Nina puts a candle in the earth in front of her parent’s gravesite for Pastele Blajinilor, a part of Easter in Moldova where families go to visit their relatives’ gravesites and give offerings and pray. Pictured above are her father, Elli, and her mother, Olga.
Nina remembers of her mother, “After Stalin died, my father was freed. He returned to Moldova and started looking for my mother. He sent a letter to Moscow, in the Soviet Union and asked where my mother was – where he could look for her so they could reunite as a family, but he had no luck… it took too long to get the legal forms. However, he found out where mother was from relatives and wrote to them asking if he could to go there. And so he went to my mother and found her where she was living. Thus, the family was reunited… [After my mother and father were reunited] another three children were born, (including Nina), but my father longed to return to Moldova and when mother and the rest of the family were allowed to go back… father got sick and died in Siberia… [When my parents were reunited, my father had] said to [my mother], ‘You’ll remain by my side until my last breath. I’m so sorry that you have suffered so much because of me. I’m very, very sorry. And the children must have suffered too. I regret to put you through all this. You go back home, to Moldova. You have no place [in Moldova] to go. You have no house… but you are strong. You’ll survive and you’ll take the children home.’ He wanted very badly that mother should return with us to Moldova – to bring us all back. Mother says that she granted his last wish to bring their children home.” Nina remembers.
Surprisingly, having been born and raised in Siberia, Nina’s memories of Russia are much more positive than her memories of her family’s return to her father’s beloved homeland. “… one could manage to live in Siberia, if one was hard-working… We had a good life there; it was easier to live [in Siberia] than here, in Moldova or maybe I don’t know much about it. But when we came here, it was very hard for us, very, very hard.” Nina recalls.