My maternal grandfather passed away in 1998; he spent 11 years of his life in Soviet labor camps and I spent the past 15 years researching his life and trying to find out what happened with his family. In doing that, I completely neglected the other side of my family.
A few days ago I sat down with Daniella (my older daughter) to show her the contents of my keepsake box. As I opened the box, I came across a ziplock bag full of Soviet-era medals. I completely forgot that I even had these medals in my possession – my paternal grandmother gave them to me before moving to a nursing home in 2011. My paternal grandfather – David – passed away when I was 5 years old, and I have very few memories of him. Seeing these medals and explaining what they are and what they mean to Daniella made me feel terribly guilty about knowing virtually nothing about my grandfather David’s life.
Given my grandmother’s mental state I have a very short window of opportunity to find out as much as I can about my grandfather. I guess I know what I’m doing over Thanksgiving holidays.