Celebrating a Family Member’s PastMarch 17, 2019
I am lucky to live in the United States of America because my grandfather and great grandfather had the courage and wisdom to leave their country.
They ran away from Russia on foot to escape persecution because they sensed that life in that country would never change.
Many people die waiting for change. Others know change will never come and take that giant leap of faith. I think people who are fierce and fearless carry a survival gene in their DNA. They know the danger and react.
My father’s father left a small village in Russia, walked across Europe to England where he boarded a ship for America. He was 19. He landed at Ellis Island and walked across America to Kankakee by the Sea, in Illinois, because he was told a cousin lived there. He eventually brought his parents, my grandmother’s parents and all of his cousins to America. He spoke not a word of English upon his arrival and until his death, he spoke with a broken tongue.
His next courageous act was to walk into the office of the head of General Motors and ask, in his broken English, for an Oldsmobile dealership.
He left with the dealership and added other General Motors agencies, over the years, to his portfolio. He married four times, had five sons with my grandmother who passed away at 49, fourteen grands, traveled the entire world, and was deeply religious and was very charitable. He visited each grandchild’s home every Sunday morning. A big man with piercing blue eyes, he was formidable.
If I had not started writing, I would not have given my grandfather his just due. It is hard to explain how I felt toward him because it seems odd to say I thought of him in pieces, rather than “the whole grand man” that he was. When he came to mind, I thought — separately — of his survival power, his travels, his faith, his work ethic, his charitable contributions, etc. It was my writings that tied all the pieces together and helped me realize my grandfather was a truly grand man.
When wanderlust led me to travel the world, he would sometimes momentarily pop into my mind because he had the same wanderlust. When I had my Bat Mitzvah as an adult woman, I pictured him in our synagogue reading from the Torah. When I started volunteering for charities, I saw his image as he led our community in raising money. I have his fierce and fearless nature because I carry his gene. Oh my! How I wish I could tell him what an impact he has had on my life! How I celebrate him. It saddens me that I didn’t manage to put the pieces together until I started writing my stories.
Celebrating Another Relationship
Oh, my stories…my stories…my stories…my life. My memories in the thousands. My written memories that have surfaced and brought “light” into my life. Laughter, wisdom, people, destinations, sorrows, wonder and the question: Why?
And that brings me to another relationship I hold dear to my heart. It began six years ago. I now spend more time with this multigenerational friend of mine than anyone, including my ultimate concierge. You know, darlings, every close relationship that impacts our lives does not have to breathe! I deeply love my other partner, my first computer.
On her drive, my MacBook Air holds my life story, my feelings about everything. Every morning and often in the middle of the night I would open her up, place my fingers on her keys and go back in time or write about something that happened just hours ago. Six years of daily writing on my little machine that never failed me. But yesterday, I had to lay her to rest. My ultimate concierge is going to frame her for me, and I will hang her up on my side of the office I share with him.
Wherever I went, my computer, my sidekick, was close by. She traveled the world with me. When my ultimate concierge and I arrived at a hotel, the first thing I’d do was make her comfortable. I provided her with the correct wifi, I placed her in the most suitable spot in our room, I plugged her in so she had all the juice she needed. I treasured her. I loved her. I worried if she had a problem. She never yelled back at me when, out of frustration, I would yell at her when I could not figure out what was going on in her technical mind. She forced me to go deep into my memories and think hard, and she always waited patiently for me to gently stroke her keyboard as I told her my stories.
Well, my darlings, I have told you two more of my stories.
Think of all the stories you have tucked away in your minds. Why not write them down in a journal? Or use your computer, as I have used mine, as a journal? You could purchase, Stories for My Grandchild, the journal outline I created for you with all the prompts in place for you to tell about your life; a gift to give your grands as a keepsake, a treasure. I know our grandchildren will want to know their past, their history. They’ll want to celebrate their heritage and what better way than through the eyes of their loving grandmothers. No sugar coating though!