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At least I’m alive
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It’s so hard to imagine a life in a war torn country. My Baba tells stories of the military coming through and stealing all their food. They tried to hide it and once got away with keeping a goat under the bed, but usually they found the Hidden spots and took the food. My Baba had a younger sister. She said she was 7 but her idea of time and of birthdays was not the same as mine, or other Americans who celebrate our birt. hs every year. She never did and never u derstood the reasoning. She also starts counting at age at one as it is the first year of life. She would say “Why do you say your child is two when she finished her second year months ago?” No matter the age of her sister, the problem remained the same – not enough food. She died of starvation while my Baba held her in their shared bed. This story always brought tears to her eyes. She Remembered the starvation throughout her entire life of 106 years (maybe- remember the birthday issue?) She sent care boxes back home, regularly. There was a special tax on new clothes so she would buy clothes and shoes and have her family members wear them once and then send them as used. No tax. She also sent smoked meats and cheese that would not spoil. One year, she brought her grandson to experience the “old country”, she had bought third class train tickets that were crowded and uncomfortable. She grabbed his hand and led him up to first class. She picked an empty bench and sat down. There was an obviously more well off, younger couple sitting nearby. The woman had laid out a beautiful array of meats and cheeses and wine. The grandson stared with opened eyes and a drooling mouth. The woman scoffed and quickly packed it all away. The husband asked where they were going and she said the name of her village. The man knew that village as his mother and aunt lived there. He asked her name and when she told him, tears came to his eyes. You are Anje? My aunt talked about you all the time. She said your packages kept the village alive. It is said th the string that wrapped those packages could have reached around f the world, there were so many. The wife immediately brought out the food she had hidden away and they enjoyed the the meal together. Her grandson saw his Baba with new eyes. She never went back to Bosnia – her home or Montenegro- the home of her husband. She said she never would. It was too harsh and too sad. She loved the flush toilets in America. The ground of her village was rocky and outhouses were hard to dig. Food was scarce. War was plentiful. She was glad to be alive. Her favorite response to anything good was “God bless America!”

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