My mother's early childhood
My mother was born in Siberia during the First World War. Her father was an officer in the Tsarist army. Her mother was a beautiful young woman and his mistress. They had two children, a boy and a girl.

When my own mother was just four years old, in 1921, Russia had already plunged into a long and bitter civil war. Her father was called to the front once again. During the chaos of the civil war, he simply disappeared. There was no news about him. His young mistress was in total despair. How could she look after her two young children without any support? Utterly depressed, she hung herself from one of the low beams in the cottage where they lived.

A crowd soon gathered outside the cottage. A man was walking home from work when he noticed people standing by the doorway. He was told about the suicide and of the two children inside. My mother was four and her little brother was just two years old. Without a word, the man picked up my mother and took her to his home. He said to his wife," We already have 10 kids, what about one more?"

He explained to his wife what had happened to my grandmother, and his wife immediately accepted my mother into her family.

The man worked on the trans-Siberian railway and, although he was far from rich, the family brought up my mother with a great deal of love and care. They treated her as one of their own. I have no idea what happened to my two-year old uncle. I only hope that some other kind family brought him up and that he lived a long and fulfilled life.