This is an old favourite photo of my Dziadziu (grandfather in Polish). I grew up living with my parents and grandparents, and siblings. While my parents and Dziadziu worked, my Bubie (grandmother) ran the household. All went as well as many generations in the same house, my dad and mother’s family each from extremely different backgrounds, and all but us siblings born in Poland…could go. That is, in the daytime. At night, every night, my Dziadziu yelled out in his sleep. He had the same nightmares, always, from his time of fighting in World War One, on horseback, in the Polish Cavalry. He took his family to Canada after that war. Consider moving countries, and changing language, and never again seeing your family and friends in the “old country”. He was a brave man to do this, and to find peace after that war that troubled his nights. He found his most peace in gardening. Dziadziu had left a farming village, but his “roots” never left him.
And here is my father. He was with the Royal British Airforce, Polish Division. He fought to get there, having first been prisoned in Siberia by the Russians. Getting to England to fight could not have been easy. He met my mother in Toronto while training there with his Division ..and married her before returning to war! My brother was born while my father was still fighting, but he survived, and thrived in Toronto, as best he could, without his country, his language, his former life. He too was brave. I never appreciated it, growing up, the way I do on this Remembrance Day, that these two men had spent part of their youth being traumatized by war, and then added to it complete relocation, a new country, a new language, a new culture. It all takes bravery. And here we siblings have grown up in Canada, have lived in peace in our country, but some of our country men and women are fighting elsewhere to bring peace to others. They are brave. For our peaceful lives, we are grateful.