Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fearless Females: Walerya Zawacka Szymanowicz

The March 2 prompt asks for a photo of a female ancestor.

I didn't know my grandmother. She died when my father was only eleven.  This shot was cropped from a family portrait taken about 1927.  The portrait is especially precious because it was sent to me from a relative in Drohiczyn, Poland several years ago.

This photograph was proudly sent back to the family in Poland fifteen years after she emigrated.  It is a classic photographer's portrait, with formal attire, down to the twins in their sailor suits. She left Poland with a toddler in her arms, having lost her first son a year before.She may not have been fearless, but she faced those fears as she sailed from Antwerp, following her husband and her brothers and sister to Easthampton, Massachusetts.

She had six more children born in Easthampton. She kept house, learned English, applied for citizenship, and was a founding member and President of the Polish Women's Aliance when a new chapter was formed. They bought a house and moved to Northampton, where they opened a neighborhood grocery store. She faced uterine cancer, and traveled to Boston hoping for a cure.

When you look into her eyes, you know she faced it all head-on.

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