Grandmother flees to Seattle to escape impacts of war in Ukraine

A grandmother is safe with her family in Seattle after fleeing her country to escape the war in Ukraine.

Svetlana Trifan, 81, was living in Moldova. She decided to fly to the U.S. when the war started getting too close to home.

Saturday afternoon, Svetlana's daughter, Galina Petersen, and granddaughter, Ava, rushed towards her tearful arms. She told us she was grateful to be in the United States where she says everyone has been very welcoming, and she feels safe once again.

It took three days to get out of Moldova.

"It was very difficult. It was emotionally very difficult," said Svetlana, translated by Galina.

Svetlana was born in Ukraine and during World War II, went to live with her grandmother in a safer part of the country while her mom went back to work in an area occupied by the Germans.

"'I’m going to leave you here, because I don’t know if I am going to come back,'" Svetlana recalled her mother saying.

Later, the family moved to Moldova. She says the sights and sounds of war are bringing those traumatic memories back.

"I went through all of this and I don’t want anybody to see this. I went through famine, I went through the coldest winters in my life. I don’t wish anybody to got through this again," said Svetlana. "My childhood, that’s all I saw was bombs, not being able to eat. Now I’m 81-years-old and seeing this again, it’s unbearable."

The family worries that Russians will also take the war into neighboring countries.

"I just hope and pray to God Odessa is not going to get taken, but if God forbid, it will, next time will be Moldova," said Galina. "She just wants people to get together and be happy and be loved, that’s what life is all about."

Svetlana says you can destroy the cities, but you can't destroy the spirit of the people.

"The only thing I’m asking is to have clear skies. Not to see the bombs, not to see missiles," said Svetlana. "All I want to see is blue skies."

For now the family is cherishing the reunion and holding one another tight.

"You forget about everything in that moment. You understand how little you need to be happy," said Galina, "just to have the embrace of your mom, just to have your daughter."

"You can’t even describe… the best feeling for mother, for grandmother, that was the most cherished moment I’ll remember forever," said Svetlana. 

Svetlana is planning on staying with her daughter in the Seattle area for at least six months, and potentially longer, if the family can make that happen.

RELATED: Russia-Ukraine war: Humanitarian crisis grows amid intensified Russian shelling

READ MORE: Woman disrupts Russian TV newscast to protest Ukraine invasion, urges viewers 'Don't believe the propaganda!'

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