Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Little about Mom

My mom, Phyllis Antoinette Falkowski Gears, was the most incredible woman, I'm sure a lot of people say the same. Born in January 14, 1940, she was only 57 when she passed on September 1, 1997. She was way too young. I have missed her very single day since. She attended St. Hedwigs for primary school and St. Elizabeth for high school. She graduated in 1957, she used to tell me stories about the great school dances at St. E's. She said Bill Hailey and the Comets used to play there sometimes. She said she had a scarf or handkerchief from Hailey for many years.

The fact that she was my mother was pretty incredible. When she was 18 she contracted polio and was treated at the Pellport Hospital where she recovered. She married my dad in 1960 and they tried to start a family but my mom was not able to carry a baby. For the next few years she became pregnant five times and had lost all five babies. On December 4, 1962 she prematurely gave birth to a daughter, Kelly Ann Gears, who only lived for a few hours. My parents continued to try to have a child but after the 5th time my mother was told that further attempts would only put her life in danger.

In 1966 they adopted me through Catholic Social Services. I was born on June 29th and they picked me up about 3 months later. My birth mother was a 17 year-old girl named Kathryn Hall of New Castle, Delaware. She was sent away to St. Vincent's Home for Unwed Mothers on 59th and Woodland Ave in Philadelphia where I was born. I have always thought it was interesting that I was adopted back to the Wilmington area. 

My bother Christopher Kevin Gears was adopted in 1969 and we were both raised with the knowledge of being adopted. We both always knew, there was never a big moment when we became aware of being adopted. 

My mom was the kindest and most loving woman. She was honest and dedicated to her family. We were never once treated any different than a child born to her naturally. 

She worked with her brother, my Uncle Tony Falkowski, for many years. he operated a furniture restoration business called Old Wooden Furniture, in Wilmington. They stripped, sanded, repaired, and refinished antique wooden furniture like nobody else in Wilmington. They did some big amazing jobs like the organ for Longwood Gardens and the boardroom furniture for the Dupont Company. They also did a lot of high-end antique furniture for the who's who of Delaware and nearby Pennsylvania. My mom did a lot of the furniture stripping and my Uncle Tony and another guy did the repair and finishing.

On August 23, 1983 while working on stripping paint at my Uncle Tony's house a spark from an electrical outlet ignited the stripper and caught my mom on fire. She was burned badly and was in the hospital for a month or so. While in the hospital I had to run the house on my own. I applied for welfare and food stamps, she still had to sign the papers but I did all of the footwork, and did the shopping and got my brother and I started for the new school year. She recovered and eventually got out of the furniture stopping job and started a clerical job at Rollins Truck Leasing.

My mom loved her siblings. They were always very close and I spent countless holidays visiting with everyone, usually at my grandparents house. I often remember Sunday mornings after church at St. Hedwigs being spent there with the smell of kielbasa cooking and the Polish music radio show playing on the AM radio show on WDEL.

After my parents divorced my mom dated on guy named Jimmy who was a bum. She met him at Parents without Partners. I didn't like one thing about him. He didn't last long and I was glad to see him go. After Jimmy was gone she met a guy named Willard Spencer, or simple Will. Will was a great man, I learned a lot from him and he encouraged me on all fronts. Will was also divorced and Will would come over and visit mom every day and went home to his house on weeknights. On weekends he would often sleep over. By this time I was a teenager and out of the house so much I never even noticed.

Will worked at the Newport Chemical Plant, Dupont at the time but would become Ciba-Geigy. He was my "in" to get a job that launched my into adulthood. Mom was very independent and didn't want to get married again after my dad. She dated Will until she died but they never moved in together and never married. Will always took really good care of her. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Thomas,

    I knew your mom when we worked together at Rollins Leasing in the late 1980’s. We worked side by side in Data Control, and she was always cheerful and a joy to be around. I remember her telling me that she used to do furniture restoring. She was dating Will at the time and they seemed very happy together.

    I will always remember her smile and her “special” walk. Wish I had kept in touch with her.

    Nancy Parrish


Katrina Pusey - Delaware Aviation Pioneer

This is the story of a groundbreaking woman, wealth, tragedy, love affairs, airplanes, broken hearts, and lawsuits. The story of Katrina Pus...