Welcome to America!

My cousin Monika from Poland arrived in Chicago earlier this month.  She is spending the summer here – helping my sister and me out with our kids and getting a taste of American life.  Her English is excellent and her zest for life is infectious. We are so happy to have her here!

My mom worked up a family tree to work out how exactly we are all related.  Turns out that my great great grandmother Annelle was sisters with Monika’s great great grandmother.  It might be a distant relationship, but we all feel a special kinship with Monika and her family.

When my great great grandmother Annelle Kuc left Poland in 1904, she didn’t have the luxury of looking back. Travels across the Atlantic took weeks and required an incredible amount of money; when my immigrant ancestors left their homeland they often never returned. (Annelle’s oldest sister – Monika’s great great grandmother – came first, but eventually returned to Poland.  She arranged for three more sisters and one brother named Paul to immigrate to America).

I have to wonder if Annelle ever thought it could be possible that her grandchildren would someday welcome her sister’s great great granddaughter to their homes in America.  In the months leading up to Monika’s visit we communicated with her via email and Facebook, and her travel from Poland to Chicago took less than 10 hours.  Annelle surely never could have imagined this!

Monika is sweet and kind and adorable.  We are so excited to have this time with her! Not only is she a link to our past, but she is a reminder of how wonderful and magical the future can be.  Who knows what can happen in just a few generations?!

My parents hosted a welcome party for Monika last week. The entire family was invited to greet our relative – my parents, grandparents, cousins and siblings last saw her when she was 6 during their trip to Poland, so a lot had changed!

Of course a few shots of Polish vodka were served.  Cheers to Annelle for making this moment possible!

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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

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