Welcome to Braided Brook, a Journal of Stories About Growth.

Our First Holiday Season Without Babci

Our First Holiday Season Without Babci

Babci means “grandmother” in Polish. But to describe Babci as just a grandmother, or just one thing in particular, would be diminishing.

Babci wasn’t just a talker. She could have an hour-long conversation with you that didn’t require you to talk.

Babci wasn’t just a listener. She empathized with you, then considered all sides of your story and told you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear.

Babci wasn’t just a shopaholic. Her house was a giant closet, with shoes and handbags and outfits bursting out of hidden compartments.

Babci wasn’t just a wife. She honored her husband by telling stories about him and making you wish you could have met him.

Babci wasn’t just religious. She sprinkled holy water in your new car and glared at you if you were talking too loud in church.

Babci wasn’t just classy. Her nails were always bedazzled, her jewelry always matched her outfit and it was rare to see her in the same thing twice.

Babci wasn’t just smart. When she looked through her high school yearbook, she remembered every classmate and their extended story.

Babci wasn’t just a grandmother. Her grandchildren were her wealth. She said that all of the time.

As we experience our first holiday season without Babci, it’s hard for me to grasp that she won’t be there. But then I recalled something curious that happened a few years ago.

We were all gathered around the island, just as we were about to eat, and we went one by one talking about what we were thankful for. In the middle of it, a moth landed on my boyfriend’s — Babci’s grandson’s — shoulder. After dziadziu (grandfather) died, Babci began to associate him with butterflies and ladybugs. She had butterfly and ladybug trinkets scattered throughout her house, and we even planted butterfly plants at her house to attract them.

And as the whole family was gathered together, a butterfly-looking insect landed on Pat’s shoulder.

Babci immediately saw it and said, “Look! It’s dziadziu!”

Out of instinct, Pat saw the bug on his shoulder and smacked it, the dusty remains of the moth sticking to his shirt. For a split second, everyone was quiet. Then we laughed, and laughed.

This holiday season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Babci visited us. But Pat better be more careful.

Originally Published in the Self Narrate Column in the Gainesville Sun

Giving Thanks During Difficult Times

Giving Thanks During Difficult Times

A Love for Trees Turned Into a Life’s Work

A Love for Trees Turned Into a Life’s Work