Sunday, July 3, 2016


Dear Friends,

Have not been posting too much on this blog -- and I should. Must make it part of my routine.  Busy with the Christmas book and other projects and -- packing!   Off to Ukraine tomorrow!  So excited.  I love being there. Am leading a tour with Canadian and Australian folks.

I wrote this article for The Ukrainian Weekly back in May 2007 -- it still applies.

See youse later in the summer!  Have a good one.

The things we do...

Being There – So at Home in Ukraine

by Orysia Paszczak Tracz

Have you ever come to a place you’ve never been before and felt right at home? That’s how I felt when I first arrived in Ukraine in 1993; over the years, that feeling hasn’t changed.
Other cities, other countries have beauty, interesting architecture and historic places. But being in Ukraine, whether in Kyiv, Lviv or any small town or village, is so much more fascinating to me. Even though I am far removed from the place – my parents left as young adults – I am so drawn to it. After all, it is my ancestral homeland, where my roots are found. I suppose if I did not know much about the place, maybe it would be like any other tourist spot – old and interesting, and so what?

But, because it is the source of my roots, it is so very special. I am so at home in Ukraine! Yes, I know, to the people there I am a foreigner, a curiosity; I might even be regarded as one of those (expletive at times deleted) diasporans. And yet, often I am taken as being from another city or the next province. They think I am a native, but just not from right there. Thanks to my parents, I mastered the language, and only rarely does someone notice that it is not quite what is spoken there now. But that’s whole other story.

I love walking around, whether in the city, town or village – or the open countryside. I feel such comfort and a deep soul-nourishing satisfaction. It is home in a very deep sense, something that cannot be explained in any logical way. 

The streets of Lviv, Kyiv, Kolomyia, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk have become so familiar to me that I rarely need to refer to the city maps. I just head off in the direction I “know” I’m supposed to go. It’s spooky, but I’m rarely wrong. Of course, there have been times where I have been completely, terribly, most embarrassingly wrong, with my poor feet paying the price. On the other hand, quite a few times I have been asked for directions, and have known what to say.

Once at the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gates) in Kyiv on a Sunday morning, a man with a young son asked me how to get to a particular street. I thought it was down this way but, just in case, took out my guidebook to check, explaining that I was from Canada. Well, he was from Zaporizhia. We enjoyed a laugh, talked for a bit, and then they went on their way – in the direction I had originally indicated.

To be in Ukraine’s shrines or on the actual sites of ancient history is quite moving.
The first time I entered St. Sophia Sobor in Kyiv, I sensed this strange physical and spiritual emotion, and was moved to tears. I did not expect this. Suddenly I felt all that antiquity and history and the souls from those times surrounding me. Seeing the reconstructed St. Michael the Golden-domed Sobor is an emotion of another kind. The beauty and majesty of the magnificent cathedral is one thing, but knowing how ancient it is and what had been done to it, and how it rose as a phoenix makes it so much more glorious.
Walking along Virmenska (Armenian) Street and the other oldest streets of Lviv is also fascinating. From the external buttresses on the buildings, you just know how very old they are. I find photographing courtyards, gates, doors, and windows and windowsills in Lviv to be especially satisfying.

One special spot for me is the old Kyiv Hill, where Volodymyrska Street begins, at the top of Andriyivskyi Uzviz, and where the remains of the Desiatynna Tserkva (Church of the Tithes, built between 989 and 1015) are visible. This is Kniaz Volodymyr’s town, from which Kyiv expanded into Kniaz Yaroslav’s town (the areas of St. Sophia and Zoloti Vorota). Kniahynia Olha’s residence, a palace inthe-round, was located on this hill. The earthen rampart (val) that surrounded that first town is still there. The various historical locations are clearly labeled.

Past the National Historical Museum on this hill is one of the ravines leading down to the Podil, the old lower town along the banks of the Dnipro River. This was the commercial port part of the medieval city. It still has two very closely parallel streets named Nyzhnii Val and Verkhnii Val (the low and the high ramparts). Khoryv and Shchekavytska streets are there, too, and, in another area, Lybidska Street is near the stream that still manages to flow within the city. Talk about Ridna Shkola coming alive, as one of my sons exclaimed.
In a few places, the original pink-hued stonework of medieval Kyiv is purposely exposed, for example in the pavement on Volodymyrska Street near Velyka Zhytomyrska. The same stones and bricks made from this local material are visible in the walls of St. Sophia in Pecherska Lavra, the rebuilt Uspenskyi Sobor, and other ancient buildings.

The names of the streets, city districts, hills and parks are testimony to the antiquity of Ukrainian cities, towns and villages. For example, below the ravine of old Kyiv Hill, the areas are called Honchari (potters), Kozhumiaky (tanners – remember the story of Kyrylo Kozhumiaka?) and Dihtiari (tarburners and sellers). Yaroslaviv Val (Yaroslav’s Ramparts) is the street where the actual ramparts were raised around his expanding city. Volodymyrsky Uzviz is the street along which – according to the chronicles – people walked from the upper town to the Dnipro River to be baptized in 988. Virmenska Street is where the Armenians settled and lived in Lviv from its earliest times. The village of Pechenizhyn definitely has something to do with the Pechenihy tribe of Volodymyr’s times. The stories behind the toponyms are endless and, if you know even a shred of Ukrainian history, so much more interesting.

One place I must visit this summer is the site of the excavations by Vikentiy Khvoika – the Paleolithic site on Frunze Street in the Podil. That’s about as far back as our human history goes. Talk about Ukrainian antiquity, eh?

I am at home in Ukrainian churches, no matter which denomination. The atmosphere, the reverence, the iconography, the people, the singing – it is mine, it is familiar, it is what I grew up with. (The only church that was foreign to me, I later learned, belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate. Back in 1993 we came to a church in Chernivtsi during a service. What was very strange and uncomfortable to me was the way the women were scurrying around, hunched over, heads down, kerchiefs over their foreheads. It was as if they were afraid to stand up straight, and face the priest, the altar and the icons directly.)

And so, I will be back this August. Since 1993, I have been fortunate to lead a folk art and culture tour to Ukraine each year, during my vacation (oh, that day job interferes). I enjoy showing off my other “home” to those who join me. In the last few years I have stayed for a bit after the group leaves to wander the streets of Lviv and Kyiv. And, as usual, I will be luxuriating in the sheer pleasure of being there.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


And they called it puppy love..."

by Orysia Paszczak Tracz

The summer camp season has ended. As I sent my older children off to camp, I reminisced about my teenage summers. I belonged to SUM (Ukrainian Youth Association), and the beautiful camp in Ellenville, N.Y. was my summer home. At first I was a just a camper, but later, at a still early age, became a counselor. The summer I graduated from eighth grade was also the summer my mother finally cut off my long braids. Sure, it was convenient to have braids, but at 13 I wanted a change. After all, I was a teenager now and even a counselor at camp! With my new straight-as-a-board shoulder length hair, I turned over a new leaf. It was hard work being a counselor. And I was responsible for a roomful of lovable but mischievous 7- and 8-year-old boys. But there was also time for fun. The counselors and older staff got together in the evenings for stories and songs. Many of the people had beautiful voices, and the Ukrainian harmonies of the folk songs were out of this world. One of the counselors was a handsome "older" man around 18. For a 13-year-old. that's pretty old. He was tall, tan, had a gorgeous smile, and was a marvelous dancer. I, and the rest of the younger female counselors, had a crush on him. Every Saturday evening there was a dance for the older campers and counselors. While the Ukrainian tangoes and waltzes played over the PA system, we either danced with the other girls, or waited for the young men to ask us to dance. There were usually fewer boys, so it was a big deal if you did dance with a boy.

For one of these Saturday dances. I planned to do something about my crush on Slavko, the"older man.” He was going yo notice me, because I was going to make myself especially pretty. From home, I had brought my mother's home permanent curlers. On a Thursday I asked my good friend Marusia to set my hair with these small plastic curlers. I remember instructing her to be sure to set the hair tight, because my hair was long and thick. I forgot that it was also fine. To ensure that it set well, I wore those curlers from late Thursday until early Saturday evening, a scarf tied back on my head. Do you want to guess what happened next? The curl was so tight we could barely get the curlers out of the hair! I say we, because every girl available was helping to free me from my beauty trap. After the curlers were finally removed, I had the first Afro on a Caucasian person, around five or six years before Afros became "in." Not only could we not get a comb or brush through it, my fingers couldn't get through it. Heartbreak! It's already getting dark, the dance is about to begin, and I'm in a panic about the frizzy mound atop my head. I'm supposed to dance with Slavko tonight!

I did go, with another scarf tied around my puffy head. I was so embarrassed I could die! My friends didn't help much, because to them this whole thing was a riot. Barely holding back tears of laughter, Marusia even reminded me how I had instructed her to make the curls, real tight, "so that it would hold." Slavko did dance with me once, if I remember correctly. He didn't even ask why there was a scarf on my head in the middle of summer, at a dance yet. If he knew I had a crush on him, he never let on. Thirty some years later. I can smile now as I recall this one-sided puppy-love affair, and my Ukrainian Afro. But at the time, it was no laughing matter.

The Ukrainian Weekly.  No. 39, Sunday, September 27, 1987

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


There is so much interest in genealogy today -- you want to find your roots even though you've been so far removed from your Ukrainian relatives for so long.  Here are two articles about starting the search.  (originals published in The Ukrainian Weekly)

I'll be leading my 16th (or so) tour to Ukraine in July (please see    --- still a bit of time to register!  Go for it!


YOU WILL FIND THEM IF YOU GO – Finding Relatives in Ukraine

Getting the Place Name Right

Orysia Paszczak Tracz

Five minutes sometimes…. ok, a half-hour at most…. that is the time needed once you arrive in your ancestral village to find someone from your family.   If there are no living relatives, someone in the selo (village) will know where the family lived, and show you where their house is or was.  Of course, you need to know the name of your village and the povit (county or district).   Knowing the oblast' (province) would help.  Why is the selo name not enough?   Just like in any other country in the world, there are a few settlements with the exact same name – just how many Plainfields, Middletowns, and Baysides are there in the U.S.A.?

So before we get down to finding the people, let me first tell you where to go…

If you or your family have been in contact with the family in Ukraine, or in the Ukrainian lands now within Poland, or Slovakia, you are fortunate, because you have at least one letter from them, with the family name, the village, the povit, and the oblast'.   You're ready to go!

If your ancestors came to one of the Canadian prairie provinces, or to Pennsylvania, New York or North Dakota a century ago, and your family lost contact, don't pack your bags just yet.  On the other hand, don't lose hope.   Usually, there is some family memory, some stories from the family or from friends, photos, documents such as baptismal certificates, the ship card, or some other identification.  

But often there isn't.  From the photos, maybe you can tell what part of Ukraine they lived in – the clothing will help, sort of.  Depending on the formality of the occasion, they may have worn their own traditional regional costume, and then it is easier to at least narrow down the region. Or, they could have gotten all gussied up for the portrait and wore the almost non-descript urban clothing of that time, leaving no hint as to place of origin.

The various Ukrainian genealogical societies in Canada and the US are most informative and helpful, especially to the seekers who have very little, if any, information on their family, and no knowledge of Ukrainian.      ( Toronto)           (Ottawa)      (East European Genealogical Society, based in Winnipeg , but with members around the world)

You need to be observant and careful, because some websites are strictly commercial and may or may not have reputable people running them.   Some may be like the ones in the mail or online ready to sell you the family crest for "Smith".   A trusted friend or community member may sift through some of this advice that should be taken with a bushel of salt.   Then there is one Ukrainian genealogy discussion group which, while informative, seems to have been taken over by a person who tries to convince everyone from any part of Ukraine that their ancestors were "rusyn," even if they were from Lviv or Volyn. 

But let's get back to the selo, the one you need to visit.  You remember your baba talking about Kuty, her village of so long ago.   She may have been a Hutsulka, from the Carpathian Mountains, and her Kuty may have been the famous village everyone thinks of when they hear that place name.   But, a big but – rather than that selo, maybe she was from one of the three Kuty in Lviv Oblast, or the two Kuty in the Ternopil province?   Oh, she was from Volytsia?   One of the eleven in the Lviv region, or the three in Ternopil?   Dibrova (grove)?  How about five each in Lviv, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivske provinces. The common place names are as prolific throughout Ukraine as forest mushrooms after a rain, but even the more esoteric ones can give you trouble.   There are four Khatky ["little houses"] in the Lviv province, and only one in Ternopil, and two Tulyholovy ["heads cuddling together"] in the Lviv oblast.  

Two Kapustyntsi ("cabbage things"), six Zalissia (beyond the woods or forest) , two Shepit (whisper), a whole stack of Sloboda (large village) and Slobidka (hamlet), four Dobriany and two Dobrovliany, and Boyany, Boyanets', Boyanychi, Boyanivka and Boyanchuk…

Oy, gotta stop, I'm having too much fun!  Next time, we'll start looking for family once we get to the right selo.


YOU WILL FIND THEM IF YOU GO – Finding Relatives in Ukraine

It Helps If They Look Just Like You!

Orysia Paszczak Tracz

We've established which selo, povit, and oblast' is "your" ancestral
place.  Now we arrive in the village.

In the last article, I should have mentioned that one way of finding
family is writing to the sil'rada in the village – the Sil's'ka Rada
(village council), addressing to village, povit, oblast', Ukraine.
Try to have the letter written in Ukrainian, a neighbor or friend can
help but, if not, write in English – someone there will know the
language.  Ask very general questions about the family – give names,
years, but not much more.  Let them reply to you with information.
This avoids "finding" relatives you never knew (or actually had).  You
don't want relatives coming out of every stodola.

Before you set out to the selo, you need to arrange for a driver – and
interpreter, if you need.  The driver should be someone who knows his
way – not only around roads, but around people.  This is important,
because the way you ask questions is crucial to finding out anything
and anyone.  Prepare ahead of time – ask people who have traveled, who
have family there, and who know people they can trust.  And agree upon
the fee for the trip in advance (don't forget a nice tip, if

During my tours, in helping people find and communicate with
relatives, I have had to run interference.  Some folks had pushy,
intrusive very distant relatives that would not go away, others had
people they weren't even sure of.  As the "glorious leader" of the
group, I was the stranger who could say "no."   I often go to the selo
with people from my group.  It is a truly satisfying, blessed

Now to find your folks.  We arrive in the selo, the right one – we
hope.  Our driver either goes straight to the sil'rada, or stops the
car as an elderly person walks towards the car.  "Slava Isusu
Khrystu….. dobryi ranok, Vam, babusiu…"   [Praise be to Jesus… good
morning to you, grandmother]   You must know the correct ritual
respectful greeting.  Then you ask about this and that family.
Usually it turns out there are a few families in the village with the
same surname.  Then you go into specifics.  If you know the first
names of the ones who emigrated, and when, that helps.  If not, you
ask if anyone had left for Canada or America so many years ago.   "Oh,
those Romaniuky, of course!  Go down this way…. Wait, I'll go with
you…."  And off you go to the house at that end of the selo.

Last August, Nadia [names have been changed] from Vancouver wanted to
meet her father's family in a village near Radekhiv.  He had supported
his brother's family for many years, helping put the children through
medical school.  We arrived in the selo on a Sunday, mid-day, during a
village council election.  The officials were all there.  We asked for
the "Ivakhiv" family.  The head of the council thinks a bit, says that
there are three Ivakhiv families in the selo – but – you should go to
the one on this-and-this road, because, turning to Nadia, "you look
just like them."  Sure enough, she did!

Another time, in Stari Kuty, in the Carpathian Mountains, Olia wanted
to find her grandmother's family.  At the sil'rada, no one recognized
the old names.  Then Olia took out the old photographs from her baba,
and – of course – everyone there recognized the "Stakhiv" family.
Someone from the rada goes on the bus with us, and we all drive
through the selo to the Stakhiv house.  Olia's distant cousin is quite
shaken, because a few days ago he had dreamt about something like

Joe from Edmonton was looking for his uncle's family near Brody.
Approaching an old man on the village road, the guide asks about "Osyp
Senkiw."  No, don't know anyone like that.  "He's blind in one eye and
has one leg."  "Oh, that Osyp!  Of course!"

When we went to the village of Uvysla, Halia found her great uncle's
face looking up at her from a book on the sil'rada display table – he
was a hero of UPA in this very patriotic village.  The elderly lady
who wrote the history of the village was called, and told us all about
Halia's family.  She showed us where the church bells had been buried
to prevent their melting down by the Germans.  She also showed us the
burials mounds of the many village resistance fighters executed by the

One time, a person in my group just wanted to see her grandparents'
village.  No one would be left, since the whole extended family had
left for Canada a century ago.  We stopped at a light in Rohatyn, and
our guide opened the door to ask directions to Soroky.  A young man
thought he was getting a ride and entered.  After a confused
conversation, it turned out he was trying to get to Soroky!  Well, we
had our guide, which was good, since this village was quite remote.
Donna did not find any actual relatives, but half the village had the
same surname as her relatives – few related to each other.  The selo
was so old, with so many extended clans, that these were separate
families.  The cemetery was full of "Saranchuks."  We all had a good
time anyway.

Near Terebovlia, in Zubiv on a rainy day (of course), we approach the
old man walking down the now muddy road.  No, he can't tell us about
the Yurkiw family, because he's "new" in the selo, one of the many
exiled by the Poles in the Akcija Wiszla deportation in the late
1940s.  He takes us to one house, where the people know others from
that particular extended family.  This gentleman does ask if we know
the Potichny family, because he was taught by a Potichny in Pavlokoma,
the village where the Ukrainian population was murdered by the Poles
after the war.  As we were walking down the road, I looked back, and
there was a kerchiefed head looking out from every gate as far back as
I could see.

Some people going to Ukraine don't have any relatives left there.
They are happy just to see the selo, to go to the church and cemetery,
and walk around the streets.  "I just wanted to see the place, to be
there."  Even though these are people of a few generations in North
America, they instinctively take a small clump of soil from their
village to treasure.  In the twelve years I have led the tour, I had
only one person who went all the way to Ukraine who was not interested
in seeing her ancestor's village.  And we were only about a half-hour
away.  I still cannot figure that out.

Once you find your family, if you had not been in contact before, you
may wish to revisit them.  Be prepared for a celebration, a hostyna
that will last for a long time.  And don't think that the first entrée
served is the only one of the meal.  The food keeps coming and coming.
 Be sure you bring your own gifts of drink, flowers, family photos,
and envelopes with dollars (or – Euros?).  You will certainly be
loaded down with gifts for you and the family back home.

So, if you are motivated, do the genealogical searches but, at the
same time, if you know the place, just go and find them.  The family
will be waiting.  They remember and will be waiting for you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The beginning of the end of the USSR was the cover-up of the Chornobyl explosion. The officials' families and children were being put on trains to get out of Kyiv. The Ukr. population was told to continue celebrating the Sunday with parades. Normal. But then, when the earthquake in Armenia happened a few months later, Gorbachev issued pleas for help. There were no pleas after Chornobyl.

I spoke with a Ukr. artist who came to Winnipeg with an exhibition a few years later. He spoke openly about Chornobyl and the system. "I am no longer afraid. When they put my elderly mother and my wife and young children in such danger, when they themselves were escaping the air itself, I cannot remain silent." There were many like him. The final straw.

During the "Spirit of Ukraine" art exhibit at the Wpg Art Gallery (from Ukraine) in the summer of 1991, one of the curators smiled bitterly at my comment -- I had said something about the summer rain -- "Yes, but at least you know what is coming down in that rain."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Update on Ukrainian Christmas traditions blog

Please see the book blog for updates on my  


Ukrainian ChristmasTraditions Book

Sunday, November 1, 2015


For Father's Day: recollections of Tato 

My father, Vasyl, died almost nine years ago. The day after my sister's wedding, he suffered a massive heart attack, spent two months in a coma, and died without regaining consciousness on November 1, I978. For some reason, Father's Day is the hardest day in the year for me, more painful than the day of his death, or his birthday. Tato lived a life similar to that of thousands of Ukrainian men of his generation (born right before and during the First World War). He was born and grew up in the Boyko region. His mother died when he was very young, and the stereotypical evil stepmother came into his life. He finished the schooling available under Polish rule to the children of the village (selo). The family was strongly aware of its national and cultural ideals, and participated in the organized life of the selo.
During World War II, my father was one of the 2.5 million young Ukrainians taken as forced laborers to Germany. He was lucky. instead of a munitions factory or a mine, which were prime targets for Allied bombs, my father wound up in a dairy. There he met my mother, who was a forced laborer on a nearby farm. I was told that there were even those who volunteered for work in Germany because ''Hitler promised us a free Ukraine...'' From what I remember of my parents' reminiscences, in the human turmoil during the middle and end of the war in Germany, the Ukrainian slave laborers did not just do their forced jobs for the Reich. A Ukrainian anti-Nazi underground was very active. The one incident I do remember my parents retelling, was when my mother stole (yes, stole) her brother and other Ukrainian political prisoners out of a jail carved into the rock of the Alps (that's another story). Without everyday clothes, identity papers, and a knowledge of the German language, they were as good as dead. The people in my father's underground group forged identification documents for the escapers, who could then move about the country, even go back home. I remember being told by Mama long ago, "If I had stopped to think what I was doing — and the danger involved - never would I have survived. " For most transgressions, it was execution on the spot, or the lager (concentration camp). I suppose in today's anti-Ukrainian climate the Ukrainian slave laborers in Germany are next on the list of our diligent Nazi hunters. After all, they did work for the Reich (what difference does it make whether it was voluntary or not?), then they even forged documents, stole and spied (what difference does it make if it was against the Nazis, a crime is a crime - even during war -- no?).

During that war, my parents suffered through the death of their first-born. Lesia, the older sister I never knew, died of pneumonia at 14 months. There was no medical care for the Untermenschen (subhumans, i.e., the Slavs). My mother was convinced it was the travel on cold military trains, their windows shattered, and her “cold” breast milk which contributed to the baby's death. Now, I'm afraid to ask for more details, because those memories may devastate an already fragile parent. After the war there was no going home. It's hard to imagine the inner turmoil of these idealistic young adults, torn between family and home, and the reality of the foreign political system now ruling that home. For the members of the nationalist underground, going home meant Siberia or immediate death. After what they saw of the forced repatriation in the DP camps, their choice was made for them. Those from western Ukraine could prove they were Polish citizens. The others, from eastern Ukraine (under Russian rule) lied. What irony - desperate people felt grateful for having been under the heel of one cruel foreigner instead of another! Once in the United States, my father worked. Hard. Not knowing the language, he had little choice of jobs. His first, in a mattress factory, left his hands cut and bleeding. Then, there was the truck manufacturing company, and the factory where they made the brass horses with clocks mounted into their stomachs. Along with his day job, and my mother's night job cleaning offices in Lower Manhattan, my parents were janitors of their building in Jersey City. Is there any DP family whose parents were not janitors of an apartment building in 1948­ - 1949-1950?

Despite of the drudgery and exhaustion of work, Ukrainian life was not forgotten, with the family participating in church and organizations. Soon I was receiving my own "Miy Pryiatel" (My Friend), a children's magazine published in Winnipeg and edited by Father Semen Izyk, a survivor of the death camps. After all these years, a scene from my childhood stands out. In our apartment on Grand Street, in Jersey City, my father is lying on the couch, quietly weeping, in his hands a letter written in purple ink on graph paper. Mama is pacing the rooms, also crying. The letter was from home. After Stalin's death in 1953, separated families could write to each other again. Only now did my parents learn of the deaths in their families right after the war — my father's father, and my mother's mother and brother.

Tato was a quiet man. He didn't express it to us much, be we knew he loved us and was devoted to his family. But I knew that above family, above everything, his whole being was devoted to his Ukraina. He longed for home, he prayed for Ukraine's freedom, he lived for his homeland. The only way he could practically express his devotion was to belong to the Organization for the Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine. Tato always attended meetings, served on the executive, went carolling to raise funds. I wonder if the top brass fully appreciated what the rank and file did. He was one of the foot soldiers, who worked because he believed in The Cause. A long time ago he had pledged himself to Ukraine, and had sworn to obey the organization. He believed, and obeyed. I hurt him deeply once when, during a discussion, I reminded him that during the war Ukrainians fought amongst themselves and, maybe, for the greater good, they shouldn't have. To him, his cause was right. It was for the good of the nation. No discussion. Ukraina and his family there were always in his thoughts. When the parish in Newark voted to change the calendar, and celebrate Christmas on December 25, Tato went along unwillingly. And on January 7 he quietly went to church again, because then he would be celebrating with everyone back home. The understanding pastor held services for the fiercely stubborn people like my father.

Tato was so anti-Communist that he even objected to the red color of my coat. When we talk about the immigrants after World WarII who still kept their emotional suitcases ready, my father was one of them. Rationally, he knew there wouldn't be a change soon in the Soviet political situation. But deep in his heart, he hoped against hope. He wanted so much to believe that one day he would go home. When Mama traveled back in the early 1970s to see her family after 30-some years, Tato would not go along. There was no way he was going to give 'them" (i.e., the Russians) any of his money. And yet I know how he longed to touch his Ukrainian soil. Tato was very proud of my defense of Ukraine in my writing. I didn't know this until after his death, when a friend of his told me how he always bragged about my latest letter to the editor. I knew then, that in spite of all my normal childish and teenage transgressions, I did OK in my father's eyes.

About those eyes. Tato was a handsome man with black bushy eyebrows over very large, very blue eyes. My sister and I inherited his big eyes, as did all our children. You can tell those Paszczak eyes a mile away. As most immigrants, Tato was a devoted American citizen. He always voted — Republican, of course - because they were anti-Communists. In a sad way, I'm relieved that he's not here today to endure what his friends and compatriots are going through. He would have felt betrayed, totally devastated by Ronald Reagan, the Republicans, and the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Tato knew what he worked for and against during the war. And now the country that welcomed him is betraying all Ukrainians because of a lie. His heart and soul could not have taken it. Maybe Tato died from happiness. At the wedding reception he told a friend that this was the happiest day of his life, because now both his daughters wеге married to good Ukrainians. To him that meant everything. He was surrounded by friends, including a wartime and DP camp buddy whom he hadn't seen in decades, who had come all the way from California.

After his collapse, there was hope at first that he would come out of the coma. Then slowly the realization sank in that he would not. We had the time to accept this. At least he was not in pain. To me, Tato's funeral was something I floated through. We were in a daze. I remember the funeral director asking if we wanted flowers from the family. Thinking that he meant another wreath, we decided instead to donate the money to the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) veterans. And so, through a misunderstanding, there were no flowers on his coffin, і still regret that. But Tato would have understood. I'm glad he's resting at St. Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery in South Bound Brook. At least there all our people are united, no matter what political stripe or religion. In our post-funeral thank-you announcement I wrote: ''Sleep peacefully, Tatu. May the hospitable American soil take the place of that Ukrainian earth, which you loved above all.''


Monday, October 12, 2015


Finally!   Нарешті!

After about two years, the book is at the printer's!   Launch in early December (see below).  It will be a launch like no other!

Have a great team - editor, graphic designers, sponsors, family -- would not have come to fruition without them.

Now to promote, distribute, and all that.   New blog and website in the works.

If you're reading this, please pass it on.