Interview With My Grandma (An Essay About His Grandmother My Son Wrote When At High School)

I think this picture was taken around the time when Reuven wrote his essay (in 2005)
I think this picture was taken around the time when Reuven wrote his essay (in 2005)

Cleaning my files

While I was cleaning my files in the computer, I found this essay that my son Reuven wrote when he was a Sophomore in High School. First I wanted to write an article about my mother myself, but then I thought that I must publish Reuven's essay as it was. I will write my share later.

Just to give an idea.

This is a map of Soviet Union
This is a map of Soviet Union
These are 15 republics of USSR.  #14 is Ukraine, where Grandma was born and lived till WWII.  #6-Kazakhstan. #11-Russia, Grandma worked there in Far East region
These are 15 republics of USSR. #14 is Ukraine, where Grandma was born and lived till WWII. #6-Kazakhstan. #11-Russia, Grandma worked there in Far East region
Reuven and Grandma Maya. August 2008
Reuven and Grandma Maya. August 2008


How many people do you have in your life who mean everything to you? Well, I have two. My mother is the first and my grandmother is the second. This is the reason I am doing this interview about grandma. I had known a lot about her, but I knew I could always learn more. I never had the opportunity to ask her about her childhood and I knew this would be the perfect time.

My grandmother was born on September 15, 1928, in Kiev, Ukraine. She grew up in a relatively small family. It consisted of her grandmother, her parents and her sister. Until the age of five she lived in a small town and she had a best elder friend there who was also her babysitter.

“I liked him a lot,” my grandma told me. ”He used to make for me wooden dolls.” That was probably why she missed him a lot when she had to move.

When she was five years old, her farther, Isaac, had received a job offer in Mariupol, Ukraine, a town on the Azov Sea. He became a manager of oil storage for ships. That was the first time my grandma had to move. When a small girl, my grandma had really pretty curly hair that all her friends liked. They were sad to hear that she was moving away and asked my grandma to give each of them a piece of her hair. So, my grandma was giving away her curls and as you can imagine she ended up with a very short haircut when they arrived to Mariupol.

They lived right by the beach on the Azov Sea. My grandma had a lot of friends there whom she used to play with after school. As a young child she was not afraid of anyone and used to protect smaller children and often times she got into fights with bigger kids. Therefore, the older kids were always afraid of her and respected her. My grandma did well in all of her school subjects and loved to ice skate in her free time. She lived in Mariupol till the age of eleven. That was when the World War II reached Soviet Union and ended my grandma’s childhood.

At that time the Nazis were on their way to capture Ukraine and since my grandma and her family were Jewish they had no choice but to run away. Very shortly after they had left, the Nazis occupied the city and destroyed many houses and killed many people.

As they were travelling, my grandma and her family came across many difficulties, like shortage of food and limited space on the train. What made it even harder for them was the death of my grandma’s grandmother and her father, who still suffered from wounds from the Russian Civil war in early 20s. They reached a town called Orenburg in the Ural Mountains, where they settled and began their new life. It was very difficult for my grandma to keep living a life of a 12-year-old because she had a lot of responsibilities. She had to help her mother at home, cut wood for a wood stove and she even plugged in electricity for the house with the help of a neighbor kid. When I asked my grandma what her first car was, she just laughed and said “a bicycle”. I guess it wasn’t common at all to own cars in Russia those days. Actually, people lived very poor there.

My grandma graduated from high school and went to a medical college where she got her degree to be a surgeon. She was well trained because when she was in college, her elder cousin, also a doctor, had done many surgeries and she watched and learned many things from him. After graduation she was sent to work in the hospital to a far place. Those days in Russia you didn’t choose your work place, but instead you got sent to places where doctors were needed. She got sent to a lot of different places and was far away from home most of the time. My grandma was a very good and brave surgeon; she did extreme surgeries under the circumstances. Ones they brought to her a forest ranger, which was encountered by a bear. The bear tore off the ranger’s skin from his back, including his scalp and even teeth were hanging on gums’ muscles. My grandma stitched pieces of skin back and she even managed to put the teeth back into their holes. Another case was a funny one. A young soldier slipped on the ice and hit the bottom of his nose on a shoe scrapper. My grandma had to cut part of his nose gristle above the upper lip. Later the soldier brought flowers and his picture to her. He used to have a very turned-up nose that the girls were making fun of. Now his nose was perfectly straight and he got attention of girls.

Later on my grandma’s sister got married and moved to a small town in Kazakchstan, one of Asian republics of Soviet Union. Since my grandma’s mother didn’t want to be apart from each other, they all moved to Kazakhstan as well. In 1959 my mother Vera was born. When my mom was six, my grandma’s mother died. My grandma was known in the city as one of the best surgeons and was widely respected. Unfortunately, in socialistic Soviet country doctors, teachers and engineers were paid less than factory line workers were, so my grandma and mom lived very simple. They didn’t have a car or fancy furniture but their house was always full of books and they traveled over country every summer.

Shortly after I was born on November 23, 1987, my grandma retired to help my mom take care of me. Grandma said the day I was born was the happiest day of her life. We lived in Kazakhstan till the year of 1991. In the late 80s Soviet Jews were finally allowed to move to Israel. Before this, they were persecuted even for trying to move out of Soviet Union.

My mom decided to start a new life in Israel where we arrived in October 1991 and lived for eleven years. My grandma always found time for my mom and me. Once a kid smashed my thumb with a big stone when we played on the ground. I was lucky that my grandma was near and while I was still in a pain shock, she formed my tiny bones and fixed my thumb so, that it looks perfect now. She always played with me and she has taught me many things. I believe it all helped me to become a person I am today. I am very thankful for all the things she did for my mom and me.

I am very glad I did this interview about her because I found out many new things that I didn’t know before.

A Russian song

I added below a song in Russian about mother. Before the song there is a text, saying "A day before a child was born he asked God, "I don't know why I am coming to this world, what am I supposed to do there?". God told him, "I will give you an angel who will lead you, who will guard you, who will teach you". "What is the angel's name?", asked the child. God answered, "You will call this angel Mama"

I'm sure my son will say he has two angels, another angel's name is Grandma.

Song about mother in Russian

More by this Author

Comments 33 comments

Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 7 years ago from MA, USA

Thanks for posting your son's essay about his grandmother.  It was touching and inspiring and well written all at the same time.

This interview with grandma deserves the publication that it got thanks to you.  Thumbs up.

Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 7 years ago from HubPages, FB

This is wonderful story. Thank you. Perhaps if would be an idea to publish small map of locations.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, Dottie. I'm glad you liked the essay.

Vladimir, thanks for the idea, I added some maps.

sjk6101983 profile image

sjk6101983 7 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

I loved it too! This story got me thinking about my own grandpa actually. I just might write my first hub on him actually since Reuven's been asking me to write on what I know. Thanks! =)

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

That's right, Sarah, it will be nice if you write about your Grandpa. How often it happens that we don't ask enough questions and don't listen to our grandparents when we have a possibility to do it. But later we regret that we didn't do it, as they are gone and nothing can be changed.

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

thanks -- both to you and your son. This was fascinating.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

Thank YOU for visiting and reading.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Your son takes after his mother - he's a great writer.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

London Girl, thank you! For sure- all the best he took from me. All not so good- from his father :-) :-D LOL

sjk6101983 profile image

sjk6101983 7 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

So true about not asking enough questions from grandparents after they're long gone. I never really knew my grandparents on my dad's side of the family: my dad's father passed away before my parents met, and my dad's mother passed away when I was in junior high and I wasn't that close to her, which I had mentioned to Reuven once. So when they both passed on, I started wondering, "who am I?" and "where did my family come from?" and such. Thankfully, my aunt, my dad's sister, saved all the family pictures and remembered all the stories that my grandpa and grandma told her. =)

About the blog about my grandpa: don't be surprised if you cry while reading it. It's a little sad. Unforunately, the picture I wanted to put up isn't loading so if you want to see what he looked like, I have lots of pics of him on my facebook page. =)

santoion profile image

santoion 7 years ago

Very good hub.Thank You !

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, santoion.

chicamom85 profile image

chicamom85 7 years ago

What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

You are welcome, chicamom and thank you for viisting.

sheristeele profile image

sheristeele 7 years ago from Siler City, NC

Heartwarming... thank you.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 7 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, sheristeele, for reading and commenting.

essays101 profile image

essays101 6 years ago from USA

Great post

thanks for sharing with us...


sami scott 6 years ago

I personally loved what your son wrote. I am currently writing an essay on my grandmother for a class, and I am enjoying it very much so. It's really great to learn new things that you never knew about a relative. :) Your son's essay is very touching to me because I myself am very close to my grandmother. :) Its great that you put this up for other people to read. :)


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Sami, thank you for your comment. I am sure you are a good grandson and your Grandma loves you a lot.

Take care.

sami scott 6 years ago

hahaha im a chick. :) but your welcome, and she sure does. She lets me know everytime i see her! :)

Pat 6 years ago

What a very interesting article,very well written and I'm sure it was a very touching time to have this interview with Grandma,but even more than any of that, is the loving tribute it is to her and yourself,He certainly has a special place in his heart for both of you!!!!

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, Pat! He sure does. Even now that he is grown up he is not shy to show that he loves us. He is not shy to hug me or grandma in front of others. And he is a great helper in whatever we ask.

Robert 6 years ago

I read this a while ago and meant to comment but did not. I looked for it again today and was glad I found it again. I just want to say this is beautiful. I am glad you shared it. You should be very proud of both your son and his grandmother.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Robert, thank you very much for coming back and commenting. I appreciate it.

I am very proud of my son, and his grandmother is my hero, my role model.

mala 6 years ago

I loved it very much, it was such an inspiring essay!

I have always wanted to interview my own grandmother about where she came from and her life story before it is too late. younger generations these days seem to have less interest in these stories but I think it is important to know so that we know where we came from and this can influence us on were we are heading.

thanks again, this is such and wonderful essay.

greetings from Papua New Guinea

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

mala, wow! From Papua New Guinea! As a child I was collecting stamps and I was checking on a map all places from where the stamps were. I remember "visiting" your place.

You are so right, we have to know our roots, it will give us special feeling for belonging.

Shane 6 years ago

I loved the story. Thank you for posting it. Good job, Reuven!

Best wishes from Canada!

wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

what a beautiful story. I can feel the love that you feel in your heart for your family . .and how each one of you shares the very lucky you are to have it so real and so true. Just beautiful to read about. Thanks for sharing.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, Shane!

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author


thank you for visiting and commenting. We appreciate it very much. I'll let Reuven know about your comment. My mother helped me to raise my son and they were (and still are) great friends.

Darla Dwire profile image

Darla Dwire 2 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

So Sweet and brave of your Mother. Your son seems like a very respectable young man and will go far in life.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 2 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, Darla!

QuintessenceOfAng profile image

QuintessenceOfAng 16 months ago from Colorado

What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing!

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