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Wife always brought out best in those she touched

On Friday, March 29, at approximately 1 p.m., the world lost one of the most humble, caring and classy ladies that God had created. Karen Marie Katulski Tramuta was called home after a 12-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Before I talk more about my wife, I would like to thank Dr. Sood and his staff for the amount of time she was given due to the treatment she received. She thought the world of you, Doc, and the girls in your office. I would also like to thank Carol, Sheyanne and Jackie, the girls of Hospice, who had great care and compassion as they prepared her to go home. There are certain jobs that are touched by God, and the three angels that cared for Karen will never be forgotten by me.

I’m going to go out on a limb and tell most of you that didn’t know this fact, that I met Karen in June 1973 and attended her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary party. We got engaged July 4 and were married Aug. 25, 1973. However someone would rate this, is no concern for me, but all I know is that it lasted almost 51 years. This article of REBT has always been about learning to think rationally.

Was it rational to get married in six weeks? For Karen Katulski and Mike Tramuta, it was. I’m not a marriage counselor, even though I was a chemical dependency counselor. I say it was because of where she came from and what she brought with her. Family was everything. Being a wife and mother was always her main goal. When I went to the anniversary party and met Frank and Leocadia, I was able to see what they had given her, in terms of love and treatment of others. The influence of her grandparents, whom she dearly loved and respected, was obvious. Watching the Gillette Friday night fights in black and white with her grandparents were special to Karen as they were to me with my grandparents.

If you can envision a little 7-year-old girl, who lived on Ocelet Street by the Dunkirk Radiator, walking to the corner every day about 4 p.m. to meet her dad, take his lunch box and grab his hand to walk home, then one can readily understand why she treated people like she wanted to be treated.

My wife could have been a super artist, as she drew many things for our family and was even touted by a company to draw and paint for them. That would mean putting her family second, and that, she wasn’t interested in doing. As long as our five kids were growing up, being a wife and mother were her main priority.

She had a knack for knowing how to handle children of any age.

Finally when our kids were older, she started as a teacher’s aide in the Fredonia Baptist Nursery School program. When an opening occurred and the school was looking for a teacher, she asked me if I thought she should apply, because she didn’t have a college degree.

From watching her at certain events and functions, I simply stated, “Go for it, degree or no degree. You can flat out teach, because God has given you a gift.” She did, and for the next 32 years, ran a program that was the best in the county. The proof was that SUNY Fredonia would send their early childhood students to her program to learn how to teach 3-4-year-olds.

To me, the difference between a good and great teacher is simple. The good teachers would go to a certain point with students, but the great teacher will go beyond that, getting children to do what they want and have them enjoy it as they are doing it. She taught phonics to 3- and 4-year-olds, sight words, coloring within the lines, printing letters and self-discipline by holding them accountable for their behavior. She had time-outs (which today is frowned upon). But looking at these kids in September and from graduation in May was remarkable — what she and Jane Wright, her aide, had accomplished every year. So many boys and girls got a great start from a dedicated teacher whose only goal was to see them get better every day and be the best they could be.

As we both battled cancer in 2021, me with neck and throat, with 39 radiations and seven chemos and her with treatment every three weeks, we made a pact that every day I would make her laugh, and every day would be a great day, which it was. When Karen’s mom passed a few years ago at 95 years of age, she went up to the casket as we were preparing to go to the church and whispered to her mom, “Thank you for my life.”

Karen Tramuta, thank you for my life, because without God and you, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I will always love you and see you on the other side again.

Love you,

Your Michael (Sheik)

Mike Tramuta is a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy counselor.

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