Remembering, honoring mothers who are gone

Ken Karabec, of Lindenhurst visits the grave of

Ken Karabec, of Lindenhurst visits the grave of his mother and father at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale. (May 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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On Mother's Day, Ken Karabec rode his Honda VTX out to St. Charles Cemetery and parked the motorcycle on the edge of the path. He walked out to Rose Karabec's grave, crouched and spoke.

He was far from alone. The cemeteries that line Wellwood Avenue in Farmingdale all had more visitors than usual Sunday, where sons, daughters and grandchildren spent the day visiting the special women in their lives.

The avenue itself was clogged with traffic. At Mercer Florist, across from Long Island National Cemetery, Gail Robedee said the day was busier than Christmas. They were selling more fresh than silk, and a lot of pink carnations, which tend to last.

Sunday, Karen Delaney, a registered nurse from Wheatley Heights, visited her son, Ryan Ross Delaney, who was 19 when he died in February of brain cancer. She comes three times a week and usually on Sundays anyway.

He often got her a present or a card on Mother's Day, she said, but Sunday she brought him white carnations to augment last week's roses. She is a woman of faith who said she believes one day she will see her son again, but she wept as she walked back to her car.

Janet Fassberg, 28, of the Five Towns area, visited the grave of a friend, Vaughn Orlandi, and paused before visiting the grave of her mother, Ellyn Fassberg. Janet Fassberg was only 17 when her mother died of cancer at 58.

While her mother lived, she said, their tradition was to bake chocolates on Mother's Day.

Not far away, two men were tossing a football. Some families used scissors to clip the grass around the grave markers. Some families brought beach chairs, and sat and chatted.

These sights did Fassberg good. "Normally, I'm all by myself," she said. "It's comforting."

Marita Cover, 43, a care coordinator from Smithtown, had brought her son Christopher, 9, a fourth-grader at Tackan Elementary School. They cut the stems of tulips brought to the cemetery before she laid them on the grave of her grandmother, Isalene Mason, who died last year at 87.

"She raised me and my sisters," Cover said. Her grandmother was there when she was born, when she was married, when she had children of her own. She had baby-sat for Christopher.

"I come out here to have a good,long conversation with her," she said.Everybody, it seemed, was talking on this day.

When Karabec got up and walked back to his bike, he said he'd been "checking in." His dad, George, is buried there, too, and he had powerful love for them both, but on this day he remembered Mother's Days gone by.

He remembered some last-minute, hungover Sunday-morning purchases of cards or little presents when he was a young man: "She deserved better than that," he said.

There were some days at the end when it was just the two of them, he said, and she couldn't get out much because she was tied to her oxygen tanks. He would pick up some baked ziti and eggplant parmesan, which they would eat together.

"I wasn't the easiest kid," said Karabec, 54, of Lindenhurst. "The thing about a mom, though: Their love is completely unconditional," he said. "You can let them down an infinite number of times and they always forgive you, always give you another chance."

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