I still remember very clearly the day when I discovered my grandfather’s nephew was looking for relatives of his mother’s family on a genealogy forum 8 years ago.
It didn’t make sense why he was looking for his mother’s family. My grandfather was the only sibling who left behind his family after World War II. It was supposed to be a secret.
With being a POW of the German army in WWII, my grandfather was an enemy of Soviet Ukraine. He gave into the enemy and later escaped the POW camp to come back to my grandmother and my newborn mother.
During winter 1943, he escaped Kiev during the night for Poland with my grandmother, my mother and my grandmother’s family. No one was to talk about him or the family would face harsh punishment.
When I finally reached my grandfather’s nephew’s family by phone in Kiev, I learned the nephew died three years earlier.
I was crushed but thrilled to learn he had a son and daughter. The family got me in contact with several cousins from my generation and my mother’s. I made a promise- I will be in Kiev in three years with my mother.
I thought that was enough time to save money for the trip. It was but my family situation wasn’t ideal for running off to Ukraine three years later. I hoped my situation would change each year and later realized I waited too long. The prices for flights to Kiev kept getting higher and higher.
Then, came the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution and the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. It was hard to see the two countries that fought together in WWII were fighting each other.
I kicked myself for breaking my promise to the family my mother never had a chance to know as a child. The cousin who gave the daughter of my grandfather’s nephew a lot of information on our relatives died of painful brain cancer in summer 2015.
My chances of thanking her in person vanished. I hope she understood how grateful I am for everything she told me through her goddaughter (and the daughter of my grandfather’s nephew).
Right now, flying off to Kiev is not a possibility for many reasons. My only option is waiting out to meet the daughter of my grandfather’s nephew in the USA. She travels a lot to the USA for work.
For almost two years, I have asked my cousin regularly “when are you coming to the USA?” Finally, my cousin e-mailed me that she was coming to the USA again and wanted to meet in Atlanta. I told her that my mother could meet her but it would be easier for us to meet in Washington, D.C., if possible.
Well, it’s happening in a week. Three generations of my family (me, my mother and two kids) will meet my cousin. I have my Ukrainian flag ready for the emotional airport reunion that I thought only happens to other people.
Guide to Using the Best & Largest Russian Language Genealogy Forum (where I found this family and several other relatives)