Saturday, August 2, 2008


Lena is the partner of my Step-son Roman. She will be 30, two days before my birthday. She is enrolled in a Doctorate program in Agricultural Economics in one of the Institutes in Dnipropetrovsk. In Ukraine, doctoral graduate students are called Aspirants. She also works full time for the Institute and is still supposed to be meeting deadlines on her dissertation. Roman works when his health allows it but this summer he has been in hospital with pneumonia. Needless to say they have almost no money once the rent is paid.

Her mother still lives in the little farming village where Lena grew up. She is very ill with diabetes and finds it a struggle to walk or work, though she manages to look after 20+ geese all summer. They have a garden behind the now abandoned cottage where her grandmother used to live but it is three km from the apartment. The garden and the geese provide food for the three of them in the winter. In the summer Lena goes home many weekends (three hours on the bus) and all her holidays to plant, weed, harvest and preserve garden. In fall, she will kill and process the geese, canning them into three-litre jars.

The only handicap Lena doesn't have in her life right now is a child, though I think Tanya might have a comment about Roman at this point.

She and her mother are the last of the family as each was an only child. Lena's father abandoned them when she was young. Lena said to me one day, "I have no Papa. Will you be my Papa?" Needless to say, I now have (another) adopted daughter whom I love dearly. I can hardly wait for my kids to meet her.

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