As the day of love and romance approaches, I can't help but think of my wonderful Grandfather, Chester Laciak, the Candy Man. Chester was born in 1915 to Polish immigrants in Chicago Illinois. He was raised along with his 4 other siblings to be an honest, giving, wise and most of all loving person. He held odd jobs his entire life, since money was tight...telling me that he started driving at 12! While he was working at Arthur's Candies he met the love of his life, Edna Birbilis. Unfortunately, Edna was a Greek girl, and her immigrant parents were not happy to have their daughter fall in love with a Polish boy. Despite the parental obstacles, their courtship continued and Chester proposed. Edna happily agreed, however she was terrified to tell her parents. Well she did tell them and they were furious and adamently opposed to the marriage. As a result, the young couple married quietly with only two witnesses (Chester's father and sister who were not against the marriage!) After the honeymoon, Edna's parent's missed their only child so much, that they forgave her and eventually MOVED in with the young couple living with them for the rest of their lives. They lived a long time!! I knew both my great grandparents! That is LOVE.
The couple continued to work at Arthur's candies, Chester making candy and Edna packing and selling it. Chester saved his money and bought a local candy shop and soda fountain business, Universal Candies, he ran this business until he retired at 78 years old. Edna was often at his side using her creative talents to make his delicious candy look beautiful in displays, and baskets. Valentines day was their biggest day of the year and the candy flew out of the door. The couple had 3 children, my Mother Andrea being the oldest. I could go on and on....but this is about the love story. So they remained in love and were an inspiration to all who knew them. They celebrated almost 60 wedding anniversaries in their sweet story. Chester passed away making sure that Edna was well taken care of. She joined him about 6 years later. She was buried on Valentines day. We all found that ironic and fitting. So try to trust in love, take care of it, nurture it and take some great advice from Edna "when you feel angry and want to push him away, pull him closer instead". Happy Valentines day...remember to pull them close.