My grandfather Ilya (Elijah) -- my father's father -- was the youngest of four children, he had one brother and two sisters. The oldest was his brother Abram, born in 1908 (I think). He was an officer in the Red Army, a colonel at the end of his career (I believe). In 1944 and 1945 he was a commander of a garrison in a Bulgarian town of Plovdiv after the Red Army took it over from the Nazis.
Abram and his wife Alexandra died a long time before I was born, and I never met them and only know a few family stories about them. I know their three children: Tatiana, Vladimir and Natalia -- and their children and grandchildren. The youngest, Natalia, was the first to immigrate to Israel back in the 1980s. Tatiana, a criminal lawyer during the Soviet times, followed in her footsteps at the end of the 1990s. We met both of them and Tatiana's daughter Sonya in Haifa earlier this year. Tatiana still visits St. Petersburg quite frequently and has business and property here. Natalia, on the other hand, has never been back. Vladimir and his wife Anna stayed in St. Petersburg, along with their daughter Ira, husband Maxim and granddaughters Katya and Natasha.
When we visited yesterday, Vladimir and Anna told us a very cute story about how they first met. After Vladimir graduated from a university in St. Petersburg (he went to the same school as my dad, but ten years earlier), he was sent to work in the Ural mountains (the city of Sverdlovsk -- now Yekaterinburg). He worked in some sort of a factory (this wasn't a part of the story, so I don't know what he did for work), but on top of it he had a hobby: sport orienteering. And coincidentally so did Anna, a Sverdlovsk native; she had entered her first night-time orienteering competition that year. The teams gathered somewhere in the woods, were given flashlights and maps, and were sent on a trek to a pre-specified location. Anna did not go very far: soon, she fell into a swamp. By the time she managed to get out of the mud, the precious time past, and the competition was lost. So she trekked back to the base and went to a spring to wash her boots. She cursed loudly as she worked: "What kind of an idiot invented orienteering at night? What the hell is the point of it?" For Vladimir, this was not his first competition, so he was used to the ordeal. He was also at the spring, cleaning his boots. So when he overheard her curses by the spring, he liked them so much, he decided to talk to her.
He proposed to her after she'd invited him to her house once and fried some potatoes and onions for him. Anna is a famous cook -- as we had a chance to attest yesterday eating her pirozhki and apple pie.