Ion’s wife, Nina, holds up a photo of Ion and his siblings that was taken in Siberia at the time of his deportation. While Ion successfully returned to Moldova, not all of his family was so lucky. Shortly before their return a younger brother of theirs died due to the extreme cold of Siberia and frailty of body that was a reality for many deportees at the time. Frequently, deportees talk about the small portions of bread and basic food they were given for their days’ work, as well as the small salaries. This coupled with the intense cold of Siberia killed millions of deportees. It was not uncommon for deportees to sell precious family heirlooms for a bucket of potatoes or the like.
Nina recalls one such episode where her mother sold off a family heirloom in exchange for a bucket of potatoes, “[My mother left] with her carpet, a Moldavian carpet she wove by hand with a image of two flower baskets and she sold it when winter came because she had nothing to eat. So she sold that carpet [to a Russian] for a bucket of potatoes… I remember that we used to go to their house at nighttime when their lights where on and we could see the carpet through the window. It was so beautiful. I still remember it even though I was so little then. I remember its colors. My heart ached because it no longer belonged to us, because mother sold it for a bucket of potatoes.”