I haven’t felt much like writing. After last weekend’s monumental experience, I decided I needed to veg out for awhile and that’s what I did. I went to lunch. I went to dinner, I charged around Lviv and marveled at the architecture. I took in a performance of Don Juan at the spectacular Opera House.
Today I had my last dinner with my new cousin, Viktor and his family. However, I have been graciously invited by his son, Victor, for dinner on Monday night right before my departure early Wednesday morning for Italy.
After dinner tonight, I was presented with a binder. Viktor’s wife, Luba, had generously taken all the letters provided by Viktor’s father, Znovyi, to her office. There she photocopied each page. Very meticulously, she placed each page into a separate plastic sheet inside this notebook, making sure that each page was in chronological order. She had them separated by letter writer: my grandfather, Teodor; his sister, Anna; and my Aunt Julia.
The letters from Teodor and Anna are in Ukrainian. The letters from Julia are in Polish. I am enlisting Viktor’s daughters to do the translation of these documents and will pay them for doing so. I still have to find a Polish translator, perhaps my former host Aleksander, in Krakow.
I have to admit that I’m still in a daze. As we sat around the dinner table talking and I looked at this family, I had to marvel at what has been given to me. Yet another family. Throughout this journey to find my biological father and brother in B.C., my birth father’s extended family in Italy and now my birth mother’s extended family in Ukraine, everything has more or less fallen effortlessly into my lap.
Is it supposed to be this easy? I think not. I hear from and about so many adoptees who search for years and never find their family. Or, worse yet, they find their family only to be cruelly rejected. I know I suffered mightily from the abuse at the hands of my biological father. Nevertheless, everything has, in my opinion, come up smelling like roses.
And Viktor’s family once again reiterated how grateful they are for my search. Indeed, Viktor’s son, Victor, strongly asserted how stunned he is that I dropped everything, quit my job and traveled halfway across the world to find them. In his mind, it is startling, something he finds difficult to fathom, yet respects and welcomes. The entire family treats me like I am pure gold.
It is overwhelming. It is difficult for me to accommodate. Yes, we are family. But, I guess over the years I have been so browbeaten, first by my father and now by my biological mother’s niece, Gloria, that I am still quite reserved in how I should respond. I don’t want to put myself at risk, but I don’t want to miss out on what God has graciously added to my plate of blessings.
It is all so very overwhelming. I shouldn’t question it, but sometimes it feels as though someone has put my brain into a Cuisinart and pressed the “puree” button.
I recently watched a video I had taken of my cousin, Zenovyi, Viktor’s father, and my first cousin. Zenovyi asked me how I was going to stay in touch with Viktor. He is concerned because Viktor has no other family around. Virtually immediately there was no doubt in Zenovyi’s mind that I was part of the family. Acceptance was instantaneous. It was touching, heart-warming.
I am now toying around with spending the holidays in Ukraine. In considering my budget, it would actually be less expensive to stay there than to go back to North America. Back home I would have the additional expenses of gas and insurance for the car. Plus, my food bill would soar compared to Ukraine.
However, there is still the issue of work. Once I arrive in Oregon, and even before, I can start the job search. Would I find something during the holidays? Who knows? But the thought of being in eastern Europe while my bank account continues to dwindle, without any way to improve it, is a concern.
Yet, the fact that they want me to spend Christmas with them is yet another overwhelming thought. I must admit that I’m running out of superlatives to describe this family and this experience. “Overwhelming” is a word that continues to surface. But there really is no other way to describe it.
I told Viktor’s family that I am at a loss for words in describing this experience. They want to know my thoughts on what has happened. I truly do not think that I will be able to adequately express my sentiments to anyone until I return to Italy and have the opportunity to view this journey through the looking glass of distance. I will need to chew on everything for awhile. Clear my head. Drink some wine(!).
I just look at them and I’m filled with wonder. I felt this wonder twice before in Vancouver in 1978 and Ascoli Piceno in 1997. I thought I was too old to ever experience such a childlike sensation anymore. Yet here I am, in wonderment over another family accepting me with open arms. And the strange thing is, they didn’t know I existed. Everyone in Canada and Italy already knew of me. Here in Ukraine, I plopped down unexpectedly into everyone’s lives like an alien being from another planet.
I will move forward, though. I am anxious to get going with my writing. I have two weeks before guests start showing up from Oregon to add to the writing I’ve started. In June I figure I will make the trek to Marrakech or Casablanca to do more writing.
I’m motivated and excited to write. But I’ve been stricken with a paralysis from the enormity of this experience. This is why I’m anxious to return “home” to Italy, yet sad about leaving Ukraine. Once home, though, I can think freely and emerge from the cloud of emotion.
I’ve promised them I will come back to Lviv in August or September before I return to North America. Zenovyi is resigned to the “fact” that he won’t see me again. However, I am committed to seeing him again. He will know that his family won’t be alone. Viktor won’t be alone. It’ll only be me, but I’ll be in it for the long haul.
I’m gonna try and love again.