Last week I got an amazing piece of news, I have another sister! You guys may wonder: How in the world would she not know that she has a sister? Well, my family is as complicated as a soap opera on a weekday afternoon. I am not talking about my family in terms of my husband and children; I am talking about the family that was started in the time way before I was born.
My father was one of those handsome and really charming men that women can’t help but fall for. And boy, did they fall for him! He married his fist wife Lyudmila and had two little girls by her, Elena and Natalia. My father was not a strong believer in being loyal to his wife and fathered another little girl, Oksana, with a woman he got drunk with at a party one day. He blamed his rotten luck for fathering only girls on his women and was sure that the right woman would give him a son. Finally he divorced his wife and met my mom and thus Irina—that’s me--came along as the last known Ivanova girl.
Because of the way we came into this world we were not allowed to keep in touch. After my father’s death Lyudmila and my mom lived in a duplex and, as you can imagine in a situation like that, hated each other with passion. They would fight over the silliest of reasons and rejoice in the other’s misfortune. I was not allowed to talk to Elena and Natalia. One of my earliest memories is looking at my sisters through a chain link fence as if we were in jail. I spent the first 7 years of my life with my grandparents in a village; when I came back, Elena was 18 and out of the house, Natalia was 16 and finishing up her school. We still were not allowed to communicate. Poor Oksana had to live with her mother and two brothers who were perpetually drunk. She was not the healthiest of kids because her mom was drunk a lot during the pregnancy. As I grew older and felt really miserable as an only child I wanted to find my sisters but out of respect for my mother I did not.
In July of 2008 my mom passed away suddenly. When I went back to Ukraine for the funeral I decided that I was free at last to see if I could find my half-sisters. The first one I enquired about was Oksana for she is only a year older than I am. That is when I learned that she had passed away. I was really sad to hear the news but it only fueled my resolve to find the other two sisters. I was able to find Elena online and she put me in touch with Natalia. Right now Elena lives in Germany with her almost 17 year old absolutely handsome son Valentin. She is working as an accountant in an electric and gas firm. She has had a hard life of drugs and abuse from her husband but overcame it all and is doing just fine. Natalia cannot have children and is in a relationship with a man who is a drunk and every so often is violent towards her.
The news I heard last Thursday made me ecstatic with joy. Elena’s mom met Oksana on a street by sheer chance. She saw this girl that just somehow looked familiar and came up to her, and there she was! Alive and well! It turns out Oksana was in Russia and came back to Ukraine only 2 years prior to this meeting. The rumor that she was dead was spread by a malicious neighbor of ours who did not want Oksana to get my aunt’s house as inheritance. Elena called me as soon as she heard the news. Unfortunately Oksana’s life has not been much different in terms of luck as the life of my other two sisters. She married young to a drunkard and had her son when she was 17. When her little boy was 3 years old she left him alone with her husband. The husband decided he wanted to go out and left his son alone in the house with the gas burners on. To spare you all the gory details, Oksana’s son died that day. Finally she had had enough of her husband and married another one, but not much better than the first one. He also beats her when he gets drunk and drinks up all their money, forcing his family to live in near poverty. But one good thing that Oksana does have is a 4 year old girl Valeria, who is absolutely adorable.
When I look at my sisters, I am so glad that I have them. In the last two years I went from being an only child to coming from a family of 4 sisters. At the same time I feel so guilty because I married a wonderful man who is a Christian and would never deliberately hurt me. I say “deliberately” because I know he will hurt me from time to time as I will him just because of our human nature. But I know he will never get drunk out of his mind and beat me senseless. I was blessed to have two perfect children and never had to experience the grief of losing a child. I have not met my sisters face to face since I’ve become an adult and cannot wait when I can get together with them and get to know them much better.