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Fate of a hero

02.07.2020

The secret of longevity.

What is it like to live a happy and long life? After all, 91-year-old is almost a century of life. Each of the centenarians is sure that in order to live long, you need to love yourself, be positive, enjoy every day believing that it brings happiness and good luck. But our heroine has another secret of longevity.

 Antonina Astakhovna Shikhanova was born in January, 1929 in Ukraine. Her childhood passed in the Altai Krai. Her parents worked on a collective farm, they finished four classes at a church school, and at that time they were considered literate individuals. Only they had such a status on the collective farm. There were four children in her family. When Tonya's elder brother went to the first grade, she came along, although she was too young, but wished to study, and finally she was allowed to go to school too.

- The life on the collective farm didn’t not change much when the war started. The rural population had lived heavily even before the war, there was nothing to eat, we ate nettle grass, wild onions. In 1942 my father was taken to the front, my mother raised us alone. We worked a lot to get more workdays. No one got money. The collective farm paid with products at the end of the year. “When we settle accounts with the state, we will also pay you”, said the chairman as I remember now”, recalls our heroine.

He offered Antonina’s mother to take her daughter away from school to fix up for a job on the collective farm for workdays, so that the family would get more groceries. So, not finishing the seventh grade, Tonya went to work on the collective farm.

-The chairman was a very good person, my mother kept crying and said: “How will she work, she’s still a child?” To which the chairman replied: “There's nothing to worry about, we will give her lambs, she will pasture them, the work is not difficult, but you’ll have more workdays!” - Antonina Astakhovna recalls.

So every morning instead of school, Tonya went to the sheep stable, fed lambs from the nipples, looked after them. She liked the work, but getting up in the morning was difficult. She played with her lambs all winter, and pastured them in summer. And so on until the age of 15. Then she was already given the heavier work on the collective farm, and she went for hay and loaded it on carts.

 -At the age of 16, the chairman gave me a certificate, no one had passports, we were not allowed to travel. He told my mom me to go to study. I went to Barnaul to study as a weaver. At the same time, I passed exams for the seventh grade as an external student and went to evening school in the eighth. It was difficult to work and study at the same time. How many times I cried and tried to leave school, did not get enough sleep, we worked in three shifts. I couldn’t even stop the machine to have a rest, I was ready to drop, did not have time to do my homework. I would come to classes in the evening, listen and remember. So, due to my memory, with the support of the classroom teacher, I finished school.

While Tonya was torn between study and work, a surprise was waiting for her at home.

 -When I came home on vacation, my mother introduced me to a neighbor. It turned out that he had been waiting for me for a long time, they praised me. “She’s so hardworking, she comes home to help with all domestic tasks!”, the neighbors told him about me. He was a young teacher, we had a common yard with the school, and he began to come to my mother more often waiting for me. Of course, I was surprised when I arrived, but I liked him and I went back in Barnaul just to quit my job. I returned to my native collective farm and we got married. It was already 1949. Ivan Aleksandrovich Shikhanov was a man of an active social position, he was transferred to Kuryu as a secretary of the Komsomol along the party line, and he worked in the editorial office, he was a writer, he was good at writing articles and short stories. But one curious incident disappointed him. In the Altai Krai, Jawaharlal Nera - an Indian politician came to visit the virgin lands. Ivan Alexandrovich wrote an article about this event, but when typing, they mixed up the annotation to the article and put the text about the cows.

This blunder really upset Antonina’s husband and they moved to Zmeinogorsk, he went to the editorial office again. And Antonina worked as an accountant:

- Honestly, I did not like this work. And when a medical school was opened in the town, I went to study as a medical assistant. After graduation from the school, we moved to Shemonaikha.

- Ivan went to work on the Lenin Banner collective farm, and I worked as a local therapist. There were no physicians there at that time. As soon as physicians arrived, I went to the venereal skin dispensary. I had worked there for all my working life, until retirement.

Antonina Astakhovna lived with her husband for 52 years, in 2006 he died. Returning to our question of longevity, she explains:

-I had worked hard all my life. Remember that my husband chose me for my hard-working. I love to take care of plants. We always had a summer house and a garden with a front garden near the house.

According to our heroine, in order to live long, one must move, do something useful. We found Antonina Astakhovna at work in the garden near her house. She picked strawberries, proudly showing small cucumbers, talking about her roses. It is hard to imagine that this fragile little woman at this age does alone all the domestic duties.

-I mop the floor, and cook, go to the store. I don’t need much to get meals ready. With the increase of years, everything is fine except for my eyesight and hearing. I went to take an analysis for cholesterol, and a laboratory assistant smiled and told that it was better than those of young people - 4.3. And all because of the fact that I am a simple worker, and for this reason I have been living for long”, Antonina Astakhovna said concluding our conversation.

 

Yuliya BOR