(told by Maria Domian)
A sad story of a woman from Naliboki, whose life was also related to the mother of the family – Jadwiga Adamcewicz, the daughter of Konstanty and Maria “Soroczka”, née Suprunowicz
Petronela Adamcewicz came from the village of Terebejno . Being a widow, she married a widower from Naliboki, Józef Adamcewicz. Józef (nickname Parcian) was a widower, whose wife and children had died of tuberculosis. He only had one son, Józef, who married a beautiful girl from a different village. Emilia was eight months pregnant and everybody was joyfully expecting her baby.
After the First World War, there were many unexploded shells in the woods. People used to collect them, throw them into the lake and, as they exploded, they could easily fish because all the fish came to the surface. Unfortunately, one of such shells did not explode and Józef took it home and tried to fiddle with it using a hammer.
The consequences were tragic and Naliboki remembered this sad event for a long time. His body was torn into pieces and the shell’s fragments got through the window into the house and injured Emilia in her neck. She bled to death and died together with her unborn baby.
Petronela had a piece of her heel ripped out by that bomb. The heel could not heal and the doctor had to cut off the unhealed tissues under no anaesthesia. The tragedy took away their offspring.
Antoni Adamcewicz, the mom’s brother, was married to Anna and he had a daughter. He wanted to buy their farm. They did not want to sell it, they were afraid and said: “If we sell it, someone will come at night and steal our money”. As a result, they adopted Antoni and had the same surname in return for care.
Petronela had one daughter who died as well. She had three granddaughters. Her son-in-law married for the second time and got some farm for military service. And it is because of this farm that he was later deported to Siberia. Petronela never saw them again.
When the partisans were setting the village on fire in 1943, they did not burn the uncle’s farm. One partisan was said to grab the torch out of his companion’s hand and say: “It is a good man”.
Petronela’s husband, Józef Adamcewicz (Parcian) died of tuberculosis in Naliboki and Petronela became a widow for the second time. After her husband was washed before put to the coffin, Petronela washed herself in that water and said: “And now I will live for a long time”.
The Germans wanted to shoot Petronela as they were deporting people for forced labour. The uncle asked them to spare her and said that he would take care of her. After the war she used to miss her granddaughters very much. She used to look up at the sky and say: “If only I knew where they are, if they are well.”
In the sixties the granddaughters found their grandmother, mainly thanks to Eugenia, the
daughter of Antoni. The son-in-law and the granddaughters had left Siberia and went to Canada. They wrote they were well, sent a parcel, asked for photographs. Even the son-in-law sent his photograph with the dedication: “For my mother-in-law”. I still have this photograph.
Having received the news, Petronela started to lose her memory. She claimed that the granddaughters were with her. She was very hard-working and helped in the farm. I still remember her words, which she said while praying the rosary: “Children I pray to die soon. I live and live and live. I don’t want to live any more”.
At that time I could not understand why she was praying for her own death. She told me that when she was going to flail, she would put trousers and shoes on and “bring some grains home”. She used to pick ears of grain in the fields. I saw her heel, it looked like a big, dry and black mushroom. I do not remember her being sick. She just died of old age.
I remember her cooking white borscht and sorrel. I also remember as she was eating a small roll with milk for supper. She was always wearing an apron and as she was eating, she never left the tiniest crumb on that apron.
I have written this so that it does not fall into oblivion. One of many stories of a Naliboki woman’s life.
Translated from polish by Emilia Kurek