Pamela H. Bernoskie, 66, passed away on Friday, August 17, 2018 at her home in Holmdel, NJ surrounded by her family. Pam was born in Elizabeth, NJ and move to Rahway with her family when she was six, where she lived for 30 years before settling in Holmdel in 1987. Pam graduated from Rahway High School in 1970; there, she met her husband, Charles, who she married 3 years later. Her first job was as an EKG specialist, then she spent time with Eastern Airlines in customer service. Her love of helping people led her to her role as patient care coordinator for a medical group in Holmdel, NJ. But Pam’s real loves were her family, friends and animals. She had a particular connection with her two rescue dogs, Amber and Lucy, and loved feeding the deer at her home, who she named and watch grow.
Ms. Bernoskie is predeceased by her parents, Edward A. Shivickis and Helen Shivickis. Pam is survived by her husband, Charles R. Bernoskie of 45 years, her daughter Brandi, her son Charles and his wife Amanda, her grandson Cole, and her sister Carole Cappel and brother-in-law Steve Cappel. She is also survived by several nieces, nephews, and friends.
Funeral Services will take place on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 11:00 am at The Lehrer-Gibilisco Funeral Home, 275 West Milton Avenue, Rahway, NJ 07065. Interment St. Gertrude’s Cemetery, Colonia. Visitation will be on Monday, August 20, 2018 from 5 – 8 pm at the funeral home.
DONATIONS & GIFTS
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to All Fur Love Animal Rescue. You can visit their donate page online here: http://www.allfurlove.org/donate You can also call Four Paws Animal Hospital (the vet Pam took her dogs to) and ask to make a donation to the All Fur Love account by calling 732-536-7297.
The whole time I was growing up, there was one statement I heard more than any other from people: “You look just like your mom.” As a teenager and young adult, no words could drive me to madness faster than those. Even after I went from blonde to red, I still heard it from people meeting us both for the first time.
A few months ago, I was looking into the mirror and I saw it too — and for the first time I was grateful for how much we look alike.
Grief, I’m learning, is like the ocean: it comes in waves and swells, sometimes when you least expect it.
In the middle of this past week, when it became clear that her time with us was truly coming to a close, I caught myself in the mirror again and saw her there in my features. And as much as I hated looking like her growing up, I know where to go to see her if I need to — in the shape of my face and nose and cheekbones and eyes.
My mother was an incredible woman. We didn’t always get along perfectly, probably because we were as alike as we were different, and I have no doubt I tortured her and my father when I was a teenager. But as an adult, I got to know her not only as my mom but as my friend too. She was always there for me, like no one else in my life was, whether it was something to celebrate or a broken heart.
Three years ago, when I knew my cat Marty was dying, she took a train down to Charlottesville to be with me, to stand in the room with me when it was time to let him go, and to hold me afterward as I sobbed.
She threw eggs at me when we were baking to make me laugh and held back opinions on my boyfriends until we had broken up and she confessed she didn’t like the guy the whole time. She listened to Rihanna and Jay Z and Donna Summer and ABBA when she was cooking, singing along. She loved dancing with my father. She fed the deer every day, named them and their babies, and could even call them to her.
My mom rescued dogs when she could, stealing one little pup named Coco with my dad’s help from a family in Alabama who abandoned the dog and left her outside when they went on a vacation. She had a particularly special bond with her last two miniature dachshunds, Amber and Lucy, both rescues, to the point that she called them my “sisters”.
She was the type to do anything to help an animal or a friend.
And if you didn’t know it already, her grandson Cole was absolutely the light of her life. She held him a few hours after he was born, only 4lbs 6oz, after he unexpectedly made his way into the world on Thanksgiving Day. She called me that morning and kept asking me if I wanted a little turkey, to which I kept telling her no because it was breakfast and I wanted eggs. It took me a few minutes to figure out what she was talking about. We spend Thanksgiving evening in the hospital, waiting for his official arrival, and she was so grateful to be with my brother and his wife shortly after Cole appeared.
We thought we might lose her in July, until my brother brought Cole for a visit and she lit up and started singing him songs. I think we had a little more time with her because she wanted more time with him.
The sucky part about life is that it’s always finite. We have time here together, but we’re not sure how much and all we can say with certainty is that one day we all have to leave.
Losing a family member to cancer is particularly sucky. My mom fought the bile duct and pancreatic cancer for two years, and when the doctors told us in June the cancer was back, we knew we had less time than most people do. But we still had something and I only wish I could have done more for her and with her.
I want more time with my mom, that I can’t have. I wanted her to walk me down the aisle when I got married. I wanted to take her to see the fireworks at Longwood Gardens. I want to hear her voice one more time. I want so many little things that are now gone from me.
There was a moment on the final day she was passing that she looked at me. She had her eyes closed the whole morning, but as I sat there and spoke to her, she opened them and for a moment, they settled on me. I told her that I loved her more than anything and that I would take care of everyone. Days before that, when she could still communicate well, she asked me to take care of my dad. But there, as I watched her start to transition, I just wanted to assure her everyone would be taken care of. And I sang her the lullaby she sang to me when I was a child and couldn’t fall asleep, and then I sang the first few lines of “You Are My Sunshine” until the tears choked me up and I couldn’t anymore. I felt so connected to her spirit in those final moments with her. Not too long after that, she passed.
I want to tell you stories about her, because the greatest gifts we can give people are stories and memories and moments and love. And my mom gave so much love to the people around her.