June 28, 1929 – January 18, 2022
It is with profound sadness that Bernice’s family announces her death on January 18, 2022 at Concordia Hospital in Winnipeg.
Bernice was born in Winnipeg on June 28, 1929, only child to John and Frances Tkach, who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine and Poland, respectively. She lived her entire life in our city’s storied North End and was proud of her heritage and the unique community of which she was part.
Her life was shaped by the realities of the time - the Great Depression and World War II. They were hard times for everyone. But better days came, and for Bernice, the best day was when she met the love of her life, Michael “Mickey” Polischtak. They were married on June 30, 1952 and shared a love that lasted almost 67 years. That’s a milestone that is so rarely reached! They were completely devoted to one another. Even when terribly ill, Mickey was most concerned about Bernice’s well-being, and how she would manage without him.
Mickey and “Bunny” as they were affectionately known, did not have children of their own, but were honoured to be God parents to a number of children of friends and family. This was a responsibility that they accepted with joy.
Bernice was a woman of so many talents and interests. She was a “crafter” before crafting was a “thing”. Her creativity was expressed through hobbies such as sewing, in which she excelled, as well as découpage, macramé and embroidery. Her “fancy sandwiches” were always requested for showers - they were the best! She was a loyal and enthusiastic Winnipeg Jets and Blue Bombers fan and had a news clipping of Mike Weir after he won the Masters at Augusta on the fridge at the lake for years!
Bernice appreciated spending time with family and friends and looked forward to celebrating holidays, birthdays and dinners with them. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday were shared with Michael’s sister Helen Quinn and her family. She had a wide circle of friends and enjoyed gatherings such as her Sewing Circle, Supper Club, and Ladies Card Group. That group of friends became even larger when Bernice and Mickey purchased their cottage at Grand Marais. Mickey and Bunny became fixtures of the Grand Marais community and participated in many activities - the horse shoe tournament was an event not to be missed! The cottage was tiny, but there was never a weekend that passed without visits from family and friends. The Zajac clan, of which Bernice and Mickey were honorary and well-loved members, was hosted each summer at the annual “Zajac Picnic”. And what a wonderful time that was! We - the Zajacs - looked forward to it every year.
Bernice was very proud of her Ukrainian heritage. She always led the singing of the traditional Ukrainian celebratory song Mnohaya Lita at weddings and showers and she and Michael enjoyed hosting Ukrainian Christmas each year. Their Ukrainian outfits were beautiful! Their trip to Ukraine was one of discovery and renewed ties with Bernice’s family.
Together, she and Mickey shared many adventures including travel to Ukraine in 2002, a Caribbean cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 in 2005, and winters in Hawaii. Las Vegas trips were frequent. Road trips to many destinations in Canada and the US occurred often. They had fun - and a wonderful life together.
The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Bernice’s home care workers, especially Bernadette “Bernie” who provided support and empathetic care to her at Amber Meadow, and to the nursing staff at Concordia N2 North who were with Bernice when we couldn’t be. And of course, deep gratitude to Michael’s God-daughter Barbara (Zajac) Miskimmin who was Bernice’s dedicated and steadfast primary support and caregiver. Barb was selfless in her commitment to ensure that Bernice’s well-being and quality of life were maintained.
Bernice will be remembered with love by a large extended family - and we will all miss her - her generosity, thoughtfulness and love of family. And we will especially miss her at Grey Cup time - who will organize the family pool?
Like so many others, Bernice’s death was made more tragic by the reality of COVID 19. In her memory, hug someone you love today. Flowers are gratefully declined. Cremation has occurred.
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