Nearly four years since last seeing his mother alive and eight years since she slipped into a coma, Justin Oleszko got news that she was dead.
"A friend of mine who is a deputy sheriff came to my door, asking if I knew of any Wyckoffs in the area because he needed to speak to them about the death of a relative," Oleszko, 24, said about his mother, Pauline. "James Wyckoff is my father."
"It was then that we were told that my mother had died at 1 p.m. June 24 while in the Renaissance Nursing Home in Boardman," he said.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Pauline Oleszko, right, is shown with her fiance, James Wyckoff, and their son, Justin, in this undated photo.
Pauline Oleszko, 54 at the time of her death, had been in a coma since October 2005, when she was hit by a 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by a Bristolville resident while crossing state Route 193 in Vienna.
Congestive heart failure was the official cause of death.
According to records, no charges were filed against the driver at the time.
Both Justin Oleszko and Wyckoff live in Morgantown, W.Va. The family lived in Vienna at the time of the accident.
Pauline Oleszko and Wyckoff were on the road because his car had broken down. As Wyckoff was trying to get help at a nearby Certified Gas Station, Oleszko went across the street to the grocery store.
"As she was starting to cross the street to come back, she was hit by a car," Wyckoff said. "I saw (her) flying through the air. It destroyed my world. We had been together for 24 years.
"My father had died in June, earlier that summer," he said.
The family already was going through a difficult period both financially and emotionally. The couple was virtually homeless and had been helping to take care of some mentally challenged relatives.
"I had a nervous breakdown," Wyckoff said.
Seeing how hard a time the family was having, Wyckoff's brother Robbie came to Ohio to pick up young Justin, who was not with his parents at the time of the accident.
"He was a life-saver," Wyckoff said.
Justin Oleszko described the first few years after the accident as difficult because of his father's nervous breakdown, incidents with the law and their financial instability.
"We kept in weekly contact with the nursing home," he said. "We did not have transportation, so we would get up there to Ohio whenever we could."
By the time he was 17, Oleszko moved out of his uncle's house. A short time later, Pauline Oleszko was moved to another nursing home and the family lost contact.
It was only recently they learned she was in Valley Renaissance Healthcare Center in Boardman.
"It has been terrible to learn that she died," Oleszko said. "I always wanted my young daughter to meet her grandmother. Now she will not be able to."
Oleszko's memories of his mother were that she was good to him and to others.
"She was hard working," he said. "She would ride five miles each way to and from work until she go hurt and could no longer work."
"Although we did not have much, she always found a way to help others," he said.
Wellington Funeral Home in Warren handled Oleszko's cremation.