In an article which appeared a few days ago in the Serbian newspaper Politika (here) Snezana Milkovic, a retired psychologist was also the granddaughter of Patriarch Pavle. Her grandmother was Patriarch’s cousin. The word cousin is not used in Serbian. Instead, I refer to my cousin, for instance, as my brother-from-my-aunt, so that Snezana would refer to her great-unlce, the Patriarch, as her Deda, or grandfather.
“He was always our deda and remained our deda,” she says. “He never spoke to us about church affairs, nor about his awards, his good deeds, the problems in Kosovo and Metohija…It would happen at times that we would hear something or other, that he had some unfortunate case, but we weren’t allowed to even ask him about it because we knew he didn’t like talking about such things.”
“I was friends with him my entire life and this was my privilege and not something I earned. While he was bishop of Ras-Prizren (Kosovo), he visited us whenever he came to Belgrade. When he became patriarch, Baba Agica was very sad since she thought now with all of his new obligations he wouldn’t visit as much. However, the opposite happened – he visited us regularly and stopped by whenever he could. Sometimes he would only stay for a short while, just to ask how we’re doing. But him becoming patriarch, at least from what I noticed, didn’t change him at all, except the many obligations which took up more of his time giving him less time for the things he loved, for instance, to work with tools, to fix things.”
She says that Christmas for her was always a double holiday because it meant that the visit with the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church was always longer. He would come after the service and stay till late afternoon and not have to look at his watch.
“It was then that we had enough time to ask him everything that interested us, especially the children, he had so much patience with little ones. He answered our questions through anecdotes, stories, Chinese proverbs, lives of the Saints, interpretations. His favorite novel was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and spoke frequently about Jean Valjean and Cosette. All of those discussions, in fact, were messages through stories, he never criticized anyone nor taught them directly, it was always through some anecdote, joke, good humor,” she says.
He visited the family almost always using public transportation and his granddaughter says she only drove him a few times and it was only to make her happy.
“When I or someone else would volunteer to drive him he would always reply: ‘Save your good will for next time,’ or ‘It’s easier for me to enter the public transportation – I don’t have to stoop down.’ It was always something clever, defending himself.”
She visited here Deda regularly during his stay at the Military Medical Academy. That is, until last Friday when, because of the epidemic flu, visits were forbidden.
“He would always welcome me with “God bless you,” and he always blessed me before I left. He liked me coming and it meant so much to me as well. He said that a sick man cannot be happy, but he can be humble. That’s what must be achieved, which is terribly difficult, but, of course, he succeeded. And when he couldn’t stand on his feet anymore, he would say ‘I used up my legs’, which was true because he walked so much – he was completely humble…. She never felt like he was ever impatient. He bore this (his illness) as the will of God, just as he endured everything else.”