My Thea Mary Ann

Thea Mary Ann, celebrating her birthday in 2011.

To the readers,

I hadn’t published a blog in a couple of weeks, as I was visiting my aunt for her final days. Since I cannot be at the funeral, I have decided to post her eulogy as part of my blog. Some of the terminology I use is from the Greek: thea = aunt; yia-yia = grandmother.

Even though I cannot be here in the flesh, I wanted to use the gift of writing for Thea Mary Ann, whose life we are remembering. She fought valiantly for the last few years of her life to live a life as full as possible. With an array of illnesses ranging from a bad heart, failing kidneys, diabetes and the complete loss of a hip, she was a person that inspired me to continue to fight for my life and health. A few of us, who cared for her, understand what a great reward it was to be in this woman’s life and the heartache that accompanied us during that journey. I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you and I have asked my friend and fellow seminary graduate, Photios, to read you my words.

When I was a child, I remember a story my dad told me about the "Angel of Death". He asked me if I knew why death was deaf, to which my answer was "no". He proceeded to explain to me the reason, and it was not until the last couple of years that I finally understood the story with the loss of my Yia-Yia, and now with the loss of Thea Mary Ann.

The story goes something like this:

One day, Death came before God. God commanded him to go and take the life of a man. So as usual, Death departed and came to the man’s house. When he entered, he found the man standing at the stove cooking for five small children waiting to be fed. No mother was to be seen and the children were crying out hungrily waiting for their meal and their father's attention. Death’s heart broke for the man at the sound of the children, and he could not bring himself to take the man’s life. So, Death returned unto the Lord empty handed.

The Lord then looked at the Angel of Death and asked, “Why have you not taken this man’s life, it was his time to go?"

“I could not,” Death said, “the sound of the children’s cries brought me such sorrow that I could not do my work.”

Then the Lord said, “Go to deepest part of the ocean, to the largest rock you can find and break it open. Then return to me and report on what you find."

So Death left the presence of the Lord and entered the ocean and found the largest rock that he could. He then proceeded to break it open and in the very center he found a small worm curled up and safe.

Death then returned and gave his report on what he found, to which the Lord said: “The worm in that rock is My creation, and I have taken care of it, how much more will I take care of those five children? Those children are mine as-well-as their father. For this I will strike your ears so that you will no longer hear the lamentations of mankind.”

God in His wisdom takes people in His time. We weep and are full of sorrow when we lose loved ones, our hearts break and we pray unceasingly to keep them a little while longer, but in the end Death takes us all. The difference for us is that we believe in the Resurrection.

We can look at Death and tell him the words of Saint Paul: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible {man} must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible {man} has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

As Orthodox Christians, we believe that we only fall asleep and wait for our Lord and Savior to return. Death is only a chapter in this thing called life. We commemorate every year during the Paschal season and every Sunday the defeat of death. Christ, He who kicked open the gates of hell and took up our first father and mother, Adam and Eve, from death and brought them into His arms.

We only have a small portion of our time on earth to either glorify or waste our lives, and God gives us the freewill to do either. How will we be remembered? How will we be spoken about? Our task in this life is simple, to glorify Christ with our existence, but many of us throw away our lives with judgmental and evil actions.

Today, however, we remember Mary Ann Levkulich, the wife of Bill, daughter of William and Soteria, sister of Jeannie and Manoli. Even though she had no children of her own, she took my brother, Vasili, and I as her own children and also took on many others of her nephews and nieces her own. As-well-as those individuals, who helped care for her in the end whom I would like to remember: Derrick, Photios, Rodney, Connie, Donny, Amy, both Judy’s, and the numerous nurses who helped our family through the rough times up until Thea Mary Ann’s last breath.

The last few years living with my Aunt was great heartache, and I suffered greatly. The stress I was under began to change me. However, with that said, the blessings I gleaned from my relationship with Thea Mary Ann far outweighed any pain I endured. I experienced a chapter in Thea Mary Ann’s life that I was proud to endure. I, her nephew, became as her son. And, I will never forget, during her last couple of weeks four grown men standing around her bed waiting on the woman who we affectionately called the "queen"—of course we had a few other choice names for her, but those we will keep to ourselves.

Surely, she had done something right in her life to be so blessed in her death. My Aunt was a woman that searched all of her life for freedom. She was in pain and bondage and now she is truly free. Once again she is able to walk and once again she is able to breath without a tube in her nose. She was so full of life, since I was a young boy until I moved in with her she was stubborn and a great pain in the butt, but she was nothing short of a great fighter—a person that we all should try to embody. She always took her role as wife, sister and aunt seriously and she did everything in her power to take care of everyone. For all her ailments, she did not stop fighting for her life until the end.

She remained with my Uncle Bill for fifty years, no small feat for anyone who knew the crotchety and grouchy man. One thing I will always say is that she never gave up or surrendered in her marriage. She was a testament of endurance. I told her that she would one day be rewarded for her faithfulness to her husband—I truly believe that God has given her the reward of salvation.

I pray and hope that all of you that are here will remember Thea Mary Ann with a smile. She was a woman that had a great capacity for love and great outstretched arms for generosity. She was a woman full of warmth and heart of goodness. She, of all people, would want us to celebrate her life. So let us all remember her as she was and glorify the Lord for the time we shared with her. Let us be strengthened by the fact that she never gave into her aliments.

Thea Mary Ann was a fighter—and quite stubborn—even in the end when the doctor said she had two days to live she lasted nearly fifteen. I will always keep in mind the days I enjoyed with her since I was just a boy and the precious time I had with her now that I am a man.

But, now I tell you Thea Mary Ann, you are free—forever.

I love you and will always miss you.

Comments 4 comments

Vasilios Emmanuel Glimidakis 4 years ago

Mary Ann Levkulich was a wonderful woman, y'all!


Amy Schmedeke 4 years ago

Mary Ann was a wonderful person. I an extremely glad she came in to my life. She was one of my best friends. I miss her so much!!!! You will be forever in our hearts. I love you my sweet Mary Ann


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IronKnight 4 years ago Author

Thank you for your generous comments.


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Honorablewoman 5 years ago from Georgia

You Aunt was a Beautiful Woman inside and out. Thank God, for Blessing the lives of her relatives with her presence on Earth,you have put her life into words, so lovingly and carefully,like you were handling a fine piece of china. What a wonderful tribute!

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