Grateful for the Fathers In Our Lives This Father’s Day 2018 Seventy Years After the Holocaust

Father's DayAs I thought about this Father’s Day 2018, the year’s traumatic and potentially fatal health circumstances clearly highlighted thoughts of gratitude for the fathers in our lives.

What came to mind are two related sayings:

You don’t know what you have until it is gone.  Truth is, you knew what you had, you just thought you would never lose it.

Appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had.

We don’t pick our fathers, and many times our fathers would equally say they did not pick us.  My childhood included some of the childhood trauma and stress within the categories Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who does research on the effects of childhood adversity, speaks and writes about.  Check out her TedTalk.

The Holocaust ended a year before my birth, but not a day goes by that the Holocaust is not in my life and mind.  My earliest childhood recollections are of my father’s nightmares, his screaming and writhing in the night that the Nazis should stop torturing him and not kill him, of horrific sights and events he witnessed or experienced, and my mother trying to sooth him, as well as quiet him so I would not be exposed to the Holocaust.  My father seemed to believe that the first time he exposed me to the Holocaust was on my thirteenth birthday, when I was deemed old enough to know.

My father sacrificed and virtually willed himself to live, despite physical and mental infirmities from his time in Treblinka and surviving the Nazi horrors, so that my brother and I could have a better life.  He was quick to make us appreciative of America, down to the fact we were permitted to walk on the sidewalk and did not have to walk in the gutter, as he had to in Poland, even before World War II.  Daily walks and discussion were part of our family culture, tradition and rituals, and included each day how I should be grateful to America for letting us in and allowing us the opportunities of freedom and safety, down to the simple pleasures of daily life.

In later life, he exhibited happiness and joy that was missing from my childhood.  The granddaughters gave him that joy, that Hitler did not win, that he had a legacy that would go on beyond him.  Yet, when each was a baby, he would come over each morning and share his nightmares of the night before, all the different ways the Nazis would have killed the babies, tortured them, and tortured parents by torturing the babies.  What was unbelievable to me was that my own daily nightmares were so similar, so that I knew that I had heard them before somewhere, sometime, probably in his nightmares even when I was a baby and toddler.

When he passed too early, I realized how much I was going to miss him in my life.  I so appreciated him and I do not think he understood the full extent of my gratitude during his living years.  It is so hard for me to listen to the Mike and the Mechanics’ song, “The Living Years.”

Yes, several verses of the song ring true to me:

“Every generation

Blames the one before

And all of their frustrations

Come beating on your door”

 

“I know that I’m a prisoner

To all my Father held so dear

I know that I’m a hostage

To all his hopes and fears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years”

. . . .

“So we open up a quarrel

Between the present and the past

We only sacrifice the future

It’s the bitterness that lasts”

. . . .

“I wasn’t there that morning

When my Father passed away

I didn’t get to tell him

All the things I had to say”

 

“I think I caught his spirit

Later that same year

I’m sure I heard his echo

In my baby’s new born tears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years”

 

Songwriters: B.A. Robertson / Mike Rutherford (gb)

The Living Years lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Imagem Music Inc

I see my father in my newest three month old baby grandson, and I smile.  He looks just like his great grandfather.  I can tell our newest grandson all about his great grandfather’s strength of character, his survival, his overcoming life’s challenges, and his taking pride in his family, but he will never really know him.  Fortunately, our newest baby grandson is too young to know the current life challenge facing our family.  Hopefully, his grandfather, PopPop, will be around to watch him grow, take him for walks, have discussions with him. I hope he will really know him.

Grandpa, PopPop, is now showing his strength of character, his survival, his overcoming life’s challenges, and taking pride in his family. . . as well as his family giving him a reason to live.

This year’s traumatic and potentially fatal health circumstances he is overcoming clearly highlight how grateful I am and our family is for Grandpa, PopPop, in our lives.  Anything else is in the forgotten past.  We are fortunate that we have been given this opportunity to keep telling him and showing him now “in the living years.”

What comes to mind this Father’s Day are two related sayings:

You don’t know what you have until it is gone.  Truth is, you knew what you had, you just thought you would never lose it.

Appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had.

I have not had Holocaust nightmares or trauma with this newest grandbaby that I had with all of the other grandchildren.  It has taken me seventy years to heal.

Please try not to make it seventy years for you.

This Father’s Day, tell your Father how much he means to you, forgive whatever you need to forgive, and show gratitude for having him in your life.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

Speak Your Mind

*