Catherine Ward, was a 94 y/o seasoned landlady & adept quilter of Greenfield & West Allis who found peace and freedom from illness and age on May 18, 2023.
Mother to Kar'n Kudlik, Dave, Rick, Tom (deceased)/Fran) Rob and baby boy Ward (deceased). Daughter of Josephine (Schaller) and MIA Frank Wesolowski. Preceded in death by brothers, Ray, Jim (Evelyn), Harry (Mary) and Richie (Jeanette) Wesley, niece Patricia Wesley, ex-husband Roy Ward of NC, dog, Brandy and many NC family members. Grandma to Jessie (Tommaso) Whitney, Nick and Dan Ward, D'Anne (Eric) and Casey (deceased) Kudlik. Great Gma to Willow Whitney, Cassidy, Zoey and Quinn Ward. Survived by dear sisters-in-law, Carol Ward and Lucille Ward (Shawano). Death ends a life; it doesn't end a relationship.
My mom is the quiet type; no marching bands, no media hype except with her wild & crazy lady friends. I imagine she is meeting Danny O'Donnell, Irish singing sensation whether she has a back stage pass or not. Cathy loved a good sale or clearance, sewing, crafting, eating salty and sweet evening snacks with Barqs Root beer and a bakery dept. lemon meringue pie.
Her house was clean, the smell of coffee & cooking always permeating the kitchen & the washer full speed. She had an open door policy for our friends, especially when my dad wasn't home but not during meals. Mom showed strength during my dad's absences to NC and later divorce and sale of the house. She provided holiday cheer hosting many single handedly (except Uncle Ray carving the meat) and never complained, never asking or demanding help. She also supervised and/or delegated house repairs & updates in her unit as we well as the rental. The rental prep was usually a family affair with Kar'n priming and doing paperwork, Rick painting, Tom electrical, trim and misc., and Dave plastering and spraying the metal cabinets. Rob, Tom and the boys built our side porch: The Ward boys together were an unpredictable circus! Cathy became a disciplinarian, home & family crisis manager and couldn't have survived without her brothers help and their watchful eyes. If they couldn't help or weren't available, she would wing it or go without.
She loved her family unconditionally. Hugging-only when it needed to be done. Cathy hardly ever gushed over gifts from her kids, or gave compliments and came off slightly cold to a few. Her friends don't describe her this way, quite the opposite. She carried on her mother's Xmas shopping bag tradition and if she couldn't find or afford a gift at the time she would give one of her infamous IOUs.
She volunteered at the grade school as mandatory or manda-told playground supervisor and in later years donated lap quilts or squares to charity.
She watched Richie and cleaned while her single parent mother worked. She always said she could barely get Harry, Ray and Jim to lift their feet to vacuum under. Cathy worked at the fruit store & was a Gimbels teen board model. Also as a teen, she was an avid jitterbug dancer at the Eagles Club and said nobody took lessons back then, they just watched and imitated. They also walked the whole distance to and from.
Dancing helped ease the relocation from Milwaukee to West Allis her senior year and the new school transition.
She landed an internal revenue job, became a homemaker and once the kids were grown worked at McDonalds, possibly cleaning rooms at a motel for a few weeks & for a temp help agency.
Mom learned to drive about 1966 and from then on was "driven" to take cake decorating, pheasant hat making, upholstery, oil, acrylic and folk painting, & quilting classes at MATC. I may have missed some. She also took quilting lessons from WCTC taking advantage of her tax dollars. She travelled with brothers Harry and Ray, & enjoyed hospitality of Michigan's Jim & Evelyn. Her brother Richie did her taxes for years, suggested investments and took my mom and I to high school art performances and musicals for many years or drives out to visit Merton relatives. Since Roy didn't dance anytime much less weddings, she danced with brother Richie.
Bernie and mom's daily, habitual coffee and cigarette breaks, walks up Greenfield and escapades including the one drink they had at Tichigan that shocked me.
Mom tearing thru the boxes under the counters at Arians and Atlantic Mills stores (Targets of the time) to find the right size or color for school clothes.
The angel food cake batter she didn't hesitate to scoop back up off her clean kitchen floor, bake and serve for one of our birthday celebrations.
The doctors described mom as complicated. She was the only one I knew that caught her denture bridge wire under her tongue and had to go to ER wincing in pain. It made you give a quick laugh after retelling such an oddity.
D'Anne and Casey once said grandma dragged them to some information or health expo and grandma was sure loading up on the free pens. For many years she would sit for my kids while I worked part time second shift and couldn't find childcare. Casey once wrote an autobiography on gma... The first of the kids started moving out about a year after high school Cathy must have jumped for joy.
Rob remembers we ate what was on the table and if we didn't like it, to slug it down with milk and shut up.
The breaking news and presidents be damned for interrupting her General Hospital, other soap operas, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, the Voice and many more.
D'Anne's party at Blues Egg and attempted VMP party on her 94th birthday and several impromptu trips to visit in the hospital and Medtronic/cardiac advice and direction were deeply cherished.
Jessie's overnights and Xmas eves with grandma, thoughtful cards, heads up on shows or programs Jessie produced, the WI personalized doormat, statues and autographed picture of Tommaso, pro wrestler were treasured. Willow was a gift to her. She was determined to sew hair scrunchies for Jessie's pom pom team.
At Nick and Danny's holiday or birthday gatherings, she also enjoyed her precious Cassidy, Zoey, and Quinn.
She watched PBS for quilting, sewing, painting and gospel and other music shows- exercise shows not so much.
When life dealt her scraps, she quilted to cope. She advocated in the uncomfortable priest abuse, suicide and women's and reproductive rights awareness and accountability issue headlines. There were times when she took a stand that was neither popular nor politically correct or even safe. But, It was the right thing to do.
At different times She was surrounded by a strong & supportive network of friends some for a season, some for a reason and those precious few for life. She felt the love of her good friends, Carol Pep, Bernie, Jane, Irma, Berniece and Shirley x 2, as well as others from Prairie Hill Mexican Train/Dominoes and card nights, neighbor Anita, Monnie, Ann and Ada Derksen --too numerous to list but not forgotten. Member and/or one time president of Manor Park Quilters, Guild, and Honey Bees etc.
Thanks to her Vitas/VMP/Aurora/Hickory Park/Prairie Hill caretakers, staff, volunteers and friends.
She came to love all of her apartment homes and was proud teaching survival skills for all those residents formerly husband dependent and out on their own for the first time of their lives during power outages, prolonged fire evacuations, etc.
Private services to be held.
In lieu of flowers, plants or memorials, a random act of kindness to an elderly person would be valued. Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change
Until we meet again, keep your heart unwrinkled.