Letter: Appreciates friendshipsThanks, Barb Smrdel, for urging neighbors and friends of Betty Zezza to visit her and wish her a happy 89th birthday. At my age, 85½, I don’t have the luxury of putting things off, so I told my daughter Lois that we were going out there right now.
By: Ken Michaelson, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
Thanks, Barb Smrdel, for urging neighbors and friends of Betty Zezza to visit her and wish her a happy 89th birthday. At my age, 85½, I don’t have the luxury of putting things off, so I told my daughter Lois that we were going out there right now.
So we were the first to visit her at the American Heritage Care Center in Hammond. Even though she is limited in her vision, her clear mind was evident in our 45-minute visit.
Leila and I were neighbors down the block from Betty and visited her many times. So Betty and I recalled some of our former neighbors, including Joe and Jeanette Zezza, Tina and Minda Anderson, John Moe, Jim and Gudren Ostby, Otto and Helen Swanson, Matt and Usta Strom and Jim and Delia Coyle.
My dad worked with Matt Strom, who was selling his house, and my dad suggested that we buy it. We met and agreed on a price and shook hands on the deal. The next week he was offered more money, but he said, “No, I sold the house.” Things were simpler in those days.
I called Barb the day after I read her letter in the Hudson Star-Observer. She said, “Who is this?” I replied, “I was a good friend of your dad.”
She said, “Is this Kenny Michaelson?”
While I was talking to Barb, she said she had to hang up because the car was packed and ready to go on vacation. “But before I go,” she said, “I want to tell you about my sister-in-law, Eleanor (Wilcox) Zezza, (wife of Jack Zezza).” After Jack passed away, Eleanor continued to live in Texas. Leila and I would stop to see her when we went north in the spring and when we returned south in the fall.
She always baked a cake, pie or some other goodies to share with us. Her family suggested that she move to Blaine, Minn., to be near her family. Her next-door neighbor became very ill and rather than going back and forth to her house to look after her, she took her into her own house to care for her 24/7. After several weeks she became exhausted and had to put herself and her neighbor in the hospital. Her neighbor died that very week.
This was typical of how Eleanor showed her big heart to help people. Eleanor and Leila were classmates from kindergarten through high school.
I’m looking forward to Barb’s return from vacation so we can continue our reminiscing.