The big day arrived, the day when families who had been separated for 87 years reunited in the ancestral village. My parents, brother, and I drove to Staryi Yarychiv and were met by a welcoming group of about 20 Taras cousins. We’re grand-children and great-grandchildren of Ivan Taras and Maria Kulyk. My grandfather, Michael Taras, emigrated to Canada in 1928, as he was the oldest son and needed to support the family. He left behind his parents, four sisters, and one brother. Today, descendants of Petrunela, Michael, Vasyl, and Pavlina had a joyful reunion in Staryi Yarychiv.
My Taras cousins overwhelmed us Canadian visitors with kindness and generosity. We visited the cemetery — as Stepan said, half the Taras family are buried there, and the other half are still living. We visited five immaculately kept houses, and were treated to what can only be described as a “groaning board” banquet with an embarrassment of food and drink.
Our reunion had moments of sadness. We remembered those who are no longer with us, and would haved loved sharing the momentous day. Especially missed was my second cousin, Michael Adamovych, who was killed while on duty as an ambulance driver only a few weeks ago. He had wanted to sing us a welcoming song, and his widow Natalia recited its moving words. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Natalia.
The Taras family has endured hardships. My grandfather left Staryi Yarychiv 87 years ago for Canada, and never knew what happened to his parents or siblings after the Second World War and subsequent Soviet occupation of Ukraine severed communication. Petrunela Taras and her family were exiled to Siberia and had their land and property stolen by the Soviet power, because son Teofil courageously fought for his country in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Sofiya Taras and Yousefa Taras ended up on the Polish side of the post-World War II border. Vasyl Taras and Pavlina Taras remained in Staryi Yarychiv, but the Taras land was stolen out from under them by Stalin’s collectivization.
Somehow they all survived, to have children and grand-children and now there are great-grand-children. Where there is life there is hope, and this is true about Ukraine and about the Taras family. Dear, dear cousins — thank you a hundred times and до зустріч: until we meet again.