Interview With My Grandma (An Essay About His Grandmother My Son Wrote When At High School)
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.
MY INTERVIEW WITH MY GRANDMA
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.
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