Monday, August 14, 2017

I spent a year in Ukraine one month: Part 1

A few days into July, I received a call from my father.  Normally a loud and forceful kind of guy, this time he sounded groggy, elderly, and in pain.

Dad explained he had a stomach attack of some kind and was in hospital in a city a few hours from where he stays in Ukraine.  He said not to worry too much, but that I should tell my siblings (including the brother he had just talked to and forgot to mention this to!!).  He said he would have his wife, Tanya, call me with more details when she could.

My siblings and I have always dreaded the day when we would get a call that something had gone wrong with Dad on the other side of the world.

After my mom died, Dad remarried Tanya.  Tanya is a powerhouse of a woman and just what Dad needed.  This was over a decade ago and they have since lived their lives straddling Ukraine and Canada.  Dad speaks limited Russian and even more limited Ukrainian and it is only because of his wife's tenacity and dedication to learning English that they have communicated at all.

They really are the cutest.

Once the siblings had been informed, we all just waited.

We didn't panic.  Dad's had stomach issues for a long time and we aren't the type to overreact for his health issues.  The closest sibling to my father is my youngest sister who lives in London, England.  She is only a 3 hour flight away (fixed because she says I'm crazy to think it was 8 hours), but, of course, she has a busy life as a teacher librarian in a large school that doesn't have "summer" break until August.  We figured it would fine, but if needed someone could make the trip.

We may have under-reacted on this one.

Two days later, Tanya called.  She isn't one to cry, so I knew it was serious.  Dad had surgery and wasn't doing well.  Tanya asked us to come as soon as possible.  We agreed someone would be there right away.

Of course, it wasn't that simple.

My middle sister was done with her semester (a professor of English) and I had just completed mine (taking my Masters in Social Work).  However, she had just flown to England where she was presenting at a conference.  She would be there for a few days, carry on to do research at the British library (the only place she can research a specific topic she is working on) and then would head to Boston to speak at another conference.  Getting her there meant cancelling trips and moving tickets and cancelling speaking and still getting the paper for someone else to present on her behalf.   We arranged to meet each other in London in 2 days and I made my plans.

I got the call that morning around 8am from Tanya.  I talked to The Guy about it and we looked at flights.  We couldn't find anything reasonable so decided I would fly to London and my sister's travel agent would make arrangements while I was in the air.  (Shout out to Amanda at Marlin Travel in Saskatoon.  She is awesome!)

We booked my one way ticket to London at 1015am.  I was packed by 10:45 a.m., went to the bank at 11:15 a.m., and was in the airport by 12:00 p.m.

I landed in London at 10:30 a.m. and met both sisters.  After supper, we got back on the train to catch our flight to Ukraine.  By 9:00 a.m. (Ukraine time) we landed.

Less than 36 hours from the time I bought my first ticket, we were in Ukraine.

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