Who She Was Before She Was Babushka

Who She Was Before She Was Babushka

Who She Was Before She Was BabushkaHer name is Maria Lubchenko and she was born in the Ukraine. When she was 15, the Nazi regime rounded up everyone in her small village and she spent some time in a concentration camp. A long time in a concentration camp. Her life was spared because she was fluent in 5+ languages and she was heavily utilized as an interpreter. She lost so so many friends and relatives (parents and siblings) in this concentration camp.

She later married a man in the military, had a child and eventually moved to the United States adding five more children along the way. She would lose one child to a congenital heart defect. The other five children would grow up and have children of their own.

Her skills as an interpreter were in great demand in the United States. She would teach for the prestigious Defense Language Institute and share her knowledge of languages. She would train many, many soldiers for years before retiring.

When I finally met her, she was just Babushka. She never shared these stories or much about her life when I was growing up. I would hear bits and bits from family members.

Who She Was Before She Was Babushka

But she shared. She shared her summers with me. She shared the huge trees in her yard that I would climb over and over again. She shared her fabulous plum jelly that she made herself from the plum trees in her yard.

She would slather this plum jelly on freshly baked German blackbread (still a favorite of mine today) that she got from her local bakery. I sometimes would only eat blackbread with plum jelly for an entire day. I can still taste it when I close my eyes.

She shared her love of all things Russian, Ukrainian or German. Samovars. Matryoshka dolls. Gummi Bears (for the true lovers, there is only ONE kind). Blackbread. Russian  and German candies that she would hide in her freezer (my baby could point to the freezer and grunt for a candy before she could even talk).

She shared. She shared so much. And she never asked for anything in return.

Who She Was Before She Was BabushkaShe is such an amazing woman. My grandmother. My kids adore her. She is my Babushka. She is their Babushka.

It was an honor to give my middle child the name of my Babushka.

Disclaimer: I am sorry for the lousy pictures. They were taken with a pretty bad camera phone. I clearly need a new camera and I need to better document these memories.

Who She Was Before She Was Babushka

Who She Was Before She Was Babushka


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9 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Wow! What an amazing Grandmother! Thank you for sharing her with us.

  2. What an AMAZING woman and such a beauty as a young lady. (My Grandfather’s family is from Eastern Europe too but lucky his Great-GP’s got out during the Cossack’s. He came here and dies of TB. It’s an incredible story of how my Great-GF was raised in an orphanage & became a lawyer in NYC.) I just cannot imagine how strong our GP’s had to be and yours seems like a tough one who kept a beautiful heart!

  3. Elizabeth

    She sounds like such a great person!

  4. That was a really nice post!!.


  5. That ia a beautiful post and what an incredibly amazing woman. My mother is from Germany so I too share a love of black bread and real gummi bears. My girls call my mom Oma the traditional german for grandma it is special and unique, and also helps them understand their heritage…just like yours

  6. Beautiful! Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman. And even though they are not the best pics they are still important!! Thanks for sharing this in the 7links meme or I would have missed it!

  7. ellen

    It is amazing what our Grandparents (and in some cases) our parents) went through & they mention not a word. In our Grandparents lay our history.
    Yours is amazing and I loved her story!

  8. Debbie

    So touching. Lucky are those who still have grandparents. What a blessing those memories. The sights and smells of childhood remembered and passed along.

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