Monday, August 18, 2008


A week ago today my grandmother, my Babci, passed away. It's been a crazy week and I was surprised how impacted I was by her passing. Though I was in the Middle East on my way to Brasil, I was able to make it to her funeral in New York. Anyway, I just wanted to share here my little tribute to Babci...

I am just back from Syria where I've spent much of my summer working with Iraqi refugees, and in the course of learning about their lives, I feel like I have come to understand my own Babci so much better. I thank God for giving me a grandmother who had the perspective and the experiences that she has. In my own unusual life path, she always understood and always encouraged me. She would tell me to go with the Lord Jesus and I would reply for her to stay with the Lord Jesus. She knew the way God took me was the way to go.

My refugee friends have taught me so much about how to live life. How pointless it is to worry about the future or revel in the past. It's too painful for them to look back and, anyway, everything they knew is gone. They desperately want to look forward but can't. They don't let themselves dream because they have no control over tomorrow. Even in the struggles of the present, they learn to live today with depth and intensity.

I think of my Babci. A woman known far and wide for her stubborn generosity. Some of her quirks, like drinking the juice produced by boiled vegetables and hopping the fence to go to church every day, those were just Sophie being Sophie. But her ability to just do what has to be done, I think that was a well-honed character quality. Even though she lived a fulfilling life in Patchogue most of her life, her broken English and her lack of a passport always tied her to a previous life that none of us knew. She knew Jesus, and her eyes were always on him. She had honed that ability to keep her eyes on Jesus through a lifetime of pain and uncertainty.

Babci was one of the most practical women I know. She was the most difficult person I've ever known to shop for - I just about gave up buying her birthday and mother's day gifts after a few times that she just gave them back to me on my birthday or at Christmas. She always focused on the needs of the present. If she had let her hopes and dreams move her the way that they still move me, I think she would have gone home to see her family, she would have become a U.S. citizen, she may have done many other interesting things. I always wondered why she didn't, but now I see that she mastered the art of living in the present. She walked step by step with Jesus, and Jesus didn't take her on any more adventures. Her heart still bled for family far away... and for today, the day she would see Jesus face to face... but she always obeyed day by day.

I have learned from my Babci that I need to walk everyday with Jesus, but haven't mastered the art of doing so. But Babci always understood that even in my own stumblings I have always been in the right place because this is the today God has given me. I am now learning to spend less time wondering where I will be in two months and instead spend more time loving the people that I see today. I am now the age that Babci was when she moved to the U.S. Maybe someday, just like my Babci, I will find myself in a place with a husband and family who needs me and live out the rest of my days there. I am going to miss my Babci, I am going to miss her commitment to always speaking the truth and giving me nuggets of wisdom on how to live life - nuggets that I didn't always want to hear! I'll also miss her obsession with feeding us, the "babci store" stash of clothes, her home remedies, walks to Pathmark and crossing the highway, and so much more. I never lived near Babci, but it's hard to imagine a world without her. Even from thousands of miles away, she was the foundation of who I am and who I want to be.

When I was a university student, just a little before Dzia-dzia (my grandfather) went, I did an interview with Babci and I just so happened to dig out the paper I wrote about her a few months ago when I was once again preparing my things for a move to an as-of-yet unknown location. I saved it out and so I just so happen to have it with me now. Here is some of what she had to say:

I never talked to my sister. We write, but we don't talk. Only my sister is now living. My brother have a three sons. My other sister has three children living in Russia. The sister is living in a small country between Russia and Poland. So you see, they're all in different countries.

The Russians took the two sisters. Only my brother stayed. He was in a different part of Poland which became free, after I was already here. I would wanna go back now for a visit. You know, from the beginning I worked to go back. Because, you know, there was home. Here, I had to learn everything, the language, the responsibilities.

The Lord gave me three families. The first was when I was born. The second was in Germany, people loved and supported me. Then the Lord gave me the third family which is here in the United States. He replaced the things with what I needed in life. Here is good, but here is a struggle for survival. People say here is everything, and they are right, here is a everything, but you have to struggle to survive. You have to know how to do something, how to get places. You see, these kinds of struggles, they are every place existing. We have to adapt, we have to know how to conquer.

I love my other two families. You don't lose the attitude, you don't lose the love. I cherish them all. Now I have bigger number of people to love. Yes, I would love to go back to Poland to visit! But I know in my heart it is impossible for me. It is hard to travel when you are old. I have a husband who is needing care. Someday, when we see the Lord, we will all see each other.


Isabela Siqueira said...

since you have shared a little of this recent post, I decided to find you in the follow you, even though you're going anywhere... =D... and pray for you...well, I hope we can meet...wherever God wants us to go... in Christ, Love, Isabela.

Anonymous said...

Your words brought tears to my face, tears of joy as I remembered my grandmother and her beautiful and strong heart. Your Babci seems to have been a beautiful lady, full of wisdom and perseverance... What an amazing interview you had with her. My father in law has shared his mothers struggle to come to the US from Ukraine and reading this blog makes things more real and brings them into perspective...
As always, thank you and God bless you Always!

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