And… we’re back! I know it’s been a while. What happened? Nothing and everything! Don’t worry. Bruno and I are still, whole heartedly, totally, very much, definitely planning to be married on January 14, 2012, “The Big Day.” In fact, that’s about the only constant we’ve had in our lives over the past few months. Both our jobs changed over the summer, as Bruno moved into the publishing industry, and I became a research assistant at a museum. In September, I moved house for us both and started my doctoral program in Art History. Did I mentioned that Bruno’s been in London this whole time? Oh yeah, and that! As we have gone through the nitty gritty of the immigration process, there sometimes hasn’t even been the desire to write. Honestly, it’s been heart wrenching, and we look forward to when we can put this behind us.
But here we are, 69 days to the wedding, so no more excuses! There’s a lot to catch up on and still a lot to do.
First thing’s first, last weekend I visited my maternal grandparents, Antonia and Iwan. They live in Queens, where I grew up and helped raise me as a child. I remember when I was in elementary school, my grandfather, who was a chef by profession, picked me up at lunchtime and brought me home to a hot meal. Talk about being spoiled! I think he enjoyed planning the menus and was disappointed when, in middle school, I decided that it wasn’t cool enough and that it would be better if I ate cold, tasteless lunch with my friends at school. How silly of me! As they say, hindsight is 20/20.
Over the years, I have spoken with my grandparents about their immigration to the United States, and somewhere I have hours of video and audio footage that I claim to one day need to show my future children. However, I just recently learned the details of my grandmother’s immigration, something that I didn’t know much about. Many years after they had first left their hometowns in today’s Western Ukraine and several years after the end of World War II when they were living is Displaced Persons camps in Germany, both she and my grandfather were sponsored to immigrate to Canada and the United States, respectively, by a Ukrainian Catholic organization. It was in the camps where they met through a cousin of my grandmother’s. My grandfather was in Erlangen and grandmother in Würzburg, separated by a distance of about 56 miles.
Shortly after arriving on this side of the pond in early 1951, my grandfather, with whatever immigration status he had in the United States (refugee?), was able to petition to sponsor my grandmother to immigrate one again, this time from Canada to the United States. Unlike Bruno and I and maybe because such options did not exist or were less prevalent, he went to Canada and married my grandmother abroad. The two were married on September 1, 1951 in a Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto. About 10 to 15 people attended their reception, which was held in my Great Aunt Amelia’s kitchen. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but it did sound beautiful. My grandmother has always been a believer of quality over quantity.
Although it is hard to say if immigration is easier or more difficult now than then, you’d be surprised how little has changed. After being married, my grandparents filed their petition for my grandmother’s immigration and waited one full year before she was able to finally cross the border. During that year, they only saw each other once. Through that year, apparently, my grandfather did grow impatient, claiming that my grandmother must not have nagged the Embassy enough so as to speed up her paperwork. (Now, who does that sound like? Like they say, apples don’t fall from their trees!)
Today, my grandparents have been married 60 years, only one of which they ever spent apart. They worked difficult yet satisfying jobs, had three children, and own a house. I hope that we can only be so lucky.