Peter & Mardie
Mardie cherishes the fact that she and Pete were each other's first for everything. And yes, that means EVERYTHING! They supported each other through many ups and downs in each other's lives. When they split up, as first loves frequently do, they still had the same friends, went to the same college, and were each others' confidantes for new and far less interesting relationships.
"When Pete's father died, I went to see him," Mardie says. "We shared a long conversation, talked about what was going on in each other's lives." Then from that point on, Peter and Mardie always checked in on each other. Even though Peter was pursuing his musical career and Mardie was achieving her academic dreams, they kept tabs on each other, always remarking that "when they get back together, they'd do X Y & Z together."
Then, in 2005, Mardie was diagnosed with a rare cardiac aneurysm. Remaining closest to one of Pete's nieces, Tara, she told him of Mardie's trauma. Mardie remembers that "Peter called her immediately and they talked for hours. After that, they spent the Spring and Summer of 2005 together. "Peter was great with my daughters. He was a huge prankster and they loved to laugh with him (and at him)." This time was a hardship for Peter as his mother was very ill and dying. But, Mardie was with him throughout the loss of his mother, stayed with him during each and every wake and the funeral, supporting him and the family over the loss of their beloved mother. Peter and Mardie walked hand in hand for those 3 days with a level of support and trust that was obvious to all of us.
It seemed to me that throughout Pete's life, Mardie was always there for him. And, he in turn, for her.
Even when Peter's eldest sister, Nancy passed away, Mardie dropped what she was doing and came to the wake to be with Peter. She remembers that Peter sat next to her, grabbed her hand and said, "You were there for my father, my mother and now my sister.... you have and are always with me. Our time will come." That was December 2009. That year, Peter called Mardie for her Christmas birthday and she called him for his birthday in January. During that call, he said he was moving to Staten Island and remarked how it would be great to be close again. "And, I thought we would be ... but, we never had an opportunity to speak again," Mardie sadly recalls.
"Peter's sisters and nieces have ALWAYS included me and made me feel a part of them..... My biological family is so few, having the Ratajczyk's has filled my life in so many positive ways.... and, in true form, I always felt like I was family. Most of Pete's nieces gave birth to daughters, and in keeping with the theme, I have 2 of my own. There is an amazing female bond amongst us"
I agree with Mardie when she says, "We all know that blood and marriage aren't the only ways to create true family."
To us, it never entered our mind that Mardie was anything else, but, our Aunt. We all secretly hoped she would be ... eventually.