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Today, my brother and I look back with
amazement wondering if the mystery of our castle home is coming full circle. Are we living out our own mystery novel and is something else about to happen?
My brother and I were born on this unique 150 acre real estate, a castle home in Poland. Just us, my parents, my little brother and I lived on this magnificent estate in a tiny village, until we emigrated to Canada in early 1960's
Under the government laws of the time our parents had to leave our castle and real estate to the State when we left Poland.
Now, we have more questions than answers:
Mysterious questions remain in my mind ... How, Why and What
My parents lived in a bona fide castle in a small village in Poland – that is where my brother and I were born.
It was an estate of about 150 acres of agricultural land – the castle with it's courtyard and surrounding buildings sat on a hill, towering over the tiny village of only few hundred, pretty primitive homes. Our castle home was surrounded by orchards, ponds, hills and luscious nature, similar to the Bruce Trails in Ontario, Canada.
The entrance to the courtyard was graced with a huge lilac - when in bloom it’s rich scent carried throughout the village.
The lilac tree is significant to another puzzling story – our first “miracle under the lilac tree” – a mysterious event that brought our family to Canada in the first place, when my brother and I were young.
Over the years, from time to time, we reminisced about our castle home.
I traveled to Europe and Poland several times but never to my village and my castle home.
Why would I go back, when in early 1990’s our parents were told that the State sold our property to a cement factory who tore down the castle and were using the property for cement production.
Our parents were outraged with the news. Who would do such a thing – in Canada such a property would be restored to its original glory – it would be invaluable.
As years passed and our parents gone, my brother and I exchanged stories and memories about our European castle home and childhood.
Few decades later, early December 2012, I found myself taking an impromptu short business trip to Poland. As my plane landed in Krakow I realized that the next day will be an anniversary date our family left Poland decades ago, for our new life in Canada.
After a quick breakfast and a stroll through the majestic city square in Krakow, I headed for Wroclaw, my destination for this trip.
Wroclaw is about half an hour’s drive from Biernacice, the village where I was born.
It was December 3rd, 2012 -- the date we left Poland decades ago. Suddenly, I felt the need to step on my home soil, even though I was under the impression that my home was no longer there.
My driver offered to take a short detour and take me to my village.
As we arrived to a nearby town Ziebice, we came to a fork in the road.
I thought we were going in the right direction but it was getting late in the day and I wanted to make sure.
I remembered that behind the building on the right was a beautiful town square. Many European towns and ciities boast magnificent architecture usually surrounding a town square. There I could see the train station where so long ago my family departed on our journey for the Baltic sea. From there we boarded the old ship Batory, on its last transatlantic voyage to Canada.
It was a special moment. I recalled many childhood trips to Ziebice with my parents. We commuted by horse and wagon to the town square market to sell produce from our land.
I randomly walked over to the middle taxi wanting to confirm directions to my home village.
An older man rolled down the window curious about the stranger approaching him. After all, this is a small town - a cab driver knows all the locals.
In Polish I asked the cab driver if the road to the right of the fork would take me to Biernacice, he curiously asked:
'who are you ... why do you want to go to Biernacice?'
I explained that this was an anniversary date of my leaving Biernacice for Canada, few decades ago. And, although I knew my home was no longer there, I’m in the area want to drive through my home village, just for few moments.
The man stared at me in shock, teary eyed, asking if my father was Piotr, mother Helena and brother Jan … and if I am Marysia?
I nodded "yes" captivated by the power of this moment.
"I drove your family in my cab from your castle home to the train station ... when you were leaving for Canada" ... he said pointing across the town square towards the train station ...
I felt overwhelmed - how could this happen?
There were three cabs standing and I approached the man with whom I had a lifelong connection.
"Follow me ... I took you from your front door so long ago and I will bring you
back home to your front door" Jozef said.
We returned to the fork in the road following Jozef's cab for about 3 kilometers along a winding and treed road. That area of the country is beautifully mountainous and covered with luscious trees.
As we continued driving along the winding village lane I
glanced up and there it was, on the hill, towering over the village stood our home ...
My heart was pounding with excitement ...
Land registry lists the construction date of the castle in Biernacice as 1809. At that time the estate and real estate of the village Biernacice was the
property of the Princes' Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach and their families.
I rushed out of the car anxious to step on the land I where I was born. I was excited yet horrified to find my home in such a deteriorated state.
Jozef was just as excited as I was, to bring me home after so many years.
A tied up guard dog was barking uncontrollably.
Tearfully, I could almost feel my parents' presence. I recalled those last few weeks in our home. My parents were tidying, organizing and getting ready to leave our home and our country.
I recalled how beautiful our home and real estate was then … so many memories flooding me.
I glanced to my right towards the row of stables and barns - there sat a piece of equipment, exactly where my father left it when we left our home so long ago.
It‘s an antique now – rusted - agricultural equipment used by villagers today is motorized by small tractors.
I recalled then my little brother riding behind dad hanging onto his neck, on this horse pulled rake, collecting grain on our land.
I could only spent about an hour at my castle home in Biernacice – tearfully remembering mine and my brother’s childhood with our parents – I had to head out to Wroclaw (20 minutes by car from my village), my original destination.
Although I had only arrived in Poland the day before - I was now eager to get back to Canada and tell my brother and family about finding our castle home and the stunning events that just took place.
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