Mary Przybyszewski, a mother of nine who survived early widowhood and illness with faith and love of family, died Friday at Winthrop-University Hospital, almost two weeks after a fall at her Floral Park home. She was 91.
She had recently celebrated Mother's Day with 28 of her relatives, including all seven of her surviving children, said her daughter MaryLou Mascolo of Plainview.
"She was an amazing woman," Mascolo said. "She had strength and survived a lot of things in her life . . . her faith brought us very close to God."
Przybyszewski was born Dec. 8, 1923, the youngest of seven siblings of Polish immigrants Casimir Kozerski, a carpenter, and his wife, Alexandra. Przybyszewski would recount how her birth took place in front of a fireplace in her family's unheated house in Garden City Park.
In 1942, she married Eugene, an enlisted soldier who'd survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. After World War II, she raised their nine children while he worked first as a carpenter with her father, and later for a lighting company and the U.S. Postal Service until his death at age 49 in 1970.
With six of her children still at home, she took clerical jobs and eventually retired from a typist position at the Nassau County social services department, her daughter said, adding her mother never learned to drive and took the bus to work.
She would survive the loss of two children, as well as breast cancer, a heart attack and other ailments, but never lost faith, Mascolo said. "She was always there for us, through thick and thin," she said. "She was ever loving."
She sewed communion dresses for her daughters and granddaughters, and knitted socks for military men and hats for hospitalized infants, her children recalled.
She kept up the Polish holiday traditions, inviting her priest to come bless her home after New Year's, and preparing sweet Polish babka bread for Easter.
"She used to make each of us a babka to take home with us every year," Mascolo said, adding she would cook and serve food at church bingo, and bake pies for the church bake sale. "She was very generous."
She lived in the house her husband and father built together, where she was an avid gardener. One of her sons helped her plant her beloved dahlias just a few days before her fall, Mascolo said.
"Even though some of us were far away we were always close," Mascolo said. "She liked to sit there taking it all in. As long as everyone was around her and happy, that made her happy. She never wanted you to go home."
In addition to her daughter, Przybyszewski is survived by daughters Susan Olsen of Bay Shore, Sally Zuba of Floral Park, and Teresa Wolf of Baxter, Minnesota; sons Paul of New Hyde Park, Peter of Lake Grove, and Joseph of Huxley, Iowa; 25 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased in 2001 by daughter Margaret Jents, and in 1995 by son John, Joseph's twin.
Her funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Hedwig's Church in Floral Park, with interment to follow at The Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.