Archive for February, 2017


February 17, 2017

2017-02-17motherMy mother would have been 90 next summer. She’ll never be. She died a week ago.  When a person dies at that advanced age, their demise is usually accepted in a quieter way. Even by their children. Especially when the children have their own grandchildren. But… what if your mother has always remained young in your eyes? What if she remains just as you remembered her when you were four of five years old?  What if she has always remained beautiful to you? Beautiful all the time, for more than sixty years of your life? Only a few more wrinkles on her face every year and her movements somewhat slower with time, but still… beautiful and young… Loving and loved… If it is like this, then your Inner Self will never put up with HER death.

As my mind travels over the years gone, I admit to myself that her life was almost always filled with some inquietude. She could often be either sad, or concerned, or anxious about something, but rarely quiet or joyful. She was always ready for something to go wrong or amiss either with her or her children. There may have been reasons for her feeling that way. Such was life. There were eight people in the family where she grew. She was a six-year-old child when, in the autumn, Red Army soldiers were sent down to dig up and confiscate all the potatoes from their field because their household hadn’t been able to give the required amount of grain to the state as a tax. My Mom told me about her mother (my grandmother) kneeling then before the soldiers and wailing up into the sky pleading them not to dig out the potatoes. The soldiers kept digging…

Later, the family were driven out of their own house because my grandmother’s father  (not my grandmother, who started living in a much poorer family after her marriage!) was a comparatively richer peasant. Such peasants were to be “eliminated as a class”, according to the Soviet doctrine, and the local authorities thought that all those who were relatives also belonged to the “class.” In Ukrainian it was called “rozkurkulennia.” When the Germans came in 1941, the family returned to their old home. However, the new masters were no better than the Bolsheviks. The kolhosps remained, the taxes were collected not only in grain but in livestock too (a cow or a pig were to be given to the Wehrmacht), and just as Red Army soldiers digging up the potatoes field were a symbol of the Soviet power in the village, a German soldier wielding a submachine gun inside the house became a symbol of the German power for my mother – a teenager at that time. The soldier asked for some milk that day, but there was no milk. Then the soldier found the inside of the room rather stuffy. Since the window was made not to be open, he came to it and smashed the glass and the frame with his gun. It was winter…

The war hadn’t finished yet when my mother’s younger brother (my uncle) was killed by an explosion of a shell which had not exploded in due time during an artillery bombardment when the Soviets and the Germans fought a battle near the village.

Another war hit all of us much later. Though my younger brother remained alive in Afghanistan, the war had its consequences for him. And when the news of Serhiy’s death came, my Mom lay down on the bed all day, with her face in the pillow, stifling her sobbing.

There were also “lesser” worries when we lived in a tiny mud-hut in the 1950s. We were four children in the family. Mom managed to keep house, wash all our things, go to district hospitals some 20-30 kilometers from our village every time we grew seriously ill and got hospitalized, and she also worked in the kolhosp (a Soviet collective farm where every villager was required to work).

However, there was another life which she lived and in which she lived. It was the Life of Faith. She was a passionate believer. The harder was her life, the stronger was her faith. Her eyes lit up and shone with happiness whenever she spoke about God, her church, or her brothers and sisters in Christ. She could pray for hours and she knew that God worked through her prayers helping and supporting all those for whom she prayed. She read the Bible continuously. I have her books now and keep leafing through them. I find many black-and-white pictures of all of us when we were little children and were still together. There are many places in the books she underlined or ticked off too. The markings are all about joy, happiness, strength and the life to come. My brother, with whom she lived, said that when our Mom couldn’t see any more, she just used to open the Bible, put her fingers on the pages and sit that way.

Now our Mom knows what we on this earth do not know yet. She is where she has always desired to be. She is so young, and so beautiful, and so happy there.

%d bloggers like this: