My Amazing Day

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!

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9 Responses to My Amazing Day

  1. Elaine Majka says:

    Leon, how wonderful for all of you to have been able to hook up with one another. I can only imagine the emotions that arose for you upon opening your door to your cousin. I am so happy for you all. Wasn’t Alex Symbal one of the sons’ of Pat’s/Sonia’s Busia and Ja Ja? Take care, Elaine

  2. ewa says:

    Leon, You lucky beast! I am so happy for you! Remember what I said after translating a letter from Alicja: this is a person you are going to like, you have to get to know her, and there she is. Please say hello from me. I wish I was there. I guess I have to start saving money for the next year vacation in Poland. xxoo

  3. Jean says:

    First of all, it sounds like you, Pat & Sonja) are all having a good time…tipping a few piwo and all. (Yes, now I remember what that means, even without google translator.) BTW, when, if ever, are you sleeping?! And then, what an amazing discovery! Great Grandpa Symbal’s brother…I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. How fortunate indeed! Write when you can, it is so wonderful to hear about it all. Could your timing have been any better?!

  4. donnak24 says:

    I guess I am pretty much speechless as well. To actually meet living relatives in POLAND is hard to wrap the mind around. So now the mother that will come tomorrow will be Pat & Sonia’s 2nd cousin…right? And the daughter would be 4th cousins with Kirsten & Sean? Family. We ARE all connected!

  5. mary says:

    wow! how amazing is that? what a leap they took as well to just head on down to the hotel….how cool is that….by the way, it was kali who told me this was a must read….so know that everyone is watching, reading and talking….hope the rest of your trip continues to be an amazing discovery. (somewhere i do have a solidarnosc button from the 80’s) hey, and to think it all started with just a stamp…….(could not resist that.) return trip and company…life is good…..and you have plenty of time to sleep……

  6. Aunt Mary says:

    Leon, how wonderful to meet up with relatives in Poland.!! That is exciting. Glad you three are having the time of your life.!!! This blog is great.!! I’m really enjoying it. You know you could write a book about your adventure. It holds our interest well.!! Say Hi to Sonja and Pat as well.!!

  7. Sue says:

    Family….. clear across the world, and Leon found them! What a wonderful surprise for all three of you!! I can feel your excitement and I can only imagine how my mom and Pat felt in their conversations with Alicija and her family as well. Your morning get together will surely be amazing, meeting Alicija’s mom. Wow, you have only begun your trip and already have experienced things that are truly priceless! Words can’t express how I feel knowing that my mom is lucky enough to enjoy these wonderful adventures with you!!! Enjoy…

  8. Hi Leon,
    That meeting was really, really great!
    My mom (Alicja) didn’t notice that she forgot about checking her second email, and also she check her emails only few times in a month… and booom! it was the day when she decided to log in @ her mail. She have had only one thought – ‘we’re going to hotel to visit Leon’.
    And You know the rest of things that happened that evening 🙂

    ohh and one thing. the girl who was with me – Paulina – is my cousine (she isn’t Alicja’s sister. She is a daughter of Alicja’s brother – Marek).

    Have a good trip! And we hope to see You next year!
    It will be a great pleasure to visit/to have You in our home. [ I don’t know how to say that properly but I think You know the meaning. ]

  9. Stephanie says:

    Leon, you have me in tears of happiness….actually meeting our family, seeing where we came from, and especially how proud you are to be an ancestor of polish decent. You are truly Polish!!!! I had no desire to go anywhere outside our great USA, but after following your website, visting Poland would be wonderful…….. May God be with you, Sonja and Pat so you can continue to enjoy and grasp your heritage and appreciate it even more. Love you all………….Thank you so very much for setting up this website, and taking us along to Poland…………..

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