Dec 29, 2009

Their Legacy

12/29/2009 — cori

I recently had the opportunity to visit my Grandparents in Connecticut for my Grandfather's 90th birthday. I've never lived close to them, yet we've maintained a wonderful relationship all my life. They are both Polish, therefore I grew up calling them the Polish words for Grandma (Bapchie) and Grandpa (Jadziu). As I was traveling to visit them, giddy with excitement, I was thinking of all the things I've learned from them. This is just a small list of things I can actually remember and verbalize - some lessons go straight to the heart and are harder to put in words.

1. Contentment - They've lived almost all of their 63 married years in the same town and the same house. They actually bought the house with a loan from my Bapchie's Dad after they had been married a little over a year. The house was in disrepair, but my do-it-yourself Jadziu fixed it all up beautifully. It might have 800-1000 square feet, maybe a tad more if you count the cellar. I think my Bapchie has had the same stove for 40 years. They'd rather fix things than buy new ones. I once asked her if she ever wanted to move. She said she'd thought about it and asked Jadziu once and he said, "Why do we need to move? We have everything we need right here." It really is that simple. They take care of everything they have. They do not have an entitlement attitude. They worked super hard for everything they had.

2. Generosity - Everything they have, whether a little or a lot, was freely given. They were generous with their time, money, food, house, vegetables from their garden, skills, and love. I always thought my Grandparents were so rich because they were always giving, giving, giving. I know now that it had nothing to do with money but their hearts

3. Serving - My Bapchie loves to serve. She's served my Jadziu his entire life - getting up early to make his breakfast everyday; taking care of him now as he's in advanced stages of dementia; making a favorite dessert or food because she knows someone is coming over who loves that. When I was little, I always heard her humming as she was working and asked her why, she replied, "I hum when I'm happy." Me too. I find myself doing the same thing. My Bapchie makes serving look fun and effortless. I loved dusting her shelves because she let me put all her knick-knacks back however I wanted - for a mini, future, decorator that was huge!

4. Imagination/Humor - My Jadziu has an extremely quick wit. I, on the other hand come up with a good response 20 minutes too late. I did not inherit this gene. My Jadziu would always tuck us in at night with a story. And they were real stories too, using us in them as main characters which always grabs a kid's attention. The best part is, they would continue night to night. I remember once passing a large concrete looking chimney, almost as tall as a silo. It looked odd in the field all alone. My Dad asked him what it could have been used for. Without hesitation he replied, "That is the Santa Training School". Brilliant.

5. Good Work Ethic - Life wasn't easy for either of my Grandparents. They weren't born privileged. They worked in the tabacco fields until they either got married or went to the War. My Jadziu even had to quit school in the 8th grade to stay home and work and help the family. This seemed very common during this time frame in history. But he never complained about it. He made the most of his situation. He continued reading and learning. I think he's read every National Geographic ever written. He's a very smart man even without a higher education. He was in the War in the Pacific Rim for 4 years. My Bapchie worked very hard and opened her own beauty salon while in her 40's. She retired 3 different times. Even though my Jadziu is blind, he still (up until just recently when his physical condition just couldn't allow it) insisted on snow blowing his own driveway, mowing his own lawn and putting out his trash every week.

Gavin, Bennett and Chloe: I'm so glad you had the chance to meet and know you're Great-Bapchie and Great-Jadziu. I want you to know that you will learn something - good or bad - from every relationship you have in this life. Choose to look for the good. You'll learn things from your Grandparents that you don't learn from your parents. Cherish and be thankful for each type of relationship. Seize the day my friends, seize the day.

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