Ukraine, Motherland

I am Ukrainian. My mother is first-generation. I’ve generally been proud of my ethnicity, my heritage. Because, well, why not? Especially because, Ukrainians are underdogs, and rooting for the underdog is kind-of an American thing, and I’m also American.

When I was a freshman in college, I decided I needed to know more about my family’s history specifically. I called up my Babucia (grandmother) and we spoke at length about how my family ended up in the U.S. The story, like most immigrant stories, is…well, pretty amazing.

When I’m feeling weak, panicky or overwhelmed, I take great comfort in thinking of my Babucia and Dedus (grandfather, pronounced day-DOOSE) and their strength, most especially during World War II. The blood of my family is strong. We are made to survive.

My sister Nancy, upon visiting Babucia on her 80th birthday (my Dedus is dead now), asked her some more questions to clear up some of the missing information in her story. Babucia doesn’t necessarily enjoy recalling the pain and struggle, so we figured this would be the last time we talked to her about it.

Now we have what will be the fullest first-person account. I will present it here, with gratitude and awe.


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