I wish that I had been able to know my grandmother better. Like most grandmothers she was always quick with a hug, or a warning look, depending on the situation. I loved having her play with my hair, or read with me. And no one ever left her home hungry…
But she was more than that. And like most children I had no idea who she was until I was old enough to appreciate her wisdom and sacrifice. And sadly, there was simply not enough time.
My grandmother lived her life fully, and though marked by tragedy, she chose to rise above. Chose to live.
She was born in Romania and raised in the Ukraine, living her young life in a history that most Americans have been fortunate enough not to know. And while her childhood played against the backdrop of World War II, her memories of her mother and father were vivid and filled with child-like wonder even in her older age.
She was strong-willed as a girl, and staunch in her beliefs. She stood up for what was right, and when faced with losses that would cripple most, rose above to create a better life, and a hope for a better future.
She met my grandfather over half a century ago, while walking with her friend. My grandfathers friend was actually the first to speak with her, but in German, to which she refused to respond. It was not until my grandfather spoke to her in Ukrainian that she came around…and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tomorrow would mark their 60th wedding anniversary. A life-time of love and friendship. And to think, it all started with a “hello” in the right language.
My grandmother had faith. The unwavering kind that allows you to come to another country with ‘two babies and two spoons’ as my grandfather has said. They had so much hope for a better life, so much faith in God to take care of them.
America proved to be wonderful for her. While she always missed her home, she and my grandfather made a new life with their growing family.
They had an unwavering faith in the promise of a better life here. And she got it. Though her youth was marked by tragedy, her adulthood was full of joy and life. She was proud of nothing more than her boys, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. And she never passed up an opportunity to express it.
But there simply wasn’t enough time.
But, somehow, I don’t think that there would ever have been enough time. Not to recount her full and wonderful life. So I am thankful to have captured a glimpse into it. And to share her experience for further generations.
I was asked to give this speech from a grandchild’s’ perspective. But to me that doesn’t even come close to capturing her memory. As far as grandmothers go, she was amazing. But as far as a person…a woman, she held herself to a standard that would do us all good to live by.
Grandma, I love you. We all do. You’ve always been so quick to tell us how proud you were. But for your life…I am proud. For your honor and your strength…I am proud. For your love of others and unwavering faith in God…I am proud.
We love you, and honor you. But we will not miss you, for you are in our hearts and will be apart of all of our days.