We buried my grandmother in Chicago. She died peacefully, in her sleep at the age of 98. Marija Sadauskaite-Kapacinskas survived WWII after her husband, Jonas Kulikauskas, was murdered by Nazis. She was fiercely brave and raised 3 little children (My father Edmundas Kulikauskas, Ron Kilik and my aunt Vilhelmina) as a Lithuanian refugee. She escaped through Germany where she lived in displaced-persons camps. She was so grateful for her American life where she met a kind man (Joseph Kapacinskas) and married again adding my great uncle Joe Kapacinskas to the family. She only had 2 seasons of school but was one of the sharpest people I've ever known. She was famous for never forgetting your birthday and sending lovely care packages. With luck, you would find a custom poem written just for you tucked inside. She made mead from black bread and raisins and even bought me cigarettes. She was tough as nails...but always approachable. She knew how to look me in the eye and set me straight or read my heart and set me steady (whether I was sitting in her kitchen or reading her words in a letter 2,000 miles away). As a little boy I was so proud of my grandmother because she made cookies at the Nabisco Factory. And when she visited us in Los Angeles, she took the chance and rode Space Mountain with me! She woke in the morning to help others. Her kindness was relentless. It feels like everything started with my grandmother. Perhaps that's selfish.I'm glad I took the long train ride to Chicago on this occasion...everything seems clear. I've added my favorite photo of my grandmother and her sewing certificate of which we are all very proud. She took this exam to gain work and care for her family. Her mark was Excellent. Period.
CNN, December 22, 2015
How to see America: A (nearly) cross-country train
Jeff Simon and Jonas Kulikauskas