart breaks for her knowing the poor health she is in. I am so happy I was able to go to Florida, as it may be the final time I am able to see Marge while she is still alive.
There was one thing Marge wanted me to see before I left for home. Mom Monshor's mother (SARAH NOVAK KRAVENSKY) was born in 1875 in Krakow, Poland. She immigrated to the United States in 1891; to Massachusetts then on to Baltimore, Maryland, where Mildred was born. She became a citizen in 1938.
She was renowned for her needle point work. She began as a young girl in Poland and continued until past her ninetieth birthday. She passed away in 1972 at the age of ninety-seven.
Many of her needle works were saved by the family over the years, including some now over ninety years old. Marge wanted me to have some of them, especially one in particular.
Sarah had spent much of 1911 making needle work to commemorate the birth of Mildred. There were still two of those works available. I now have one of them. It will be framed properly, then Sarah's story will be noted on the back...a family heirloom I now possess. I also selected five others to bring home...one is large and so beautiful I cannot describe it in any detail and do it justice. I will treasure all of them!
Thursday was Sonny and Larry day. Sonny had worked at the Kennedy Space Center from the time it was called Cape Canaveral back in the late 50s. Though he did not complete high school, he made a life-long career at the Cape. He received training during his years in the Navy...a far better education for him than high school or college would have been. He rose through the ranks. The latter part of his career was being the person doing the final inspection, while the shuttle was on the pad, prior to lift off. He gave the go ahead whether to lift or abort.
We went to the space center on Thursday. What was to be a three to four hour trip turned into over nine hours. Sonny had a long career, retiring from a high-ranking position ten years ago. Despite this, he was not able to give me one of the VIP tours, but did give me a tour that included things the public never sees. Unfortunately, you will not see any pictures of those areas due to the high security employed now and pictures no longer being allowed.
We also visited the various "Walks of Fame" in the area. Each includes the history of our space program: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle. There are bricks not only honoring the brave Americans willing to risk their lives to explore space, but also to those who took up the challenge of President Kennedy and worked as pioneers. Each had a brick honoring Sonny and Marge.
I am very glad I made the trip. Besides what I have already shared, there is another reason. It answered a question I needed answered. Since reconnecting with Sonny and Marge last year,
On Friday, I got to spend three hours with Gayle who could have been my younger sister or my cousin.
Gayle is Sonny and Marge's first born. She and I used to play the time. She remembers them talking about me so many times during the years. We talked a lot that afternoon. As the time was ending she touched my heart very deeply.
She said, "You know, though I have known of you all my life, I have not known you. But today you have been so, so easy to talk with, that it does seem I have known you all my life. You would have been one hell of an older brother. I wish you had been able to be."
Needless to say it was an effort to keep the tears from flowing. Yes, I am a softy...what can I say :)