There is a house in Elkridge that the Maryland Historical Trust has deemed "one of the most interesting houses on the stretch of the old Washington Turnpike." The "Hobbes House" as it was called when it was built (ca. 1850), is one of only two or three that remain from that era when folks traveled by horseback and wagons. The white brick home at 6181 was built as, and remains, a modest dwelling. Inside lived a most unassuming and humble woman: Cecelia Nedzel.
Cecelia Jeanette Wesolowski was born Sept. 28, 1919 in Baltimore. She was the second child of Andrew and Karolyna Wesolowski. Her family moved from Baltimore in 1945 and she was a proud citizen of Elkridge until her recent death July 15. She was 91.
Although she, along with a number of Elkridge women, worked part time at Belmont for a number of years, Cecelia was primarily a stay-at-home mom who raised five children with her husband, Chick. She was "green" well before conservation was trendy. She had two lines for hanging wash, and until 1996, had a wringer washer because it used less water than modern washing machines. She saved and reused whatever she could.
Every summer, she tended a garden, had a compost pile and canned vegetables to use all winter long. A talented seamstress, Celie sewed both for pleasure and to save on the cost of buying clothes. She loved to cook for the family and was "famous" for her fried chicken and apple pies. She loved to crochet and was an avid reader with an eclectic taste in books.
One of her favorite pastimes was a Saturday night movie and she came to truly appreciate foreign films. Her most beloved movie of all time was "Mrs. Palfry at the Claremont," about an elderly widow who finds a way to live a full live with the help of an adopted "grandson." Celie truly embraced her role as a grandmother.
Celie and Chick had one daughter and four sons. Their fourth child, daughter Anita Nedzel Voelker, is an associate professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. She is married to Keith and they have two sons (Ben and Jay). The eldest son, Bob, is married to Pat; they reside in Hanover, Pa., and have four children (John, Ray, Mark and Janine). Son Dennis (he died in 1981) was married to Penny and had two children (Kerry and Kris). Son Michael and his wife, Karen, live in a suburb of Chicago. Their son, Steve, just recently passed away from complications of a fall, and is survived by his brother, Andy. The youngest, Tim, still resides in Elkridge with his wife, Sandy, and they have two grown children, Matthew and Katy. Tim is a long-time employee with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks. Celie was incredibly proud of her 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
In addition to being a true citizen of Elkridge, loyal member of St. Augustine's Catholic Church, fine mother, and early conservationist, how shall this lovely self-less woman of God be remembered?
Celie Nedzel lived a modest, humble life, but has left a rich legacy. Her legacy can be summed up in one word: Prayer. This is the gift she handed down to her family, for praying is a gift of grace. Celie knew her children would need prayer to face life's many challenges, so she taught them how to pray in three ways.
First, she modeled how to pray alone. The second way is as a part community of faithful believers. The third way Celie taught prayer is, quite simply, how she lived her life. Celie was just plain nice and you couldn't find a kinder heart in the entire world. Let's face it: If you met Celie, you liked her. And no matter what you called her (Aunt Celie, Mrs. Nedzel, Celie, Miss Celie, Ciocia, Grandmom, Mom Mom, Roomie, Gi Gi, Mom or Momma), she had an effect on your life.
When July 16 dawned, Celie's daughter, Anita, didn't know what to do following her mother's passing. Anita had spent Saturdays with her mother for the past 16 years since her dad died. So she took a walk and realized that her mom's favorite flower, Queen Anne's lace, was blooming everywhere! It was as if God decorated the earth to celebrate her departure. These delicate bright white flowers were blooming in fields, near rocks, at the edge of the road, and in between cracks.
"I remember thinking how lovely, resilient, and dependable these flowers are. At that moment, I realized that I was describing my mother's life. Queen Anne's lace has become a metaphor for her legacy," Anita said. "Her prayer life, like Queen Anne's lace flowers, bloomed in all sorts of conditions, regardless of what the world handed her. We could depend on her praying for us. Now she passes her legacy of prayer onto us. We only need to reach out and take a hold."
As Anita added, "I trust that she is in Heaven and I envision it a bit like Elkridge: an old-fashioned hometown where folks enjoy the little things because they realize that, in the end, the little things really are the big things. Rest in peace, Momma."
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Anita for this fitting tribute to her mother. I can personally attest that Celie was a wonderful, kind, loving soul whether she was your relative, a neighbor or a close friend, and I was very grateful to call her Aunt Celie.
In other neighborhood news, Jeanne Slater, director of the Elkridge Senior Center, doesn't want anyone to miss these great events for seniors that are sure to make the most of those "dog days" of summer! On Tuesday, Aug. 9 we celebrate "Senior Day at the Fair" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Enjoy free admission to the Howard County Fair and discounts on food all day.
Join the seniors in an air-conditioned hall for free bingo, fun prizes and entertainment. On a personal note, I am employed by the Howard County Office on Aging as the event coordinator for the 50+EXPO, so I happen to know first-hand that the OOA makes this day very special for our 50+ population, so come on out and join the fun!
At the Elkridge Senior Center in the Elkridge Branch Library, there are plenty of things to participate in to keep your busy, healthy and fill your social calendar. On Wednesday, Aug. 10 you can join the "Just Bead It" craft project from 10 to 11:30 a.m. You can make an easy, beautiful craft out of beads, and give it as a gift or keep it for yourself. There is a $6 per craft fee to participate.
Summertime is for traveling and some of us may be "on the go" more than normal. It is possible to still eat healthy while travelling? Come in and learn how Aug. 11 as the "Healthy Eating on the Go" program will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Elkridge center. Please plan to attend this free, informative presentation.
After such a busy (but fun) week, enjoy Bingo Breakfast at Golden Corral Aug. 12 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. The cost is $7.95 per person and you'll enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet and then free bingo. There will be many great prizes and plenty of fun for everyone. For questions about any of the Elkridge Senior Center events, call the center at 410-313-5192.
Can you believe that it's is already August and it just screams "hurry up and have some more summer fun because it's already back to school!" A reminder that Howard High School will be having its official fall sports paperwork collection in the school cafeteria Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 3:30 p.m. All necessary paperwork and forms are available on the school's website at http://www.howardhighschool.net. The site will also provide the date, time and location of practice schedule for each sport.
As the saying goes, "time flies when you're having fun." However, whether through loss, or change, or circumstance, we all know (or learn soon enough) that time is a precious commodity. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right." Please keep in touch. I always look forward to hearing from the great friends and neighbors of Elkridge and Hanover. Thanks and have a stellar week!