1 May 2007 — 33 Main St, Salem, NH
You died very peacefully Wednesday morning at around 2:00 a.m. with Uncle Serge at your side. I imagine you floated away like a piece of white down on the outside air. You just softly,
And now, we exhale, sigh, relieved that you went well.
I want to bottle you somehow. Concentrate who you are into an elixir that I can save and - break glass - take in an emergency. I don’t want to forget any little thing.
I don’t think a day will pass when I don’t hear your voice in my head saying one of your famous sayings.
“I avoid work.”
“Why sure why not.”
“And Here! My life was so strange! No one could predict it.”
“I’m so grateful for my life.”
“God has plans for each and every one of us.”
“Work is not a rabbit. It won’t run away from you.”
“Money is not yours. It is given to you for safe keeping.”
“I’m 39-plus.” “I don’t need anything.”
“Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
“No matter what bad happens-something good comes from it.”
“God is in charge.”
If her saying held no significance for you the first time you heard it, it became an unshakable part of your consciousness by the 18th time.
Nana you were sweet without being sugary. When someone once told her, “You know the trouble with you Mary? You talk too much.” she quickly replied, “Thanks for listening.” She liked her tea with six sugars and two cookies.
She sang, clapped and playfully growled with her great-grandkids.
Each birthday card had the word “special” in it and was signed “All my love and God’s Blessings, Old Nana”. Each birthday brought a call from opera-singer Nana belting out a birthday song.
Nana, you were funny and never took yourself too seriously. You were feisty yet easygoing. During a visit at SalemHaven, I asked how she was, and she replied, “Kina punk.” Then she’d shrug as if to say, “But what can I do?”
Nana lived a full life. She showed us Perogi. Pinnochle. Polka. She danced the Charleston. She loved travel regardless of the mode- plane, balloon, boat, bicycle, train, car or foot. She once told me that she and her friend walked to Hartford from Bridgeport in a single day; this may or may not be true, but if so that is 54 miles!
Over the last 10 years we saw her lose: the freedom to drive, her independence, her home in Oneida, her physical mobility, the ability to swallow, she lost her sight, her hearing, her memory, her privacy. For some, having these things defines a good life. She lost them all, and what happened to her? She persevered! She never complained. She’d just shrug while the rest of us sat astonished. What was her Secret? How did she deal with all that life threw at her?
Faith. She showed us again and again that believing in God and praying to Him paid off. Saint Anthony found anything she prayed for, and soon after the request was made. Tom’s keys were discovered in a large meadow field. Pop (Alexey) found employment after being unemployed just an hour or two. Nana and Ania found Alexey and Serge at the State fairgrounds on the busiest day, just after a freak rainstorm. Nana was once lost in the woods looking for escaped cows, and a sheepdog appeared. The dog helped her find the cows, herd them into the barn, and walk Nana to her house. Nana went into the house, found her best cut of meat, chopped it up and brought it out to feed the dog. The dog had gone, never before seen and not seen since.
Nana would awaken after a snowstorm to a shoveled driveway, and yet none of her neighbors admitted to the charitable act. One neighbor saw someone shoveling her driveway, waved to the person and walked on. Growing up watching this, it became evident to us that Nana had some hidden power connection with the Big Guy. He did what she asked. Knowing Nana was to watch the power of faith, and the evidence was undeniable whether or not you still believed in God.
Who was Mary Cryvoff to us? She was Sister, Grandma, “My favorite Mother-in-Law”, Mom, Nana. She became our unspoken Matriarch. Our example. Our model. Our spiritual guide.
We all looked to her to lead the way – to show us how to live, how to age gracefully. Whatever big decisions Nana made, she first asked God to let her know if she was doing the right thing. She said, when you know the right thing, you feel it deep down in your heart. Once her heart was pointed in the right direction, there was no stopping her from going forward. She got married because she felt it was the right thing to do, even if she had to hide it from her own parents for a year. She prayed for us, you know. She prayed for us all daily that we might know the right thing. She loved us with prayer.
Thank you Nana for your constant prayer.
Thank your for your simple, strong and unpreachy faith.
Greatest Thanks to Almighty God for Mary.
(Read at St. Joseph's Parish)