War or No War, Many Older Ukrainians Want to Stay Put

They sit in ones and twos in half-destroyed homes. They shelter in musty basements marked in chalk with “people underground” — a message to whichever troops happen to be fighting that day. They venture out to visit cemeteries and reminisce about any time other than now.

Ukraine’s elderly are often the only people who remain along the country’s hundreds of miles of front line. Some waited their entire lives to enjoy their twilight years, only to have been left in a purgatory of loneliness.

Homes built with their own hands are now crumbling walls and blown-out windows, with framed photographs of loved ones living far away. Some people have already buried their children, and their only wish is to stay close so they can be buried next to them.

But it does not always work out that way.

“I’ve lived through two wars,” said Iraida Kurylo, 83, whose hands shook as she recalled her mother screaming when her father was killed in World War II.

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