In the category of still don't know what to do with these entanglements:
There is SO little I could do; still there is a big spot of affection for all of them. The whole story needs prayers.
I have never regretted making the effort to visit even though there were some daunting moments. There were family photos and stories from O doing theater at the Deaf Club in Ufa before he managed to weave threads together to go to school in StPB. There were oceans of alcohol. There were topics to be dodged all over the place. There was work for O's parents and for O in an airplane plant because historically Stalin figured deaf workers would not spill secrets. It was clear the family all loved each other and the whole story needs prayers.
V.B.I 2015 RantWoman's mother-in-law. Small. One night we walked 2 miles in -10 degree Celsius to the apartment of a childhood friend of O's. Listened to Bashkortostan 3, the local non-Russian language radio really loudly. Sent us back to Seattle with a 3-liter bottle of homemade jam. I begged O to leave it with the people we stayed with in StPB but he did not. Flavorwise I know why. The jam survived all the way until the last leg of the flight.
Met O's father at the Deaf Club and learned RSL from him. Her mother, O's grandmother, did not approve. O remembers his grandmother always protecting the boys from bullying by the other kids. O says his grandmother's sister helped keep her sister and niece alive during WWII. O also says his mother always scored A's in English because a friend of her mother's was the teacher. O's mother delighted in the calendars we brought or sent.
Va.R.I ? Totally Deaf. OD'd. Unclear on what. 12 years younger than next younger brother. Education unclear because family managed to evade his getting sent off clear across town to the deaf school. Fascinated when we visited the Lomonosov Science Museum in StPb. Great fun to watch in other museums: stone deaf so he did not hear the alarms he kept setting off. The museum staff would run after him but they had to wait for O to interpret.
I.R.I ? Completely deaf but managed to communicate with me either by writing notes or lipreading. O's older brother. Wanted us to help him market snake venom. Offered to help raise any child we did not want. Terrifying alcoholic. RantWoman wanted to meet him. RantWoman is a little bit sorry to have pushed because of other manifestations of the terrifying alcoholic issue.
R.St.I ? O's father. Terrifying alcoholic. Somewhat bewildered by all his sons, the pets in residence thanks to Va. Muslim identity important in his own terms. We visited the year Ramadan fell over Christmas and New Year's. This is good for few hours of daylight. Vodka still needed though.
Other than the Turkic radio and the family speaking Russian when the y wanted me to hear as opposed to signing when they did not, I do not remember the sound track. NOr do I have any idea whether Swedish and Russian sign languages are mutually intelligible, but this music seems apt.
Final funny story: in StPb we ran into some Deaf guys from Italy. They had gone to StPB in search of wives but had not made connections and were headed home. People signed back and forth for a long time through the glass between the lobby and the boarding area. The PA kept announcing the flight to Rome and finally I had to get in O's face so the guys would not miss their plane.
Love ya Vlad, will miss you, probably not as much as O does even though y'all had yer differences.... RIP, and out on an up note.