A few days after our return from San Francisco, we got the incredibly sad news that my grandmother died. My mom and I took a whirlwind trip to Poland to attend the funeral.
It was such a somber occasion, but I was also grateful to be able to go with my mom and help support her, and get the chance to reconnect with family and to visit the place that I was born.
I can’t wait to take Kirk there some day!
We left the US on Friday, and arrived in Warsaw on Saturday – except that our bags didn’t – as if we needed any more stress for the trip! My Uncle Leszek and Aunt Grazyna (my dad’s sister and her husband from western Poland) drove 5 hours to Warsaw to pick us up and then drive us 4 more hours in a different direction to the area where my mom is from. It was so nice that they took the week to come pick us up and then drop us off back at the airport a few days later!
My mom’s family is from an area on the the very eastern part of Poland. It is very close to Belarus. It’s full of small little towns that look so quaint and almost frozen in time. You almost wouldn’t know it’s 2009 there.
The beautiful Polish Countryside
The evening we arrived, there was a beautiful memorial service for my grandma in the Russian Orthodox Church. The next morning was the funeral. The graves in Polish cemeteries are elaborate and it is very traditional for families spend a lot of time maintaining them. Every single gravestone in the cemetery had at least a couple fresh bouquets and candles on it.
Grandma Basia’s Grave – It is traditional to cover the grave with flowers and candles and were brought to the funeral. Everything must stay on the grave undisturbed for 40 days – Bielsk Podlaski
On the lake with my cousins Pawel and Tomek, and my uncle Leszek
In front of our wonderful hosts (Aunt Lucia and Uncle Leon’s) house – Dubicze Cerkiewne
On Tuesday, Leszek and Grazyna drove us back to Warsaw to stay the night there since our flight left early in the morning. We stayed with my mom’s cousin Ania, and her husband Witold. Witold took us around on a tour of Warsaw that was indescribable! It was the best tour that I have ever had. He knew everything about the city – every building and all the history behind it. It was so wonderful! I am so grateful that he took the time to show us all so much of Warsaw!
Ania in front of the house that she lived in after she was born – Warsaw
Old Town Market Place – Warsaw. Like all of Warsaw, this area was badly destroyed during WWII. The entire area was rebuilt in the old style from old postcards and pictures.
In front of the Royal Castle – Warsaw