You will live on forever in our hearts and memories

It seemed that he would never leave us since he had ever been with us… The late Marian Skubis – our father, grandfather, great-grandpa and great-great grandpa. The family expanded throughout all his life, more and more relatives, and he was the head.
He lived to a great age – 100 years. Some might wonder that thinking of his death evokes tears and pain because everyone would wish to live to such age in good health, love of the family, respect and wonderful care. But for each of us he lived too short, passed away too early and we were deeply touched when we lost him and our world died with him to some extent. An empty place after him is in our home and nobody can replace it. We still remember his characteristic voice, gestures, words, sayings, his extremely good sense of humour and reserved attitude towards life as well as rich recollections, full of warmth, joy and cordiality.

Not sorry to die

I will not exaggerate if I say that our grandpa was a charismatic man, an extraordinary personality, very colourful and interesting. He spoke about his death many times – half jokingly, half seriously, ‘What will my funeral look like, what will be happening here after my death? Will someone cry after me?’ He used to say that he would not die in winter because nobody would attend his funeral. Now you know for sure that you had the funeral you deserved – truly royal. And you know, Grandpa, that although you passed away in winter the weather was really warm, like in spring; the day of your funeral was sunny, with blue sky and the temperature above zero. And almost 300 people came to your funeral. We even know what you would have told us if you had seen it, ‘How many activities I have stimulated, what wonderful funeral you have organised…I am not sorry to die seeing all of this…’

To live to 100 years

Throughout all his life our grandpa was strong and in good health. Only in the last years of his life he complained about his legs, often saying and beating his breasts, ‘See how healthy I am. I only wish I could walk better…’ Only for the last two months he was bedridden. We admired his strong organism that did not yield to his age, and his extremely strong will of life. When the whole family came to celebrate his birthday every year he counted time till he reached 100 years, ‘In 10 years I will be 100; in five years I will be 100; in a year I will reach 100. Will I live to this age? I must live to this age!’ he kept saying proudly and with much determination. He had only one great wish on this occasion, ‘If I live to 100 years, the orchestra must perform live in the square.’ He did not live to the age of 100 years that he desired so much – only a few months missing, but he crossed the year 2011 so he lived to the year he would have turned 100! On his last birthday we were singing ‘Live 100 years’, with tears in our eyes. He himself, dressed up, was moved, too. And similarly, during the last two days of his life when lying in bed in hospital he looked at each of us with a meaningful look saying good-bye and whispering words… He felt he was passing away. He said good-bye through his tears and smile as if to confirm the saying, ‘In tears we are born and with tears we pass away into another sphere.’ Almost all family members gathered at his bed a few hours before his death and then his son – a priest, blessed him on his last way.

He found Jesus with the Three Kings

God called him to himself on the feast of the Three Kings. ‘The king of our family joined the Wise Men to find Jesus with them. We are convinced that he found him because he had a Christian preparation to this life on the other side. He went to confession, received the last anointing and blessing. He joined his beloved spouse, parents and nine siblings and other relatives who had preceded him on this way,’ noticed granddaughter Ania who cared for grandpa like for her own child.
The funeral celebration was held on the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord. Considering that our grandpa experienced many extraordinary signs from God one should interpret these two days as other signs of God’s presence in his life, filled with labour, hardship and happiness.

Marked with God’s graces

Our grandpa got married at the age of 26 and Marianna, the lady of his heart, was 10 years younger. They built their marriage and family community for 67 years and their fruit is a large family. Faith always played an important role in their lives. It was really included in the course of ordinary matters and gestures, without any pathos and ostentation. The reason was that God was always in the first place and today everything is in the right place.
In our family there have been no equal and more equal members, and perhaps that’s why one cannot see any quarrels or arguments in our family and those who have joined our family through marriages feel like in their natural families.

Family nest

One can even say that our grandparents did not have seven but fourteen grandchildren since they treated the wives and husbands of their biological grandchildren like their own, and similarly they treated their sons and daughters-in-law.
In February 1938 after their marriage the young couple moved to the grandpa’s thatched-roof house in Chruszczobroda. This house was marked with God’s graces. Storms, diseases and disasters omitted it. The children were born: Ireneusz, Andrzej, Leokadia and Jadwiga. They lived there for 24 years. The times were hard; they suffered poverty and unemployment but the children recollect cordial, warm and godly atmosphere of the family nest. ‘The house was always ready to welcome people; it was full of noise, people coming to chat because they must have felt like in their own families,’ daughter Leokadia recollects.
In the 1950s our grandparents began building a new house, next to the old one. And the mood in the new place was the same because it was the same people that created it.
‘My grandparents prayed all the lives. I still remember my grandma and grandpa kneeling every evening in front of the statue of the Immaculate,’ granddaughter Lidzia recollects. ‘We all have been prayed over by the prayers whispered by our parents. They did not show off. Their faith was silent but great,’ daughter Leokadia remarks.

Scraps of memories

Each of us got to know our grandparents very closely living under the same roof. The grandparents’ house was our own. We could go to them at any time day and night because we knew that someone would always open the door and rejoice at our sight. The grandparents’ house was especially noisy in summer when their grandchildren came to the country. ‘Our grandpa took us around the farm, taught us how to care for animals; the farm equipment, especially the horse-drawn cart attracted us a lot. He used to take us in the cart to the meadow. On the way back we sat on piles of hay. Grandpa taught me all farm work and thanks to it I know how bread tastes,’ recollects the eldest grandson Romek. ‘Daddy was strongly attached to the land. At the age of 11, after his father had died, he worked on a farm and when he was weaker and had to slow down he often asked us to drive him to Niwa, to Buczynka so that he could look at the land – our breadwinner. We could see how moved he was,’ son Andrzej says.
‘He cooked ‘nail’ soup as he called it because he wanted to make us eat by inventing strange names and of course, he succeeded. He loved talking about old times, recollecting with tears how it was before, when he fought in the war and how he avoided death many times. He kept telling about the accident in the cement mill or when he was burnt with carbide,’ grandson Mariusz recollects.
He was glad when he could give something to people. He never forgot our birthdays or namedays. He even urged grandma to give presents earlier. He carried each of us in his heart. ‘We felt his fatherly love which we returned. This love made us hurry to our family house, to our seniors when they were healthy and strong and even more when their lives were fading away,’ daughter Jadzia recollects.
Our unforgettable memories include the performances: his role of Herod, his spontaneous songs, and above all, his playing the violin together with his eldest grandson. Thus they graced our family celebrations for many years. Their showpiece was ‘The captain’s tango’, which will stay with us forever…

Bereaved children

The whole family and each family member owe him so much. He left strong marks on our lives and that’s why it is so hard to accept the thought that he is not with us. Our dearest ones are said to live as long as we remember them. Dearest Grandpa, you will live on forever in our hearts and memories. Death is too small a reason to stop loving.

Your granddaughter Agnieszka

"Niedziela" 4/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: