Remarks by Anna Sorochak’s granddaughter, Megan Buskey:
I feel tremendously lucky that I grew into adulthood with my grandmother in my life. Over the past 10 years or so, as I learned Ukrainian, we became particularly close. I came to appreciate, for instance, that she loved to tell stories and could tell them well, with flair and an exuberant sense of humor. That she loved politics and gossip. That she was incredibly opinionated and at times outrageously stubborn. I was also able to learn and begin to appreciate her life story, and all the different points in her life when she had had to be so incredibly brave--whether it was growing up in the beautiful but impoverished Ukrainian countryside, which erupted into war when she was a teenager; or being banished with her family to Siberia in the aftermath of the war, probably for aiding the Ukrainian resistance; or immigrating to a new country with two young daughters and not much stability, facing a daunting language and an alien culture. These are just a few of the times that she was tested beyond what most of us are asked to endure, and yet she carried on, with integrity and humility and grace, if her older self was any indication.
My grandmother was an extremely loyal and faithful person. Celebrating Ukraine and its traditions and culture was very important to her, as was St. Vladimir’s, where she was devoted parishioner. Going to church on Sunday was probably the most important part of her week. And only illness would keep her from showing up at the church hall to make perogies early on Friday mornings.
She was infamously frugal but at the same time incredibly generous. She shunned many of the conventional pleasures of our time, never stepping foot in a movie theater and protesting most plans to eat out. One of her favorite activities was to go to Marc’s and look for deals. She got tremendous pleasure from a $2 pound of strawberries, and bought them in abundance. She lived off of her Social Security payments and small but well-earned pension from her 20 years working at Kirkwood Industries, and yet she helped substantially with the college tuitions of me and my brothers and cousins. Our Christmas cards were always filled with $100 bills. Whenever she went anywhere, she arrived bearing the products of her kitchen -perogies, stuffed cabbage, lemon cake, 7-layer jello, and one or several types of cookie.
There’s one story that my mom told me that sticks out to me for demonstrating just how generous she was.
When my mom was little, she remembers asking for colored pencils for Christmas. I don’t think she had never seen colored pencils before, and Christmas in that time and circumstance was not the gift-laden paradise for children that it is now. But somehow my mom got the idea that there were colored pencils out there, and she wanted them. They were living in Siberia and had very little money. In fact, both of my grandparents were living under house arrest and working in coal mines six days a week at the order of the Soviet government. So you might imagine how difficult it might be to get colored pencils.
But somehow my grandmother got a hold of colored pencils for my mom, and her little girl got her Christmas wish.
If you were to measure love by how much a person gave to others, by how much she sacrificed for others, by how hard she worked so that others could have a better life than she did or simply be happy--then my grandmother was a wellspring of love. She was the hardest-working person any of us knew. She gave and gave and gave.
When someone dies, Ukrainians have a saying to honor the deceased: vichnaya pamyat, or may her memory be eternal. I will never forget the stories I’ve heard of her incredible life. But what is etched just as indelibly in my mind is the power of her example. And I know that that is what I will strive to uphold with both the people I love and the people I nurture, and in that way I know that her memory will live on in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and so on into eternity.
-- May 21, 2013