Welcome to the new blog. According to all my blogging friends (much more skilled at this than I) this is the site to be on. I do know that it is easier to post pictures here. And thanks to my wonderful brother and his wife, I have a fancy-shmancy new camera with which to download photos. (Truth be told, BOTH my brothers and their wives are wonderful). :)
So even though I have been here in Ukraine for 8 years, I'm only now - (as I'm leaving!) - posting photos to give you a better idea of life here. Oh well. Better late than never?
This is Olga Vladimir-ovna. Olga feeds all the stray cats, dogs, and sometimes the pigeons, too. She says that they are the "least of these" that the Bible is talking about when Jesus said "as you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me".
Olga Vladimirovna is over 80 years old. She served for 8 months at the front during the "Great Patriotic War" (World War II). For her, the Soviet Union was a good place. She attended university for free, took vacations to the Black Sea for free....the state took care of everything. They could buy good quality meat at affordable prices, good clothes...and they knew everything about us - the United States. She can name our states, our capitals, our rivers, mountain ranges as well as our authors, movies and movie stars. I know all this because she has told me, many, many times. :) (I always figure that since I talk so much, the times that she catches me and I have to stand and listen to her is only just penance!)
One time when she and a friend of hers were recounting to me how good everything was under the Soviet Union (and I realize that for her things were better) I said - "yes, but isn't it true that people were imprisoned or killed just because they didn't agree with the state? Or because they were Christians?" They paused, looked at each other, and then said simply "No one that we knew".
She seems to be a kind lady. When we meet outside behind our building she always has a smile and calls me "Carochka". She always asks about my cat and tells the latest about "hers" (both the 3 she has living with her that she rescued from the street, and all the homeless ones). She catches me up on the latest news on her granddaughter in England, married to an Englishman. But sooner or later she always gets back to how awful things are now and how good they used to be. I realize she is old. I realize she has lived through a lot. But everytime her conversation gets back to this point I always think - "Oh Lord, don't let me hold on to the past so much! No matter how good I think it was". It makes you miss today.
Our chats (no matter if they are 45 minutes or 5 minutes) always seem to end on a down note with how horrible things are now. I'm sure I can't comprehend the disappointment and maybe anger she feels at seeing her proud country struggle with poverty, crime, etc. that she didn't know in her youth. Still, I can't help but see that the Babushki about her same age in our church seem to have such a different attitude. Yes, they are saddened by the changes, too. And yes, I have seen them cry, recalling the sadness in their lives. But they also have a hope for the future, not just in the life to come but here on earth, too. That's how I want to live, with hope and joy for today, regardless of what happened yesterday. I am glad that I have known Olga Vladimirovna and I will miss our backyard chats.