Awakening Memories Book – Chapter “Talents”


I have always liked to deal with everything related to the electricity, although I haven’t developed any electricity related talents, I had some talents that helped me through my life. I learned how to knit and do crochet for my dolls and very beautiful cross-stitch table covers or decorating materials. I was as a seamstress.

The orphanage life, and then my life in the foster care somewhat, stopped my talent progression and development. The main reason for that was my financial dependence on those that themselves didn’t have money. There were places that helped kids to develop their talents but they all cost money. The government poorly supported our teachers, school and later my foster family. Therefore, I’ve never had a chance to continue developing one of my biggest talents – singing and poems writing.

I was one of not many at the orphanage who could sing. I always liked to sing, or even to pretend that I can sing. Through that singing I would have been a great candidate for American Idol auditions. Once I was singing in front of a big audience. I sang “Den’ Pobedy” (The victory day!) song that is dedicated to all the veterans that were fighting for our country and got the victory on the 9th of May 1945. I still remember that song, 24 years later. This is how much I loved singing. I believe that many kids who grew up in the orphanage are missing many great talents developing opportunities and mainly because their school couldn’t afford to get a professional that could teach new skills that he/she is good at. Maybe the government should look over the current everyone’s personal development stage at any orphanage, and should offer more talent developing opportunities for each kid.

No wonder why later in my life, when I received new opportunities to learn, I was hungry for education, knowledge and personal skills and talent development. No wonder, when later those opportunities came to me, I “grabbed” them, and it was hard to let them go. I spent more than 21 years at different schools, to make sure I sucked it all in as a sponge to make sure that I am fed well with the knowledge and experience I needed to start building my successful future.

Presenting my handcraft and telling the poem
Presenting my handcraft and telling the poem

One of my opportunities that I was able to work on my own without any trainer was the opportunity to develop talent of poem writing. There were times when I would get up late at night and write my poems. I was the most inspired at night. This was the time when I wrote the poems that I shared at my school. I stopped writing poems when I graduated from the University. I guess again the main reason that I stopped developing my talents because I lacked the knowledge on how to write poems the right way, and I was afraid to be laughed at because of the things I’ve written about. There was no one to support me emotionally and give me strength to continue. There were other life priorities, to make sure I had sufficient for my life needs.

Maybe for my readers to get grasp of what my poems were about I will write my poem in Ukrainian with my English translation afterward.

“Mother” Poem

Mom, why have you left me early in life?
Why? I am asking you. I’d understand.
Have I caused any pain and scars?
Tell me more, to your only friend.

Try to remember, my mom, how I’ve spoken
My first sounds to you in your arms;
Then when I grew up a little bit older
I’ve written the poems about you, mom.

Again, I whisper to myself “My Mother”
Again, I’m sketching these words with such zeal.
Again, these letters appear “My Mother”.
Again, I’m searching for a smile in a dream.

Why could not I love you, my mother?
Why could not I say to you “My Mom”?
My heart was broken, my soul was devoured.
But I believed you’ve been the one.

When will I hear your voice so tender?
Carried through air to me by the winds?
When will I catch it, will it deliver
Happiness, joy, and fulfill all my dreams?

Will that voice teach me first letters?
Will that voice bring me a smile?
Will it remind me of my childhood years
That vanished away from me for a while?

When can I write for you, my mother,
A few poems about us in a dream?
So you know your son is now older,
So I can hear, as a night gale, you sing.

I think I can, believe me, my mother,
To love you deeply in my adulthood heart.
And scars and pain will be gone forever.
You are my family and we are now one.

Original Russian Version: 2/27/1997
Translated English Version: 9/27/2012

I think that I had a great talent for languages. In my life, I have several times been asked how many languages I speak, and where I learned English. I guess my first steps of learning another language happened in this very place the orphanage. But my first steps were made not into English, but into German. As I was growing during the communism times I’ve seen a lot of movies about the 2nd world war and the big victory day. Those movies told different stories about broken families because their father and sons went to war, about the little ones, left out to die because their families are killed. Those movies also portrayed brave men and women who went to the frontier and fought for freedoms. Those great men and women went to be spies so they could help uncover the truth about their enemies. Those men and women had to learn another language so they could communicate with an accent being in the enemy’s area. Well, those men and women were a great example to young generations. They set a perfect example that by having great faith in your country, freedom, and your future, they were strong enough to sacrifice their time and talents for all of it. I thought if they could do it then I could do it. So, I knew that learning another language would be my first step in helping my country. There was one of my first teachers who spoke German. I don’t know where she learned it, but I believe that the same reasons as many other people had compelled her to learn German language. I asked this teacher to teach me German. I was either in the first or the second grade. I started learning German. First I’ve learned how to count to ten in German. The other common phrases, as “hello”, “goodbye”, “goodnight”, “thank you”, and even “hands up!”, I’ve picked up from those movies about the war. It wasn’t hard for me to learn another language. I guess it was a talent I was given when I came into the world. Although I haven’t kept up learning German, certainly English went well. In my 5th grade I started learning the English alphabet. Later I continued with English. However, most of what I know today, I’ve learned not in the school or from my teachers. I’ve learned it from the books and great people around me. I always had a passion for learning, and today I see how its fruits building my future. I am saying the future because today is my future that is coming to pass. I am glad that when I had these learning opportunities in the past I didn’t let them pass by, but let them settle in my heart and become reality if it was possible. Today I speak my mom’s language, which is Russian, my native language, which is Ukrainian, and my “second” language, which is English. The last language I really would like to learn is Spanish. I started learning it on my own, and hope to finish learning it in the near future. One of Ukrainian writers, Maxim Rilskiy if I remember correctly, wrote: “As many languages a man know so many times he is the man”. The translation is literal, but the meaning is the following: “People, who spend their time learning, are valuable people.”

My Handmade Baskets
My Hand-weaved Baskets

So, how and where did my talent development happen? Our school had two buildings. In one building we slept and had rooms entertainment with TVs and we had classes in another building. As a child, I always spent my time in one classroom. If I remember correctly, I spent the first 3 grades in one classroom. Each classroom had desks, but for little ones we didn’t have a playground in the classroom. Those classes didn’t have all necessary equipment for an education. When I was in the orphanage we didn’t have proper laboratories for physics, chemistry, and information technologies. We didn’t have proper established rooms where we could do our experiments while learning. We couldn’t visualize things. It was hard for us. The thing that kills me the most is that there were many things hidden from us that had some connection to the real outside of USSR world. We have always been taught the lessons about USSR and only USSR. No one of us I believe as well as our teachers knew what is going on outside of this “Red Shell”. We constantly were reminded that we belong to USSR and that there is nothing else that would interest us. On occasions, we were told that somewhere else outside our own country has happened. For example, I remember when we heard about a huge earthquake in Georgia or about Chernobyl accident in 1987. At those times the orphanage was trying to collect clothes and other usable things to give to those that were in need at times of grief. We all knew that some things bad have happened, but not all of us knew how bad it was. Again we didn’t know much about outside USSR world, because we weren’t taught that. I found out about America when I went into the 6th grade in another school when our country became independent from USSR. Those were tough times but we didn’t have any other choice as accept to live during them.

On the way to Las Vegas doing Crostich
On the way to Las Vegas doing Crostich

There were other things that I’ve learned at school: I’ve learned how to knit, sew, and cross-stitch. I loved to do that. I even cross-stitched for several exhibitions at school. Basically, I became a skilled seamstress.

There you can see the both sides of me. The first side is that I love to knit little suits for my male dolls, and the other side of me liked to play with little electric cars that I designed myself. Those cars were put together using constructor tools, such as Lego (though those tools were much worse than Lego), a little engine maybe found somewhere in the garbage behind the school, the battery, and a few wires, that made this electric car move. I loved playing with those kinds of toys, but didn’t see any difference between knitting and constructing. It was all ok to me. Only now, looking back, I can say that this is where I’ve noticed my feminine side.

As kids, we played not only with toys in our rooms, but also with toys that we found behind the school in the junk yard. Literally it was a junk yard, because this was the place where people dumped their garbage. This was our treasure hunt place.But we didn’t care much if it was the garbage or not, because all we cared about was to get toys to play with. No wonder why we had dirty clothes all the time. Later in my life, when I visited that orphanage school, I noticed the things that I haven’t noticed by being in the orphanage. I noticed how dirty we were. I noticed how enthusiastic we were about our new discoveries in the treasure land, the source of our toys and joy. We not only collected the toys from that garbage yard but also we collected other things, such as wallets, pens, bags, tools, etc. With each finding we had a great time of actually valuing our findings. Sometimes if I found something, I didn’t want to share it with others. I wanted to keep it. Since we each had our own shelf in a big closet that was located in one of the rooms where we would get changed, we hid our stuff underneath of our stuff so no one would know about our treasures.

But we not only hid our findings among our stuff, we also hid our food or sweets. Then we ate it a piece by piece until it was gone. One time on Easter I hid a loaf of Easter bread. Usually on Easter as it was our custom, people make Easter bread. There are two kinds of bread: The regular one, that doesn’t include much sugar, raisings, and not as sweet as the second kind, that has all possible sweeteners and other delicious ingredients that the second kind of bread was given to us on Easter. Sometimes we had local Christian churches or sponsors from abroad would bring it to us, to make our Easter time memorable. At that time I didn’t have a grasp of what a time meaning of Christmas or Easter was to me. But every year I as well as all other kids in the orphanage was happy that those times of the year existed. So, one Easter I hid the second kind of bread under my clothes. It stayed there until it rotted. It is not the fact that I didn’t eat that bread that made me sad, but it was the fact that it became rotten and that it didn’t stay for longer period of time under my clothes that made me sad. I owned something especial that I haven’t had before. I wanted to hold onto it for much longer. I wanted to enjoy it. I remember that I had to throw away an unfinished part of the bread. But it was hard to do that as well.

As a kid, I was taught just a little bit about God. I lived at those times, when you weren’t allowed to talk about God. Your god was the communism, and therefore atheism. But regardless of disbelief, there were a few that believed in God secretly. Some teachers would teach good principles taken from the Bible. One of those principles that built some respect in us to all things that were around us, was the principle of love. We had to learn how to love people and things around us that we used in our daily lives. Well, I was taught that I needed to love bread and to not throw it away. If I decided to throw that bread away, that meant that I was committing the greatest sin of all times. Bread was our holiness. We were taught that people during the 2nd World War didn’t have anything to eat. Some even died from starvation. Some survived on a little piece of bread a day. But I was going to throw away a big chunk of Easter bread and I felt guilty for my actions.

I guess that the orphanage built great people from us with a sense of respect, love, and hard work. We were taught to do good at all time. But everything boiled down what we as kids and later as grownups are going to do with those principles?