It’s hard to think about where I should begin with documenting everything I know so far. But I’ll try my best to keep this in some order of logic.
I grew being told my Dad’s side was Polish-Ukrainian – whatever that was supposed to mean. For some reason, though, I always just said Ukrainian. The reason became logical in my head when I found a book in my elementary school library on Ukraine. It was part of a great series on various countries around the world. Anyway, this book on Ukraine had an image of a little boy who had cotton white hair – like me. From then on, I said Ukrainian and only Ukrainian dismissing any concept of Polish blood. I was young and simple in thought.
You have to understand, though, my hair has been a pivotal focus my entire life. I grew up only being told my mom had hair my color when she was a child and wouldn’t see photos until much later. Mexican restaurants were awkward for me as a kid. It’s a long story, just know they were. I knew went to school with anyone that had my hair color. So my hair was always a focal point. Always. So when I saw this little boy, who was probably my age, that had my hair color I was overjoyed!
So anyway, I went on throughout my life until I was about 23-24 telling everyone my Dad’s family is Ukrainian. I generally say I’m 50% simply because the blood is thick. My Dad’s mother is the first non-Slav on my paternal side. So, while the percentage is technically wrong, it really isn’t in many other ways. Well, saying 50% Ukrainian in the US means nothing really. Unless you luck up and meet a Ukrainian or Russian (not that many in the city I lived in) – which I did one day when I was at my previous job. She was a customer. She saw my surname and asked where I was from. She was beautiful, with a thick but understandable accent. Definition of Eastern European beauty. She offered to teach me Ukrainian actually… never took her up on the offer. I kick myself for that. But anyway… in talking with her, I was told for the first time in my life that I looked Slavic. I had no idea what that meant. With my blonde hair, blue-grey eyes, and Casper skin-tone everyone always thought I was Scandinavian. So I had to ask what she meant. And she explained… and I was hooked. I had to know more about my heritage (the point of this story).
I annoyed my now-ex-boyfriend with always attempting to make contact with Russians and Ukrainians for language learning and translating. He couldn’t understand my deep obsession and desire to figure out my roots. This journey would actually lead me to many different things in my life. Not only would my genealogy hunt lead me to finding villages and now in the process of looking for possible living relatives, but it’s also what ignited the conversation with my now boyfriend when I met him on an online forum. He had a Slavic name on the forum and I asked if he was. He was and was quite knowledgeable with the areas I was trying to learn about. At this point 3-4 years ago I knew nothing but some old names of villages that weren’t 100% verified. But he explained some history I was never taught, gave insight in cultural treasures, and so much more.
So digging for my roots have given my life meaning and purpose in more ways than one. And so, I’ll begin to give all the information I have so you can join in on the journey, too. Maybe you’ll see a piece of the puzzle that’s hidden from me.