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A photo... and an angel

Is the man on the bench my father? Stanislaw Zebrowski?

There’s a good possibility that he may be.

I know the woman in the doorway is my mother. But all my life I've thought the two people on the bench were just friends, or simply fellow Displaced Persons.

The picture was taken in the La Guardia Displaced Persons camp in Weiden, Germany, where I was born in 1947.

One person who is sure the man is my father is Sonia Pietrasik-Lang. She was the nurses’ aid at the Chateau Nursing home in Kirkland Lake back in the 1970s. She nursed my father in the last years of his life. She’s the person I wrote about in my last blog... the first person to share kind words with me about Stanislaw since he disappeared from my life when I was just 4.

Since we met on Facebook, Sonia has been helping me. She still lives in Kirkland Lake and is going through old photo albums from the former nursing home to see if she can find a picture of my father. She’s also helping me get in touch with other former employees from the nursing home.

I've never met Sonia, but it's her recollections of Stanislaw that gave me my first real image of my birth father. Stanislaw and my mother parted acrimoniously, and Mama took scissors to every photo and cut him out of her life. And mine.

At least now, thanks to Sonia, I have a little bit of a picture of him in my mind: a proud man, struggling to come to terms with the stroke that disabled him at a relatively young age, fastidious about his appearance, a smoker, sharing a room with two other guys. But Stanislaw was most comfortable speaking his native Polish.

Sonia and I communicate through Messenger. In one of her messages she wrote, “There were two Polish ladies who were nurses' aids at the time. And I witnessed may times them conversing with Stan. Both are deceased. I really wished I could have spoken Polish.”

To me, Sonia is an angel. She appeared out of nowhere when I needed her, and gave me the first real clues about my birth father that I'd had in seven decades.

Do I wish she could have spoken Polish? I'm just happy that my angel knew him, and had good memories of him, and found me to tell me so. I’m so grateful for her help.

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