In the past eight years, I have written two letters to the current owners of my grandfather’s house. Two years have passed since I sent the last letter and I had given up hope they would ever respond.
That was until I made contact with my half-aunt’s distant cousin I’ll name Valentin who lives in the same city. He offered to knock at the gate of my grandpa’s former home in southern Russia.
I couldn’t contain my excitement. Another resident of the city made the same attempt to reach the owners but didn’t have luck eight years ago.
Finally, I had another chance for someone to get on the property and take pictures of where my grandpa lived with his parents for many years and my father spent his days as a young child.
But Valentin didn’t have luck when he knocked on the gate. I kindly thanked him for his efforts and felt it just was a dream to see this home. At least, the same gate where my grandfather was photographed still stands after more than 50 years.
Four days passed without hearing from Valentin. I didn’t suggest he return to the property for one more try but he did it without telling me. He wrote to me again and sent me more than 10 photos of the property. The joy couldn’t be described in words.
My brave grandfather sent photos of the property in the 1960s in letters to my father in USA. My grandfather’s photos mostly focused on his prized vineyard.
The newest photos give a more complete view of the property. Sadly, one half of my grandfather’s house burned in a fire two years ago and I will never see that portion. I am grateful the property hasn’t been cleared for a highrise apartment complex, a fear of my grandfather.
the patio where my grandfather enjoyed admiring his beloved vineyard.
a part of the original home my grandfather loved so much
the well my grandfather used to water his prized vineyard
Two years ago, a women whose family lived in the portion that burned to the ground contacted me and provided me with the sales agreement my grandfather made before his death from cancer. The woman planned to send me photos of the property but that never came through.
Now, thanks to my half-aunt distant cousin, I have received an e-mail message from a man who was treated as if he was a grandson of my grandfather as a young child. He doesn’t have memories of my grandfather and step-grandmother but his parents do remember him.
In a few days, I am hoping to have more details about the last years of my grandfather’s life. My father escaped the USSR as an 8-year-old boy with his mother’s family, leaving behind a heart-broken much older father.
My grandfather had the courage to contact my father, his only child, in Soviet times through years of letters. That courage has not been forgotten. It gave me the unwavering determination to find the family who can complete the story of my grandfather’s life.