Normally, September 1st is the first day of school in Russia (USSR). It also happens to be my grandfather's birthday, or, rather, would have been. It is for this reason that the first calendar day of autumn reminds me of my childhood. 

Whereas economic reasons for having both parents in the workplace should not be overlooked, Russians have maintained a more traditional approach to raising children with much greater involvement on the part of the extended family, especially the grandparents.

And so, while our parents were at work, grandpa raised us.

Here he is, the littlest one, next to his brother and Princess Sverbeeva  (Abashidze).


And in the image above, he stands in front of a building with images of Lenin and Stalin in the background--a historic document of its time par excellence. 

Grandpa was an engineer and an architect, and did not retire until he was in his 70s.  

I have his work ethic. His attention to detail.

His temper.

When I was much too young, grandpa taught me how to count in German, to tap dance, and to sing offensive Soviet street songs from the 1930s. He spoiled my much-older cousins in the same way--a family tradition!

Thoughts like these always make me smile, and for a while I forget how much I loathe immigration. 


Grandparents in Batumi, Georgia, USSR.

Grandparents in Batumi, Georgia, USSR.