There were a lot of individuals whom I understood: teachers, neighbors, acquaintances, friends, fellow-students, relatives, but I won’t ever forget my Mom, and her name- Maria.
I’ll be grateful to her for everything I have ever had in my entire life. She was a short woman, strong and wise, patient and kind. She hated injustice, any kind of it, and I hate it, too. She was a great believer, possibly, she had been making mistakes, but she was an ardent Christian who was able to walk 3 kilometers on foot to plead in the “little church”, as she called it. She was calm, but I remember, how devotedly she had been praying on the knees, that hurt her from the long work, from the chilly winter, from the deprivation. She had only a two-room flat, which she had to fight for, as she was not a doctor, a nurse, but only a waitress. An honest and an open-minded individual. Her manners were sweet, she looked at the people with jolly light in her eyes. Green or sometimes gray… Those were the eyes of the truth. She taught me the truthfulness and the honesty, the feeling of respect and dignity.
I will never forget her face, small and nice, in fact, pretty, sun-burned from sunlight and the years, but always amicable, always companionable.
She enjoyed the Holidays, the Christian holidays, the Easter and Christmas. She liked to cook the 12 chief dishes for Christmas, She always liked Christmas trees and got me to decorate them. She liked the lights on the New-Year Tree. She liked happiness, of which she did not have too much. She was always happy to see me or my half-brother. Each day, when we were with her, was a vacation for her.
I won’t ever forget her hands: how many things she needed to make with them! When I was very little, she needed to bring wood for the furnace to warm up our one-room apartment. Later, she used to bring some coal to make the room warm. When there was no wood, she had to walk in the nearest grove and to gather the fallen tree branches, to bring them and to use them as wood to the stove.
Her life was tough. She used to live with my grandfather and my grandmother (be awarded to them the Kingdom of Heaven!) , she needed to work in the field, to graze the cows, to pick up berries, to bring the sheaves into the house, to clean, to cook, to help with the rest of her brothers and sisters (they were 8).
She couldn’t really get good education, as she needed to work at home. They could research only in winter time, in ferocious frosts. There was the rule: sisters had to go to school in turn, as they had only one pair of booties to use. The elder went more often, the younger, my mom rarer. She’d only 3 grades of the basic school, but she knew a whole lot, she learned a lot from life. She could read and write, in Ukrainian and in Russian.
Her family wasn’t from Ukraine. She was able to tell me, how they were going to Rzeszow on foot to the church. She also said, that they were going to a Polish Catholic church, also, even, celebrated Christmas with their neighbors, and the neighbors visited them on “their” holidays.
They were deported from their territory in 1945, I believe, according to the Polish “Vistula-Operation” order, which, I believe, was a mistake, as, after, in the loft, I found a birth certificate of my grandma, in which it had been denoted “rusinka”, which mean a Rusyn.
They had to leave all they had, and come to a place they didn’t understand, but they wanted to be closer to the boundary, perhaps, trusting that the times would change, and they will have the ability to come back to their real Fatherland. It did not happen.
They worked hard. They overcome the Nazis job, with which they had an issue with their grandmother, as a German asked her, if they had “a Russ”, and she misunderstood him, thinking that he was asking for an iron to press clothing.
They had to hide in trenches during the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, as my grandpa told me, they were afraid, as many people were slaughtered in their homes.
They needed to “enlist” in a collective farm, as the Soviets needed to “prove” their truthfulness to Bolshevism, and they took from them all they had, having left only one cow, 1 horse and ten hens.
They had to work day and night. They could work on their plot only on Saturday, but not frequently, either, as, quite often, they were ordered to work for the collective farm.
My mom was quite young, when she needed to begin to work for a “woman” in Lviv/Lwo’w.
Later, when there was a sanatorium opened, she moved back to her family, and began to work there, being only 15 years old. There was no other way out. She had to work to help the household. In the evening, wind or snow, rain or thunderstorm, she had to go back, and, early in the morning, she had to go to work again, till she was given a room to reside in.
She understood the war. She told me, she was helping bringing bullets to the soldiers. She was brave. Be never forgotten her name!
She met my “father” at a location of her work, but he appeared to be a rascal, as many of the chaps were, drank, left me and her, so that I had never seen him and had never known him.
I was told by my aunt, which my mother had no money for her to feed me, she went to Lviv, where my biological father lived, took his jacket and his watch, sold it, and decided to not see him again.
She loved the poultry, she tried to be nice and rich enough during the years of the Soviet crisis, when there was nothing in shops. We were working on our “rod” (plot) planting potatoes, palm bay fl raccoon removal and other vegetables. We had meat and vegetables, as we worked.
She helped me so much: she was giving me money, the provision, when I was a student in Drohobych. I was missing her so much, that, first I was coming home every week, though, it was very difficult, as it took 6 hours to arrive.
She adored us, the boys. I can hardly find the correct words of gratitude to say enough thanks for what she had done for me.
She was my heroine. She’ll ever be.
I remember her asking me to go to church, when I was living in the united states. She was very proud and joyful. I was not. I used to study in Rome, but she asked me to come back home, to Ukraine. I obeyed her. I don’t understand, if I had been right, as my brother told me to stay there and to continue studies. He did not know, that one of the beauty and luxury of the Italian Capital, I was a foreigner, who obtained the “permesso di soggiorno” (permission for staying) just before my departure to Ukraine: Italians didn’t really respect me or my knowledge. She might have been correct. Thank you!
I won’t ever forget, the last time, once I met her. She was sick living at her sister’s place in a village. She wanted me to stay, but I could not. She explained that my wife and my son as well as their relatives did not want me. But I understood: he needed me, maybe, not instantly, but it was important for him to understand, I was nearby, I could help him, he understood he had a dad.
We were left alone, in my aunt’s house, as she had been in the hospital. My mother was helping with the poultry, with water, with everything else, as my aunt couldn’t walk any more: the work as a cook nearly killed her.
I didn’t understand, what to do. I was telling her information every day reading the papers. She liked to plead with me. I found a booklet of Prayers to S. Antonius, and we prayed the entire booklet in one seating. She was happy, tired and consoled.
She knew, I would go back to my son, and she advised me never come again, as he needed me I guess.
I loved her, and one cannot even imagine, how sad I was leaving her. But she was not alone. I knew, she desired to live at her place, but it was hopeless, as she had been old, sick, and she could not be left alone.
I called every week to talk to my aunt and my mom. My aunt told me to not call so often and not to spend so much money on the calls. I listened to her. I was sending them some money to help them out: the two could not walk. And the money wasn’t of big help, since the ambulance, according to my aunt, didn’t even come, when they heard that it was an older woman who needed help. The physicians had one comment: “age”.
I dropped her in April. My half-brother called me and stated that she was no more. I called my aunt. She said that my mother died on her hands: she got up, my aunt gave her some water with honey,and she passed away…
It was the most difficult time for me. I gave some money to my brother, I sent some money to my aunt, I went into the church to purchase a service. I had been praying night and day, three times, as it was ordered. I know God will forgive her sins, if any, She will be granted the mercy of Our Lord. She was good, and had good hope in Jesus Christ.
I have her photo on top of the shelf in my room. The photo of a young lady. She was my mom, and I am praying for her every day, in every language I understand. I think, I will do it for ever. I loved her, as much as she loved me. God, please, be merciful her, the person who had an old icon from the times, when her family was living in Poland. The icon of the Virgin Mary from Lourdes, with an inscription in French