My great-grandmother Zoya has been a beacon of literacy for my entire family. I never met her in person, because she died of rheumatoid arthritis prematurely. Her life motto was a Latin proverb ‘literrarum radices amarae, fructus dulce’. It means ‘the bitter roots of learning produce sweet fruits’.
She worked as a teacher her entire life, was known for her wit, and a peculiar kind of eloquence – giving funny nicknames. That’s how she communicated and expressed herself. She got paralyzed in her 50s and wasn’t moving much.
The mind-pattern behind paralysis is fear. It prevents many people from walking through life harmoniously. If I were not aware of the power and frequency behind words in our spoken and written language, I would probably think that her passion for giving funny nicknames was pretty innocent. I do know that she suffered a lot through her life both emotionally and physically and had lots of unreleased and buried negativity. These emotions, namely, unreleased anger and bitterness, created an unhealthy condition in her body.
Due to the family situation and turbulent political and economic state of the country throughout the 1920-1960s, she didn’t get to study at a university of her choice and had to move all the way from the town of Chernigov (now western Ukraine) across the Ural mountains to the western point of Siberia. She was the oldest of 5 siblings in the family suffering the loss of their mother to tuberculosis in the 1930s.
My great grandmother has always been a role-model of literacy and inquisitiveness. Not only for me, but also for several generations of my family. She was the one who taught my grandmother and my mother to read at an early age. I have certainly inherited that myself but also related medical conditions and negative self-talk.
Do you learn from your ancestry? What was the most significant lesson that it has taught you?