invasion

Way before dawn this morning my sister and I found ourselves sitting together in the living room, shedding tears for Ukraine. Our father was the son of Ukrainian immigrants. We both have memories of him telling us about how Ukraine has been invaded over and over again throughout its history. Being little children most of what he was talking about didn’t mean much to us, but we often heard about Vikings, Mongols, Cossacks and Tatars, the Austro-Hungarian Army and Russia, Hitler and Stalin. His sense of ill-fated tragedy made a deep impression on us.

My grandfather left his pregnant wife and young daughter (Mary) in Luzhek Verkhniy, Ukraine to come to America in 1909. My grandmother left their daughter in Ukraine to be raised by Mary’s grandparents and came to America with her five-month-old son in 1910. They had six more children born in this country. Our aunt Mary finally came to America to live with her parents in 1926, at the age of 18. Most of her aunts and uncles who she grew up with came over at various times, too. Except for one who was “killed by Stalin,” presumably because he stayed.

Our hearts feel very heavy. I wonder if some sort of genetic memory is at work here. Took a peek at CNN and saw some people in Ukraine kneeling in a city square, praying. I had to turn it off. If you have any comments, please don’t make them political. My thoughts and prayers are for the Ukrainian people.

30 thoughts on “invasion”

  1. genetisk memory – yes! I think forgiveness is good here: This is how I may say it – feel free to change whatever do not resonate.
    I bless and forgive every ancestor who has harbored ill will and wishes for revenge, and I forgive myself too for this very human state of mind. It all comes from the perceptions we have learned are correct – and I am willing to give up these perception to the Holy ( whatever Name you haver for that.) I forgive the parts inside me that thinks it is unjustly treated and I forgive my own attack thoughts that are all resting on unexamined thoughts. I place all of this “war-stuff” in the hands of the Most Holy, including all the attack thoughts I carry myself – for myself and others.

    1. For myself, I believe there will always be bullies disrupting the lives of others. Sadly, it’s human nature. I don’t feel the need to forgive them or to exact revenge on them. (If they can be brought to justice that would be ideal.) But I think feeling and expressing grief and sadness for the pain they inflict on their victims is very appropriate.

  2. It is such sad news for the Ukrainian people; I can’t imagine what they are feeling. Praying for peace for your distant family and for you and your sister.

    1. Thank you, Suz. 🙏 It was interesting seeing a few Ukrainians talking to reporters yesterday. Some families are hiding underground in subway stations, not knowing what to do or where to go.

  3. Your sorrow is understandable. The history of Ukraine is indeed tragic. I pray the invasion is short-lived. I’m glad you have your sister and your memories to share.

    1. Thank you, Anna. 🙏 It’s a blessing having a sister to share memories with. Siblings share our lives for far longer than parents, spouses or children. The older I get the more I appreciate that.

  4. I’m having a tough time watching the news these days. It’s bad enough having winter storm after winter storm, but combine that with the COVID statistics, the tanking economy, the meanness, rising crime, and everything else … well, all we can do is pray, right? Barbara, I’m sorry this madness touches you on a deep and personal level. I can’t stand a bully! Why can we live and let live??

    1. I feel the same way, Debbie. I listen to music or audio books most of the day, or take walks and take pictures and enjoy blogging. But yesterday I did watch CNN for a little while in the morning while reporters were talking with Ukrainians themselves who were hiding underground in subway stations. Later, when the news analysts started yakking I turned if off and went back to my music and jigsaw puzzle. Now I can picture some of the people I’m praying for. 🙏

  5. I felt sorrow for the Ukranian people. I sat praying for them when I heard Russia had invaded their country. Very sad news. I can see why it would upset you so much,

    1. Thank you, Peggy. 🙏 It’s nice to know so many of us are praying for Ukraine and are so moved by their current plight.

  6. I believe family memory is carried in our DNA, and I would think you would be upset and feel this tragedy viscerally. This is a sad state of affairs, when a country feels its okay to just take what they want.

    1. The study of epigenetics fascinates me, Eliza, especially as it relates to family history. My sister and I were amazed when we discovered that our deep inward feelings were shared and brought us together in the middle of the night.

  7. The stories we remember from childhood about our ancestors are fascinating. Like you I remember bits from those stories, in my case Irish immigrants, but wonder as an adult if I got the whole story.

    1. I remember seeing a documentary on Irish immigrants. A lot of the women came by themselves and worked as domestics, vowing not to marry Irish men because of their drinking. Turns out both Tim and I each had a female Irish ancestor who followed that pattern, although we have no way of knowing why they made their choices. Mine married a Norwegian immigrant and Tim’s married an American. It’s fun trying to put the bits and pieces together to create a story. Would love to hear your stories, Ally!

  8. I was watching early morning local news as well as during ad breaks clicking back and forth to CNN. Then I read your post. I have no magical words, ferries’ wands, or songbird whistles to lighten your heart or soften your genetic memory.

    An unknown voice circles within my mind with anxiety, that is this: The horrors of human existence.

    Meanwhile a few minutes ago, I looked out my kitchen window to see three small morning doves on the top of the bench huddled side to each side. One morning dove on the conversation table in front of the bench. That morning dove decided to join the other three morning doves. It just up, faced the same direction, the side stepped toe to toe to lean into the other three, making four. I thought they might be Ukrainian ancestors, all together now. That moment, I saw sweetness.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your sweet mourning dove story, TD. You reminded me that on Wednesday I had two mourning doves appear outside the sliding glass doors, keeping me company during my yoga session. They stayed until the end. And later that morning Tim called me to the kitchen window where a darling tufted titmouse was feeding on insects in the birch tree bark. And then as I got back to the living room there was a little nuthatch exploring the balcony. I felt so blessed!

      1. Lovely! The tufted titmouse and nuthatch are not found here where I live, but are found in TX. I looked them up on Texas A&M Agrilife research website ( https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/ ) that I found today.

        So cute!! I may have seen them in my life because I’ve live so many different places in Texas. But I was not as interested in identifying birds in mid-younger years. My mother would look up the birds in books. I’m enjoying looking up the birds that you introduce me to so I can learn a little about them.

        I did notice my misspelling of mourning doves. Funny I didn’t think about that until just now.

        My new bird in my yard for this week was the red-tailed-hawk. 3 times! (https://houstonaudubon.org/birding/gallery/red-tailed-hawk.html)

        Early in the week I noticed hearing all the birds fly-run to the other 100’ tall hawthorns in the backyard. It alerted me and I wondered what?!? scared them so. Then the hawk all alone. Next day I saw it again in the front. Both times I could not make out enough detail with my min binoculars. (tiny bit of envy of your super camera lens) Friday morning as I was open the curtains, there it was in my front yard on the ground ten feet from me having its breakfast. I did not like what it caught, but I do know that it does catch some undesirable critters. My excitement was to see so close for identification. It was a live National Geographic Nature moment at home.

        I’m starting “The Secret Keeper” Kate Morton audiobook after I finish cooking homemade pork-veggies wontons. I miss the privilege of Asian cuisine, so I’m trying to cook a few dishes for myself. It’s raining for a few very cold days.

        1. I found your comments in my spam queue, TD. Comments with links in them automatically get sent there as a way to protect my blog from spammers. But when I see them from my readers I can approve them. Feel free to include links but just know it may take some time for me to approve them. 🙂

          It was interesting scrolling through the list of birds on the Texas Breeding Bird Atlas. Some birds we have in common and others we don’t have up north here. Do you keep a list of birds you’ve seen so far? Like you, I wasn’t so interested in identifying birds when I was younger but it’s so much fun now.

          How lucky you had a red-tailed hawk visiting! I still remember the one I saw in October, high up on a water tower. What a thrill it must have been to have one only ten feet away from you! Even getting to see it eat its prey was a moment to witness circle of life. A live National Geographic moment for sure.

          I’m not familiar with Kate Morton’s writing. Let me know if I should add “The Secret Keeper” to my listening list. I hope you enjoy your wontons and please stay safe and keep warm.

          1. Oh good Barbara, I’m glad that you found my message! Now I know why it wasn’t posting.

            No, I don’t keep a list of birds. Birds are fun to watch and I like to know the name type in general. I suppose it’s more of a fun game that mom handed down to me.

            Kate Morton is new to me too. I’ve never heard of her. The tittle caught my attention. CD 1, three chapters, so far I’m escaping into it! This is exactly what I needed to decompress.

          2. Books are such good company! And audio books are a wonderful source of comfort ~ I love being read to. 😊

  9. I’m sorry to read this invasion touches you so much more deeply because of your Ukranian roots Barbara. Very sad and heartbreaking to see the ravages and hear about the deaths. One of the saddest pictures is one I saw earlier today of two young children, one clutching a teddy bear and standing in the road watching tanks. Where were their parents? I hope they have not perished. Many here in Michigan are standing in solidarity for the plight of the Ukranian people – there have been some peace rallies, people wearing the gold and blue colors and coming together. I hope the conflict ends soon and I will keep you in my thoughts.

    1. Thank you, Linda. The same thing is happening here in Connecticut, too, the peace rallies for Ukraine. The pictures we’re seeing are heartbreaking and I can’t imagine how terrible it is to live with so much insecurity and uncertainty. How can the parents explain this to children when it is so incomprehensible to us adults? I’m a little bit encouraged because the Ukrainians seem to be putting up a good fight and their resistance is strong. Maybe they can hold the invading army off long enough to weaken it and turn it around. I’m keeping a candle lit for the people there, my prayer for peace and comfort.

      1. We had a huge rally in Detroit today – I saw some video snippets of it. We had a beautiful weather day, so that likely helped as well, plus we had a trucker convoy flying the Ukraine flag on each semi-truck. It’s nice to see people rallying together over here, despite the usual dissension. I have heard 350 Ukrainians have passed away already, including 14 children – so very sad and I hope it ends soon.

        1. I decorated for spring yesterday and pulled out my Ukrainian Easter eggs. I’ve been trying to read up on Ukrainian history. They have had more than their share of bloodshed and (politically created) famine. It’s heartbreaking. Reading some of Taras Shevchenko’s poetry. It’s encouraging to see all the moral support the world is offering and that Ukrainians continue to resist the bully. Still burning my candle…

          1. Keep burning that candle Barbara and keep the strength. Ukranian’s president is strong and rallying his people. I Googled Ukranian Easter eggs. I have seen those beautiful eggs before and did not know they were associated with Ukrania.

          2. I took a Ukrainian Easter egg workshop with Tim’s aunt once, years ago. I’m not very artistic and my sad egg finally broke so I started buying the wooden ones, a couple every year, at a Polish butcher shop where we used to buy kielbasa.

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