In one month I begin to follow my grandparents' footprints from the time they were deported from Frankfurt, Germany to their homeland in Poland and it is three in the morning as I compose these 100 words in my head. My itinerary is set, hotels and airfare purchased; will I be unable to sleep through the night until I leave? Anticipatory anxiety is an ordinary response to the unknown; excitement a usual response to expected pleasures. I am looking forward to understanding and reporting on my grandparents' extraordinary resilience and strength in adversity; I fear being overwhelmed by my discoveries.
Speaking with my cousin Daniella last week, I was reminded of the many ways we carry the lessons of our parents intended as well as unintended throughout our lives.I was relating how I felt my mother was accompanying me as I visited the cemetery where my family lies peacefully beneath the stone my grandparents purchased during their lifetime. I don't 'miss' my mother although she died in 2000 because she is so much a part of me. My mother is my conscience the way I for many years served as her memory-holder.
It is my mother who is sending me on this journey of discovery of my grandparents' amazing survival, the same way she actually sent me to Germany in 1955 to "be (her) eyes and ears" to witness what had befallen her beloved city from which she was exiled as a Jew.
It is my mother who carried the traditions forward, who visited everyone who was sick, who baked cookies and mailed them to wherever her eight grandchildren went to school, who was the peacemaker and her generation's connector.
It is now my job to keep the connections, to ensure that the story survives for another generation at least in the form of a book that will sit on the shelves of all the cousins, nieces, nephews and grandchildren and bear witness to Holocaust Remembrance and to our survival as a people.