Carol Drozdowski

Carol pageant“Belle of the Ball”

Carol Drozdowski was born on December 23, 1943. Carol was a passionate, energetic and loving woman who continued caring for her family and those around her until her passing. Her family meant everything to her. Whether it was planning the family reunions for her very large, Polish extended family or raising her three daughters, Carol was always there with positive energy, enthusiasm and love.

Her cancer journey did not lessen her devotion to her family. While battling her own cancer, she continued to be the consummate caregiver. She cared for her aging mother, Philomena—cleaning her home, bathing her, feeding her even playing polkas and swing music for her. She even took in her in-laws when they were old treating them with the same loving kindness and tenderness.

She had a nickname for each of her daughters. She would call Lisa, who was quite a handful, Lilla. Debbie, who was most like Carol, was affectionately known as Debber. The youngest girl, Cindy was simply Cin. These three sisters learned independence, maturity and responsibility at a young age from their mother as she related to them as few parents could. She earned a lot of coolness points with her daughters’ dates when they would come to pick one of them up and here “their music” blasting throughout the house. Her doting extended to her grandchildren where she taught them the basic skills of life: how to get a deal and how to deal—a good hand of poker that is.

CarolMost of all, she was devoted to her husband Rich. They built a country life together on their farm in Quaker City. Fishing by their rustic cottage in the woods by Johnson Island was fun family time in the peace and serenity of the outdoors.

When she was young, Carol competed in and won a number of beauty pageants including the Miss Richmond competition while wearing the dresses she had crafted. There she found her true passion. People! Her raspy laugh and a million comical expressions kept everyone entertained. She was never one to miss a good prank or joke. Referring to her childhood, she once remarked, “the nuns love me.”

As a data processor for a trucking company, Carol threw herself into her work. But she was much more than just a “9 to 5” sort of woman. Bringing family and friends together was an essential part of her life. Throwing a party meant that her guests enjoyed themselves to the fullest. Dancing was essential. From line dancing to the hustle, Carol was the “belle of the ball” on the dance floor. The food was sublime as Carol expressed her affection with the dishes she made like her favorite, fried dumplings. An old-fashioned girl, she would even grate her own horseradish.

As a competitive bowler, Carol competed on many teams for over 25 years. Looking for a challenge, she traveled as far as Vermont and Maryland for tournaments. Naturally, Carol brought home her fair share of trophies.

Driving two and a half hours to a garage sale with children in tow was a familiar pastime for the Drozdowski family. An expert at bargaining, garage sales and finding the best deal, Carol’s reputation preceded her. Shopkeepers at the Ohio Valley Mall new her by sight. A good deal wasn’t enough, though. Carol became a strong consumer activist fighting for the rights of the consumer. The state attorney general received many letters from her fighting for consumer rights, especially for those in need around her.

She had her secret passions as well. Her life long wish was to visit Savanna, Georgia. She loved Savanna, peaches and Gone with the Wind. Her dog shared that secret devotion as well. In front of others, Carol put on a stern façade telling the dog to get off the couch or something. But in private, she would pamper the dog making baby talk as she played and played with her pet.

CarolIn 2003, Carol was diagnosed with a less common and more deadly small cell lung cancer. No one expected her to live more than 6 months that is except Carol. Her fighting spirit carried her through the chemo and radiation therapy. Even though the treatment process terrified Carol, her deep compassion for the other patients showed through. At the treatment facility, she asked about the staff and the other patients. She knew them all by name and took an interest in their lives. She helped everyone there feel more at ease in spite of her own hidden fear. Each of her fellow patients came to know and appreciate her concern and gentle conversation about their lives, their struggle and their families. Carol was the calming influence at the treatment center.

CarolNot long after her first series of chemo/radiation therapies, she had trouble breathing and keeping food down. A brain tumor was discovered which is typical of those initially inflicted with small cell lung cancer.

The surgeons did their best to remove what they could of the tumor in her head. She opted for more radiation therapy, but tumors continued to spread throughout her brain and body. Throughout her final months, she aggressively pursued treatment and yet found the energy to worry over the care of her husband once she passed on.

CarolThroughout her journey, comfort and relief from the strain of the battle came in many ways. Various therapies including music, craft and massage all played a part in soothing her pain. The cards she received in the mail really helped her feel loved and cared for. She strung them up and lined the doors so that she could see them all in a single glance. Her room soon looked like a card shop. She would read and reread each one relishing the love and concern from all those dear people who had sent them to her.

Carol passed away on December 4, 2005 at 11:07 AM in the serenity of her home on the farm and in the presence of her family.