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Home The Feuilleton of MilSan and MikWag Dear Grandma, Happy Victory Day!

Dear Grandma, Happy Victory Day!

My grandma is a diva. You might say it’s impossible since she’s 82. But it’s true. She calls my mother to ask for mascara, hair spray and hair curlers. She is preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet Victory over Hitler for the 65th time, today, May 9th. My grandma lived through the war, she witnessed the Victory and May 9 is her prima donna day. For her, it has been the success of a lifetime.

This Victory Day, which is celebrated all across the former Soviet Union, she marks every year with songs she chooses from her old song book, the book she keeps wrapped in newspaper on the front page of which is her picture.  She marks it with a bowl of buckwheat porridge, the same kind of porridge she had eaten for four years after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.  I bet she will once again, for the 50th or so time watch her favorite movie with Alexei Batalov The Cranes are Flying.  And for the 50th or so time, she will be crying.  Once again.

Although far from home, I still know that no matter how inclement the weather or how unforeseen are the circumstances that, today, my grandma will again meet her few remaining friend–heroes from the Great Patriotic War.  She will again bring her song book with the pages curled from the tears of the singers.   She will sing her favorite songs, which she marked long ago by dog-earring their pages in the book; and everybody else’s favorite songs, which she marks with vintage candy wrappers, the luxury of her times.  Songs like “Katyusha” and “The Victory Day” will be sung so many times that she will most certainly be complaining the next day about how she lost her book marks.

My grandma had just finished 8th grade when the war began.  She was 14.  She started working while at the same time studying Morse Code at the telegraph training school. In 1944, she joined the staff of the Soviet Central Telegraph Agency.  She was a telegraph operator, a passionate telegraphistka, a telegraphistka who would have enlisted in the army had the war continued through her 18th birthday. She tapped for 37 years.  And even now, when speaking her fingers, tapping on the table, translate her words into the dot–dash language of Morse Code, which we, the users of modern keyboards, can’t possibly comprehend.

My grandma, who first tried bananas when she was in her fifties, is a phenomenal woman.  She still maintains dust-free the entire 50+volume Big Soviet Encyclopedia.  She copied in longhand the entire entry on ‘The feuilleton’ for her granddaughter who, incidentally, does not know Morse Code and never understood why the Big Soviet Encyclopedia has to be called “Big” when it is obviously not small and even the smallest volume of it is big; that is, unliftable by her until she turned eight.

Grandma lived through the war, lived with the fear that her father might never come back home, that her brother and mother, my great grandmother, might not make it through the war.  She would go hungry for weeks to save pieces of bread she received in her school cafeteria for her brother.  She prayed that God would send her to the front so she could kill Hitler and save the USSR and her own family.  She imagined herself writing letters to Comrade Stalin asking him to allow a 17 year-old to enlist, to defeat the Nazis.

Today she has 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

This year, she will celebrate May 9 with curly hair fixed in place with Schwarzkopf hairspray and mascara on her lashes, courtesy of Loreal.  Simply, because she’s worth it.  Sixty-five years ago on the first Victory Day, she had neither.  But she was happy.  And in the ensuing years she took good care of her happiness.  She knows what it means to live through a war and to never know what will happen tomorrow.  She knows how to enjoy her life just for the sake of it.  She appreciates every crumb of bread, savors every note of her favorite songs, remembers every word from the volume of Jack London that she read when the times were especially tough.  She knows what it means to live for the victory, to want to defeat the evil so much that the day of victory is remembered forever.

So, my dear Grandma and all Grandmas and Grandpas, Happy Victory Day!  Keep living every day to the fullest, as my grandma’s Jack London would have done.

(Grandma, here is Jack London’s credo that you used to read to me:

 

Я бы был пеплом, а не пылью!
Я бы сгорел в ярком пламени, нежели задыхался в сухой гнили!
Я бы желал быть метеоритом, нежели сонной и постоянной планетой.
Функция человека – жить, а не существовать.
Я не буду впустую  тратить свои дни, пытаясь продлить их.
Я буду использовать свое время!)

 

Know that your granddaughter has taken up the banner, tapping out a steady stream of communiqués on the Internet, following in your footsteps in the great struggle.  Enjoy bananas, watch your favorite movies in color and sing, sing, sing, sing!

 

The Victory Day

Victory Day, how far was it from us

Like an ember dwindled in the faded fire.

Kilometers were there, burnt and dusted, —

We did all we could for hastening this day.

 

Chorus:

This Victory Day

Saturated with the smell of gunpowder,

This is a holiday

With gray hairs on temples,

This is joy

With tears in our eyes,

Victory Day!

Victory Day!

Victory Day!

 

Days and nights at open-hearth furnaces

Our Motherland spent, sleepless.

Days and nights we fought a hard battle,

We did all we could for hastening this day.

 

Chorus

This Victory Day

Saturated with the smell of gunpowder,

This is a holiday

With gray hairs on temples,

This is joy

With tears in our eyes,

Victory Day!

Victory Day!

Victory Day!

 

Hello, Mom, not all of us came back...

Wish to run about barefoot in dew!

Half of Europe, we have stridden half the Earth,

We did all we could for hastening this day.

 

Chorus

This Victory Day

Saturated with the smell of gunpowder,

This is a holiday

With gray hairs on temples,

This is joy

With tears in our eyes,

Victory Day!

Victory Day!

Victory Day!