Such a lovely story Mike, I am so glad this was such a great experience for you and thank you for sharing it with the group!
Julie (Jachimiak) Sheppard
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 15:46:11 +0000
Subject: [Kresy-Siberia] Visit to Vilnius +Jerusalem Cross
Thanks to all of you who responded and joined in to my quiery regarding my visit to my dad's home town of Vilnius (begining at post 34476 - May 21, 2009)
Well I'm back and what an experience !! I do't want to bore you all with my escapades but sufficient to say that I found my dads house - although rebuilt on the same site. And living in it a cousin whom I never knew I had. Lucadia is 72 a daughter of my dad's older brother. I was helped to find the house by a man in the street - everyone was so helpful. My cousin was beside herself when I turned up at the doorstep. she thought that she was the last in the Matulewicz line - but not so! Her whole family (and now my new family) came around and plenty of wodka was consumed with plates and plates of food!
Amazingly they took me to my grandparents grave in nearby Rasos cemetery. It was very emotional for me representing my father(who died 1975)at the graveside.I didn't know they were buried in Vilnius I thought my grandmother was deported to the other side of Poland.
I also made mention in an earlier post of a small gold jerusalem cross which was meant for my grandmother on my father's return which never happened. Well I said a prayer on my fathers behalf at the foot of the grave with the cross in my hand, almost 70 years to the month when my dad left Wilno the circle was complete
I went to the Lithuanian Historical Archives and for a small search fee they found my dad's baptism certificate. It said that my dad was baptised in the church of Ostra Brama. so I went to Matka Boska with my cross and there too prayed for my family and offered thanks for a free and united Europe. - but at great cost and personal tragedy.
I am biased now of course, but Vilnius old town is wonderful. The architecture, urban design and art is out of this world. The cafe society equals the most sophisticated Europe has to offer. Everyone was helpful and courtious - so will I be be back? Of course I will!
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