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Tag Archives: Family

amazing mother

A few weeks ago, I found myself lost in a time warp. Hours magically disappeared and I found myself wandering in the past…..

I took a trip to Target. For some, this is a weekly occurrence; for me, I have embraced online shopping for a long time, but decided to take a detour from my usual daily living.

While wandering the aisles, I looked at the arts and crafts supplies that I used to purchase in abundance. I saw the loot bags and treats to celebrate birthdays with young friends. Pretty clothing, funny tshirts, shorts, socks, small-sized sneakers… These used to be a few of my favorite things.

The shelves were crushed with fruit juice boxes and jumbo size bags of chips and snacks for packing 15 years of school lunches. I had lists of Column A and Column B choices for each child’s particular pickiness about fruits, sides, and main lunch options. Despite years of uneaten lunches and complaints, they all appear to have grown well and not a malnourished child in sight.

I am now so far away from being that parent to small children for whom I wanted to make things perfect. The attempts to find things to make them smile and be the prince or princess of their days seems long forgotten and dusty in their memories.

But, it was a reminder of where my life used to be, and transported me to another country, time, and place. Hours and years disappeared as I wandered those aisles.

I know that they cannot remember so many of the fine details that I labored over or the worries that entangled each decision for their well-being.

The life of a mother is long, as are the memories, and even when no one else can remember, we do. Our children are always in our hearts and on our minds; even the details of a life lived in the past remain with us always.

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death_maya angelou

My mother died five years ago today.  But, tears still come to my eyes.  My children have expressed (or discontinued contact) their opinions on their own childhood as each person packs and carries his/her emotional baggage.

 

Things were not perfect in my relationship with my mother.  I, too, have my own memories of difficult times, very different personalities, or way of thinking.  For those that hear the story, their degrees of separation make them smile at my mother’s behavior.

 

Her way is how she was and is remembered by so many.  Mom made people feel comfortable and welcomed in friendship even if they had met for the first time.  She wrote letters to a jailed community member to comfort him (we knew nothing about this until after she had died).

 

Despite the differences, losing my parent was very painful.  She died of a cruel terminal disease so we watched her suffer before she eventually passed away.  For her it was a blessing, but the gap that she left behind is so large that my father is still struggling to bridge it.

 

She left behind many grandchildren and great grandchildren who would be so grateful to have such a woman in their lives.  Now, she is a photo or the subject of a brief story.  Mom is a reminiscence or a smile.

 

But, for me, tears still continue to fall.  Grief is elastic but never fully leaves the spirit.  It is a goodbye that never ends because there is nothing like a parent and no depth of love that can ever replace it.

 

I don’t know if it is so, but I hope that she is still watching me from the door as I walk away…..

 

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chain

 

I don’t have a lucky rabbit’s foot or any other form of good luck charm.  My daily life has its own anxieties, but none that I could cure with a specific talisman.

However, one piece of jewelry remains with me and its presence has a very powerful influence upon me mentally and emotionally.  I am aware of the love and connection beyond time, the strength of a mother’s love, and the devotion to preserving memories of those who have come before and deserve to be honored long after their passing.

This particular necklace was 72 inches in length, in rose gold, and worn by my great-grandmother, Amalia.  As she had three sons and three daughters, at some point she chose to have the necklace broken into three separate chains, one for each of her daughters, as a legacy gift.

However, the gift became even more meaningful as it is literally the only physical item that we have from her other than our genetic makeup.

Exactly 80 years ago, in the devastating rise of the Reich and rampant anti-Semitism, my grandparents decided to leave Amsterdam for the safety of the United States. There was a great deal of paperwork, they needed to be sponsored by an uncle, and prove that they could support themselves with genuine employment skills and would not be a burden to the government of the United States.

This necklace was given to my grandmother, by her mother, at a train station in Amsterdam in 1938.  My grandmother was 25 years old and it was the last time that she would ever see her mother.

My great grandparents and my 12 year old great uncle were killed on September 24, 1943 in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  My grandmother was 52 years old.

All of the records of our family members’ birth and death dates, as well as the respective cities, was available from the Dutch Government Registry of Persons killed in the Holocaust.

During a trip to Holland in 1994, my mother collected and compiled all of the data that she was able to for her grandparents, first cousins, aunts, uncles, and great-grandmother. In all, more than 75 members of our family were killed in the Holocaust.  Many more relatives were not accounted for.  As my mother grew up with no extended family, she respected their lives with uncovering their stories and honoring their legacy.

My grandmother gave the necklace to me, her oldest granddaughter, in 1995.  My grandmother was 81 years old at that time.  She had many health issues that she survived including breast cancer and two heart attacks during her lifetime.  She felt that it was much more important to give her gifts to each of us “with a warm hand” rather than a cold one (after her death).  Throughout my grandmother’s life, until the time that she gave it to me, she never removed it from her neck and kept it close to her heart.  I believe that it pleased her as well to see her granddaughter, named after her mother, wear this necklace with pride and respect.

Perhaps, what gives it that spark of a talisman is that it continues to carry the strength of its history, love, and strong emotion each time that I wear it.

According to an actual appraisal from a professional jeweler, this necklace is not worth very much and may have a small boost in its value for strictly historic reasons.

As an actual link to family and my place on the chain of mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, it is priceless and could never be replaced.

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cohen twins walking down the street

 

When it comes to sweet, it generally involves children or dessert.  Our families are important to us and building loyalty and responsibility for one another begins by being taught those values in the home from an early age.

My husband and I have loved this photo from the moment we saw it.  My twin grandsons, who were three years old at the time, were taking a walk down the street with their parents.  Sibling love and support, when it exists, is something I consider to be sweet and to be cherished.

brother_is always a friend

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Thanks for stopping by.  I hope that you enjoy your visit.

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