The World of Grandpa Don


An Ode to a Brief Life

From the smallest cell,
You developed and grew,
Struggling to prepare,
For a life - Someone new.

Conceived in love,
Your small life was planted,
By parents who wanted,
A long life granted.

Siblings before you,
Robert and Joseph - longed to arrive.
Both conceived and loved,
But failed to survive.

Theirs indeed - likewise your fate.
Early, too early, you desired the light.
Your arrival - small and fragile, 
Unable to fight, your short life took flight.

But to each life is granted.
A purpose by God, an answer to prayer .
In your death, your mother was to be,
Drawn to that place - another was there.

For there was a small child,
In need of a mother.
His own could not care for him,
He much needed another.

The two were united,
Indeed there were three.
A mother and father,
There was them and there was me.

You brought us together,
You were the cause, a family were we.
A child was loved and there was great care,
It was a gift - unplanned - from you unto me.

And so I remember,
A brief existence, an un-named infant.
But if it all had not happened just in this way,
My life, so happy, would be greatly different. 

I offer my gratitude for your life heroic,
As unintentional as the heroism may be,
For I am your brother,
Only because - you gave your brief life unto me.

I look to the day when in eternity we meet.
I'll greet you humbly to learn of your name.
I owe  you the life - long and fully enjoyed,
For without your gift - my life would not be same.


Grandpa Don Plefka
Orland Park, Il
March 2, 2009

The basis for the poem ...

In a Letter to me from Catholic Charities in April of 1994:

"Our caseworker noted that Florence had planned adoption for your future and arranged for temporary care in the newborn nursery at the hospital where you were born on May 6, 1931. It was Evangelical Deaconess Hospital at 5421 South Morgan in Chicago. This hospital later became Christ Hospital and moved to Oak Lawn, IL, where it is now located.

Your adoptive mother contacted our agency on May 26, 1931. She was in that hospital, having delivered a premature baby who died. She stated that she knew you were in the nursery and available for adoption, and she wanted to adopt you and only you.

Arrangements were made to obtain Florence's signature on the adoption surrender. Her signature was received by Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, on June 2, 1931."

So my life as a child of Sylvia and Joseph Plefka began as the direct result of the still birth of a premature and unnamed child.  How very tragic for the child. How very fortunate for me. As I later discovered, "Florence" was Florence Lucille Lossner of Cleveland, Ohio, mother of Jim and Ken Cecora, divorced from their father Dan Cecora and living with her parents at the time of my conception. It would have been very difficult to introduce her illegitimate baby into the family household and explain the child to her then seven and five year old sons. I am reasonably certain that my father Alden (Al) Copeland had no say in the matter. As a result, "Lucy" was sent to live with a cousin in Chicago to have her baby and arranged to have the hospital care for him until parents could be found. You can find more details of this at Cecora.

I had a great childhood and it has led to a wonderful adult life. For myself, I would have it no other way. Thanks to my un-named sibling who, paradoxically, if .had lived, would not have been a sibling.

 Joe and Sylvia lost two sons at birth, Robert and Joseph, Jr. in addition to the unnamed child in May of 1931. There may have been, and probably were, two or more additional failed pregnancies. I believe that every life has a purpose, regardless of its length or its nature. That includes the un-born. Obviously the one about whom I have written has had a profound effect on me. For many, the reason and effects may be unrealized but none the less real and important. May God bless them and welcome them into His Kingdom where we will meet eventually.



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An Ode to a Brief Life

Grandpa Don Plefka
Orland Park, Il
March 2, 2009

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