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Appreciate the older generation of your family while you still can

There are no such great people anymore. So brave, so loving, so indefatigable optimistic, as my great-grandmother and great-grandfather were. Although they were born in the 1920s and we had a huge age difference, my granny Eugenia and grandpa Vasiliy were those with whom I always wanted to share the secret with. And yet, when you are young, you do not actually realize that everything is finite. Why do we humans understand the meaning of the most important things too late? How many topics I would like to discuss with them, how many questions to ask… Now, when I am 30 years old, I would like to wonder, if granny comprehended the meaning of life, of if she knew the meaning of all the madness and cruelty that surrounds us, one way or another. But now I have to seek the answers by myself. 

But I am so glad they were in my life, that they lit it with their light of goodness and love. Now, at least, I can remember our common history, and assume what the granny would have done in such a situation? Their history of life was long and full of challenges. Granny was born in the early years of USSR, 1918, in the family of Polish aristocrats. As you could know, members of the upper class were cruelly exterminated at the time, so all the personal documents were burned in order to protect the members of the family and the topic of family history was prohibited for up to 1990s. Then she survived the loss of his father killed by robbers, the death of her first husband in the World War ll, the terrible years of German occupation of Ukraine. Finally, in 1945 she received such a gift of fate as my Grandpa. He was born in Belarus, about the same years as she, in a peasant family with 8 children. He was restless from childhood and as long as I had got to know him. He smoked tobacco since he was 14, went to the front when he was 22. In the war, he nearly broke off his leg and he limped for the rest of his life, and he quietly and sadly cried when he was recalling those days. At the time of his meeting with grannies, she had two children. He accepted and loved with all his heart her children, and their children, and the children of these children, namely us – me and my sister. But we have found out that he was not our grandfather by blood only after his death. However, the more precious became the love and warmth that he was giving us all his life.  Somehow, they lived together for more than 60 years. And they have a good family life: cozy, full of mutual care and tenderness, humor, and good traditions.

I am crying and smiling now when I think of our weekly whole family meetings. We gathered together the whole family, 7-8 people, the three generations of a family, and spent most of the day together. Granny cooked several meals, usually something simple, but for some reason, insanely delicious. As a rule, we ate together mashed potatoes with meat sauce, vegetable salad, and some uncomplicated pie. During the meal we shared news, argued, and laughed. Then we used to play lotto with kegs or dominoes. The loser had to climb under the table and crow like a cock or bleat like a goat. And even the grandfather did not shirk. Of course, we were together on other holidays, such as the New Year, Easter, and the Victory Day when we went to the parade in honor of the dead and survivors of the war.

About that war… Although in our country now there are fighting, fortunately, this has not yet touched the places where I live. But it's still pain, constant, terrible, pressing. But I cannot even imagine how it is to live in conditions where people can shoot at you for no reason, when your friends and relatives are buried around you, when hunger is everywhere, when there is almost no hope. And as after the horrors of war and close death again find the strength to want something, to do something, learn to enjoy life anew. But my grandmother and granddad definitely knew how to enjoy life.

Grandma was already 70 years old when she taught me how to look after the face, why it is necessary to do exercises and dress nicely. She also showed me a personal example. I am still looking up to her. She talked about complex things simply. About the necessity to understand and forgive each other. About the need to listen to your heart and act according to your conscience. About your duty to take care of yourself and your family. And my grandpa, I still remember our stroll and how he told me, “Daria, you are a good, clever, nice, and decent girl. Do not waste yourself on those who are not worthy of it.” Just that simple. But later, when he was no longer with us, I always remembered his words and I did not allow myself to enter into futile relations. I appreciated myself, and this is very important for a woman. Now I am happily married to a worthy man, I raise a son, and I am thankful for the prayers my granny offered for my family happiness. I am so sorry, that she has not seen my baby, as she passed away when I was pregnant. I tell my son that my old grandparents were very tired and so they went to the sky in order to fly on clouds. And I tell him how great they were.

We had a good relationship, and I liked to go for tea after pairs at the university, just to talk about this and that. But I want so much to be able to return to the past and appreciate more, kiss more, talk more, and draw the worldly wisdom of these remarkable people. However, we never know the value of water till the well is dry. What I still can do, is to cherish loved ones, enjoy my life, and live every day to the maximum. In their honor. I just hope that I will live my life so that somebody someday will write a few kind words about me as well, that somebody will miss me as much as I miss them, my dear grandparents.

Granny and grandpa, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for an example of a dignified life and the peculiar reserve of love that you have given to me.  It inspires me and gives strength to go on. Love you so much, my dear. 

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