Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Destination reached but where is Grandfather?

Reaching Lvov in the Ukraine, all the passengers of the Polish bus were immediately stunned by the beauty of the city.
The impressive buildings showing a wealth and richness indicating prosperous times.
The wide avenues with cobblestones and very few cars.
The sunlight falling on the many trees and monuments.

But the bus passed the city centre and headed for a parking place from where a hill could be climbed overseeing Lvov and its surroundings.

The frustration already high because of feeling trapped and jailed in this group of happy travellers, mounted even more realizing that it was getting later and later to go to Chodorow.
The place where father had lived and grandfather was buried on the cemetery.

Of course it could not be asked of the group of Polish teachers to change their program just because one permanent pilgrim wanted to go somewhere else.
Only patiently waiting was the single possible attitude but inside it was raging and the God lodged there must have been embarrassed by all the foul words He heard.

Eventually the bus went back to the city centre and near the main square everybody got out.
Quickly the luggage was taken out of the bus and the first taxi driver found was asked if he knew where was Chodorow.
He had to consult colleagues and after some debating they said they knew.

How much would it cost to go there?
50 € (78$).
A deal was made for 45 € (70$) and in the old Fiat Polonez dating from the 60’s the trip to Chodorow was started.

Chodorow is about 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Lvov and this took more than an hour due to the bad condition of the road.
A road going through a lovely landscape of hills, meadows, fields, forests and hamlets.

The village of Chodorow is just some streets.

Right in the middle of the village is a rather big cemetery and there the search began for grandfather’s grave.

It seemed a hopeless enterprise.
He died before 1935 and since 1945 no family member has come to the cemetery to take care of the grave.
This goes for most Poles who are buried there and whose families were forced to move and relocate more to the west.
Many graves are now unrecognizable and overgrown.

After one hour on the other side of the street a beer was consumed and friends made.
Meanwhile a funeral passed by.

It was explained to the new friends what was the reason to come to Chodorow.
Another hour was spent looking for the grave and this time with the help of those friendly villagers.
But to no avail.

Therefore it was decided to go and visit the sugar factory of which grandfather had been the director.
This sugar factory was easy to find.
It has been a big plant obviously producing sugar on a national scale.
But now the factory is closed as the Communists have let it run down and this lack of maintenance has made it inoperative.

But the main building is still proudly there as well as the large villa next to it where grandfather and his family have lived.

Eventually it was decided to return to the cemetery and try for a third time to find grandfather.


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