I treasure life’s unique experiences, especially those that come out of nowhere.
Last weekend, I had one of those experiences. I went to two parties on one weekend – one for our 96-year-old Baba and a first-year birthday party for my littlest niece. It was the past and the future all rolled into one weekend.
At 96, I can’t help but be amazed at the life Baba has lived.
Born in 1923.
Let’s think about THAT for a second.
To say it was a different time would be like saying the winters are a little cold in northern Saskatchewan.
Her mother and father were children of Ukrainian immigrants, simple farmers fleeing violent oppression, seeking cheap farming land in Canada. She grew up in a time where religion and community went hand-in-hand, through times when her family didn’t know if they’d have enough to eat over the winter, and in a home with no running water or Google (FYI, of the two, I think I could survive longer without water than the internet.)
She survived the Great Depression, all the sicknesses that took so many back then, and literally had to walk miles through blizzards to attend school. (And me, I complain if I have to walk to my car in the rain.)
So, imagine how the world has changed in her lifetime.
She saw how the world transformed after World War 2, from the rise of feminism, to the growth of suburbs, to the civil rights movement. She would have listened to the Beatles on the radio, watched men land on the moon on her black and white TV, and seen the ushering in of the computerized world.
For most of her life, she would have used a rotary phone, likely with an overly long spiral cord that risked strangling anyone who got in-between you and the phone. For most of her life, she would have gone to an actual store to shop, not Amazoned a blender or a book about bees. For most of her life, she would have had to rely on her memory to recall who was that actor who played that doctor on that show set during the Korean war, not simply spoken her request to the god-like Siri.
I could go on and on (and actually did, but edited this for brevity). This was a woman who not only lived through those times but refused to be confined by those times.
She never finished school, yet created architectural drawings for the church she helped build. While raising 4 children, she helped run a drive-in movie theatre (which I think is super cool). All of her life, even into her 70’s and 80’s, she organized and led her church women’s group, and worked in the kitchen cooking up legendary dinners at the Ukrainian Hall in Surrey.
She is a woman who has never slowed down, never given up, and always finds a way to contribute.
So, for her birthday, we all gathered to celebrate this amazing woman. Married at 16 to a man 8 years her senior, she had four children, who went on the have great lives and provide her with a boat-load of grandchildren who, in turn, brought forth many, many more great-grandchildren.
Nearly all were able to come for her birthday. We sang, (poorly,), laughed loudly, watched a slide show of her life with her family, and cried with her as she thanked everyone for their love.
Personally, I love spending time with her, listening to her stories, hearing her history and shaking my head in wonder at someone who has been through so much, remains so positive, so productive and still so funny.
She is an inspiration.
Tomorrow, the future.