This story is part of Loved and Lost, a statewide media collaboration that works to celebrate the lives of every New Jersey resident who has died from COVID-19. To learn more and submit a loved one’s name for profiling, visit loveandlostnj.com.
Teresa Siedlecka’s singular love story began during WWII when, at the age of 13, she started dating a 19-year-old Jewish man who worked in the same hotel as her father in Krakow. . Even with the age difference, they had a connection.
But when the Nazis invaded Poland, her boyfriend, Marek Damaszek, was forced into hiding. He lived under a pseudonym in Warsaw and Ukraine, but the two managed to secretly write letters to each other.
They reunited after the war and got married in 1953.
“It’s something that happens once in a lifetime,” said their only child, Edward Damazsek.
The couple eventually moved to Brooklyn in 1959 and Teresa worked as an accountant at Chase Manhattan Bank. But they divorced in 1970 and she decided to return to her native Krakow.
Teresa loved to sew – at one point she was making costumes for a theater company – and she continued her hobby after the move. She made her own coats, hats and gloves, said Edward, who remained in the United States after his parents divorced.
Teresa, who never remarried, was fiercely independent, always comfortable with herself. She continued to sew until the failing eyesight annoyed her.
“My mom loved being alone,” said Edward. “She was one of those people who could be alone but not alone, and I kind of admired that about her.”
When Teresa’s eyesight deteriorated, she moved to New Jersey in 2014 to be with her son, and eventually moved to Christian Health in Wyckoff. She died there on April 21, 2020, at the age of 87.
Edward said his mother was close to his daughter, Suzy, who adored the green coat and hat her grandmother knitted for her when she was 6. Suzy traveled with her father to visit Teresa in Krakow.
“It was actually the highlight of my year, really, going to Poland and seeing her there,” Edward said.
Edward said he inherited his mother’s ability to keep meticulous records and enjoy solitude. He said she loved living in Poland and couldn’t think of anything better than not being bothered by anyone.
“She was pretty cool, you could say, like a cucumber,” said Edward. “A lot of things didn’t bother her, didn’t stir her up.”