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My Very Best Person Ever
There were many people that I knew: teachers, neighbors, acquaintances, friends, fellow students, relatives, but never forget my Mother, and her name- Mary.
I will be grateful to her for everything I have had in my life. She was a short, strong and wise woman, patient and kind. She hated injustice, any kind, and I hate him too. She was a great believer, maybe she was wrong, but she was an ardent Christian who walked 3 kilometers to pray in the “church”, as she called it. She was calm, but I remember how devoutly she prayed on her knees, which hurt her from the long work, from the cold winter, from the deprivation. She only had a two-room apartment, which she had to struggle with, because she was not a doctor, a nurse, but only a maid. An honest and open-minded person. His manners were gentle, he looked at people with a cheerful light in his eyes. Oh, his eyes. green or sometimes gray… Those were the eyes of truth. He taught me truth and honesty, the sense of respect and dignity.
I will never forget her face, small and beautiful, in fact, beautiful, burnt by the sun and the years, but always friendly, always a companion.
They liked holidays, Christian holidays, Easter and Christmas. He liked to cook the 12 main dishes for Christmas, He always liked the Christmas trees and made me a decoration. He liked the lights on the New Year’s Tree. He liked happiness, of which he did not have too much. He was always happy to see me or my brother. Every day when we were with her was a holiday for her.
I will never forget her hands: how many things she had to do with them! When he was very small, he had to bring wood for the furnace to heat our one-room apartment. Later, he brought some coal to cool the room. When there was no wood, he had to walk to the nearest forest and collect the branches of fallen trees, bring them back and use them as wood for the stove.
His life was difficult. I had to live with my grandfather and my grandmother (the Kingdom of Heaven is granted to them!), I had to work in the field, to graze the cattle, to collect the berries, to bring the boxes into the house, to clean. , to cook, to help with the rest of his brothers and sisters (they were 8).
He couldn’t really get a good education, since he had to work at home. They can study only in the winter time, in the fierce frosts. There was a rule: the sisters had to take turns going to school, since they only had one pair of booties to use. The older one went more often, the younger one, my mother more rarely. He only had 3 grades of elementary school, but he knew a lot, he learned a lot from life. He could read and write in Ukrainian and Russian. She spoke both fluently.
His family was not from Ukraine. They were from Poland. She told me how they went to Rzeszow on foot to the church. She also mentioned that they often went to a Polish Catholic church, and also celebrated Christmas with their neighbors, and visited the neighbors during “their” holidays.
They were deported from their land in 1945, I think, according to the Polish order “Vistula-Operation”, which, I believe, was a mistake, as, later, in the attic, I found a birth certificate of my grandmother, in which was denoted “rusinka”, which means a Rusyn.
They had to leave everything they had, and come to a place they did not know, but they wanted to be closer to the border, perhaps, hoping that times would change, and they could return to their true homeland. . It didn’t happen.
Everyone worked hard. They overcome the Nazi occupation, with which they had a problem with their grandmother, as a German asked them, if they had “a Russ”, and misunderstood him, thinking that he was asking for an iron to press the clothes
They had hidden in trenches during the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, as my grandfather told me, that they were afraid, as many people were massacred in their homes.
They had to “enlist” in a collective farm, as the Soviets needed to “prove” their truth to Bolshevism, and they took everything they had left only a cow, a horse and ten chickens. With 8 children.
They had to work day and night. They could work on their plot only on Saturdays, but not often, either, as, very often, they were ordered to work for the collective farm.
My mother was very young, when she had to start working for a “lady” in Lviv/Lwo’w.
Later, when there was a sanatorium open, he moved to his family, and started working there, being only 15 years old. There was no other way. He had to work to help the family. In the evening, wind or snow, rain or storm, she will turn back, and in the morning she will go back to work, until she was given a room to live.
She knew war. She told me she was helping to deliver balls for the soldiers. She was good. Never forget his name!
She met my “father” somewhere at his work, but he seemed to be a scoundrel, as many of the guys were, he drank, he left her and me, because he had never seen him and he had never known
My aunt told me later that my mother had no money for her to feed me, she went to Lviv, where my biological father lived, took his coat and his watch, sold it, and decided not to see no more. She was right.
He loved poultry, he tried to be good and rich even during the years of the Soviet crisis, when there was nothing in the stores. We worked on our “pole” (plot) planting potatoes and other vegetables. We had a chicken coop. We had meat and vegetables, as we worked.
She helped me so much: she gave me money, the provision, when I was a student in Drohobych. I missed it so much that, before, I used to go home every week, but it was very difficult, since it took 6 hours to get there.
We loved it. She adored us, the boys. I cannot find the right words of gratitude to thank her enough for what she had done for me.
She was my heroine. She will never be.
I remember she asked me to go to church, when I was already living in the United States. I did it. She was very proud and happy. It wasn’t. I had my reasons. I was studying in Rome, but she asked me to come back home, to Ukraine. I obeyed him. I don’t know if he was right, as my brother told me to stay here and continue my studies. I did not know, that among the beauty and luxury of the Italian Capital, I was a foreigner, who received the “permesso di soggiorno” (residence permit) shortly before my departure for Ukraine: the Italians did not he doesn’t really respect it or not. my knowledge. It could be right. Thank you!
I will never forget, the last time, when I met him. She was sick living at her sister’s house in a village. She wanted me to stay, but I couldn’t. He told me that my wife and son and their parents didn’t want me. But he knew: he needed me, maybe not right away, but it was important for him to know that I was close, that I could help him, that he knew he had a father.
We were alone, at my aunt’s house, as she was in the hospital. My mother helped with the poultry, with the water, with everything else, as my aunt could no longer walk: the work of cooking almost killed her.
I didn’t know what to do. I told him the news every day by reading the newspapers out loud. He liked to pray with me. I found a booklet of Prayers to St. Anthony, and we prayed the entire booklet in one place. She was happy, tired and comforted.
She knew, I would go back to my son, and she told me not to come again, because he needed more, I think.
I loved him, and you can’t even imagine how sad it was to leave him. But she was not alone. He was with his sister. He knew that she wanted to live at his place, but it was impossible, as she was old, sick, and could not be left alone.
Dear Mom, I’m sorry, please, if I did something wrong. I love you so much!
I called every week to talk to my aunt and my mother. My aunt told me not to call so often and not to spend so much money on calls. I heard it. He sent them some money to help them: both of them could not walk. And the money wasn’t even a big help, as the ambulance, according to my aunt, still didn’t come, when they learned that she was an old woman who needed help. The doctors had a comment: “age”.
I lost her in April. My brother called me at night and said she was gone. I called my aunt. She said that my mother died on her hands: she got up, the aunt gave her some water with honey, and she died…
It was the most difficult time for me. I gave some money to my brother, I sent some money to my aunt, I went to the church to order a service. He prayed day and night, three days, as he was commanded. I know that God will forgive her sins, if any, she will be granted the mercy of our Lord. She was good, and had great hope in Jesus Christ.
I have his picture on the shelf in my room. A photo of a young woman. She was my mother, and I prayed for her every day, in every language I knew. I think, I will do it forever. I loved her, as much as she loved me. God, please, be merciful to her, the one who had an old icon from the times, when her family lived in Poland. The icon of the Virgin Mary from Lourdes, with an inscription in French.
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