Yesterday, I was crying tears of joy. I have wanted for years to see the grave of my paternal grandfather. My oldest brother visited my father’s hometown three years ago and wasn’t brave enough to find our grandfather’s grave.
I made contact with a town official there and he said he would look into information on the grave. The local archive manager told him there wasn’t any information on his burial. Before I asked him, a friendly guy from the same town said it would be really hard to find the grave.
I was about to give up but then decided last week to post for some help on a forum for the town. Two people responded with questions and I thought this is hopeless again.
No one was offering to help me look for his grave on the forum. Then a guy sent me a private message that he was visiting the cemetery this week.
Luckily, I had my grandfather’s death date from the local registry office. That date determines where my grandfather’s grave would be located in the cemetery.
So, yesterday I casually checked my private messages for the forum and the guy sent me a message. I was nervous but relieved to not see the Russian negative words нет and не.
But I still was thinking he could be sending me random pictures of the cemetery. What were the chances of finding my grandfather’s grave on my birthday?
I could not understand what the guy was writing so I used Google Translate. It is hard to explain the excitement when I realized he pinpointed my grandfather’s grave on a map and posted 10 photos of the grave onto Dropbox.
This year has been the year of NO, NO and NO. I kept my expectations of finding the grave low because I’ve heard that cemeteries in Russia are not maintained in the same way as in the USA.
So, I cried on my birthday because I could finally see my grandfather’s grave. I gave my youngest son his middle name after his great-grandfather. Now, my grandfather does not feel forgotten in some Russian cemetery.
Here is his grave stone:
I’m giving a translation as a free lesson in Russian gravestone reading: Ivanov Pavel Nikolaevich (patronymic name that states he is son of Nikolai), born December 5, 1885 (but he was really born on Dec. 15. Even gravestones have the wrong information. I know this as a fact because my father bragged he shared his birthday with his father) and died December 2, 1971. The г. in the gravestone means year.
Here is the overgrown mess that surrounds my grandfather’s grave. Anyone who finds their relatives’ graves in Russia surrounded by beautiful flowers and nicely cut grass is lucky. This is the reality of cemeteries in Russia.