‘The grandparents I never knew who still influenced my life’

Ocksana never knew her grandparents, but she feels she's inherited some of their traits. Source: Getty Images

A friend of mine tells the most wonderful stories about her grandmother. I love them. In fact, I enjoy grandmother stories on the whole as I never had one. As a child I grew up listening to stories about my parents’ mothers, but I never knew them personally.

Both my parents were displaced persons after the war finished. They were Ukrainians who for different reasons ended up in a displacement camp in Germany under the British zone. Both were young, unmarried. My father was quite logical and persisted in pursuing my mother. She eventually accepted his proposal and they married. They resettled in the United Kingdom and I was their first child.

Thinking about it, bringing up a child in a new country without the language skills or parents of their own to help, the disadvantages would have been enormous. That’s where my education skills kicked in. I love teaching. I started from day one. I now watch babies and see their little brains tuned into demands and manipulation of the doting parents and remember the joy I got from squawking. I still do get joy from using my lungs to full belt till the rhythm of sound reverberates through me. It’s just such a shame I can not sing, but one of my favourite arts is music. I often wonder if either of my grandmothers sang?

One thing I do know that comes from my grandmothers is my name. I was named after my father’s mother, which I’ve always found interesting because I’m told I grew into her shape as well! My father’s mother had land on which she grew cherries and oak trees. I have a couple of cherry trees and a single oak tree where I live too. She also knew how to ride a horse, not something I can say I ever had the knack for (but one of my sisters did).

My mother’s mother was a weaver with a loom set up in the home. She wove evenweave linen from flax and embroidered it. She wove woollen wall hangings that were used to decorate homes. I wonder if her love here is why I have such a passion for textiles? My eye is always drawn to thread counts, patterns and colours. I follow the progress of designs through the Silk Road to Europe. Is this why I am always interested in the patterns and their execution?

Though I might never have known my grandmothers, I’d like to think I’ve inherited some of their journeys. I know I am here because of them and I do give them thanks for that.

Did you have a relationship with your grandparents? What traits of theirs do you think you’ve inherited?

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