During her life (Ukraine -1889; Canada -1969) MY BABUSYA demonstrated “Peace” in numerous personal ways. She did not get medals, she did not stop wars, did not participate in the reconciliation of belligerent sides, or alleviate in any concrete way the fate of people who were victims of human monstrosities… did not become one famous figure for her contributions to “Peace.”
She accepted life’s tribulations and joys with deepest humility, diligently avoiding judging and criticizing others, be it their origin, colour, religion, personal beliefs or choices. “Hate” was the “H” word not to be used. Zhid was not to replace Yevrei when addressing Jews in Russian. Derogatory names anti any peoples, jokes, remarks, accusations were to be left out. Babusya, never imposing, was honest, compassionate, and respectful of others. She loved life and lived in “Peace”, within “Peace”, towards “Peace”. Her motto was: “To be in a state of “Peace” with God, with oneself, with one’s neighbour".
From Tsarist Russia, her family ended up in Harbin, Manchuria, China in 1906. Harbin became a Russified city because of Russia’s involvement in the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway.
Eventually Babusya married (1912) and had two children. Her husband passed away in 1941. A short time before his death their 16-year old son left for New York to study violin at the Juilliard School of Music. All contact with him ceased because of WW II. Babusya’s parents left for the Soviet Union. Babusya lost complete track of them and of her six younger brothers. Babusya suffered from cancer and underwent numerous surgical treatments. Her daughter married in 1941 and left for Mukden with her husband.
Babusya remained alone in Harbin.
I was born in 1945 and that year my Father was taken away by the Soviets to a concentration camp. Babusya became the breadwinner. She taught in a Russian school for a meagre salary. With lack of electricity, water, heat and edible goods along with pressure from Chinese for “foreigners” to leave China, in 1953 Grandmother, Mother and I were sent to Paraguay, an underdeveloped country run by dictator, Alfredo Sroessner.
Only Babusya continued to believe that “All is for the best in the best of all worlds”. Finally, owing to Babusya’s pursuits and efforts, Mother and I settled in Montreal, Canada (1956) where she joined us.
In spite of the inhuman political and economic turmoil of wars, revolutions, confiscation of properties, and currency devaluation, Babusya’s struggle for survival was shown in her altruism, realistic positivity, in her ability to persevere, incite a smile, to be thankful and envelop in hope, faith, LOVE. Always accepting, never complaining, she was present as an indestructible pivot around which our lives evolved. Devoted to her family, a faithful friend, a talented and committed teacher, educated, well-read, well-informed, a lifelong learner, patient listener, peaceful fighter, a believer, Babusya was truly a wise person.
She brought me up and I cherish her legacy. She taught me Russian, instilled in me a profound love for Russian traditions, history, culture, faith and a truly genuine feeling of deep gratitude and love for our new homeland – CANADA. Yes, she did contribute to “Peace.”
Babusya was a proud fan of EXPO 67. “Thank God for everything,” she would say. Rest in Peace, Anna Sergeevna Bonch-Osmolovsky, MY BABUSYA.
By: Olga Kiriloff.