Three weeks ago when President Biden announced Russia's invasion of Ukraine was imminent, Volodymyr immediately picked up his phone, called his mother, and begged her to get on a plane and come to San Diego.
“She said, ‘no you’re an idiot I don’t want to come again,” said Volodymyr.
Lyudmila had recently been in the states for the holidays and like many didn’t believe Russia would actually invade her home country.
“It was impossible to believe that that could actually happen,” said Volodymyr.
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But just days later the unthinkable happened and the 84-year-old grandmother was trapped in the middle of a war zone.
“When the war started there was the bombardment and she had to go to the shelter like four times a night,” said Volodymyr. “My brother called me actually and said ‘we have to take mom out of here. But by that time it was impossible. The planes were not flying, the trains were overbooked.”
Terrified for his mother’s safety, Volodymyr contacted everyone he knew in Ukraine hoping someone could help his mother get out.
Eventually, a family friend answered his call for help and offered to bring Lyudmila along with him and his family as they tried to escape through the Poland border.
“Instead of one day, they were on the road for like three days,” said Volodymyr.
The journey wasn’t easy, and it involved some detours but the group was able to make it out.
But it's not the first time fighting had uprooted the grandmother whose family fled the country 80 years ago during World War II.
She says this time though the heartbreak of having to leave her home is much worse.
“She is trying to understand that, okay, we are fighting for our land for our freedom but what exactly is Russia fighting for,” said Volodymyr.
Still, she is confident in her country and her people and believes soon enough she will get to go back home.
Volodymyr has a brother, a niece, and a nephew still in Ukraine. So far he says they have no plans on leaving. They plan to stay and fight for their country.