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What was the initial reaction of your husband’s family when they read this book?
Approving and appreciative for the way, I described mother Maria’s life. Rewarding and fulfilling for mother Maria who overcame hardships in her personal life and preserved inner light, faith, morality, justice and happiness.
How difficult was writing this book, considering the emotional content and the fact that it’s based on your mother-in-law experience?
I was deeply involved emotionally and sometimes worked from morning to morning with short brakes in order to go through one or another part of the book that contained emotional description. I could not interrupt my writing in order not to lose the connection with Mother Maria’s interpretation of the fact or event. Did I cry while writing? Yes, I did, and many times.
However, I must say that our mother Maria did not cry frequently. She tried to be calm, when she talked about some difficult, merciless or horrible events. I was hysterical reading her journal or listening to some of her stories. I asked her more than once, how she could stand the recollecting of life threatening events without crying. Mother Maria watched me with her pleasant smile and explained that she cried so much when it had happened that the Lord was probably sorry for her and one day she noticed that she was given the blessing to release her emotional pain. Otherwise, I doubt she could survive.
There are some parts of the book, where I was laughing or smiling, while writing. My family, including grandchildren, observed it, but they were very nice and did not interfere with the emotions I expressed at the moments of work.
Writing the books about unusually complicated lives of a usual family was the greatest honor that I experienced. I learned that for the first time in my life I was doing something meaningful for the Divinity, as well as for those people who were interlocked in hardships of World War II and red repressions in the former USSR.
Through the lives of my characters, who have lived in reality or who are still with us, I wanted to inspire the readers in making the right decisions at the moments of life obscurity. I wanted people to realize that depression and suicide are not the salvation of the life problems. Why should people choose darkness when our life temporarily loses its colors?
Are you satisfied with the end result of this book?
Yes, I am. The book “Mother Maria” is the first book of the trilogy “God’s Miracles”. It showed us, how global historical events influence or affect the life of every single person. Mother Maria has clarified for us, her children, how important not to lose the connection with the Divinity during the shocking turbulences in life. We are unable to change the history, but we can overcome the hardships and survive the challenging and scary life events. That’s why I was quite satisfied with the end of the first book.
Do you feel that you did justice to Maria’s story?
Yes, I do. Mother Maria was a clever human person, and she knew well her strong and weak sides. The hardships of life afflicted a weak, romantic and gentle Miss Maria. With God’s protection, Maria avoided the physical or psycho-emotional destruction. The adversity made her strong and sometimes, she declared that it made her too strong. Her “too strong” side induced her in making some decisions and deeds that later she was sorry about. In the second book “Home-Coming,” I described what cost her strong decision to arrive to post-war red Ukraine. At the same time, I’ve seen her humane, caring, kindhearted side in such a decision. She came to save her family. How can we blame her for it?
What methods of research did you use?
First: mother Maria’s journals
Second: materials of different encyclopedias, in order to be sure that mother Maria was accurate with dates and events of the WWII, annexing of the Western Ukraine and establshing there the red regime.
Third: Historical books, articles, documents of Howard University about WWII
Fourth: German geographical and historical materials regarding the events of WWII
Fifth: Canadian sources of Ukrainian historical materials about the events in the Ukraine in 1939-1958
Sixth: Ukrainian sources of Ukrainian historical events of 1939-1941
What’s the most important Teaching that you would like to bring forward to the reader?
We must remember that people are God’s creations. We need to keep this bond always strong, and the genuine connection with the Divinity will help us to find the feasibility of overcoming the hardships of life, preventing new life catastrophe.
Why do you think the book will appeal to readers?
During the last two years, the Global financial, economic, real estate and ethical crisis affected the whole world and nearly every family or every person experienced partial or complete
• loss of quality of life;
• loss of the established personal position in the society;
• loss of fidelity, reputation and integrity in business relationship;
• loss of firm and unchangeable tandem in personal relationship with husband-wife and wife-husband support in undergoing the hardships of present time;
• loss of spirituality. The faith in God prevents people from trespassing the border of goodness, justice and righteousness. Without trespassing, many of human beings do not know any other way to achieve maximum power, income and glory among people;
• loss of inner peace when vanity, laziness, selfishness, tiredness, anxiety and inability to relax or sustain high mood without alcohol or drugs lead to mental depressive tendencies and physical illnesses;
• loss of value of life, growth of fear and inability to visualize Karmic purpose, determent by Universe for our personal development and spiritual growth. It leds to complete void, absurd, nonsensical and extravagant existence that fades the colors of life and pulls people down to darkness, descension and suicide.
I clearly felt the necessity to share with people the extraordinary life story of my mother-in-law, who underwent hell on Earth, survived and achieved success, respect, happiness and inner peace. She learned not to focus on the hardships in her life, but did her best in overcoming them. I always had a desire to share this story with the people. At the present time, mother Maria’s life story will open a wide door for thousands of readers to restoration of spirituality, health, happiness and success.
People need the ideas and real examples which will work at the time of Global downturn. The lifestyle changes of 2008 manifested just in the USA in more than 1.3 million Bankruptcy Filings and increased number of suicide. With my book about the real person and her worthwhile personal life experiences, I tried to help the readers with understanding that people have always undergone the tests of life, and with God’s help they survived them.
With reading of the trilogy “God’s Miracles in Lives of Regular People,” the readers will define the main reason for the Global crisis and find the answers to the questions: When and how can be passed the life test? The moment we discover, why hardships strike us in our personal or global lives and make the consctructive conclusions, we are saved. With the present time situation, the spiritually uplifted comprehension of the Global events will prevent the life catastrophe and save the progress of entire mankind. As it is written in the Holy Bible, “With God all things are possible”.
What is the setting of the book “God’s Miracles in Lives of Regular People?"
1916-1936 Western Ukraine that was part of Austro-Hungarian Empire and then stayed with Poland.
1936-1940 Paris, France
1940-1941 Western Ukraine after the annexing of it by the USSR
1946 Soviet Ukraine
1946-1956 Gulag, Magadan region
1956-1959 Siberia, Magadan region
Who are the main characters, what are their relationships, and why are they important to the story?
The book is a family saga. The main characters are the people of one family. My mother-in-law Maria is the main personage of the trilogy. She was a romantic, humane, highly educated, spiritual, talented, tolerant, and serene person. Her life was extraordinarily thorny, but she did not complain. She taught us not to fight the shadows in order not to waste strength and time. She was in love with life and wanted us to live in the same way, watching its every day beauty. My husband and I followed her example not only with being in love with life, but with her spiritual understanding of the world events and everything that comes and goes in our personal lives. We could hardly survive our hardships, if we did not pick up from our mother Maria the inspiration and gratefulness to God.
Maria's father, Dr. Kotyk was a loving father, responsible doctor and a smart landowner. Before the annexing of the Western Ukraine, he provided a decent living with his children, being in father-mother position after the departure of his wife to Canada. He did not blame his fate for living by himself with four small children, his personal loneliness and the long hours of work. He tried to spend all his free time with his kids, considering the upbringing of children, as one of the most important responsibilities in front of God.
Maria’s grandfather, old Count Kotyk was a strong and highly spiritual personality. He lived long life. He took part, as a doctor in the World War I, and for many years was a doctor of Ukrainian Partisan Army which fought Nazis and soviets in the forests of western Ukraine until 1956.
Maria's mother, Countess Anna Dobrensky was a romantic person, who fell in love with another man when Maria was ten. Maria could hardly survive the departure of her mother to Canada. Anna was not happy in her second marriage, but it took thirty six years before she found the possibility to come back and spent the last years of her life with Maria and her grandchildren.
Maria's husband, Count Alexander Kurbatov was born in France, where his parents immigrated after the communist revolution in Russia. He was the only son in the family and met Maria during his studies at the Sorbonne University. Alexander fell in love and upon Maria’s graduation, they had the church Betrothal. The WWII separated the couple and Alexander was brave to cross three borders in order to save his bride from Nazi slavery in Germany. He underwent terrible tormenting in the soviet Ukraine, when he accompanied his pregnant wife on their visit to her family in 1946. He spent 10 years of imprisonment in Gulag and shared the bitterness of exile with Maria and two children. The KGB brutally murdered him on the same day after his visit to Magadan KGB office.
Sofia and Rosa are a mother and daughter. Sofia became a widow, when Rosa was five. Since then, she settled in Dr. Kotyk’s mansion, as a housekeeper. She loved his children and, in a way, she tried to substitute their mother. When the Nazis occupied the region, they annihilated Jews or transported them to the concentration death camps. Dr. Kotyk hid Sofia and Rosa, but somebody saw them at night and reported to Nazi burgomaster office. The women were found. Sofia was executed and Rosa together with Maria were arrested and deported to the Third Reich for forceful work.
Ganja is a very important character in the book. She was nanny of Maria’s youngest sister Jenny. This brave and devoted woman helped Maria and Alexander after the violence of NKVD, and she was glad to aid Maria after the imprisonment. She shared her bread with Maria and Maria’s two sons, babysat Maria’s younger son Tisha and let Maria the opportunity to work, making some money for living.
Sister Olga is a strong type of a woman. The NKVD killed her husband who was a priest together with their son for serving in the church every Sunday. Sister Olga became a nun. The soviets closed the monastery and deported the nuns to Gulag. Sister Olga helped Maria greatly during the deportation and at the camp.
Natasha was deported to Gulag before WWII. She was a twenty-year-old wife of a talented engineer, who was arrested and murdered during the interrogation. Natasha served fifteen years and, at the time of her release, she was shot by one of the guards. Her daughter had never learned who had been a real killer of her poor mother, although they frequently saw each other.
Dr. Leskov was a camp doctor when a pregnant Maria was brought to Gulag. In a couple of months after her arrival, Maria delivered Sasha, the older brother of my husband. Dr. Leskov always helped Maria and her family. Maria, in her turn, helped him to find faith.
Dr. Belikov was a chief physician of a small hospital, who was brave to hire two physicians after their discharge from the camps. He did his best in saving the lives of Maria and her kids after Alexander’s death.
Captain Sidorenko and the commandant of Maria’s camp, as well as the officers of NKVD in former Maria’s Ukrainian mansion are the representatives of the evil NKVD/KGB service, which did not value the human lives and which existed for humiliation and annihilation of innocent people. Maria saw their evilness and fought against them in the way she could – with everyday prayers.
Dr. Kraus was an unusual person. He had respect for Maria’s professionalism and responsibility. It was unexpected for Maria to see his effort to help her, an inmate from Nazi concentration camp. She kept him always in her prayers.
Maria's mother-in-law, Countess Kurbatova. Maria has always felt guilty in front of Alexander's mother, as she always blamed herself for the death of her husband in wilderness of Siberia. I hope that God forgave my mother-in-law for leaving Madam Kurbatova alone without her son’s support.
What is the short description of the story?
The trilogy “God’s Miracles in Lives of Regular People” consists of three books:
“Bridge to the Sky”.
The main character of the book is a young woman Maria Kotyk. Maria was born in 1918 when the Western part of Ukraine belonged to Poland. She was from a noble family and went to France to continue her studies at the Sorbonne University. Maria wanted to carry on the family tradition and become a physician, as her grandfather and father.
In Paris, Maria met a young Count Alexander Kurbatov and fell in love. They had the betrothal and planned to celebrate the wedding at the end of summer in 1940. After the graduation Maria decided to visit her family in the Ukraine. She missed them very much and most of all, she missed her Blue Creeks, the picturesque Ukrainian mansion, where Maria and her siblings were born.
The annexing of the Western Ukraine by the communist USSR and the WWII broke all Maria’s plans. Maria was forcefully deported to the concentration camp with Jewish girl Rosa, the daughter of her father’s housekeeper, as a punishment for Dr. Kotyk’s saving of poor Jews.
Maria was praying on the train and God changed her destiny. The bombing of the train gave Maria and Rosa the opportunity to be lost in a group of young “volunteers” who were deported to forceful work in Germany. Both girls witnessed the terrible scene of execution of all the Jewish people, including children and infants. Maria expected to work in a German family, as a babysitter, housekeeper or tutor, but she was taken to the farmer’s barn to feed, wash and milk cows and clean the barns. Being a physician, Maria had never performed this type of work before and, in a short time, her fingers became wounded and bleeding. The farmer, an abusive person, decided to punish a gentle Marie and was ready to rape the girl in his barn. Frightened to death Maria was praying, asking for God’s help. The execrable ravisher tripped and fell on hay-fork. Maria ran away without documents and money. She was lucky that an elderly woman took her home and Maria worked for some time at her bakery and restaurant. The farmer survived and began search. The police arrested Maria, as a Russian spy. They threw her into the concentration camp, interrogating and beating powerless girl for three days. They wanted to get the information which Maria could not know.
The unconscious Maria was thrown on the floor of an old, half-ruined barrack. Maria did not know how long she spent there and once, she was awaken by a terrible scream. The guards locked the doors and set the barrack on fire. Only God’s miracle saved Maria again. All the inmates of her barrack were burned or executed in accordance with the Nazis’ plans, and she was the only one, who survived.
Maria was rescued by the Polish inmates from the other barrack. She was dying. It took several weeks to survive the condition with extremely high fever caused by stress and inflammation after the torments. One day, when the inmates were at work, she was found by the commandant. The documents of the executed inmates were destroyed. Maria was scared and made a mistake, giving the commandant the last name that the farmer knew. She answered all the questions in good German, and the knowledge of five languages gave Maria the opportunity to start her work at the administrative office with translation of different documents and instructions. One day, working there she discovered in mail her personal documents. Maria was lucky to be alone at that very moment and she burned them in fireplace. On the next day, the inmates with medical background underwent a professional testing in medicine, and Maria was transferred to work in the hospital.
Slavery work at the hospital with long shifts was not easier than it was at the camp. The same inhuman rules, regulation, demands and executions worked for inmates. The only significant difference was in permission to attend a tiny church in the nearest small town. It helped Maria to survive. The war came to the end, and Maria knew that the inmates of some concentration camps were executed before the Russian Army came. The surgeon, for whom she was assisting, asked her about her relatives. Maria knew that inmates were not allowed to give anybody any personal information, but she was exhausted after the night shift and lost the control. Maria told Dr. Kraus about her fiancé Alexander, who she left in Paris in 1939. To her great surprise, Dr. Kraus asked his sister, who lived in Paris to find Alexander. In a very short time, Maria heard the voice of her beloved fiancé on the phone, but the problem was that the stress and overwork made her faint. Maria was scared, because she knew what happened to those inmates, who were not able to work. Dr. Kraus gave her one day off in order she could gain her strength back.
Alexander did his best in finding Marie in Germany. It was Sunday, when they met in the library. Maria always enjoyed reading. The librarian checked Alexander’s French passport and called the police. The couple was arrested. Dr. Kraus liberated Maria and “his” friend from France.
On their way to the hospital, Dr. Kraus mentioned that the administration of the camp received the order to execute all the inmates, and it was he, who helped Maria to escape from the hospital at the moment of massive bombing and fire. A young couple drove to the south of Germany in order to cross the French border with the very first opportunity. The war made the adjustments in their itinerary. They had to stop in many German towns due to Allies’ bombing or marches of the German troops. They found their home and happiness in a small town of Thuringia. Maria demonstrated her wonderful abilities, as a talented chef and business woman to the owners of the hotel. With time Maria and Alexander were offered to become partners in hospitality business.
When the war was over, Maria decided to visit her family in the Ukraine in order to bring them to Western Europe. She was already pregnant and even the sixth month pregnancy did not stop a young woman from the trip. Maria considered her home-coming to the USSR, as the biggest mistake in her life.
1. How did you come to write this book? What was your motivation?
During twenty years of my professional life, as a health care practitioner, I was dealing with people of different ages. Many of them met diverse life with health problems and were in poor psycho-emotional and physical shape.
I felt sorry for them and saw the necessity to share with people the extraordinary life story of my mother-in-law, who underwent hell on Earth, survived and achieved success, respect, happiness and inner peace. She did not waste her strength on blaming the unfairness or complicatedness of her life, but did her best to overcome them. I always had a desire to share mother Maria’s story with our cliental and many other people, showing the way to restoration of healthy and happy life through Faith.
People always need the ideas and real examples which will help at the time of Global downturn. The negative lifestyle changes in 2008 manifested only in the USA in more than 1.3 million Bankruptcy Filings and increased number of suicide. With my book about the real person and her worthwhile personal life experiences I try to help the readers with understanding that people have always undergone the tests of life and survived them with God’s help.
With reading of “Mother Maria”, the first book of the trilogy “God’s miracles in lives of regular people” I would like my readers to find the answer to the questions:
- Why is the whole world under the influence of financial, economic, real estate and ethical crisis?
- What do we need to understand in order to pass the life test?
- When is the life exam passed?
I believe that we are saved the moment when we understand why our hardships have developed in our personal or global lives and make the correct conclusion.
In my opinion, the Global illness has the same origin, as the serious personal sickness. With my book, I would like people to define the main reason for the Global crisis. With the present time situation, the spiritually uplifted comprehension of the Global events will prevent the catastrophe and save the progress of entire mankind from further and rapid downturn. The only thing is required for it – restoration of our faith and, as it is written in Holy Bible, “With God all things are possible”.
When the regular person overcomes multiple life threatening situations, and they are miraculously resolved, you start to believe that nobody is lost in this hectic life and only the mercy of Universe can provide gracious changes for us. When do the gracious changes occur? When we strengthen our connection with the Divinity. Ring the bells to the Universe with praying and praising, and when the harmony of sincerity and beauty reach the Divinity, we’ll receive the salvation.
2. Who does the book appeal to and why?
The book appeals to all groups of adult readers. It is written in rather simple version of the English language in order the readers with all the levels of English and general education can understand it. It contains multiple true historical facts of the World War II and annexing of the Western Ukraine by the USSR before the Nazi occupation of the Soviet Union in 1941.
Being forcefully deported to Nazi Germany, Maria, a young physician, graduate of the Sorbonne University, underwent dreadful hardships, but remained considerate and romantic, being ready for passionate love, devoted motherhood and establishment of a successful business. How did a young woman, being an inmate of the concentration camp, preserve her humanity, personal attractiveness and managerial nature of a talented business woman in the fire of cruel war? Maria did not forget two things – appealing to the Divinity for help and praising of the Lord for His miraculous salvation.
So, learning true history, real humanity, beauty of romance, spirituality, humanistic philosophy of surviving the hardships, plus motivated approach for business development on the example of a regular person can be beneficial for everyone.
3. What one thing do you want readers to learn from this book?
I wish people remember what varies us from the rest of the living world. It is our soul, given by the Creator to every human being at the moment of conception. It makes us His children. We have to maintain our firm and sincere bond with our Father and Savior, if we want to find inner peace, happiness and success in our life.
4. How would you introduce your book to a friend in a sentence or two?
The trilogy “God’s Miracles in Lives of Regular People” is an inspirational love story that motivates us to survive and succeed through the hardships of present time. Life threatening experiences and faith taught the main character Maria to value life and made her a survivor.
5. Tell me, how this book is unlike others with similar topics. What sets it apart from the crowd?
The absolutely new philosophy of the book - spiritual interpretation of well-known historical events makes this book unlike others. The way how the main character Maria identifies the eminent facts of history that took place in the Western Ukraine and Nazi Germany before, during and after the WWII and her miraculous surviving makes this book unlike others. It’s hardly to disagree with Maria’s philosophical insightfulness of the historical events and her personal life experiences.
What makes Maria humanitarian? The main character does NOT mix two different entities: Germans and Nazism, as well as Russians and Stalinism.
6. What three words best describe this story? Its characters?
The book is: historically informative ~ inspirational Family Saga~ motivational Romance.
Maria is: a compassionate ~ spiritual ~ strong personality.
7. What was the most challenging part about writing this book?
In 1996 I got seriously ill. The disease was identified when it was in its advanced form. For initial five months of my fight against the illness, I stayed mostly in bed. For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to think about my personal life and the most dramatic family events that seriously affected my immune system. As a health practitioner, I understood that multiple severe and prolong stresses damaged the immunity to the point that it allowed the mutation of cell on subatomic level.
What did I recollect at that time? Of course, my husband’s car crash and his multiple injuries and traumas, including spinal, that led to paralysis. The traditional medicine was not able to help him, but miracle happened and he survived. With God’s help he started to walk. It does not matter that he doesn’t walk properly, but he does not require my assistance all the time.
My enormous emotional pain was connected with our daughter. At the time of my illness, she was in high school. Our girl was born healthy, but underwent vaccination, got post-vaccine polio and quadriplegic type of paralysis. After seven complicated surgeries she continued to be a wheel-chair-bound person, completely depending on my help. I worried about both of them very much. I knew that without me, it would be difficult for them to live normal life.
At that time, I often recollected my mother-in-law, who did not allow herself or anybody else to despair. She used to advise me, “Do not cry, my dear. It will not help. Ask our Father and He’ll help you.” She sounded so sure that after their survivals, I did not have hesitations that in a new complicated situation the Lord would help us.
We have an older son, but in 1996 he was 22, and I did not want to bring two invalids on top of his personal responsibilities. He was great, helping us in different ways. However being a paramedic he had to stay closer to his work. The distance between us was about one-hour of drive.
I continued praying days and nights, falling asleep around 5 a.m. With time I noticed that I became stronger and could walk from one room to another without support of my angelic aunt. During the time of my rejuvenation, I promised to God that one day I would write a book about my mother-in-law, using her brief and unemotional records of the life events.
It took 12 years until I fulfilled my promise. I feel sorry that my mother-in-law is not with us. She passed away at the age of 72.
8. Funny thing about book writing?
Last year, I was writing days and nights and sometimes, it seemed to me that mother Maria was near, describing the episodes so fast, that I could hardly catch her with my speed of typing. I did not allow anybody to interrupt my writing, because I was afraid to miss something in mother Maria’s story. I wish I can find such a spirit-writer for my next book about our American life and the miracles that happened to me and my own family. The fact that three of us (my husband, daughter and I) have survived and helped thousands of people from all over the world is a real God’s miracle. But this is a story for the next book.
9. Is there anything we haven't covered here that you feel is important for people to know about your book?
I don’t want people to think that my mother-in-law Maria or are heavenly angels. It is not true. We are regular people, who were blessed by Divinity to become experts of surviving, just because the Lord chose us to suffer a lot in order to learn the subject of surviving to the level of expertise.
I wish all my readers to be blessed with strong spirit, good health, happiness and success. Stay always blessed!