Category Archives: Tributes

This is a section devoted to paying tribute to those friends, family, and loved ones we have lost here on earth.

It’s Been a Year Dad: Lessen or Lesson

It’s been a year now, 12 whole months since a life here expired. I remember the weeks leading to the day that we all knew would come sometime. There was so much support, many prayers and efforts, regardless of being tired. Amid the details though, it wasn’t too difficult, a beautiful love, to find.

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Lights

The Northern Lights forecast that I check periodically.

Late on the evening of March 29, 2017, somewhere around 11:00 pm, I was compelled to check a website that I check off and on, throughout the year. I am not sure why I was prompted to check this site on that night but I did. Continue reading

Fortress

Sometimes, God sees fit to place us, from birth, in the care of a mother who will spend the rest of her days mastering the skill of motherhood. These mothers, they never stop learning, all the while, they teach and perpetually apply a lifetime of lessons. Then, as life meanders speedily along, and it takes us wherever we may roam, these mothers, they are somehow always right where we need them to be. They are steady. They are strong. They are safe. They are immense, while remaining the softest place to land. They are bold. They are patient. They bite their tongues long enough for us to learn our own way. They have our backs just because we ask them to. They hurt for us more than we do. They worry for us more than we do. And as we travel through the ups and downs, they are always there for us, they are our fortress.


A tribute to: Vivian C. (Lapointe) Kotowski

HOOKSETT — Vivian C. (Lapointe) Kotowski, 83, of Hooksett, died March 30, 2017 at Maple Leaf Health-Care Center in Manchester after a brief illness. She was born in Manchester on February 27, 1934 to Arthur and Gilberte (Cote) Lapointe. She lived in Manchester for many years before moving to Hooksett in 1977.

Vivian worked at a number of places over the years, most recently at Hannaford Supermarket in Hooksett.

She was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Hooksett and the NH Chapter of the Association of Retirees of Eversource and Northeast Utilities (ARENU).

The family includes her husband of 59 years, Frank R. Kotowski of Hooksett; three children, Lori Uliasz and her husband, Gregory, of Bedford, James Kotowski and his wife, Vicki Montgomery, of Floyds Knobs, IN and Susan Beal of Manchester; seven grandchildren who were her world, Meghan Uliasz and her fiancé, Tom Stackhouse, Greg Uliasz, Zack Uliasz, Stephen, Ryan and Erin Beal and Lydia Kotowski; a sister Gertrude Burke of Manchester; and nieces and nephews.

SERVICES: There are no calling hours. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday at 10 a.m. at Holy Rosary Church, 21 Main St., Hooksett. Committal prayers will follow in the chapel of the NH State Veterans Cemetery, 110 Daniel Webster Highway, Boscawen.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hooksett Kiwanis Kids Closet, c/o Hooksett Kiwanis Foundation, P.O. Box 16443, Hooksett, NH 03106.

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, Manchester is assisting the family with arrangements. To leave a message of condolence, visit www. lambertfuneralhome.com.

Arthur Tsetsilas

Arthur Tsetsilas

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Arthur Tsetsilas, I had him as a coach in baseball, playing alongside his son, Tim.

Tonight, I made the short drive to Londonderry, NH. I drove through familiar neighborhoods on my way to the funeral home. Some of the roads I drove on, weren’t even there when I was growing up in Londonderry. Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with this funeral home. This past April, I stood in the same room that I was in tonight, in front of the gathering, in tears, remembering my Dad.

This evening as I stood among the large crowd of people inside that very room, I listened as my friend Tim, remembered his Dad. I reverently watched as “Taps” was played and the American Flag was presented. I wiped away a few tears as Tim mentioned so many of the things, that will “never be” again, as his Dad is gone. I got a lump in my throat as I remembered many of my own interactions with Mr. Tsetsilas and his family. The room was full, and overflowing. The line was long, and wound down the driveway outside. Cars lined Mammoth Road across the road from the high school that so many of us attended decades, yes, decades ago.

I talked to my Mom on the phone during part of my drive to Londonderry. I had hoped my wife could join me, but we had 3 or 4 places to be all at the same time. I told my wife, and my Mom, how I don’t like going to these things. Not because of time, or respect, or any other thing, except for one thing. When I walk into those rooms, I know that there is someone, or maybe many someones, who are dealing with perhaps the toughest times of their entire life in those moments. This is where I pray a little more, I ask for the right words, along with extra love and compassion. I have written too many times on this subject, it seems. Here are some words that I have shared before, in times like these…”Please don’t think that this is over when the news stops running or the stories stop circulating. You and I may be a part of the plan. Anyone of us could be instrumental. Our words, our actions, just might be the right thing at the right time for the one who needs that spoken word or the example they were looking for. Really it’s always supposed to be that way. We are human, and our best moments aren’t all of our moments. Yet the more we think our moments are our best, the more they will be. And the moment we decide that we need to be our best might just be the moment that God’s plan includes us to be the message for someone needing to see that something that helps them cope and overcome.

As I stood in a crowd, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds, I looked for someone I recognized, someone I knew. There had to be many but I wasn’t sure where the line was, or if there was a line at all. Then, Rich, Russ, Stephanie, Sean, Tim, and Peter were all around me, and the line I sought, became a little less important for a moment. While I was still in virtually the same spot that I landed, upon clearing the front door, the service started. We all stood and listened to the tribute(s) for the man, whose passing had brought us together this February evening.

I listened closely, and in the moments following, when folks who had already been through the line, began to file outside, I picked up the trail of the line again. I watched a slide show, that was playing on a screen along the line, of pictures from Arthur’s life. I went through the line with Peter, who, thankfully, kept me company while I scanned the crowds for people I knew but didn’t necessarily recognize. I saw Chris, Becky, Tom, Wayne, Todd, Dave, Mike, Jonesy, and more. I spoke with almost every one of these folks mentioned, and more. There were two women from the Class of 89 in line behind me, who knew my brothers, and since I was Class of 85, I referred to myself as the ancient oldest brother.

I thought about Londonderry, this little town when I moved into town in 1972, that is so much bigger now. Imagine a time when we were all young, and in this town, that none of us picked, where we all grew up. Our parents were there for a myriad of reasons, but to us, this is where, and with whom we lived, and so our roots were cultivated. We went to classes together. We learned together. We overcame hurdles, nuances, and quirks together as we matured and grew. We had fun together. We competed together. We saw highs and lows together. We watched as one class, and the next, and so on, graduated and went their separate ways. For many of those kids, the names I mentioned, I hadn’t seen them since those days. Still I would call them my friends because I don’t see why years removed should have changed that.

See back in the day, as it were, any of us, if not all of us, could have easily run into each other on any day of school. We could have just as easily gathered in the yard at the Arthur Tsetsilas residence in South Londonderry, to play basketball, grill some burgers, and swim in the pool. All of us could have been present at a gymnastics meet (that’s for you Steph), a soccer game, a football game, a basketball game, or even on the baseball diamond. Most all of this group could have been at the rec hall playing basketball or volleyball at any given time as well. We all followed each other, mostly because we all wore Londonderry on our uniforms, but in another way, because we were among the individuals that were all better for having been together. And somehow tonight, it felt like we were all a little better for being in that room together, again. Maybe it was just me.

If my memory is what it used to be, then I have forgotten. Arthur Tsetsilas coached me for years, while I played Babe Ruth Baseball. I was an unobservant teen, living and loving the days of my youth. I wish I remembered more personal stories about Arthur, Tim and Shawn’s Dad. What I do remember is that we were all perfectly attentive, mild-mannered, and wonderfully humble, quiet kids that were a breeze to work with. Please don’t correct me if I am wrong. Honestly though, having coached for many years, and having been a father now for 25 years, I grew to respect Mr. Tsetsilas even more. Tonight, I wanted to show that respect, and to support the Tsetsilas family.

I wrote on the online guest book that Mr. Tsetsilas was a “Popeye-esque” figure in my mind. To me, that’s a good thing. Mr. Tsetsilas was athletic, and he was strong. He mumbled some, and if you were close enough, and quick enough, to catch his commentary, he was hilarious. Maybe the biggest feather I would place in his cap, would be his commitment to volunteerism, because it was second to none. His work ethic knew no boundaries, and that included everything he put himself into. I don’t remember struggles, difficulties, or drama with his teams, because Mr. Tsetsilas made everything easy for us, seamless. We had the luxury of being exactly what we were best at, being kids. Tim or Shawn might correct me on this, or they may concur, but to me, Mr. Tsetsilas had mastered a skill that I have tried to master myself. He was serious enough to do an honest day’s work, while leading by example, making friends for life out of sheer respect, and raised a family to be adults that have no excuses, all while never fully ceasing to be a kid. That, to me, is the secret that Mr. Tsetsilas taught all of us, and we all benefited by him living that way.

Some 600 people showed up tonight, I heard. And countless others have been positively been impacted by the life of Mr. Arthur Tsetsilas. As we settle in, before we drift to sleep the next time, may we pray for Tim and Shawn, and the entire Tsetsilas family. To my generation, may we remember the days where “Londonderry” across our chest was enough that none of us would leave a teammate behind, and we’d run through a wall if we had to. So may we also be present for Tim and Shawn, and family as reality continues to press to the forefront. These times can be difficult, numbing, and seem completely hopeless, but there is light, there is always light. The definition of darkness goes something like this: the partial or total absence of light. Let us be that light should they need it.

Folks, I am sure I left some people out, or just flat didn’t recognize you. For that, I apologize. I am so happy that I was able to see so many people from another time in life. It meant a lot to me. I am even more pleased that we were all there for the Tsetsilas family. Rest in Peace Arthur. You will be missed. You will be remembered.

To Lay Me Down

Some days go by and my thoughts race and erase with the pace of fleeting time. Then there are days like today when I see things that are no longer in front of my eyes. Continue reading

He Was There

Christmas Day 2016, my first Christmas without my Dad here

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Funeral

I climbed the hill on foot, but it wasn’t much of a rise. For some reason though, my feet didn’t want to go. It just felt like I was walking through both, the sands of time, and quicksand all at once. Imagine making strides just to make them, but wishing not to take a single step. Forces fell from somewhere, making the quest more of a question, than a statement. I walked hand in hand with my bride, partly because the pull from the gravity of the situation made it a necessity to move forward with her at my side.

The hill crested, round the bend we came. Faces were familiar if not just the same. And the door loomed like the wall of a fortress that I’d rather not breach. I stepped up but the closer I got the further that handle seemed from my reach. Until all at once I found myself inside. As soon as I was seen, part of me wanted to run away and hide. Every hair on my neck stood up, for the feeling in there was just not right. I had come here on purpose, to stand, maybe, for those who no longer were here to fight. Still I was afraid of what was yet to come. There were people in a line, and it wallowed aimlessly it felt, not knowing where it went, or whether I’d rather run. I waited though, holding my wife’s hand, and hoping for something good. But I have been to many a funeral and this one didn’t feel like it should.

The line writhed forward, like it was wringing away every last bit of good. Until finally, with my wife, at the front, we stood. But I was wrong, it wasn’t the good that had left the room, but rather the feeling of evil had entered and hung like a thick black smoke over everyone and every thing. I can’t say that I have ever felt that way before, but it was a place to which not a soul I’d ever again wish to bring. It was almost as those we met, were there because they had to be. And I dreaded anything even close to that sense, were something ever to happen to me. We talked with those there, gathered and disconnected, somehow I sensed. We smiled and we cried, we shared our stories, while this virtual wall of darkness, I felt myself pressed against.

My heart skipped several beats as I looked down and saw the young son left here to carry the light that once held him. And I wondered how a life so warm and beautiful could end up remembered here in a scene so bleak and grim. I searched for my next breath as I had lost my sense of where I was, and stopped, paralyzed by the weight of deep sorrow. I sobbed and wondered how it is that one full of love here one day, was taken from each and every tomorrow. Either way, it was time to move on, to the next stop in this old place. There was nothing more to see here, for the warmth of nurturing love had been compromised, with barely a trace.

Then we spilled into a room, that was just as uneasy to enter, like the next chapter in a book that was missing too many pages to make sense. But there we found smiles among the tears of co-workers, truest of friends. I didn’t have words for anyone then, as I found myself in a battle with the now, and all that I previously knew. So, I smiled in hopes that the look in my eyes would say all that I couldn’t, and reflect the love and passion for the children of the one we remembered, to help others get through.

I don’t know what felt better, getting outside to the fresh air, or knowing that we stood for the warmth of the fallen who cared for many, more than most. See, she stood for the child and acted on it, while so many others noticed, but only came close. Then, ever-changed, we wandered, back down the hill. We got to the car and stood there talking, shaking our heads, in tears, baffled still. I sobbed, as I shared my emotions with my wife. I talked of the thin line so attached, to that so precious, a human life. Were there more of us that looked past the frailties and labels we are so quick to place, we’d be so much better in general. So there we left it, set to remember and share, knowing full well that I’d never forget that funeral.