Essay for Easter: Fresh start, new life
Easter was the big holiday for Baba. Unlike other celebrations, it went on for days. It started with sad anticipation on Thursday, leading to sorrow Friday, followed by the joy of hope on Sunday — a fresh start, new life.
It was much like the path she followed from the old country. Leaving Slovakia, where she faced unhappy days and a sad ending, the young woman picked her way through Europe to the ocean, finding passage to a new life. Like so many immigrants, she passed through darkness and into the light.
Making her way to Braddock, she rejoined her husband, one of the strong backs recruited by the robber barons to work in the mill, and together they built a life. Their children prospered, working the mills and factories of the valley, starting their own families, living the dream.
Baba had her faith when she had nothing else and Easter was her chance to celebrate that faith. After Mass, the children and grandchildren would pack into the half-lot row house on Talbot Avenue, barely a block from the mill gate, where she raised her family on her own after she lost her husband too soon to the mill.
The family feasted on ham, kielbasa, horseradish, hard-boiled eggs and poppy seed and nut roll. The kids played in the brick yard out back, kicking a ball around, oblivious to the clanging and whistles coming from the mill, pausing only when the ladle was spilled, lighting the sky even in the daylight.
Baba loved America. You could work hard here and see it pay. She kept a 24-hour kitchen, the men working swing shifts and mealtimes necessarily swinging, too. There was always hot coffee on the old stove, half-gas and half-woodburner, keeping the house warm in winter and the coffee hot.
Baba did not have much to do with politics. But when her youngest son ran for local office against the old political machine, she went to the priest at the Slovak church and complained that his opponents were slandering his good name, saying that he was not serious, too interested in carousing. From the pulpit the Sunday before the election, the old priest made it right and the young man won.
Baba would have kept her own counsel if she ever heard a politician say that there is more freedom in North Korea or any other dictatorship than in America. She would have prayed for the politician, maybe lighting a candle, asking that his eyes and heart be opened.
If she heard any politician talk about making it harder for her family to vote, it would have reminded her of the old country she left behind, a place without hope.
And if she ever heard someone say that people struggle and sacrifice to come to America out of love for their families, she would have known it was true. She had done that herself.
Baba celebrated Easter and America because both stand for hope, a fresh start, new life.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (joemistick.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Crosby understands NHL’s reasoning for ban
- Letang produces 5 assists in return as Penguins defeat Jets, 5-3
- Pirates trade Snider to Orioles for minor league pitcher
- Wilkinsburg man killed in his apartment
- Chartiers Valley displays shooting touch in blowout win over USC
- Winfield man is one of a few to attend all 49 Super Bowl games
- No cross-checking here: Penguins misspell ‘Sidney’
- Panthers drop heartbreaker in overtime to Virginia Tech
- Pittsburgh to consider measure to give city employees 6 weeks of paid parental leave
- 3-D images to help police in Western Pa. navigate terror, hostage scenes
- Now a Patriot, RB Blount’s thrilled to have moved on from Steelers