Sunday, 19 April 2020

Sunday


Not a good photograph - you can see my reflection  on the glass and it is not straight - it was difficult to take the photograph and the picture is too heavy for me to take down off the wall, so apologies.   But you get the general idea.

There is only so much one can write about endless days of isolation.   I am not minding them - in fact there is something pleasant about them, especially when the sun is shining as it is today.   But after listening to the appalling death figures from the virus coming out of Moscow it did set me thinking about my many trips there and throughout the area when it was still The Soviet Union.

My then husband, M, who sadly died in 1991, and I went many times to various parts - to Moscow, to Samarkand, Alma Ata, Tashkent, on the trans Siberian, and to St Petersburg (which was then of course called Leningrad).   We were travellers, had a limited amount of money to spend on travelling - and Russia needed Western currency so holidays there were cheap and good value. 

I thought I would share with you the story of my very dear friend A, who has been dead for many years now, who came originally from St Petersburg.   This painting, done of course by my husband, is of the Peter Paul Fortress seen across a frozen River Neva.   A and her friend both went to Medical School there to train as doctors but had only been there a short time when Germany invaded and overran the city.   Both of them were captured and taken to work in hospital in Germany where they spent the whole of the war.

After the war ended they didn't know where to go.   They were not sure about going back home.   The people there had suffered so terribly that they were unsure of how they would be received having worked in Germany throughout the war (albeit they had no alternative and would have been killed had they refused).   A's friend returned home and within a week was hanged.   A came to England instead, met another Russian refugee and they married and came to live quite near where we lived. 

The story for A does have a happy ending.   She had no way of contacting her parents, didn't know where they lived, whether they had survived the war even.   Then A became attached to an organisation associated with the British Council and was sent with a delegation to Leningrad - and one evening after dinner she went out and caught a bus to the place where her parents had last lived.  She walked up the path to the door,knocked on it - and her mother opened the door. 

In those days how many people there were who had suffered terrible privation and been displaced with no knowledge of what had happened to their families.   There is food for thought there as we struggle through this pandemic.   None of us are short of food, none of us are separated from our families, none of us live in fear and from what I see here in my little neck of the woods - all of us are coping well.   Let's keep it up.   Keep safe.

28 comments:

MARY MARSHAL said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Derek Faulkner said...

You do attract some tiresome people on here Pat for some reason.

Just to cheer you up, there is a suggestion in one of my papers today, that when lock down is lifted, that old people, which I presume includes me at 73, will still be expected to stay in until a vaccination is available, which could take 18 months!

Rachel Phillips said...

Your story about your friend from St Petersburg is one you have shared with me on my blog but I like to hear it again. It brought a couple of programmes to mind that I watched this week that you may have seen, or not, but may like to download if you haven't seen them, one is the Countess and the Russian Billionaire and the other Prue Leith Journey With My Daughter when she goes back to Cambodia with the daughter she adopted from there 45 years ago. I think you would enjoy both.

the veg artist said...

I think we all like to think that we are totally in charge of the direction of our lives, but that is so often not the case. We just have to make the most of what we have.

JayCee said...

Your friend A's story is a reminder to me that my current situation could be a lot worse. I am more comfortable than many elsewhere and must not forget that.

Amanda said...

My parents grew up horribly poor during the Great Depression, my father was stationed in England during WW2 and told me many stories of what that was like. When I get aggravated about what is going on, I think how hard they would laugh at what I am considering "tough."

Marty said...

What a lovely story. It was nice to be transported somewhere else for a while, and find a happy ending when I arrived.

Karla said...

I so agree, that we must all put this into its proper perspective. Your story is a reminder for us all to be grateful that many of us are just being inconvenienced by this. There are many suffering terribly now, and I never want to trivialize any of their pain and anguish. It is real and it is harsh. These times are for unity, and I've seen many acts of kindness and generosity. We humans can be so good. I read a blog by an author who says he won't argue about good, he just does the good that he can. I pray all of our hearts may be softened. I start my day reading your blog, and I dearly love it. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Karla, from Illinois.

Margie from Toronto said...

Such an interesting post - thank you.

Mary said...

That really is an incredible story Pat, thank you for sharing it in such detail. The ending was totally unexpected, and wonderful!
Yes, we really have it so much easier than what others lived through in past times of worldwide crises.

I loved reading of your travels in Russia - I've visited Moscow and St. Petersburg, also the Russian Far East (Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands). All amazing places, all very different.

Stay safe, and do share more stories with us please.
Mary -

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for your responses.

Granny Sue said...

What a beautiful, sad, yet uplifting story, Pat. I cannot imagine living through what your friend experienced. I have heard my father's stories, and my mother's, of living through the Blitz, of having so little to eat. One story Dad wrote about in one of his letters to his mother was that he sneaked a can of peaches off the base and took to my mother (his girlfriend at the time) and her mother and sisters as a Christmas gift. They were ecstatic, as it was a very rare treat. We have it good compared to that. I hope you stay well and keep writing.

my alabama bears home said...

Thank you for this post.
We are doing well. My extended family and I check in from time to time to find out how we're faring.
Mama Bear

A Smaller Life said...

I think most of us are coping pretty well with this.

As you point out there have been much, much worse scenarios in the past. We are lucky to be only told to stay in and do what ever we want to indoors. Television is a good friend at the moment, as are my books, computer and phone.

How bloody lucky we are.

gmv said...

This is such a magnificent story of hardship and joy of reunion. You remind us how even in this social isolation against this viral disease we are blessed to have what we need and to be among family or near to others that we can at least wave and smile and distance chat.

Bonnie said...

What interesting experiences you have had Pat. How wonderful that A was able to be reunited with her family. It is true that we are far more fortunate than we could be and for that I am grateful.

Ruth said...

Thank you for that beautiful story. You must have many stories - I'd love to hear them. This is a good time to put them in writing.

Yes, we are surely blessed!!

angryparsnip said...

I think you have posted this painting before. I think it is so beautiful.
Nice that the sun is shining !
parsnip

Heather said...

That is such a beautiful painting Pat - your husband was very talented. It made me think of some of the scenery in the film Dr. Zhivago.
Your lovely story of friend A finding her mother still living in the family home after the war was astounding. You are quite right - we are very fortunate not to have such terrible hardships to cope with.

Oklahoma Girl said...

Beautiful, peaceful painting.
Thank you for sharing such a special story about your friend. It's a sad story with a happy ending. I look forward to your blog every day.

Linda from Alabama said...

Thank you for sharing such a poignant story.

Joanne Noragon said...

Thank you for the cheer, Weave, and even more thanks for a wonderful story.

At Home In New Zealand said...

Thank-you for sharing that story - it really puts things today into perspective. How much we have to be thankful for, even when our movements are restricted.

Cro Magnon said...

My late father in law was at our embassy in Moscow. I'm not sure of his dates there, but he had to deal with Stalin. My daughter in law is from St Petersburg, even though she's now Swedish.

Gwil W said...

Personally I'm really enjoying lockdown. I'll be sorry when it ends and planes start flying over my house and builders start their daily routine with their noisy machines and everybody is pushing and shoving on the trains and the trans and drunks and the gangs of east European so-called beggars are reappearing on the streets and stealing money and being a general nuisance on the farmers markets.

So what's' my good news this Monday morning? Harry and Meghan have pulled up the drawbridge and refusing to have anything to do with the British press following Sunday's Sun front page and other newspaper reports.

Jennyff said...

What an interesting story. You are right, we are not suffering at all in our lock down and like many others I do not relish the thought of returning to noise and pollution and excess. Here's to a sunny week, take care.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to you all - the sun is shining, the birds are singing - we are surviving.

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