I called my Babcia yesterday. During the usual questions she asked me, she found out that I am a lunchroom mom again this year like last year.
I found out what she thought of volunteering at school. That it was every parents responsibility to help at school in some way. That children's education does not and cannot fall squarely on the shoulders of teachers.
My Babcia told me that she volunteered every week at my father and Wujek's school, even when they were in Teknologia (Technology school which some students did instead of high school, the education system in Poland is entirely different from the US education system, with students beginning work skills training at a younger age and for a longer time into college).
My Babcia often helped the teacher with writing the papers, after all, this was before computers, before printers. Hand outs, paperwork had to be typed and written each piece at a time.
My Babcia worked full time all this time, made home cooked meals every single day, went to church every single Sunday, had a small garden that she tended and used to grow much of my family's food.
My father and Wujek were clothe diapered at a time when all children were in clothe diapers, when clothing was washed either by hand or using machines which were essentially tubs that were handfilled with water from the tap and had a "wrangler" on the top. Machines that had to be emptied by hand. My Babcia did all this and made her own baby food because that was just what you did.
I have to add that my Babcia fled Poland to France at the start of WWII, then came to America, not to return to Poland until the war was over. She then met my Dziadek, married, and had two children which were raised under the USSR's rule and Communism. Poland was a burned shell of what she had left and had to slowly be rebuilt. Food lines were common. Store shelves bare of food were a common sight.
My Babcia told me she was proud of me because perhaps my presence at the schools will inspire other parents. And perhaps I can be an inspiration to some child there who perhaps isn't as fortunate as my daughters, this in my Babcia's words translated to English.
My Babcia then went on to tell me that she was finally working on throwing away old cans of food that she had made over the years. So much food had she carefully cultivated in her garden, harvested, brought home on the bus, washed and canned. And placed under her bed because there was no room for a pantry in her apartment.
All to be thrown away because now they were old and she was all alone and couldn't eat it all.
I wanted to be there with her to help her. But I can't. I am here instead.
We ended our conversation after a while with the same professions of love that always end our conversations. A reminder from her that I am the first grandchild. A reminder to her that she was my first and most beloved Babcia and that I would always remember that she was the one who brought me home from the hospital.
My telling her that I prayed that the old house would soon sell so that we could come see her again and her saying that she would pray for that also very much because she really missed us.
Wishes for colorful dreams.
Love all the way to Heaven.
Buska Buska Buska Pa.
I can't help but draw inspiration from her. And hope that I can see her again. Soon.
The Dolls I Left Behind