I have so very, very much to write about, as today was the most amazing day for me. It was truly a day in my life that is a turning point, one to take note of and remember for a long, long time.
But first, let me tell you about what I’ll write about later, or at another time. We went to the Gdansk shipyards today and saw the birthplace of Solidarnosc. Yes, we saw the place which helped begin an enormous big change–a good and great change–in our world. One which we should never forget.
And we had a tour of Gdansk and saw the basillica which holds 25,000 people and has something like 6,000 peple buried under its floor. Then we had a tour of Wrzeszcz and Oliwa and heard an organ concert at the Cathedral of St. Mary with its over 7,000 organ pipes. Very impressive. And we had lunch that included bread and smalec, barszsz, and a Kaszubian beef dish which was very good. And after that we had a walk on the pier at Sopot and walked out to the Baltic Sea on a blustery day.
But that was not the highlihght. After we got back I managed to buy stamps at the Post Office from a non English-speaking worker…perphaps my few words of Polish did work, she smiled-and I got my stamps!
And later I walked along the Gdansk Square and met up with some other people from the tour, including Sonja and Pat, and we all had a few beers…and then a few more. But that was not the amazing part of my day, not at all.
We got back from the Square and I was pushing Sonja in her wheelchair and Pat was just egging us on, and we were having a good time, fueled by a few piwo, i’m sure. There were few other people in the hotel lobby as we entered, but we didn’t pay any attention……
So I got to my room and in a few moments there was a knock on my door. I wondered what Pat or Sonja had forgotten.
And then the amazing part of this trip started. There was a woman at the door with her oldest son and her husband. It was my third cousin Alicja with her husband Wojtek and their son Bartek.
I was….. I was…. I was…. words cannot describe what I felt.
I am at a loss for words, I don’t know what to write. Alicja is my third cousin. Her great-grandfather was a brother to my great-grandfather, Alex Symbal.
I had written to her kinda late in my preparation for my trip to Poland, and my friend Ewa translated it and also sent it to her. Well, earlier today, unbeknownst to me, Alicja got my email. So she came to find me. Just like that. Because that’s what family does, and that’s what family is all about.
I got Pat and Sonja and they joined us in the lobby. First off, Bartek speaks great English, so he was a great translator. Second, Sonja remembers more Polish than she thought. And Wojtek has very good English as well. And with my two or three words of Polish, well…
Next year I am coming back to Gdansk for a week or two, and will be the guest of my 3d cousin and her family. And anyone who wants to join me. And in the next year or so, her family (which includes a current 3-year old who was with the baby sitter tonight, understandably) will be visiting with and staying with me in Florida.
We had an extraordinary visit. Words cannot do it justice. I am overcome with emotion at this time, it was so wonderful. And to top it off, tomorrow morning we are meeting Alicja’s mother and Alicia’s niece, they are coming here to to hotel at 7 AM to meet us before we leave at 9 AM. How wonderful is that.
So, I could say so much more about this exceptionally extraordinary day, but I could not begin to do it justice. Let it be said that there is nothing like family, and nothing better than finding family that you’ve not seen for a long, long time, if ever. Life can’t possilbly get any better than this. Today was an exceptional, extraordinary day. How fortunate I am!