Take a minute to remember

Right now is a difficult moment for my family. My father-in-law passed away last night after battling cancer for almost a year. I’m sure he’s now in a better place, but this sad occasion made me think of how big a role chance, coincidence and travel (yes, travel) play in our lives.

Our children were born thanks to the fact that I, from Ukraine, and my husband, from Russia, chose the same university to study in London. We both travelled miles for the tiny expats to exist. And how many ancestors before us actually had to go on a journey to make all of this happen?

My father’s father travelled from the Northern Ukraine to the Eastern to become ‘an independent grown up’. He was 17, the distance travelled – about 800km. At his new town he met a girl with raven locks and dark eyes who he instantly fell in love with. She owns her life and appearance to a gypsy grandfather, who travelled the lands until he met her grandmother, fell in love and never travelled since. This girl became a mother to my father. My daughters both have her dark eyes, runs in the family. That’s where my father was born and lived until he moved to another city to study in a university.

My mother’s father went on some business to another city and on his way he saw a girl walking on a street. Straight away he thought that she’s the one, or at least so it says in his diary, which we found after he passed away. They got married and moved from Russia to Ukraine to a growing city, which provided lots of new carrier opportunities. That’s where my mother was born, where she grew up and went to a university. The same one that my father went to.

My husband’s mother has an ancestor, who was a Cossack at Zaporizhian Sich in Ukraine, living, I guess, quite a wild life with free Cossacks roaming the steppe. At one point he met a girl, who he decided to leave all this for. As he had no need for possessions in his nomad lifestyle and the girl’s dowry gave them a start for the family life, he surrendered his surname and took the one of his wife. The same surname my husband’s mother was born with. When she was 16, she decided to go to Moscow to study.

My husband’s father’s ancestors came to Zaporizhian Sich from Romania, but it was in Ukraine that they acquired their new surname, deriving from their origin. I guess, it wasn’t a suitable enough time for my parents-in-law ancestors to meet in Ukraine, so my father-in-law’s line moved further to Russia where it mixed with another one from Siberia. My father-in-law parents met in the South of Russia, a land of Kuban Cossacks, and that’s where he was born and lived until it was time to get higher eduction, he thought that Moscow is a good place for that…

So many people travelling, so many life lines crossing, all chance, all leading to the birth of my beautiful girls. Let’s remember all those, without whom we wouldn’t have been here.

RIP, father to my husband, grandfather to my children..

 

25 comments

  1. Such an amazing family history, filled with courage and perseverance! I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m sure he’s very proud of the things you and tour husband have achieved in all your travels.

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    • Thank you! We have some stories written down but many more, sadly, forgotten. I guess, the only thing we can do now is start writing the stories about us and our families, then our great grandchildren might have something to talk about :)

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  2. My father told me stories about my Russian Great-Grandfather (Gottfried Steinle) who came to America in 1902. He used to practice with an old broom, while on horse back, showing all the maneuvers the Cossacks taught him. He had been a Cossack and was proud of that fact. I loved reading about your family. My maiden name was Steinle, my mother’s maiden name was Schwemmer. I know little about my family, as my mother died when I was 3 years old. Thanks for sharing your family. <3

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