Packing up family memories

  • November 29, 2013

Emptying the house I grew up in, after the passing of my mom, has been one of the most difficult, rewarding, surprising, touching and inspiring times of my life. It was so fitting that this emptying culminated in November, the month that starts with us remembering those who have died and ends on the eve of Advent.

I am grateful I did not have to rush through the process. In fact, I was given the gift of enjoying dozens of visits to the house and neighbourhood I grew up in. What a mission, what a journey! It is almost impossible to describe. My sister and I worked together. We often laughed, often wiped tears, wondering each time we entered the house what delightful surprise awaited us.

Finding dozens of handwritten letters from my grandparents to my mother was a treasure, a remarkable find. Who hand writes letters any more? Discovering a passenger list from the ocean liner Stefan Batory, owned by Gdynia America Line, reminded me of that 12-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean that brought us to Canada in 1961. Photographs from Warsaw, Poland, with contrasting images before and after World War II, shook me, reminding me of the ordeal that my parents suffered. I began to understand more clearly how living through that atrocity may have affected them. It made my own problems pale in comparison.

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