Elizabeth “Bette” Z. Sobieraj fell into her final rest at 11:05pm on Monday, September 11, 2023. Her loving daughters, Cheryl and Karen were at her side.
Born in Utica NY, Bette was the daughter of the late Stanley and Eugenia Ziemba and a graduate of the Utica Catholic Academy.
For over a month, Bette battled ARDS, (Acute respiratory distress syndrome). Her desire to live was strong throughout her battle. When the decision to be ventilated needed to be made, she proudly declared, “Just go for it!” Bette fought for life on the ventilator for 27 days. Bette wanted to live, but in the end the disease won. She was always a fighter.
Bette lived for family and friends. Nothing gave her greater joy than being surrounded by chatting voices, crying babies, the pitter patter of toddlers or the slobbering faces of dogs. She considered every friend a family member and that was evident in the calendars she kept that recorded every event in everyone’s life. No occasion was too small to remember. She didn’t just preserve people’s history on a calendar, she acknowledged every event with a greeting card in which a handwritten personal note was ALWAYS included. Even while in the ICU on a Bi-Pap machine, one of Bette’s greatest concerns was getting birthday cards written to her daughter Karen, son-in-law Ken, and great grandchildren Dominic and Vincent. She spent hours scribing notes in Christmas cards to convey her love during the holiday season. She needed others to know she cared and loved them. Greeting cards conveyed that love, care and concern – her precious gift.
Giving gifts was another of Bette’s passions. She would walk the aisles of stores for hours scrutinizing every detail to find the perfect gift for that special loved one. Bette wasn’t wealthy, but because of her unspoken motto “where there’s a will there’s a way” her ability to find the perfect gift at the perfect price left birthdays with gifts galore and Christmas mornings with so many presents that the tree was hardly visible!
Bette also had the gift for gardening. Her children remember planting tiny zinnias seeds every summer by her side. On the first day of school, those flowers would be cut, grouped into small bouquets, wrapped with a wet paper towel and aluminum foil to be presented to the new teacher. The Sobieraj children were known for their bouquets because of her. She could grow sunflowers to well over 8′ tall, lilies of the valley that filled the yard with the sweetest of scents and hosta that attracted hummingbirds by the dozens. Because of Bette, her children had a beautiful yard to play in.
Bette’s beautiful yard, and giving heart were not only experienced by her 6 children. Bette worked in child care for most of her life. She helped raise dozens of children of working parents providing every child a safe, loving, snack filled, activity enriched place to be before and after school and during school vacations. While these children were born to another woman, I have a strong sense that due to Bette’s giving heart, many, if not all, consider her a surrogate mom.
But perhaps the trait that stands out is her dedication to everyone and everything in her life. Bette never gave up on anyone. Despite the financial hardship of raising 6 kids, Bette was dedicated to her children never going without. She worked days and nights to provide every child with a life that never wanted for anything. Every daughter’s hair was perfectly curled because of her. Every child was clean, fed, and dressed in the latest fashions because of her. Every child was offered a private college education because of her. Every child was offered the wedding of their dreams because of her. Every child was offered a home to spend the holidays, because of her. Every child had a defender, a supporter, a fighter in their corner, because of her. She tended to her late husband of 56.5 years, Bill, with every ounce of her being. She sacrificed her own health to care for him, to love him, to give him life. She gave all of herself in every breath, even her last.
Elizabeth Z. Sobieraj lives on. She lives on in each of her 6 children: Dorene Murphy, Karen Gutta, William “Billy” Sobieraj, Cheryl Sobieraj Wadhwa, Christine “Crissy” LeGault, and Lisabeth “Lisa” Good. She lives on in her children-laws: Joseph Murphy, Charles “Chuck” Gutta, Sunil Wadhwa, Kevin LeGault, and Ken Good. She lives on in her 16 grandchildren; 13 great grandchildren, nieces/nephews and the dozens of surrogate children from her days as a daycare provider.
She lives on in her living siblings: Martha Dosiek of TX, Mary Sobieraj of NY and her brothers: Joseph of NY and Eugene of WI and her siblings that have passed: Stanley, Alice (Ziemba), Edward, and Clara (Wilson).
Each of us will remember her smile, her long hugs, never empty refrigerator, her love to dance, her love to love.
There are 3 takeaways from Elizabeth’s/Bette’s/Mom’s life that everyone should live by: Remember to take care of each other – Remember to eat – Remember to call when you arrive.
Her wake was held on Friday, September 22, 2023 at the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home For Funerals, 50 County Rd., Mattapoisett, MA 02739. Her funeral Mass was held at St. Patrick’s Church, 82 High Street Wareham, MA 02571.