Leokadia and Fireflies

A Story

Named Stefanie Karawinski, I’m seventeen years old.  The woman in the title of the story, Sister Mary Leokadia, is perhaps fifty.  Because the nuns at my grade school here in Superior wear black habits and white, scarf-like wimples covering their hair and ears, I can’t tell their ages.  They belong to an order founded for Polish and Polish-American women: the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, whose main convent is in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where I’d stop on the way to Milwaukee if it weren’t so far out of the way.

Though this story is about my family, and principally about my dad, and has only a little to do with Sister Leokadia, I’m still naming it for her.  Because the nuns do so much for us, and yet remain in the background of our lives, credit is due them.  I’m entering Marquette University in the fall partly because of the nuns.  Though after attending Szkola Wojciecha, St. Adalbert’s grade school, I went to a public high school, I’d still see the nuns in church; they’d have me do odd jobs for them at school, and sometimes Sister Leokadia would visit our house.  Because she’s a holy presence in the neighborhood, this story is named for her, the nun who taught me in seventh and eighth grades.

I’d never name a story for myself.  I shouldn’t even use “I” so much,...

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