Below is the reflection about Valla’s life that was offered to us today by her grandson Alex. The entire family deserves the credit for composing it.
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – From the book of James 4:14
As a young girl Valla, who we affectionately refer to as Baba, had a happy home life in Russia. She would speak of accordion music in the house and her and her sisters dancing; Veggies in the garden, live stock on the farm, milking cows and life in a self-sustaining environment.
Her mom taught her at a young age everything she needed to know to make a great home for her future family. She did everything with excellence and mindfulness that she would carry with her throughout her life.
The family in Russia got separated tragically, when german soldiers entered Russia, the family lost all possessions; Baba and her sister were taken away on a train to Germany. They laid crying on a straw covered floor, their lives were turned upside-down. They were windswept?on the way to a new chapter of their lives.
After a few years when the war was over her sister returned to Russia, but Baba knew the conditions there were not good and decided to stay in Germany. She later found out her parents passed away from starvation. She was hardened to extreme difficulty in life at an early age.
She loved Germany, she made a good life with her husband, my grandfather Wassily. Shortly-there-after my father, Val was born. She loved to tell stories about riding on the motorcycle with her husband, and bicycle rides with my father, along the countryside.
Her and her husband, heard from friends in America; there we?re opportunities in Buffalo, he could get a factory job immediately upon moving. She was reluctant, but the left Germany for yet another chapter in her life. They made the transatlantic journey on a propeller plane with their son, a couple bags of possessions, $50, and faith. She settled her family in the heart of a polish community. She vowed never to get on a plane again and held true to that statement throughout her life.
Her ability to speak Russian, German, Ukrainian and Polish, eased her transition to life in Western New York?because she kept within a tight circle of immigrant friends around the Broadway market area and she never lost her multilingual abilities.
Her and her husband were hard working people through their lives, her husband starting working two days after arriving here and she starting working a couple weeks thereafter. They did what they needed to do to sustain and build a good life here. She didn’t think twice about taking buses to get to work, even on the bitterest of winter mornings.
She was a perfectionist. She prided herself on dressing the best for any event, wiether it was for Sunday church, the grocery, or dancing and partying with her friends, her Sunday best was everyday of the week.
This mentality also translated to her house and yard. Everything was meticulous, everything had its place. Her home hadn’t changed in the 30 years that I?ve seen it. She took pride in the appearance of everything and loved the compliments she got from that. Her floor was cleaner than the grounds of Disney world; nothing was ever out of place.
When my dad met my mom, Susie, as baba would call her, she became the daughter she always wanted, teaching her cooking, running the household, and caring for Oliver and I, she helped make my mom and even better mom.
Baba was not only a mentor to my mom, but also a fashion consultant?they would make frequent trips to the mall or the thrift store looking for bargains.
She was famous for her hamburgers that we affectionately called baba burgers, part turkey, pork, beef combination with just the right amount of onions. We could never leave her house without having a 4-course meal. First borsht, then baba burgers, perigee and some type of peach dessert. Everything was from scratch. And she always left us with oversized portions for everyone to take home.
She was very direct and forthright in her opinions. She would be the first to tell you that your dessert was not good because it too sweet. Or if you didn’t wear a hat, “What’s the matter with you, you?re going to catch a cold”. And it would always be said in that baba way that you took to heart, she was straightforward in her delivery and didn’t leave anything to the imagination, and there was not way you would leave a conversation with her without one good honest. It was in her own, unique language.
The way she showed love was through generosity, service and dedication. She always kept in contact with her sisters, sending dozens upon dozens of care packages containing warm clothing and letters for her sister’s, their 8 children. Her sister, Maria said, ?nobody has a sister like Valla?. Baba sent her most recent package a few weeks ago.
Dedication. She and her husband, were both dedicated to their parish, this parish, St Peter and Paul Orthodox church, the home of the priest that sponsored their coming to America in 1955. She eventually would reside across the street from here and remained faithful to the church both financially and as an active member for nearly 60 years, even throughout times when peers and friends were attending more popular orthodox parishes throughout Buffalo.
Dedication. Baba was tireless. After retirement she would help my father with his furniture repair, and selling and negotiating sales at Antique World.
She never held a grudge and disliked gossip. If you told her a secret, it was a secret for life. She had over 80 years of excellent health, outlasting many of her dear friends, with a constitution and stamina that would best most of us despite her age.
Throughout my childhood and into adulthood, she served as a cornerstone to the family. When Baba started to slow down a bit, my dad would continue to take care of her house to her high standard, and my mom put fourth her best efforts in, not only taking her to doctors appointments, but being a friend, confidant and companion.
In recent years, she would say that the world is turning bad all over?Baba, with your unconditional love for dad, mom, Oliver and I, you’ve made your our world seem like a great place. You will be sorely missed.
For those you love, make each kiss a little sweeter, and your hugs a little longer for you dont know if you will have tomorrow.