Official papers indicate she died at 89 years of age, but who is to say? At the time of her birth, the government took records just about as seriously as a dandelion seed's path in the wind. No one really knew, or really cared for that matter. You only did a handful of things in the little village from where she made a lifetime: you were born, you died, and in between you worked. Glimpses of happiness and joy were scattered throughout her passing days, but the penetrating shine of pure bliss never blinded any one part of her life. It was a steady, dim beam guiding her life's path, the only intensity of light she knew. Can you ever know the brightness of the sun if you never gaze into its core?
Her village was small, filled with loving, hard-working people in the former Yugoslavia. She resided in her tiny, 2-room adobe very comfortably during the spring and fall seasons. The other two seasons were grueling at best, for reasons opposite each other. I'd call her home a cabin or a hut if it wasn't for the fact those terms would have given too much credit. She had no running water, no indoor plumbing. The sink, the bath, the washer were all down by the river. Only the past decade of her life was electricity introduced to her world. The wood-burning stove did double-duty, providing heat during the winter months, as well as cooked food, what little there was of it. She lived a lifetime, never learning how to read or write, but knew how to work the land to survive.
With the exception of one son, her children fled the village for better opportunity. One even came to America. That son would only see his mother once, maybe twice more, in her lifetime, but his dedication was always strong, sending her money as often as the rain falls in Ireland. Her end came, as it will for us all. But her end did not come hundreds of years ago, as indicated by her living conditions. No, her end came earlier this week.
I only met my paternal grandmother once, face-to-face, on a trip to Europe when I was 16 years old. She made me popcorn on that wood stove of her's and it was the best. She did not know English, I only knew a little of her language. Despite the language barrier, we had bloodlines between us that bonded us from the start. My father is the son that made it to America, but that's a whole 'nother story.
Goodbye my Baba. Your life was long and hard but now you can finally rest in the arms of heaven where a softer, more gentler journey awaits you. Love you, always.