From A Child of Holocaust Survivors Who Never Knew Grandparents: In 2020, We May Have to Picture Our World Without Grandparents

Grandparents_coronaUntil this date, March 24, 2020, the coronavirus outbreak, dangerous to us Boomers, has meant PopPop and I had to self quarantine, and we have already done so for over three weeks.  We still have FaceTime and innovative ways to “visit” with our grandchildren.  Dear grandparent friends whose grandchildren are local are taking to parking their car on the street where their grandchildren live locally, and with their car windows rolled up, watch the grandchildren ride their bikes in front of their houses.

Worldwide medical experts have made clear the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, poses a particular risk and danger for those of us 60 years old and older, who face the highest risk of serious illness or death from the rapid spread of COVID-19.  Social distancing and more stringent means of controlling contact in the United States, in effect now to slow the spread, are most important to our survival. Now those government controls are in danger of being prematurely lifted. Yes, again medical experts are saying lifting of the government controls are premature and this should not happen, but. . . .

March 23, 2020 President Trump said: “Our country wasn’t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down,” the President said during a Monday evening briefing at the White House, even as he acknowledged the effects of coronavirus are likely to worsen.” See the entire CNN report.

March 24, 2020: Here is the USA Today headline, “Texas’ lieutenant governor suggests grandparents are willing to die for US economy.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, 69, ‘[T]he lieutenant governor of Texas, argued in an interview on Fox News Monday night that the United States should go back to work, saying grandparents like him don’t want to sacrifice the country’s economy during the coronavirus crisis.”

“Patrick also said the elderly population, who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said are more at risk for COVID-19, can take care of themselves and suggested that grandparents wouldn’t want to sacrifice their grandchildren’s economic future.”

“No one reached out to me and said, ‘as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the American that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

See the entire USA Today report.

Are we a country built to sacrifice our grandparents?

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I grew up without grandparents and most extended family who were killed by the Nazis.  I knew what I was missing.

I saw other children who had the unconditional love and support from grandparents, who made them feel like they were the center of the universe.  I always tell my grandchildren that I love them to infinity and beyond.  I know my grandparents, who did not have the opportunity to nurture me, would have loved me that way, but there was a hole in my heart when I saw other children smothered with grandparent love.  I missed that in my life.

I saw other children whose grandparents watched their activities and cheered them on.  I saw other children who ran to their grandparents with joy in their hearts, steps, and voices, and knew what I was missing.  I missed that in my life.

I saw other children whose grandparents made the grandchildren’s favorite cookies and foods and spoiled them.  I missed that in my life.

I saw other children whose grandparents cared for them while their parents worked.  When our parents worked long hours, my brother and I, at early ages, learned to fend for ourselves.  I missed that support and caring in my life.

I saw other children whose grandparents cheered them on and made them feel good about themselves at every turn.  I missed that in my life.

I saw other children who had grandparents share their birthdays, holidays, life passage events, with joy and kvelling (a Yiddish word for happiness and pride).  I missed that in my life.

There is so much more that left a hole in my heart for not having grandparents in my life.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I grew up without grandparents and most extended family who were killed by the Nazis. Growing up, I heard the stories of what the Nazis did, sacrifices that grandparents made to keep their grandchildren safe and alive.  Life and death stories.  My parents told me about parents and grandparents who starved to death to give the last morsels of food to the children and grandchildren. My parents told me about parents and grandparents who stood before their children and grandchildren to try to stop the Nazi bullets from killing them. So many stories of deprivation and sacrifice by parents and grandparents to save the next generation sit within my soul.

So many stories of grandparents’ deprivation and sacrifice exist today, not only in the United States, but in the world.   Today, in the United States, 2.7 million grandparents are raising grandchildren, and about one-fifth of those have incomes that fall below the poverty line, according to census figures.  “One in four children under 5 are looked after by grandparents while parents work or attend school, according to a report based on data from the 2010 Census.”  See article, “Millions of U.S. grandparents care for young kids — and are high risk for covid-19,” by Tara Bahrampour and Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, March 18, 2020.

Would I give my life for my grandchildren?  In a heartbeat, if I knew it was for their survival.  After all, I am a child of Holocaust survivors, a witness to ultimate sacrifice in matters of life and death.

However, I look at what has been reported above.  I look at what I have written above.  In the Holocaust, everything was taken from the Jews, all of their rights, all of their property, all of their homes, all of their livelihood, all of their dignity and, ultimately their lives and their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.  Six million lives.

We are the richest country in the world and we have the resources and resourcefulness to not cause us to lose the grandparents in America.

Do we, as Americans, have the fortitude to protect our vulnerable grandparents? Or, is the economy worth killing off our grandchildren’s grandparents and what the grandchildren will miss in this world?

Picture an America without grandparents as it may become reality.

 

 

With little joy,

 

Mema

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