Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remembering “Baba” – A Proverbs 31 Grandmother



As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we honor our own mother and are remembered by our children, but we should also give thanks for all the women in our lives who have inspired, encouraged, supported and loved us. For me, that includes all of you ladies, and especially Baba, my grandmother!

Marya, my mother's mother, was born in a small village near Kiev, Ukraine. As a young girl and teen she was said to be the best folk dancer in her village! Judging from the lavishly decorated, traditional tea towels, aprons and blouses she made and my mother still had decades later, she was also a talented and creative artist. As a special treat on rainy days in childhood, I was allowed to open the steamer trunk containing these linens, their once bright red and purple embroidery faded to maroon and tan, yet still rich in their intricate designs.

When she was 16, Marya fell in love and emigrated to Canada with her husband, a mining engineer, leaving her family and country and following him with the faithfulness of Ruth (1:16-17). They had a hard life in blustery Nova Scotia, and although she gave birth to 10 children, including three sets of twins, my mother was the only one who survived past infancy. The others died from pneumonia or other infections, as antibiotics were not yet available.

Her husband died suddenly when he was 35, probably from a brain aneurysm, two weeks after telling her that he would die soon because he had seen Jesus. Yet she was faithful to God through it all, praying to Jesus, drawing strength from her faith in Him, and serving Him even in the trials (1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1; Galatians 6:9). 

Although she had never learned to read, write, or speak much English, Marya and my mother moved to New York City shortly thereafter. Marya worked very hard in a bakery in the lower East Side, and became an active and loyal member in the sisterhood of the local Russian Orthodox church. Although she made hardly any money, she scrimped and saved to fund the purchase of a beautiful, full wall mural of Ruth gleaning in Boaz' field (Ruth 2:8) for her church. Her humble home was always open for hospitality, and she was always ready to give generously to those in need (Luke 6:38; Philippians 4: 16; Mark 9: 41; Matthew 6).

When my mother married, she moved to a small town in Pennsylvania where my dad worked. Seven years later, when I was born, my parents invited my grandmother to come live with her in the new house they were building so she could help raise me. Imagine their surprise when they went to pick her up at the train station and she was carrying an unassuming satchel containing $10,000 in small bills -- nearly a fortune in those days -- to help with the down payment on the house!

While awaiting my arrival, she cooked, cleaned, and made a huge pair of down-filled pillows for my parents, complete with crocheted-trim linen pillowcases!

When I learned to speak, I called her “Baba,” the Ukrainian pet term for grandmother, or old woman (“babushka”). She did so much more than help to raise me -- she was a great role model of faith and prayer. One of my earliest memories is seeing and hearing her pray out loud in her bedroom, where she kept a framed picture of the Last Supper by a portrait of her husband, and singing the Russian version of “Come, Thou Almighty King.”.

One winter vacation in the then-small town of Hollywood, FL, when I was six, Baba spotted a couple of vacant lots in the middle of nowhere and insisted she wanted to buy them "to pay for Laurie's education." Despite the concerned, well-meant advice of my parents, she went ahead and purchased these lots for a song. Ultimately, when Hollywood became a busy and popular tourist destination, proceeds of those lots paid in full for my medical school education!

While leaving me this inheritance, she left me far more -- her shining example of faith and love that can't be measured by worldly standards of education, income and position. Not to mention my penchant for dance and for real estate! When, as a 14-year-old, I helped to care for her in the end stages of stroke and Alzheimer's, she inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, specifically in neurology and in dementia research.

Marya was a true Proverbs 31 woman who blessed her children, her husband, and all those in her household, community, and sphere of influence (v. 12). She was virtuous (v. 10), faithful (v. 11), hard-working (v. 13-16, v. 27), morally and physically strong (v. 17), generous and charitable (v. 20), She had a realistic opinion about herself (v. 18), provided for her family through her hard work and planning (v. 21, 24), and enhanced the reputation of her husband (v. 23). She was kind, speaking the truth in love (v. 26).

How can we become a Proverbs 31 woman, whose family and community recognize that the blessings she gives them are priceless? (v.10, 28, 29). Not by relying on our social skills or our physical charms, but by fearing the Lord – by putting His will for our life ahead of all else (v.30).

May we respect, honor (Exodus 20:12) and cherish our mothers, grandmothers and sisters, by blood or in Christ, while they are yet with us, and may we learn from their Godly legacy of faith, sacrificial love, and service (Proverbs 22: 6; 29: 15; 1 Timothy 5: 5). May they inspire us to give such an example and leave such a legacy for those following us! 


© 2013 Laurie Collett
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36 comments:

  1. Such a lovely Mother's Day post. My grandmother was a wonderful influence in my life too, and even though she's been gone from me for a long time now, she's never really left. I love that your parents invited your grandmother in to help raise you. That says a lot too, about how they felt about her.

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    1. Thanks, Rosey! Loving, Godly examples like these will always be a part of us. My parents loved and respected her and realized what a blessing she was to all of us.
      Happy Mother's Day & God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. One of our poets wrote these poem: "Let's love people fast, they go away so quickly".
    You are right, we can't look on people like unsaved. I observe some thing among Protestants in Poland - they very often look down on somebody, because he or she is Catholic or Orthodox. But I saw in many countries and I knew some people from these churches, who despite of some unbiblical teachings, have brilliant faith and they really love Christ. We must be very careful to not repeat mistake of ancient Jews, who looked down on Samaritans.
    Greetings finally from Poland :)

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    1. Amen, Zim, only God knows the hearts. Within all the Christian denominations there are any who are unsaved and some that are saved. Life on earth is so short that we should do all we can to love, appreciate & encourage one another. Blessings & greetings to you,
      Laurie

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  3. Laurie,
    what a beautiful lady your grandmother was, and a perfect example of faith being the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. She put her trust in the Lord and He was truly faithful. This is one of the loveliest stories I have ever heard and, even though there was so much sadness in your grandmother's life, the Lord's love brought her through it all in a way that only He can do, with her persevering and never losing hope. God bless you for sharing this.

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    1. Thank you so much, Brenda, for your sweet comment. God is so good, giving grace even in difficult situations, gro9wing our faith and dependence on Him for even sweeter fellowship.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  4. An excellent post, Laurie. Your grandmother indeed was a pillar of virtue. As for her other nine offspring, it is a great comfort to know that the time will come when the entire family will be united in Heaven.
    May God bless you richly.

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    1. Thank you, Frank, for your very kind and comforting words. Praise God that He reunites families who are in Him. For me, one of the many blessings of Heaven will not only be seeing Baba again, and all my relatives who were saved, but meeting these aunts and uncles for the very first time, and never having to say goodbye!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  5. Such an excellent story, what a great woman of God! Blessed by the faith in God, and the lessons taught by your "Baba", we can learn so much from her!!

    Hope you had a wonderful and blessed Mother's Day weekend!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your visit and sweet comment!
      I was blessed to spend Mother's Day with my husband, son and my son's girlfriend, in church, and then a lovely dinner out and a movie!
      Hope yours was blessed also!
      Love in Him,
      Laueie

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  6. A delight to splash around with you today. This looks like a refreshing place to dip into God's goodness. I proclaim Prov 31 each and every day. Your post was an encouragement to me as wife and mom today.

    Splashin'
    Sarah

    http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I am blessed to hear that you were encouraged by this post. Prov. 31:30 is the class verse for the ladies' Bible study I teach.
      May you have a refreshing week in Him!
      Laurie

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  7. Thank you for your wonderful tribute to your grandmother Baba. This is such an inspirit story of love and devotion. It is awesome that she was led by God to purchase those lots that later paid for your education. Thank you for sharing at "Tell Me a Story."

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    1. Thanks, Hazel, for the kind words and for hosting! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. It is awesome how God can lead through the Holy Spirit to good decisions we might not even understand in the natural.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  8. Such a lovely post honoring your grandmother xo

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    1. Thanks, Katherine! Love & blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  9. What a wonderful and loving story thanks for sharing it with us. If you have the time Please stop by my ww as I would love to share with you my site. http://mommiespov.com/wordless-wednesday-jack-fm-throwback-concert/

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    1. Thanks, Glenda, for your comment & invite!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  10. Thank you Laurie for taking the time to read and comment on my poem. YOU are much appreciated.

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    1. You're very welcome, Hazel, & thanks for the kind words! I appreciate you and your lovely writing & blog too!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  11. Hello Laurie! Very nice post. I ran across your blog on the linkin-with-my-ladies-thursday-hop! I'm glad I did! I am following you with GFC. Please visit my blog and follow me. If you enjoy my post, please "Like" or leave a comment. I appreciate the support.

    Thank you,

    Vashti

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    1. Welcome, Vashti! Thanks so much for your comment & for following -- I'm following you back!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  12. Your grandmother sounds like a fantastic person! I wish I could have known her myself! Thanks for sharing her story!

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    1. Thanks for your visit and sweet comment, Alyssa! God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. Laurie, This was a beautiful beautiful tribute and story! Thank you for sharing~! ♥♥♥

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    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! I appreciate your kind words, and I'm blessed to hear that you enjoyed the post!
      May you have a wonderful week in Him!
      Laurie

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  14. Happy belated Mother's Day, Laurie. Thank you for sharing this lovely story--such a sweet heritage you have.

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    1. Dear Laura,
      Hope you had a blessed Mother's Day as well! Thanks for the good wishes and sweet comment & for hosting, & God bless!
      Laurie

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  15. Very sweet post! I love grandmas, their s special!

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    1. Thanks so much, Crystal, for your kind comment!
      Love & blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  16. Wow! - What a witness & an amazing bit of family history!! I just love inspiring historical stories. Thank you for sharing on my Themed Blog & Shop Hop.
    Angie
    godsgrowinggarden.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Angelique, for your lovely comment and for hosting!
      May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  17. Thank you for this beautiful post. It's such a nice inspiration after a tiring day. Definitely she was more tired than I am, yet she remained a true Proverbs 31 woman!

    Visit me:
    LeeAnne, Style N Season
    http://stylenseason.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, LeeAnne, for your visit and lovely comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Looking forward to reading your blog!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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