We were gathered at the house of Oleg Gryb, 47, the couple’s older son, a doctor. As soon as the war broke out, he packed his wife and two children off to Switzerland, enlisted in the Territorial Defense Forces (akin to the National Guard), and put his skills as an emergency-room surgeon and anesthetist to work.
His parents and younger brother, Sergiy, a financial adviser, moved in to take care of the house and the cat. As we ate, Ms. Gryb ironed her son’s military uniform with painstaking care.
“When I joined up on Feb. 27, I told my commander that I am a Christian and a doctor and I want to take people off the battlefield and save lives,” Dr. Gryb, dressed in his olive-green military uniform, had told me earlier, when we met at a dismal self-serve restaurant near his base.
In his Odesan youth, he said, he had thought China might invade Russia and he would then fight to defend the brotherhood of Slavic peoples. “Fighting against fellow Orthodox Christians, that I could never imagine,” he said.
Dr. Gryb’s world has been upended. His private medical clinic, treating addictions and Covid, was a financial success. He had recently renovated his spacious house on a typical Odesan internal courtyard — vines grow on trellises, climbing roses crisscross walls, the scent of honeysuckle lingers, and neighbors are intimately, even critically, observed.
Dr. Gryb’s son, 5, and daughter, 12, would play there. Now he misses them acutely.
“I have told my family they have to stay away for another year,” Dr. Gryb said around the dinner table. “The Russians will attack. They will target Odesa ultimately. Mr. Putin wants to eradicate us.”