Cooking My Emotions

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Babcia Stasia in her 20s.

If I live to be 89, I would die a happy and fulfilled old grandma. I hope to will have left my family in as much grief and despair as I’m now in. My 89-year-old grandma, my culinary inspiration and life role model passed away last Friday. I was lucky to have spent some time with her at the hospital before her passing, watch her sleep most of the time, and trying to fight the tears that so reluctantly forced themselves down my cheeks. 

We went to Poland this summer to celebrate my brother’s wedding, to spend 2 days eating, drinking a dancing, but as it often goes, life takes its course (I promise to write a whole post about the wedding, as it deserves). 

Our annual trip filled with mixed emotions of happiness of new beginnings for my brother and his bride, seeing family that we don’t get to see all the time because of the distance, lack of free time to visit and deep sadness, grief and anguish of my dear grandma passing. All that in one short week.

I am deep in sorrow, but also pride of the woman babcia Stasia was. Although she was a simple woman, but absolutely badass! 

– she walked 1 mile to the hospital when she was in labor, cause she didn’t have a phone to call an ambulance. If it wasn’t for a nurse just leaving after completing a shift, who helped her to the ward, my mom would have been born on the street in front of the hospital.

– she managed to make pickles, compote, canned fruit and vegetables to last us all winter up until she was 88, ever year.

 

– she never drove, but managed to do all grocery shopping by herself, run errands, work, take care of the house, her daughter and later in life, us kids.

– during WWII she worked for a German farmer 7 days a week, and when Poland was liberated, she walked for miles to get back home.

– she never ate store-bought pickles.

– she taught me how to knit at the age of 7.

– she absolutely hated pumpkin pie. 

– she made us chicken soup for dinner every Sunday for all of my life.

– she was the only one in our family (including my dad) who could kill a chicken or a duck, AND drain it’s blood for blood soup. 

– at my wedding she danced until 5 am, until I told her it was time to go home because I was tired.

– she taught me the love of cooking and the art of giving joy through it.

 

​- she never let anything stop her from doing what needed to be done.

Babcia Stasia giving a bath to our dog, with a broken arm.  

 – she never put herself first. Family was the most important “thing” and always a priority.

Her absolute one and only purpose in life was to take care of her family. We were the most important people in her life and her life revolved around providing love, food, care and support to my mom and dad and to my brother and I. She suffered greatly when I moved away, and we both sobbed every time we said good-bye. 

I thought about this day for years, and knew it was going to be tough to say good-bye. Now, as I’m grieving all I find myself doing is cooking. I feel connected to her through her recipes, and by tasting the food I feel closer. This will not be an easy process and the gap can never be filled, but I’m relieved to know that a piece of you will always live within me.

You will always be loved Grandma Stasia. Rest In Piece. 

 

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4 Comments

  1. What a moving and lovely story about your Babcia. It brought tears to my eyes because now living the life your Babcia did with two of my grandchildren and we are bonding and sharing the love of cooking! Thank you for sharing your loving memories … I am so touched to read them. I wish someday I could meet with you and talk over some delicate, powdered chrusciki!!!! Love to you.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss my luv, I’ve lost both my parents..’10,’11… it’s still so difficult, I try not to talk of them in public..tearing up now…I’ll keep a good thought luv🙏🏻

  3. There is a sort of “connecting string” between you and your grandmother and me and mine – so many similarities. I promised her I would never put her in a nursing home and brought her down to SW Missouri from northern Illinois at the age of 101. My grandmother hated Pizza! Her birthday was on March 4th and at the age of 102 she died in our home at the end of that month. She had never seen Magnolia flowers before, so I made her a huge bouquet of Magnolia and Forsythia flowers. That was the ONLY year in 31 years that those flowers didn’t get hit by a frost! I suspected a heavenly hand had something to do with that. I would spend my whole summers with her once school let out. The memories are PRICELESS! She taught me how to crochet in 6th grade and have many memories of being frustrated because she made me do a lot of ripping out because “it wasn’t right”. Long story on the duck blood soup!!! Let’s just say she never made it a second time – nor “moonshine” either for that matter (another long story). I thank the good Lord that she left Poland before WWII and came to America – although it did not prove to be an easy life for her. What I wouldn’t do to have another 24 hrs. with her again!

  4. Hi Anna your post about your grandmother was a mirror copy of mine! She was the love of my childhood. I pinched her Pierogies,helped in her garden and watered her roses. She walked to church every day and prayed her rosary twice a day. She was my inspiration to follow my Catholic faith. She told stories about her life in Poland. Talked about getting on the boat to America and that her sister was left behind. The sadness she felt broke my heart. She lived for her family. I was very blessed to be her granddaughter and given her name at birth. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. Send with love.

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