Published on October 30th, 2019 | by Ramona Sarac0
This is another kind of special story. Success can have so many meanings. For most, it’s related to career – as high as possible in your field – and maybe personal belongings – a house, a new car, branded clothes maybe, things from this register. But, for others, having everything means completely different things. Where every day is a fight for survival, feels like winning a battle when you have good food for your family. When children got new jackets. When you paid a bill. When Grandpa, who lost both of his legs, is laughing. When you offer shelter and food to an abandoned cat, even if you don’t know for sure what you will eat yourself. Granny is not my grandma, is a person I’ve known for many years and who had an incredible difficult life. Raised five kids, then two grandchildren abandoned by their parents. She and Grandpa both lost their jobs when they were past 50, nobody hired them anymore, Grandpa makes dialysis and lost his both legs. Family’s income is extremely low – his illness pension – and I will never understand how they could make it through. Granny herself is very ill – but she has always a smile, a hug and some good words for everyone. She is actually my living hero – and this is her very special story.
I’ve known them for 7 years already, and I keep on wondering how she can find so much strength – even after all this time, I still can’t realize how. “God gives me power” she says all the time – and it’s certainly true. To go through that much and still smile and be convinced it will be ok – well, that’s an incredible life lesson, no doubt.
Granny raised 5 children – it wasn’t easy. Both her and her husband were postmen – not big salaries, but always a lot of big love. One of their boys had twins – but neither him nor their mother took good care of them. Each took a baby for a few months, brought him back to Granny, no stable home, no family, nothing sure. The boys had no guilt for this and they needed a home and a family – Granny and Grandpa said. So they opened a judicial action in court and took both children – “as I raised 5, I will raise these two, also”, she said.
From that point on, their mother never searched for them. One day, when she had seen them in the street, turned her head. Father came very rarely. Grandparents were also mother and father. Today, twins are 18. Almost adults.
When children were in the 6-th grade, both Granny and Grandpa lost their jobs. They’ve been postmen all their life, were past 50 at that point and lived in a small industrial town where the factories closed after communism failed, in Romania. They had no chances – nobody hired them.
Grandpa got sick, started making dialysis three times a week, 50 kilometers with ambulance, from their small town. Then, blood circulation problems appeared. Last year, doctors cut his left foot from the hip. This year, cut the right foot, also. His illness pension is the only family income – and it’s very, very low.
Seven years ago, when I first met them, it was almost Christmas. They had a small plastic tree – received, also. Until that, never had one. A Christmas before, their meal was a plate with traditional Romanian food received from their neighbors.
There was a time when Granny and children worn all three a pair of shoes by rotation – it looks almost unreal nowadays, isn’t it? When I see a child complaining he doesn’t have the last model of I don’t know what, I always think about them – one pair of shoes worn by rotation, when they had the same number in foot, I repeat.
Last year, almost Christmas, we were all three in their apartment. Children had new shoes and winter jackets. “I have a credit card, where if I put money in time I don’t pay interest rate. They had old winter jackets too small for their age, with sleeves up to the elbow. Went to school and children told them – you are some poor men! They came home crying, told me they are ashamed to go to school anymore. I gave them the card and sent them to buy jackets and shoes. You should’ve seen them when they came – they were so happy”, she says.
I always take her clothes from my mother – and she always has tears in her eyes when seeing this. Luckily, they fit – otherwise, she never buys anything for herself. Priorities are different – children, the bills, Grandpa’s medicines.
Granny has a small garden outside the town. She herself is very ill, yet she goes there and keeps working. A few vegetables mean some food for the family. She also has a few chickens, good for the eggs. Sounds forced? It’s not. One day she had mint soup – mint picked from the hill, you know. Mint soup, Granny? Well, your inventiveness is much bigger than you could ever imagine when you are in need. They had to eat.
She knows the producers from the local market and every year asks them – don’t throw away vegetables that start to spoil. Give them to me at a lower price, I’ll pick what’s good and make some preserves for the winter.
I’ll never forget this moment – I was around small town, working for the newspaper, and called her one day before, to tell her that, if I don’t bother, I would like to go up to their place and write the text – to make sure I will send it in time. She was so happy! It was late autumn, a cold, rainy day. When I got there, smelled like in Heaven. She cut one of her chickens from the small garden, made soup and steak – I thought you’ve been running all day, I was sure you had no time to eat. I ate with tears rolling over my cheeks. I don’t know how many people understand this – not to have what to eat, many days, yet to share that little you have – that’s pure, unconditional kindness, you know.
There’s another one, also. At one of my visits she felt so bad because she could never offer me anything – and I’ve seen some tea in her kitchen. “It’s perfect, Granny”, I said, happy that she felt ok, hearing that. Her eyes sparkled. “You like tea” – and by tea I mean picked up plants from the nature, dried and used for homemade tea. Plants she goes out and picks by herself. She came back with a big bag – four kinds of tea, so happy she could finally give me something. From that moment on, every Christmas, when we meet, my tea is ready – and I’m always crying, yes.
Last winter, the family completed with a cat. An abandoned cat, how we live, she will, also, Granny said. She always smiles – always. Even when we talk about difficulties that never end – after telling me what happened since our last talk, she says “well, it will be ok”, then finds a joke and smiles – she is a wonder, you know.
When Grandpa lost his second leg, also, she donated his clothes to people who are even more in need than themselves. From what she gets always gives to much poor families, also. “Gift from gift makes Heaven”, it’s an old Romanian saying. Heart to heart make miracles, l add.
Since I first met them, I visit them few times a year, and we always cry, both of us, when we meet. I do what I can to help, I’m very lucky to have good people around who do the same – but I would be so happy to be able to do much more. The needs are way bigger.
Children graduated high school, one of them found a job, the other is still searching. She keeps on encouraging them – it will be ok, you will see.
Today, talking on the phone, I asked her again – how she could make it? She told me about God, faith, the children and a lifetime wish – to be alive until they will be ok, on their own feet. And maybe to the day she could see all her children together – three of them are in Spain, she hasn’t seen the boy for 8 years, the girls, for 4 years. Working abroad can also mean this – a lot of sacrifices and survival only.
I remember again those who are mad because haven’t got the last model of I don’t know what. Isn’t it ironic? She is never mad – even when she doesn’t know how she will cook lunch for tomorrow. There will always be a solution, she says – you just have to trust. And she smiles. “We have to fight – we have no other option”.
I’ve written about many social cases, while working as a journalist in Romania. I’ve met a lot of people in need – as many as you see you are never ready and it always hurts. But Granny – well, she is my living hero, my lesson, the example I’m always giving when I hear complaining people that actually don’t have real problems.
Nobody hugs me that strong as she does. She is the only one kissing my hands – and I can never stop her doing this – it’s just something coming deep from her heart. “I love you very, very much” is the way she ends every talk – on the phone, face to face, it doesn’t matter. We cry and I’m so grateful for this chance – to have met her and learn from her that we are never allowed to give up, that there’s always a chance, a light at the end of the tunnel, hope, that we will always make it through – it depends on us, only.
Granny’s name is Cornelia Cernea, she is 59 years old, Grandpa is Viorel, twins are Cornel and Alex. If you want to help please give me a sign – I will give their address and other details on private message. Thank you!
Do you know a very special person? Someone who has followed his dream, built it piece by piece, with passion, energy and lot of soul? An usual, simple person who did something in life, who you can identify with, who can be, for others, a source of inspiration? Tell me about that person and let’s tell the others his/her beautiful story. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.