A Mother's Strength...
During my time at Cazinc, I have had the pleasure of meeting and chatting on social media with many people who have so many stories to share. I saw a post from another blogger who I love and follow, Liz from "Coffees & Style" and asked her if she would share her mother's story with our readers. Here it is for you to enjoy and thank you Liz.
This past Mother’s Day, Liz shared a brief look at the life of her incredible mum.
My mother has lived and continues to live an incredible story – a story of survival and triumph.
This is her story through my eyes.
If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that my mum should have had ten children; she is such a loving and devoted parent. Our story together began in Kiev, but what I have never shared on my blog is that I am not her firstborn. By the time I came along in 1985, she had raised a beautiful fifteen-year-old, my sister Katerina, from her first marriage.
When I was a baby in Ukraine, I experienced one of the most fatal explosions in history, the Chernobyl disaster. The devastation forced my mum to take us out of the state and this was the last chapter of my parent's marriage. I have often wondered how terrifying it must have been, having a newborn and a teenager with little to no resources, polluted air, and all the while losing the support of her husband. When I was older, my mother told me the full story about this and what I found most remarkable is that despite him being very much an absent parent, in all those years she never once spoke a wrong word about my father.
‘Forgiveness is the key to a happy and healthy life,’ is what she told me instead.
Despite returning to Kiev and continuing what seemed in my eyes to be a regular and happy life, the aftermath of Chernobyl made it dangerous to continue living there. I was always sick, and so my mother made the brave decision to take her two children and my grandparents and migrate to Israel.
I’m often asked about life in Israel. To be honest, it is one of the most challenging questions I have had to answer because while it is a country I love dearly, our chapter there will forever be the one that broke our hearts. Shortly after arriving in Israel we were faced with another devastation, the Gulf War. We hadn’t been in the country long, didn’t speak the language, and lived together in one apartment. Each day we had to carry a gas mask - to work, to the supermarket, to kinder, everywhere, just in case of bombs.
During the bombings, we had to select one room in our home, tape all the windows and doors, have food and supplies and sit tight until it the announcement that it was safe to come out. Every night without fail we sat in that room and every night my mother would read us a story, a fairy tale.
As I look back, one of the most extraordinary things to me is that she never looked scared. She had and continues to have this incredible look of calm while I’m sure that on the inside she was feeling completely petrified.
After many months the war did end, though unfortunately living through it wasn’t the biggest tragedy our family experienced. When I was eight years old, my older sister was taken from us in a tragedy that can only be described as every parent’s worst fear. I will never forget the day my mum told me what happened to my sister. She sat me on her lap and told me that we had to be a team now, all the while trying to calm me through my tears.
While I am not a mother yet, I can’t fathom how heartbreakingly difficult that would have been – how difficult it continues to be every day. Each year on my sister's anniversary and birthday we sit down, and my mother tells me stories of the fantastic woman my sister was, the immense pride she continues to feel as a mum and the gratitude she has for having me, which she says is the reason she has kept herself together.
After twenty-five years, I never once remember my mother saying, "why me?", "why us?". Instead, she has created a foundation, a family in the two of us, ready to withstand anything life has in store.
This is what my mother says about love, forgiveness, compassion and kindness.
‘Remember one thing honey, never love a man more than he loves you – it doesn’t end well.' Wise words.
‘To love is the greatest thing in the world.’ She tells me, ‘You must find a partner who is your best friend, a wonderful family man, and who will withstand anything.’
Despite experiencing so much loss, forgiveness in my household has never been optional.
"You must learn to forgive people, even when they have wronged you, hurt you or taken something from you. Anger is the worst kind of energy." While this is possibly the hardest lesson she has ever taught me, I have been incredibly lucky to be led by her example.
On compassion and kindness:
I have never known anyone kinder than my mother. She will always say "good morning", she will always lend a helping hand, she will feed anyone who walks through the front door and listens for hours to someone in need, and never forgets how far manners can go.
"No one is ever better than anyone Liz, so no matter who you are talking to, always treat them as you would the Queen of England." I have these words in my head every day.
There are a billion things I could say about my mum’s story – in all honesty it needs a book, but if there is one thing about her story that is crucial, it’s that she is the epitome of a strong woman, an incredible mother and a pillar a strength, and she did it all with kindness.
Thank you so much Liz for putting this article together for us. I loved working on it with you and sharing your mothers story. Women are amazing people who can find strength in many circumstances. Liz, you are so kind to share your personal and loving story with our readers.