My Grandfather (1)
Yesterday, my grandfather Stavila Constantin would have been reached the age of 92. He was born on February 14, 1916 – the year Romania set aside its neutrality and entered the First World War. His father, Ioan Stavila, was a schoolteacher – but my grandfather never knew him, because he died (as a soldier) on the battlefield.
So my grandfather (together with his four older brothers and one sister) was raised by his mother, with the considerable help of her father (that is, my grandfather’s grandfather, Gheorghe Ursache, a Christian Orthodox priest).
My grandfather learned everything he knew from his grandfather (who reached the age of 92). This old priest was a true believer and a strong man – yes, he upheld his faith, even when the Russian soldiers destroyed his house, beat him, and threw him naked in a ditch.
My grandfather, Constantin Stavila, entered the Faculty of Theology together with other 500 colleagues. But only 25 individuals finished their studies, and my grandfather was on the second place, if we consider the grades he took. He became an Orthodox priest on November 12, 1940, and was appointed as a priest in Voinesti, Slobozia. He was one of the few priests who had the courage to go to war, on the Romanian-Russian front (that is, the Second World’s War). Something about some of his activities in Transnistria (The Republic of Moldavia) can be read here.
He married my grandmother (Elena Stavila) and they had a boy (my uncle, Vasile) and a daughter (my mother, Hristina). Although he had very good references, and many professors and colleagues asked him to become an orthodox scholar, he preferred to remain a country priest: he was not ready to give up his principles and support the new communist regime.
In the communist era, he was listening every day the BBC Radio and Radio Free Europe. One day (1986), he was beaten by the Securitate (that is, the communist Intelligence Service): he was preaching against the regime, and he refused to uncover the secret of confession…
People always loved him. In fact, I like to think that his life’s motto was the famous passage from I Corinthians 13: 1-13, that can be read here. Probably this is why people never forgot him: even after his retirement (in 1992), people were still coming to see him.
In February 2006, he fell and broke his leg. He underwent an operation, but unfortunately he never recovered, although I and my grandmother took care of him every day in the following 8 months. In September 2006 I arrived in Budapest – and after three weeks, on October 4, 2006, he died.
I know that my humble words are useless (indeed, what’s in a word?) – but I still wanted to wrote them – neutral as they are – in order to remind those people who knew him. A part of my heart died with him. And a whole age died – an age in which faith, patience, love, courage, and caring for people still meant something.