Halinka

Halinka ArterHalinka Arter była oddaną mamą, żoną, babcią i przyjaciółką. Wszystkich kochała i wszyscy ją kochali. Mimo wielkich przeżyć od małego dziecka była zawsze uśmiechnięta i wesoła, do ostatniej chwili życia kiedy w śpiewie odeszła od nas.

Halinka urodziła się na Polesiu w Kamieniu Koszyrskim. Opowiadała nam o pięknym życiu w Polsce i do końca była oddana Ojczyźnie. Wróci tam niedługo jak zawsze marzyła. Wychowała nas po Polsku i była aktywną działaczką w szkole polskiej, w harcerstwie i w polonijnych grupach tanecznych. Była dyrektorką w Zarządzie Klubu Polskiego w Ashfield. Przez wiele lat pracowała jako tłumacz. Podczas tej pracy poznała i pomagała polskim rodzinom osiedlającym się w Australii w latach 80. Wiele z nich zostało bliskimi przyjaciółmi Halinki. Dla mnie i dla Ani była nie tylko wspaniałą matką, ale i naszą najbliższą koleżanką. Chodziła z nami na zabawy i dyskoteki, wyjeżdżała na wycieczki z naszymi koleżankami i kolegami. Natalię i Lidię, swoje wnuczki uwielbiała i robiła dla nich wszystko co tylko mogła. Będzie nam wszystkim bardzo smutno bez Halinki, ale wiemy że jest z Bogiem i z Anią i że teraz będzie szczęśliwa tam w niebie i w swojej ukochanej Polsce. A my nigdy jej nie zapomnimy.

Ewa Sarolis (z domu Arter)


Halinka. Halinka was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

Despite all the hardships she experienced from an early age she always had a smile on her face and welcomed everyone with open arms and a warm heart. My friends speak of her very fondly.

Halinka was born in Poland in 1932 and was devoted to Poland and all things Polish despite being taken from her home in 1939 when Germany invaded. She and her family spent the next 2 years in Siberia before being rescued by General Anders who took them through Persia, where she met the Shah, and India to Uganda, a British Colony. They spent the next 6 years in a camp for displaced persons with 5000 women and children. In 1948 the family had grand plans to move to Canada but their papers were “lost” and their second choice was Australia. They sailed to Australia from Italy and arrived in 1949 in Melbourne. After a short stay at the Bonagilla camp they moved to Launceston where Halinka worked as a domestic in the hospital for 2 years to repay Australia for her passage from Europe. She then completed a TAFE course in book keeping a landed a job as a payroll officer. Her employer wrote a glowing reference which she has framed.

In 1956 Halinka attended the Melbourne Olympics where, in Polish National costume, she met the then Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt.

She moved to Sydney with her family in 1957 and met Mirek on the steps of this church where they were married in 1958.

Halinka had many jobs over the years but her greatest achievement was the work she did as an interpreter in the early 80s when many Poles migrated after the Solidarity uprisings. She helped many people with her dedication and practical approach. Many of those people became good friends. 

Halinka always maintained her Polishness – she brought us up speaking Polish and kept up the traditions. She was active in the Polish community through the Polish school we attended, Polish Girl Guides and dancing groups. She was a director of the Polish Club in Ashfield and was interviewed for various publications about migrants and on SBS radio.

In 2004 Halinka published her memoirs in Polish and in 2007 a book of poems. One of her poems is on the back of the bookmark you are probably holding.

Halinka was a fabulous mother to Ania and myself but she was also our friend. We had a lot of fun going to nightclubs with her and she and dad would go away with us and our friends. She and I had a memorable and fun-filled trip to America in 1990.

With the tragic loss of Ania, at far too young an age, Halinka threw herself into the care of Natalia and Lydia with Mirek by her side. They endeavoured to make the girls’ loss bearable and showered them with love and provided a haven for them in their home.

We will all remember her fondly and with much love.

Ewa Sarolis (née Arter)


Poem by Natalia about her Grandmother Halina Arter 

For the last few years
glimmers of you 
were captured in a body
that was meant to resemble you
and it resembled 
your innocence  
your energy
your peaceful and loving soul 

as your illness consumed your mind
you turned into the perfect child of charm you once were

and God only knows
who you would have been 
if war didn’t roughen you up
and God only knows
who you would have been 
if your life ended up effortless and free

you grew up in small town 
called Kamień Koszyrski
among flower fields 
and once Polish trees
dancing with the wind
and your only brother
playing childish games 

and then life threw at you 
a whole lot of suffering and pain
that you couldn’t juggle 
with two hands
you were robbed 
of your wealth and home
dragged across the corners of the world
from the sleeping land of Siberia
to the landlocked Uganda 

forced to taste flavours 
of foreign languages and lands
you adapted to the ritual of leaving
and constantly missing home

and finally ended here 
on the land of promises 
and harvesting hope
where you built a new home 

you birthed two beautiful angels
that mirrored you so well

but life as it comes 
never gets easy

your wounds and scars 
never seemed to heal
and as you lost your youngest daughter
once again you became a victim 
of the battle field of life

copping bullets and arrows 
that couldn’t kill you

you became a soldier with a fighting soul
that marched on the forefront
like an humble hero

you carried your heavy baggage 
with a brave and proud face
wearing an armour of gold 
decorated with scars 
exposing the true essence of you 
and where you came from 

and you made sure the whole world knew
you were Polish and proud
a displaced patriot that never forgot

as a grandmother
you were the greatest story teller
your voice like a velvet blanket told tales
of castles and princesses
laced with metaphors about life
that we once were too young to understand
but always happily ended with a perfect prince

as a grandmother 
you spent your days with us 
cooking feasts 
while we sat on the kitchen bench 
watching and learning 
and then fighting over 
that bowl of pancake mix 

as a grandmother 
you took us on long adventures
walking new streets each day
as you ever so swiftly 
marched in your high heels
regardless of any pain
and then you would take us 
to the hill in Prattern Park
to make daisy chains
as you quietly rested your feet

as a Grandmother
you danced with us on table tops
like a poised performer
as if every moment together 
was a celebration
and no amount of applause 
could frankly reward you for that

as a Grandmother 
you performed all your duties
and you even sewed us matching dresses 
with statement bows in our hair 
we had to looked stylish 
walking with you anywhere 

you were always 
immaculately dressed
and decorated with 
watermelon lipstick and matching nails
drenched in exotic perfumes

and when you walked into a room 
you were always noticed
ever so elegant 
with that contagious smile
a lady every man wanted clung by his side
and my grandpa got to be that luck guy

and those who knew you
were never short to spare
a story or two 
of your wild and eccentric adventures
or how you helped those in need 
always giving more than you ever received

it's been years
since we last sat and shared a meal
it’s been years
since you last cooked for us
since you read to us
sang to us
brushed our hair
told us a story
or wrote a poem

you slowly disappeared from your body
leaving us with memories 
of a legendary and extraordinary woman
that continued to sparkle in your eye
vibrate in your voice
echo in your touch

and once every now and then
you came back to us 
for a moment only
leaving us with a warm reminder
that who you were was still somewhere there

and now that you are gone
the dreams you wrote about 
of rivers and oceans disappearing from maps…
of growing wings…
you have finally grown those wings 
to fly across the globe 
over Polish mountains 
and rest on the land you longed for 

Natalia Dźwigała