It was a surprisingly sunny and nice day, and I was surrounded by my favorite pine trees. After we said our “Good-byes” and my grandpa was more interested in the funeral after ours, my family got involved into a heated discussion over the fence, the table, and the bench that we’ve decided to put around Grandma’s grave.
The cemetery workers immediately showed us what kind of fences, tables, and benches could be done, my mom made some adjustments to the picked fence, said she wanted balls on top of the posts instead of triangles. We left knowing that by the time it’s time to honor 9th day, everything but the headstone will be there. (The headstone is something people usually get after one year).
On the way back we checked out the muslim part of the cemetery, my friend Erin said how different the Russian cemetery is from an American one, we got home, set the table and started taking pictures!
Now table talk at my family is always fun! But first the pics! Here is my cousin and I with our Grandpa.
Here is everyone except for Erin, who was kind enough to take the picture (my aunt and uncle, mom, grandma’s sister,grandpa, cousin and me).
Then we took one of just us, the girls (Katya, Erin and me)
You can also see two pictures of my brothers behind us! I’m glad they made the picture.
The food was very good. I made all the salads (the most common dressing in Russia is mayo, so 3 out of 4 salads had that, one had just oil). There was borsch, seledka, goulash, buckwheat, 4 different kinds of salad, sardines, and other foods.
There was some traditional memorial dinner food, you are supposed to eat pancakes with honey before the meal, and Kut’ya (sweet rice with raisins). You are also not supposed to use forks, but my family gave up on that pretty fast.
We spent some time remembering Grandma, and then listened to the amazing stories my family members had to tell.
My great grandpa Misha was a chain smoker, he used to grow his own tobacco (that’s before Belomor appeared – the most popular Soviet cigarette brand). He would make a long cigarette (also known as a goat’s leg) out of dried out tobacco and a piece of newspaper. Mind it, he grew the tobacco, dried it, mashed it up – basically had his own manufacturing at home. Once he mixed up the seeds and instead of planting tobacco, planted some beautiful flowers instead! Imagine how Happy he must have been! And in spite of all that smoking he lived till the age of 94.
My Grandma’s sister lost her husband to cancer several years ago. Her whole family used to live in Somalia in Africa back in the late 60′s. She has 3 kids, and there is a big age difference between the oldest and the youngest boys. So when the older boy was already an adult, the younger boy was still in elementary or middle school. Now Oleg (that’s the name of the older boy) got two turkeys as a gift (they were real gobble-gobbles, just like the ones you can find on a farm in the Midwest). So when the little son would misbehave, his parents always scared him with this line – If you are going to continue misbehaving, we are going to send you to Oleg to take care of the turkeys. Let me tell you, that line worked like no other!
We also heard the story of how my Grandpa saw a UFO, and how when my uncle was little he used to lift up my Grandma’s Sister’s skirt when she came to babysit, and how my Grandpa would spank my uncle with the belt for bad grades, but he himself got a “C” for Russian and Literature…
My point is, funerals are a celebration of life, life lived, life loved, and even though life lost, life, that would be remembered forever.
Whenever we would have company, my grandma would always make Napoleon, and her close friend in Kiev, followed her recipe, and changed the name of the cake to Tamara (my Grandma’s name). So every time she had company, she would make a cake, called after my Grandma.
Rest in Peace Grandma, you will always be in our hearts!