Minneapolis was a wonderful little holiday, and I have fun pics from the May Day parade to post, as well as thoughts about the city to jot down, but not just yet.

My thoughts are elsewhere. For the last month, my maternal grandfather (who has been on dialysis for the last three years) has been declining pretty dramatically in his health. After not eating or sleeping well for some time, he was checked into the hospital at the beginning of this week. His body seems to be suffering from the stress of dialysis on his heart and other systems. They are running tests and trying to figure out what to do next for him. My mother and father, as well as aunt, have been with him, but there’s so little they can do.

He’s going to turn 90 in a week, and I find myself thinking about his life: his difficult childhood in Ukraine, his experiences during WWII, and the journey to America. There’s so little I know from this private man, but the questions and the silence made a lasting impression on me. To find answers, to try and make sense of it, I did what I always do: I wrote. It began as research, interviews, nonfiction, but then transformed into something new. It became a story.

I wrote The Silence of Trees to honor all of my grandparents, especially my grandmothers, but it is most definitely a story. It is not based on any one person’s life. It is my attempt to create characters that illuminate and preserve a particular experience and time in history.

Part of my intention was also to explore what war does to people, to try and make sense of the difference ways that people deal with tragedy, regret, sacrifice. Some people, like my protagonist and like my grandfather, hide it all away, choose not to share. It is their choice, of course. All anyone else can do is be available to listen. If and when they decide to talk about it.

90 years.

I turn to Ukrainian folk music when I’m feeling like this: contemplative and a little sad, wanting to connect with something older, deeper, raw, and authentic. My musical tastes are wildly diverse, but Ukrainian folk music is the music of my heart. It’s the heartbeat of the mother for me, the sound that connects me to my ancestors, to my childhood, to my family. . .to my grandfather.

Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of MOTHER CHRISTMAS, THE SILENCE OF TREES, and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya and on Mastodon.social @valya

3 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. Eva Chapman says:

    Dear Valya, I light a candle for your grandfather. He is the same age as my parents (they were born in 1924) He is such a survivor. I honour him. The song is so beautiful. Thank you. Bless you for ‘The Silence of Trees’. It captures what was essentially an oral tradition into the relative permanence of the written word; an oral tradition which was so brutally curtailed and smashed by the devasating events that befell Ukraine in the 20th century. May peace fall upon your grandfather and all of you who love him.

  2. Valya says:

    Thank you, Eva.

  3. Melissa says:

    I am so sorry to hear the news about your grandfather’s health status.

    90 years…

    I hope that you get the chance to celebrate those 90 years in a special way.


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