The heart of the family stopped beating
Our grandmother Marysia was born on 6 December 1921 and was the most wonderful St Nicholas' present for all family. She lived to a ripe old age - 83 years. Despite this she lived too short for each of us. She passed away too early and her loss hurt us very much. In some way our world died with her. She had four children, seven grandchildren and sixteen great- grandchildren. One can even think: what more could you expect. But my grandma did not want to leave this world and her closest relatives who visited the grandparents' house out of a heartfelt need, being drawn by some invisible force as if a magnet. Today nobody doubts that she was that magnet. The world without her is different, the house is not the same house because my grandmother was Mother of our family, Mother who united, embraced, loved... and when mother's heart stopped beating, nothing is the same...
Saint Apostles opened heaven's door for her
I will not exaggerate if I say that she was a woman with a charisma, a personality rising above mediocrity, an extraordinary colourful and interesting person. She deserved a royal good-bye, a truly royal funeral with several Polish bishops headed by the Metropolitan of Czestochowa Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak. Almost 70 priests, numerous nuns, local authorities of the county of Lazy, including the mayor Tadeusz Czop, representatives of the city council of Czestochowa, the staff of the local elementary school, the Circle of Country Housewives, the local voluntary fire brigade with its banner, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, inhabitants of Chruszczobrod and her orphaned family came to the funeral, which took place in the parish church of St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr in Chruszczobrod.
In the last four months my Grandma was bedridden. We admired her extraordinary will of life. She resisted her illness and fought until the last moment of hope for recovery. When I visited her with my several-month-old daughter Emilka, she said, 'I wish I could really enjoy your girl and all of you but I have no time...' God called her on the June night of the Feast of St Peter and St Paul the Apostles, which fell on the 44th anniversary of the priesthood of her son Ireneusz. The funeral was on the first Friday of the month, 1 July.
Taking into consideration that my Grandma experienced many supernatural signs of God during her life we should see those two unique in every respect days as another evidence of God's presence in her toil-worn, difficult but happy life.
The house marked with God's graces
My grandma got married as a very young woman. She was 16 and her husband Marian was ten years older. They built their fellowship for 67 years. And the fruit is our large family - in total 35 people. From the beginning faith played the most important role in their lives; it was a reality integrated in the course of ordinary matters and gestures, without pathos or ostentation. That was so because God was always at the first place, and nowadays everything is in order. In our family there have never been equal and more equal members and that's why one could not find any skirmishes or arguments. The young couple lived in the grandfather's house in Chruszczobrod at the beginning of 1938. It was a thatched house and perhaps it was marked with God's graces because storms, illnesses and disasters did not strike it.
Children were born: Ireneusz, Andrzej, Leokadia and Jadwiga. The family lived 24 years there. The times were hard, they were poverty-stricken, they were unemployed; however, the children remember the atmosphere of the family nest: friendship, warmth and piety. 'It was always an open house, full of noise, people who came by since they felt here at home', Andrzej recollects. 'There were holy pictures on the walls, and the most important and at the same time the most extraordinary ones: Sacred Heart of Jesus and Heart of the Mother of God, which were the dowry for the newly wedded'. Those two sacred pictures once 'spoke' to the spouses. One evening when they were kneeling and praying as usual they both saw beautiful white flowers moving from one picture to the other. At that time my grandma was in the family way.
Quiet and great faith of our Grandma
In 1950s my grandparents began building a new house that was nearby. 'And the atmosphere was similar because the same people created it. We felt very well there. My brother was already a priest and our house became a priestly house. Other priests used to visit us frequently, some dined with us, and they called our mother 'mummy' since, as they explained, and 'one priest's mother is mother of every priest'. And my mother was extremely cheerful, smiling, witty and hospitable. She appreciated visits very much', the youngest daughter Jadwiga recollects.
'When Marian Sztuka was our parish priest he promoted the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Lord Jesus very much. Our mummy had a great devotion to Jesus' heart. She performed First Fridays publicly. And when she could only listen to Mass on the radio she felt sorry she could not participate fully since she could not receive the Holy Communion. That's why I often celebrated Sunday Mass in my parents' house. Mummy was very happy then', Fr Ireneusz says.
She had always a book of common prayer and a rosary at hand. She lived all her life with rosary. She dearly loved the Mother of God and when she asked her of something she addressed her, 'Dear Most Holy Mother...' I still remember my grandma and grandpa praying every evening before the statue of the Immaculate they had received from her son priest 50 years ago. In the next years the number of sacred pictures grew and these sacred paintings gave them strength in hard moments of suffering and illness. I will never forget when I visited my grandma a month before her death and I gave her the relics of Fr Pio. She took them with some childish sincerity and simplicity and repeated several times: 'Father Pio, intercede for my health, pray for me'. With tears in her eyes she kissed the relics with great love, faith and hope that it would be better'.
'Mummy repeated many a time how much she desired God in her life. She felt the need of prayer as a young girl. When she was expecting a child, her desire of prayer deepened. We all felt surrounded by the words of prayer she whispered. She did not display this. Her faith was quiet but great', her daughter Leokadia admits.
Scraps of recollections
She was a simple woman but she read a lot, especially 'Niedziela', and listened to Catholic radio stations - Radio Jasna Gora, Radio Fiat and Radio Maryja - and thanks to this she could discuss religious, social and even political issues. Many a time she knew better some topics than the younger generation. Staying mainly at home she listened to all news and documentary programmes and together with grandpa she was always up to date. Grandma had extraordinary intuition, she judged things perfectly, and she could see through people quickly and was deeply moved when she saw some injustice. Almost to the very end of her life she was aware of what was going on in our country. She was deeply affected by Fr Hejmo's defamation. She stressed that he was hurt.
The house of our grandparents was for us all. Any time during day or night we could go there and knew someone would open the door and welcome us. Grandma Marysia brought up grandchildren and great grandchildren, and she was always surrounded by children. Especially in summer the grandparents' house was full of kids when all their granddaughters came. 'We were drawn here. Grandma cooked very well, we could live in the country; she taught us to milk a cow or to tidy up; she played draughts and in summer she made delicious roast dishes, ewes' milk cheese, small dumplings and bread with cream and sugar. Everything tasted differently in grandma's home', the granddaughters say. 'When my First Communion was approaching she used to sit with me and teach me the creed 'I believe in God', granddaughter Ania says. 'There was no one more wonderful than my grandma', she adds.
'She was happy when she was able to give people something. She never forgot about our birthdays and namedays. She carried each of us in her heart. We felt her motherly love and in turn we ran to our grandma, the eldest woman, when she was fine and strong and even more when she was passing away', her great-granddaughter Martynka recollects.
'Our grandma cared about her appearance. She sewed new clothes; she liked costumes with turn-down collars very much. She liked to wear a scarf and had perfumes and a lipstick in her handbag. We often came to her for advise because it was known she had good taste', granddaughter Lidzia recollects.
She told us how to live, using Polish proverbs and sometimes simple refrains. She loved talking about old times, recollecting them with tears in her eyes how it was of yore. Her voice, advice, characteristic gestures, movements, words, witty sayings and descriptions will remain in our memory forever. My Grandma often recollected her dead mother. She cried when she mentioned her name and said, 'I am so old but I feel badly without my mother, I miss her very much...'
The family as a whole, and each of us, owe so much to our grandma. She left long-lasting signs behind. And it was hard to accept the thought that she was no longer with us.
Grandma, I owe you my upbringing since you cared about me for several years but most of all I thank you for rescuing me from disability and perhaps even from death. I was three when I got out of your control and climbed the first floor of the barn, which did not have any safety barriers. When you tried to approach me I moved back. Then you had a splendid idea: you said you had a little bird in your hand and wanted to show it to me. Being lured by your words I was going down and finally I felt your strong arms that did not want to let me out again. You recollected that event many times since it might have had a tragic end.
You were often wondering - half jokingly - what your funeral would be, what would be happening here after your death and if somebody would cry over your loss and would feel sorrowful. Grandma, now you know it for sure that your funeral was royal and after your death we are sad, you orphaned us all; your house and your rooms are empty now, but most of all we do feel great emptiness and pain in our hearts. Nobody can fill this void; nobody can replace you. We are sure that God rewarded you for your life and gave you heaven, and that you are among your beloved ones, and for us, your family on earth, you are our intercessor now.
Your granddaughter Agnieszka