Category Archives: The Rozek Clan

One Hilarious Christmas Wish

em and nick

 

 

 

 

 

 

All my brother asked for this Christmas was for me to record “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with him. 

em and nick recording

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here it is…Utter hilarious, joyous, genious.

http://www.kennethrozek.com/Christmas/babyitscoldemilynick.mp3

 

em and nick recording 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you all had a blessed and beautiful Christmas, in from the cold!

Love,

The Motherfog Family

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A Very Rozek Christmas

EASTER IN NY 2006 (10)

 

 

 

 

 

This is what my sisters do in their spare time.  Amazing.  Unfortunately I was left off the list when the whistling talent was handed out.   The whole thing is brilliant, but the end might be my favorite part.

Way to Go, Girls!

Rozek Girls- Jingle Bells Medley

Pick up the Phone!

Being child number four of five, I was too young to remember my sister Hilary’s best friend moving in during their eighth grade school year. I just remember her always being there.  Heather is my fourth sister and my parents’ fifth daughter.

After I posted “The Pleasure Was All Mine”, she sent me this email.  At the end, she expresses feeling guilty about not sharing it sooner, but I disagree that her timing was anything but perfect.

 

“Days after he passed, your dad and I had a visit as well.  I was standing in, dare I say,  ‘our’ house on Lewis Street. I was in the parlor near the piano across from the phone stand.  I was slightly confused and looking around and as I looked to the right, your dad stood there near the doorway that led to the informal dining room and kitchen area.  We were both watching the chaos that was all around.

The phone was ringing.  No one answered it.

Your mom and each of you girls were all walking, almost a skipping or flitting through the rooms in a state of chaos.  No one was really paying much attention to any one else.  You all seemed lost in emotion; a frenzy in your eyes and movements. Your dad said, in the tone that I’ve heard so many times when he’d get frustrated with each of us because we were being uncooperative or overly annoying, “Would somebody answer the phone?!?!!!”

The phone kept ringing.  No one answered it.

As I looked to the right, your dad looked to the left.  Our eyes met and the look of astonishment on his face made it clear that he could see me seeing him.

He said, “You can see me?”

I responded simply, “Yes.”

The phone kept ringing.  Still, no one answered it.

He said, “Please tell them I’m fine.  I’m in a good place.”

I don’t recall saying anything back but nodding to indicate that I would share his message.

The phone stopped ringing.  It was him trying to contact you all.  He wanted you to know that he was ok.

The chaos was gone in that brief moment and then I awoke.

I felt honored and brokenhearted all at the same time.  I passed along the message to Hilary and I am feeling incredibly guilty thinking I may not have told you. I think at that time there was so much confusion and coping.

I have asked him to visit may times but haven’t seen him in a dream.  But as I said, he is here all the time.  When I listen to Hilary’s incredibly ‘Rozek’ stories I giggle-he’s there with her.  When life (and a  car dealership) hands you lemons and you make lemonade (albeit a little sour) he’s there coaching you.  I see him all the time; just not in the way we would all like.

So there it is, my visit with your dad.  It was too brief but, it will last me a lifetime.”

-Heather Vincent Larkin

Thank you Heather.  We all love you so much…Dad included.

 

The Pleasure Was All Mine

Months ago, an old classmate of mine asked me if I would sing at her wedding.   My schedule permitted, so a few weeks ago I made the trip to my home town in Upstate New York.  The wedding happened to be at the church in which I was raised, but hadn’t visited in twenty plus years.

I showed up for the rehearsal the evening before and entered the sanctuary. Before I could fully take in the (smaller-than I remember) chapel, lined with stained glass, I was momentarily paralyzed by the familiar smell of hardwood before continuing down the center aisle to the organist.  I chatted with her distractedly about the key of The Lord’s Prayer.

“Any is fine. I’ll follow you.”  I said, gazing over the empty pews.

The rehearsal commenced, and I sung during the mock communion, looking out into one of the pews to the left.

There he was.

Blonde head next to my Mother’s brunette, beaming down at his five blonde babies, arm draped around daughter number four.

I reminded myself that this event was not in fact about me, and coming undone during this couple’s special moment would be inappropriate and self-indulgent, rehearsal or not. So, I subtly clipped some of the notes to dam the flood threatening to draw more attention than necessary.

I willed the rehearsal to end quickly so that I might steal some time alone in that pew, not ready to step outside of this delicious childhood bubble.  It had been years since I felt the weight of my Father’s arm around my shoulders and I wasn’t quite ready return to this millennium.

The sanctuary emptied and I sat there for a while, drinking all that rushed in on the scent of red oak.

My sisters often tell tales of my Father’s paranormal visits  and interventions. I love hearing them, and I certainly don’t discount them. But, either the cynicism or unceasing rattling in my head has prevented my own experiences.

Since a very vivid dream with a clear message from him shortly after his sudden death five years ago, my calls for my Dad have seemingly been received with silence.   So I have buttoned myself up and barreled through, my head out of the clouds.

I don’t know what it was exactly about St. Paul’s Episcopal church that opened a door I thought was locked. Maybe we leave behind pieces of ourselves in those places we are most joyous, like hand-prints in cement.   Or perhaps it was that in that building, the seeds of my own faith were planted.  I don’t know.

But, the following day when the newlyweds gave their profound thanks for my musical offering, I meant it when I said,

“The pleasure was all mine.”

The Voice of a Child

There was a lot of singing in our household throughout my upbringing. Perhaps more singing than cookies or candy.  My sisters and I joined in harmony at every holiday gathering, church event, ceremony, meal, and car ride.

Often, our voices would evoke tears from my parents. More from my Dad, than my Mom. She was always proud, but an honest perfectionist. The absence or presence of her tears was always the true litmus test, as only the most exquisite performance would bring them to her eyes.

To Dad, we were always angelic songbirds, never out of tune or without the glow of stardom.  Whether we were humming a tune while washing dishes or starring on-stage at 45th and Broadway, it was all the same to him.

But, if Mom cried….we knew whatever we did, it must have been good!  A perfect balance between the two of them.

In all honesty, I never quite understood the  reaction from either of them. Even with their explanation about tears of joy, I didn’t quite get it.

Today, as we ran errands, the familiar tunes of my hand-selected nursery playlist created during Zachary’s 34th week in utero played through the car speakers.  My own little songbird softly joined Ingrid Michaelson in her chorus of “Everybody“.

I found his reflection in the rearview mirror as he sweetly sang the words while watching the passing scenery outside the window. He wasn’t watching me with a grin, waiting for my reaction as he often does.  He wasn’t singing for my benefit, or for his sister’s, for that matter.

He was just singing. Quietly. Simply.

I cried.

My original intention for the end of this entry was a cliché button. Something along the lines of “And now I understand”.

But, I don’t. I don’t understand what lives in the voice of a child or how it works its magic, but I do know it’s art at its most raw.   Music at its purest.  Before we muck it up with our labels, contests, idols and awards.

The voices of ALL children.

And the voice of  YOUR child….

No words.

Maybe that’s why we cry.

Days of Remembrance

During a bitter February, not too far from the gates of Fenway Park, I held the hand of my friend while her life was forever changed. We were sophomores in college, and aside from the occasional slashes to our self-esteem, inflicted by drama teachers critiquing our monologues or vocal coaches ranting about our inability to belt high F’s and what that meant for our futures on Broadway, we had yet to experience personal tragedy.  But this evening would burst that bubble with a loud and abrasive pop and toss us rudely into a premature reality.

The shocking news of her mother’s death shook her two bedroom apartment and subsequently all whom attended our Musical Theatre program.  It has been fifteen years, and the date remains burned in my memory.

Each passing February, as the 16th approached, I would send a card or flowers.  After about a decade, I started sending simple “I love you” texts.  And recently, I didn’t acknowledge it at all…at least not outwardly. This wasn’t because she has lost her place in my most dear and special circle of friends. Quite the contrary. She remains one of my best and kindred spirits and ours is a friendship I have never for a millisecond questioned.

My choice to let the day pass without a reminder was a conscious one. She has recently married and is happier than I have ever seen her. Her life is moving in a direction that is overflowing with love, fulfillment and abundance.  The peace that she has found surrounding her mother’s life and untimely death is awe-inspiring and I felt it no longer necessary to send a reminder of that specific tragic day.  I believe I got my cue from her one recent year when she said “Wow. I didn’t even think about it being 16th.”

So, as my own personal tragedies are fresher than those with 15 years distance, I have thought a lot about how to honor these days of which I am still very much aware.

When we are thrown to the floor with shocking news, our clock begins to revolve around that specific incident. If it occurred at 7:00 pm on a Tuesday, on the 18th of April, we take note when the clock strikes 7:00 on the evening of April 19th, and every subsequent Tuesday until May 18th, and every 18th until we reach the first year anniversary.  For the first few years, more or less, everything on that anniversary is ominously colored by the day’s significance. But I believe with each passing year, it becomes easier to memorialize our loved ones with celebration, rejoicing in the time we had with them.  At least, this is what I have witnessed in my friend.

I am not yet at the point where April 18th doesn’t carry with it heavy weight. One of the most influential, loving,  and creative men I have known left us six years ago yesterday. My sisters, my Mom and I all connected with one another in some way throughout the day.  Some of us spoke about the loss of Dad directly, others about menial matters, with just an undercurrent of awareness, but however subtle, all of us sent an energetic squeeze across the miles.  With six of us in our immediate family, that doesn’t often happen all in one day.

At 10:00 pm last night, I ended the day with a phone call to one of my sisters. She read to me an excerpt from her Graduate School Master’s Thesis, written shortly after my father’s death. I had been at a loss for how to honor the day and whether or not to write about it. When I heard this, I realized I couldn’t have said it better.

…”As a middle child of five begins on her journey to find what matters to her most outside of the strong influences of her unique family collage, she imagines many futures, but spends little time in the anticipation that after the trail largely circles it will always magnetically draw her footsteps back to the place she started.

Nothing makes sense on my road, as it brushes round and round, without the coming home, again and again.  In that resting place, there is synchronicity and deep appreciation for a mother and a father who are forever exquisite beings.  This work is in honor of Sandra Rozek, a speech pathologist whose strength, wisdom, and continuous full-time motherhood defines her.  My mother, who is also my friend, continues to make my multi-layered curiosity and caring possible.  Lastly, this work is in loving memory of Kenneth Rozek, an artist and a teacher whose fatherhood always came first and the rest of him was simply magic.  I never dreamed I would finish this compilation without his physical presence.  I know now, more than ever, that without him none of my endeavors would ever be as joyful and meaningful as they are.  He was a dad who never fit any stereotypes and with whom I could laugh, philosophize, talk about God, and share my life’s passion; which I guess, is laughing, philosophizing, talking about God, and, of course, art!  One cannot be more blessed than I am for all that I have through this family of seven.  They taught me how to laugh at myself, a strength I am grateful to have in this humbling work”

Marisa Rozek, 2006, masters thesis dedication

An Easter Tale

In honor of the upcoming Holiday, I shall tell this story using furry, nibbling, nose-twitching characters.  These bunny rabbits are my family. My loving, dynamic, never-a-dull-moment family. All play a starring role in this story.  With the exception of yours truly, as I was starring in a concert in St. Louis, hundreds of miles from where the events took place. Allow me to introduce you…..

The participating members are my three older sisters and my Mother. They are, in this order:

Flopsy
Mopsy
Cotton-tail
And…
Ma Rabbit

Once upon last weekend….

My husband and I decided we might be ready to leave the kids overnight for the very first time. He had never seen this concert I’ve been flitting off here and there to perform in, and wouldn’t it be fun to get away together for the first time in 2 and a half years?

As we would never dream of piling the responsibility of two high maintenance dogs and two equally demanding toddlers onto just one, we enlisted the joined forces of Ma Rabbit and Mopsy to come stay in our home to divvy up the needs of all four.

I felt only a tad guilty requesting the aid of middle sister, Mopsy, as it would mean leaving her own litter of six, but she graciously obliged because she is quite an easy-going and adventurous little bunny.  With six, wouldn’t you have to be? Besides that, Flopsy’s fur does not mix well with that of my pups, and Cotton-tail was just about finished cooking her own bunny in the oven.

So, with the spring breeze kissing our babies’ cheeks on the front porch, we drove off to the airport with a bittersweet wave and a sigh of amazement at how long it had been since we had been anywhere without adorably needy company.

We settled into our hotel that evening and just as the unsettling buzz of peace and quiet was about to burst through our ear drums, a text beeped in from an ever-so-swollen Cotton-tail. It said:

“Labor has begun. Please send Mom”

Now, I must explain that we live in New Jersey, just on the other side of the Hudson. Cotton-tail resides in Queens. On a map, the distance looks minimal, 24 or 25 miles, but at closer inspection one realizes that the trip entails traversing over and through bridges, tunnels and Manhattan traffic. Possibly not as daunting for frequent city-goers, but more than slightly foreboding to a small-town, 70-year-old Rabbit, even if she does pull off a pair of skinny jeans and heals with more grace and style than any of her four, thirty-somethings daughters.    But, off she went at 3:00 a.m., to the aid of her little Cott0n-tail to care for her other two grand bunnies while they awaited the arrival of their new brother!

Listening to her tell the story is troubling, and one breathes sighs of relief that she is indeed in plain view, able to recount the tale herself.  She had no cash, thus no way to pay tolls, and had never, up until this middle-of-the-night adventure, driven in the city.

She had to reverse her car through toll-booth lanes due to a misunderstanding of what “X” means, had to attempt to explain where her lost turnpike ticket disappeared to (I still don’t understand this part as she retrieved it minutes prior), and when asked where she got on the turnpike, her nerves erased any knowledge pertaining to that answer.

Once impending births were explained, and tolls were deferred, she found herself at 4:00 a.m. in Manhattan.  She now was faced with the next obstacle of getting across town to the Midtown Tunnel, exiting  Manhattan on the other side.

Angry taxi cabs flanked her stick-shift vehicle with honks, crude gestures and classic New York City impatience as her GPS chastised her with an ever-repeating “re-calculating, re-calculating, re-calculating” with every blasted missed turn.  (“Blasted” – direct Ma Rabbit quote)

By the grace of God, she pulled into the driveway of Cotton-tail’s residence just in time to relieve the babysitter at 5 am.  Flopsy, sister number one, may have beaten her there, although she had to travel from upstate 350 miles.

Ma Rabbit’s only statements at that time were “I can’t believe I didn’t cry.  I have always been sure I would NEVER drive into the city and now I am even more sure that I will NEVER do it again!”

I have since fetched her car from Queens and driven it back to New Jersey where it will remain until she arrives via train to come drive it home to her barely populated hamlet, with no toll-booths, tunnels, and mean people.

Cotton-tail hypnobirthed 7 lb, 5 oz baby bunny number three into a hospital bathtub of water at 6:07 am without the aid of a single pain reliever.  Glory be! Nice Work, Cotton-tail!  You are inspiring!  Although, just for the record, I too used hypnobirthing.  I found the meditative state very helpful as they inserted the epidural needle up my spine.

Flopsi and Ma Rabbit watched over her two, while Mopsy flew solo, effortlessly balancing the undertaking of our four with nary a hiccup.  Makes me question what on earth my problem is!

I don’t know who is the greatest heroine of this tale.  All names belong above the title, for sure.

I do however, know it is not I.

Even with the lavish 102 piece orchestral event, St. Louis was uneventful in comparison.

Welcome to the Litter,

Carmine Cristiano Arena!

I do believe you hit the jackpot of Bunny families!

For those who are familiar with my family and are interested in a character key, see below.

Rozek Rabbit Key
Flopsy – Kassie
Mopsy – Hilary
Cotton-tail – Marcie
Ma Rabbit – Ma Rabbit