By Jennie Zeitler, Correspondent
Adam Czech believes that if everyone were only half as nice, kind-hearted, genuine and caring as his mother, the world would be a much better place. Julie Czech’s coworkers and friends feel pretty much the same way.
“Julie exemplifies the traditional values of honesty, pride in what she does and belief in her family and in God,” said Dr. Noel Collis. “She is uncompromising in her dedication to and support of the truth.”
Julie Schreiber was born and raised in Little Falls. She attended St. Francis High School and then graduated from the LPN program of what was then known as Brainerd Vo-Tech School. She married Don Czech of Sobieski and they moved into their newly-built house south of Little Falls on their wedding day.
Julie had begun working as a nurse’s aide at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in 1970, when she was 17. For 44 years and four months she worked there, first in bedside nursing and later in the outreach clinic and in gastroenterology.
She remembers the days of glass IV bottles and syringes, the days before computers, laparoscopic procedures or outpatient services. When she began her nursing career, it was standard procedure for patients to spend three to five days in the hospital for annual physicals — completely covered by insurance.
“I remember when we got our first FAX machine,” she said. “I thought, ‘We’re never going to use that.’”
“My mom was always doing different things through her work at the hospital – different positions with different doctors in different departments,” Adam said. “She taught me to stay open-minded when it comes to working; don’t be afraid to try new things and always get the job done, no matter how much things might be changing around you.”
“Everyone who worked with her saw that she always put the patient’s interests first,” Collis said. “It had an uplifting effect on everyone.”
Julie worked full-time until her first son (Adam) was born. She continued working part time through the birth of her second son, Noah, until her retirement in December 2014.
“There are always changes,” said Julie. “Even until I retired I always felt like the ‘new kid on the block.’”
She says the same thing of retirement. “It’s a change. I told my daughter-in-law, ‘Grandma’s available,’ but they’re not over-using me,” she said.
Adam and his wife, Julianna, live in Eagan with their son, Edward. Noah and his wife, Laura, live just down the road from Don and Julie with their children, Eiley and Greta.
Family has always been a high priority in Julie’s life. Being a wife and mother was something that figured at the top of Julie’s list of life goals. “I always wanted to be a mother,” she said.
She and Don waited seven years for the children to begin arriving, finding themselves blessed with two. Julie found that with her two sons, she and Don didn’t have to make too many rules. That’s not a circumstance every parent can relate to.
“The boys were laid back; they just knew not to touch things,” she said. “When they got older, they didn’t need curfews. They just knew when to come home.”
Putting other people’s needs first happened at home with Julie, just like at work.
“The last thing you want to do after working all day is make a meal, but she always prepared a meal for us,” said Noah. “Putting other people first is something my mom always did.”
During those childraising years, Julie added new interests. One of the first was golfing, when Adam was 8 years old.
“He was in a junior golf league,” she said. “That’s when I learned to play golf; I had to know if they were doing it right.”
Another new activity was deer hunting. When Adam was 12 and started hunting, she picked up a rifle and learned right along with him.
“I can walk (outdoors) anytime,” she said. “There’s something special about being out hunting. The camaraderie is amazing; it means a lot to me.”
Julie uses a 20-gauge shotgun, hunting on the family’s own land. This year, she brought home a six-point buck.
“It’s a whole lot of fun when my mom gets a deer,” Adam said. “She gets really nervous before she goes and really excited when she gets one. I’d much rather enjoy my mom’s reaction when she gets a deer than get a deer myself.”
Noah remembers Julie being at all of his games in the three sports he played during school.
“She was always there cheering me on,” he said. “I always looked for her in the stands.”
Fishing is another way Julie gets outside.
“I feel like I’m in heaven when I get out in the boat in the summer,” she said. “I really like the water.”
The entire Czech family gathers for a week’s vacation at a cabin in the Brainerd area. They fish for hours, eat outside and take full advantage of their time together.
Julie’s mothering style kept her involved with and close to her sons.
“My mom and I loved watching scary movies,” said Adam. “She was the cool mom who let us watch movies that the other parents wouldn’t allow their kids to see. For several years during that last day of summer vacation, we’d be trying to think of something to do before finally deciding to rent some movies and spend the final day before school watching movies. It’s a little thing, but watching movies with my mom is something I’ll always remember.”
Now that the boys are grown, married and fathers of their own children, Julie enjoys watching them parent.
“It’s fun to see how they do it,” she said. “Both the guys are really involved in their kids’ care.”
Friends would say that the boys come by it honestly.
“She’s a wonderful mother — very fun-loving and family-oriented,” said Celia Nieman. “She’s a caring person, very kind and honest, always does what is right and knows the right thing to say.”
“Being a parent now, I can see that she always taught through her actions,” said Noah. “She didn’t get mad and didn’t yell; she was always calm. That made me feel calm. When my daughters are crabby or cranky, I can stay calm.”
Many mothers would agree that years of mothering go by with not much in the way of thanks, even though none is expected. It’s when the children become parents that they often recognize all that was done for them.
As an example, “There had to have been dozens of instances when my brother and I came home late from a baseball game with filthy uniforms and empty stomachs. Every time, my mom would make us something to eat and make sure our uniforms were washed and ready to go for the next day’s game,” said Adam. “Now that I’m older, I often reflect on everything she did for me growing up. I probably didn’t appreciate everything she did then, but I definitely do now.”
Many families develop Mother’s Day traditions to honor the women who do so much, choosing to honor her during one special day of the year.
“I do my best to get back home to visit my mom, or at the very least, to call her,” Adam said. “It’s hard to find the perfect tribute to someone who means so much to me.”