Eugenia Zodian, my grandmother, was born Ra*rozh*a in the Soviet Union in [Western] Ukraine. I do not know much about her youth as she did not like to talk much about it - or maybe I'm not a good listener. (LE: I was able to confirm that she had a sister, Taisia, who had a daughter Zoya, who had a daughter Anna with a daughter of her own, Eva, as well as a brother, Vadim, who had Sergey and Natalia.) I do know, from other readings, that during that era millions of Ukrainians died in Holodomor due to criminal communist policies, particularly forced collectivization. When she met my grandfather, who was an engine driver, she was attending some college, but she left the country with him, interrupting her studies. They met in a town called Razdelnaya, which was a railway node. My grandfather was there because as soon as he graduated (1942) from his college was drafted to war. Romania was fighting alongside Nazi Germany, partly because it had no choice and partly because it was trying to get back from Soviet Union Basarabia (aka Moldovan Republic or Bessarabia) which it had seen as Romanian and had been grabbed by the Soviets. [The Russians eventually took it back after winning the war and called it Moldova Republic. They had an intense campaign of Russification of the Romanian population and deportations to Siberia. It is unfortunate that the inhabitants bought into it and for a while spoke “Moldovan Language”.]
Grandma hated photos, she'd always shy away from the camera and almost always wore shades. Getting even half a smile from her required tremendous skill from the photographer, which is why the photo above, with my mother and father, is so special.
My grandma worked briefly as a teacher, even though she did not have to as her husband's income was more than sufficient for the entire family. She confessed that her only regret was not having had more children; she did not find work anywhere nearly as rewarding, difficult and fulfilling as raising her own children and grandchildren.
2022.02 Update: The invasion of Ukraine by Putin reminded me of this part of my heritage; I tweeted about the invasion and its Russian support, about Trump's gaffe and fratricidal war, about trusting Cynthia Freeland more than trusting her boss, about the racism inherent in the support and admiration for Putin, about the Toronto Mega March and donations and about how the Russian-Ukrainian language similarity (I've been studying a bit the former) is as Spanish to Italian or French to Portuguese. While there is no question's in my mind that Putler's Russia is the aggressor, I am also a bit uneasy with what seems to be some discrimination against ethnic Russians.