Punxsy natives join together to start new family tradition

By Destiny Pifer
Of The Spirit

PUNXSUTAWNEY — There are bonds that cannot be broken no matter the distance that separates you.

For the mothers and daughters of one family, that bond has strengthened with time.

Kay DeLuca, of New Orleans, and her sister, Karen Verdill-Gratz, of
Indianapolis, Ind., were born and raised in Punxsutawney.

Though DeLuca comes back once a year to visit their mother, Barbara Verdill, her sister hadn’t been home in three years.

After losing various family members, including the loss of their older sister Joyce Uzzo, the women decided to start a new tradition that would bring all the women in the family back together.

They wanted to do something that would bring them home at least once a year and give them a chance to connect with loved ones.

DeLuca said that the last time the family was all together was 14 years ago, when her sister Joyce passed away.

"I remember growing up, we always went to Grandma Rhodes’ house every Sunday for dinner," said DeLuca.

"We were always dressing up and putting on plays at grandma’s house. Our cousin Jan Sandy would give us a can of black olives; we used to put them on our fingers and eat them while waiting for dinner."

Wanting to keep these memories alive and possibly start new ones, DeLuca and Gratz decided it was time to head back home for a visit.

"We were excited that we would be in town, so we decided to plan a luncheon."

"My sister sent out invitations to our cousins and aunts," said DeLuca.
The sisters decided to have the luncheon at Mary's Place.

"This was our first luncheon, but we are hoping it will start a tradition."

Attending the luncheon was Gladys Patterson of Punxsutawney (aunt) and her daughter Kristy Garvin of Erie; Marilyn Rhodes of Punxsutawney (sister-in-law of Verdill and Patterson) and daughter Janice Sandy, also of Punxsy.

Each woman wore a flower in her hair that DeLuca said was in honor of Grandma Rhodes.

"Grandma Rhodes’ favorite flower was the African Violet."

Each women not only wore a flower but was presented with beautiful violets planted in tea cups and saucers, which had belonged to Grandma Rhodes.

The luncheon was a momentous occasion that gave the women a chance to bond and catch up.

"Life gets busy for all of us; we keep in touch and come home, just not at the same time," said DeLuca.

For DeLuca and her family, it was a chance to not only catch up but to also reflect on the past.

The luncheon was also held to honor those who have passed on, including Grandma Rhodes.

The women plan to make this a tradition that will bring them together more often.