Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Halyna Fedorivna Hryshko
age: 69
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Shirokino
Shirokino
"I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent"

She lost her husband, who came under fire in a village where the couple dreamed of living happily in old age. He died of numerous injuries. She stayed with the children at that time.

You know, we have a wall thickness of 70 centimetres, if there is shooting from machine guns, we have nothing to fear. And if we were hit directly, the cellar will not help me. Who will dig me up there?

I have Russian origin. My husband was a soldier who served in a military unit near Kyiv. We got married and lived together for 43 years. 

We moved from town to town. We were out of service in Mariupol. Before that, we served in Voroshylovhrad. Then he was appointed at Mariupol Military Department as a senior teacher. And when the Soviet Union was divided, we decided that Ukraine would be our homeland, because he is Ukrainian.

I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent

My husband is from Volnovakha. He has seven siblings. Father worked, and mother raised children. All seven got higher education, touched the heights in life. We have two grown sons. The older son graduated from the technical university in Mariupol. The younger one finished the metallurgical institute. We already have grandchildren.

I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent

"We were a happy family"

In 1988, Volodya and I bought a house in Shyrokyne and moved there. We had two hectares of land, a cow, a steer, chickens, geese, and a dog. We were a happy family. Children and grandchildren came to visit us. We were all satisfied with our life.

Every Saturday and Sunday was a holiday, because we all got together. On Sunday evening, the children were taken to the city. They were happy. We felt needed, because we knew our children cared and loved us.

Sons never shied away from physical labor. They helped whenever they could. My daughters-in-law are lovely, too. We had two tractors, three cars. Two LUAZs – one was new, and the second vehicle was used. We also had a car, mowers. 

I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent

In Shyrokyne, the first attack occured on 4 September 2014. But they did not reach the village. We had the hills in front of the sea. They began to build something like dug-outs… Volodya said, "The fortification is probably being built, because they are afraid of landing from the sea." But we lived so quietly, it never occurred to me that it could end so seriously. And now I don't know if it was a happy life or not. Everything ceased as soon as it started

"I didn't even think that it could be fatal"

When the bus service to Mariupol stopped, the children were not able to visit us. They set a pass control mode. Autumn 2014, winter 2015. I went with Volodya, we had a pass. I did not have a residence permit in Shyrokyne, but I had a certificate from the Village Council that I am a permanent resident. That's why, they let us through. 

I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent

We visited the children on Sunday. We brought canned food, milk, cottage cheese, eggs, everything we could. He brought me on Sunday, spent some time with the children and left, because, you know, the cow, the household… I stayed the night. He came for me on Monday. 

On Sunday, the 9th, he brought me home, bought something, and left. He called on Monday, "Halya, I feel somewhat anxious. Ukrainian national troops entered. They brought rifle and placed near the well under the Spire. The second was taken to the center. I am worried. Stay with the children. When I leave, I'll call you back."

I didn't even think that it could be fatal. He's a former military man, and he kept telling me what to be afraid of, what not to be afraid of. How to behave, how to hide. When there were attacks at night, when they shot through Shyrokyne, it was scary.

Our house has a good cellar, I told my husband, "Let's put beds in the cellar and sleep there at night." And he answered, "You know, we have a wall thickness of 70 centimetres, if there is shooting from machine guns, we have nothing to fear. And if we were hit directly, the cellar will not help me. Who will dig me up there?"

And so I waited for the children to call. On Tuesday he called me, "Halya, the lights and gas are turned off, everything is turned off, the mobile phone is running low. It may well be that the connection is interrupted. But do not worry. As soon as all this settles, I'll come and get you."

Thus, I waited for a week. Then I would go to one son and then  stay with the second one and my grandchildren. On Saturday, the eldest son celebrated his 50th anniversary. I thought about what to buy. Generally speaking, my thoughts were common, routine.

I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent

On Saturday, I said, " You know what, children, he's already out of food. If the lights are turned off, it means that the refrigerator does not work. I would go to the church, where the road to Shyrokyne passes by. I would ask someone to go. Give me a ride."

The eldest son discouraged this idea, "Mom, wait, we'll figure something out." I stayed with the younger son, and on Sunday the older son called and said, "Mom, wait, I will decide when we will go."

"No one else heard from him"

Then it turned out that our neighbor's son called him and said that Volodya was lying in front of the gate. People who left Shyrokyne in cars told that.

Everyone knew him. There are not so many military men in Shyrokyne, he was Lieutenant Colonel, he was known and respected. He helped many people. Neighbors turned to him regarding many issues. He was responsive, and everyone loved him. And so they told us…

The children wouldn't believe it. Son went there alone. They didn't let him through at the checkpoint at first, but then they let him in. So he took his.. They told me on Tuesday, I didn't believe it at first either. Son told me, "Mom, I already took him. He's in the morgue." That's how our happy life ended. 

Later, neighbors  told me that they talked to Volodya  on Sunday morning. He was going to leave the village, the car was ready. He was not wearing his every day clothes. He not wearing his  suede jacket. And the neighbors heard that he was warming up the car. The neighbor yelled at him, "Volodya, are you going to the city? Will you pick us up?" He said, "Just be quick, I'm going back and forth."

He couldn't leave the household. And he was probably going to the city or call and wish his son a happy birthday. Or maybe he was out of cigarettes, bread…

I dream of returning to Shyrokyne, where the happy years that we were thrown out of were spent

And, as they say, at this time there was a queue and shooting began. Neighbors rushed to their homes to hide. And then no one else heard it… He was killed by a bullet. Abdomen wound. If someone was around, maybe they could help.

"We have lost the person we all loved deeply"

I was lucky and happy in my life. I lived an exciting life. I have great children. My husband always coddled me. I don't remember ever fighting with him. There may have been times when we were not happy with each other. We might have different views. But we always reconciled in a while. These misunderstandings were resolved and expressed in a calm atmosphere. 

I dream that the work of our loved ones, my children, and my husband's life will not be wasted. I wish I would return Shyrokyne. The house there is far too precious to us. This is the place where we spent our happy years, from which we were taken and thrown out.

I can only ask for health, to have the strength to survive all this, to help the children get back on their feet, because I and the children were left with nothing. We lost the most precious thing we had…

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