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In my father's house

I was afraid as I stepped inside the old wooden farmhouse. 

I was in Poland. I was about to enter the home where my father, Stanislaw Zebrowski, was born. Where he played with his bothers and sisters. Where he worked in the fields with my grandfather. The home he left for a war he never wanted. The home he never saw again.

As I walked through the door into the old kitchen, I was overwhelmed. I leaned against a dusty wall and wept. 

I've searched for my father all my life. And here, at 77 years of age, I found his home and I found his family. My family. 

My mother had left my father for another man shortly after we arrived in Canada from a Displaced Persons camp in Germany after WW2. I was only four years old and had no recollection of Stanislaw. My mother never spoke about him. I never knew he existed till I found my birth certificate by accident. I began searching for him.

My mother died without telling me anything about my father. Finally, two years ago, I found his grave in Northern Ontario. My research took me to Germany, where Stanislaw had fallen in love with my mother and where I was born in a DP camp in Weiden. 

Now the trail of clues has brought me to Poland... into the arms of the big-hearted Zebrowski family, and to the old wooden homestead in the village of Nienalty Szymany, an hour's drive north of Warsaw.

Today nobody lives in the old Zebrowski farm house. But it's alive with memories. The old stove where the family baked bread is covered with dust. The latches on the doors are the ones my father would have touched. There are pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus on the wall. Tattered sheer curtains hang in the window. The plaster is crumbling from the walls, but some of the decorations are unchanged from the days when Stanislaw was growing up in the house.

I feel the house has waited for me to find it. It is filled with my father’s spirit. I feel close to my father. I think we are both at peace.

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Halina, I so admire your ability to live life fully, To face life whatever comes, to dig deep and to leave no stone unturned. I can imagine how it felt because Frank and found his father's boyhood apartment in Berlin this summer. We were invited in and it was the door handles that we knew for sure he had touched. I took pictures of them.


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