Mama – Love, Tenacity and the Toll of History – Part II


When we last left Mama, our continental traveler
was facing an uncertain future, destination unknown. . .

*       *      *

On the last day of the war in Europe,
millions of ostarbeiters (Eastern workers)
found themselves stranded in Germany and Austria
without a home or homeland…


Overwhelmed by the sheer number of refugees,
the Allies hastily housed the Displaced Persons
wherever they could…


. . .sometimes in former German army barracks.


Many refugees had been slave laborers,
or, like Mama, “guest workers”
on German farms or in factories…


…still others toiled as death camp inmates
enduring to survive amongst a Holocaust of millions…



 Thousands were young Ukrainian men
who had fought Communists on the Eastern Front
as part of Germany’s Ukrainian “Nationalist” brigade.


All were sorely in need of shelter,
food and medical care…


The UNNR and other relief agencies
tended to this mass of humanity
while dealing with critical post-war shortages…

In Limbach, Germany, the first Allies to reach Mama
were the Americans, and they quizzed her
on Oma and Opa’s treatment during her “stay.”

Mama found the Americans fascinating, boisterous
and intrinsically different from Europeans. . .


 Apparently reading and military life are mutually exclusive in the U.S….


US 76th Infantry arrive in Limbach, Germany


Somewhere amongst these cheeky American troops, a young chap
offered to share his celebratory schnapps with Mama.


When the Allies arrived, they removed Limbach residents
from their homes, (along with Mama and her fellow laborers),
and temporarily set them up in churches and such.
Soldiers then quartered themselves in homes and farmhouses.

Two weeks later, when Oma and Opa exchanged anxious goodbyes
with their Auslander charge, Mama was transported by train
to a communal DP shelter in Saarlouis…


… where she lived for two years in hard-scrabble
conditions and a state of anxious limbo …


The Allies had partitioned Germany and Austria into 4 zones,
American, British, French and Soviet, respectively.

Most Ukrainians wound up in the Soviet sector.
Mama was lucky to have been in the American zone…

Soviet military personnel visited the other sectors to “invite”
Slavic citizens to return home, but got few takers…

 

 

Interestingly, in a 180 degree twist, the Soviets’
sacred duty was to suddenly
“extend a hand to our Ukrainian brothers…”

Heartwarming, I’m sure!


Even the Americans lobbied on the Soviets’ behalf,
for those who might be reluctant to return home…


Mama would not risk returning, all the while
resigned that she was turning her back
on her family and homeland forever…

 

Stalin Welcomes His Satellite Subjects Home…

Translation:  Stalin Saved a Bullet Just For You

For two years, the Soviets energetically tried to convince
refugees to return to their now Communist-controlled states.


. . . .Attempts that may have overreached. . . .

Just in case you missed it,
the Ukrainian peasant’s amorous lip-lock
with a Russian soldier illustrates just how grateful
Ukies should be to their Russian liberators
for whupping the Third Reich’s criminal ass…

And, of course, for Russian leaders’ restrained,
progressive, humane, civilized occupation of its neighbors…


Plucky Londoners bustle amid the rubble
a standard calling card from the German Luftwaffe
during the dark days of the war…


Two years into Mum’s stay in the DP camp,
England extended an economic invitation
to Europe’s refugees as part of a vast labor program.

Mama was one of 86,000 DP’s that said, “Will Do!”


…And so Mum came to the Land of the Saxons
the mother country as it were,
a Britannia of Kings and Queens and
the home of fish ‘n chip-butties (tm Patricia)
the former great colonial power,
that had once thrown its imperial weight
across large swaths of the globe…

Great Britain…


England’s economy was in shambles,
so much so that food rationing continued
for almost a decade after the war …


However, in towns like Bradford in Yorkshire,
wool manufacturing was booming. . .


 …for Mama and her compatriots,
starting new lives in their adopted homeland,
the transition into English culture was a blessedly gentle one.

 


One could say Mama and her fellow Ukrainians
helped Britain back up on its economic feet. . .


Dad said if you lost your job at one factory,
you could just walk across the street and
right into another building,
work and hiring was just that ubiquitous.


Pride of Yorkshire – The Dales


In the few photos Mum managed to retain from her single days,
I’d always wonder, what if she had fallen in love with this guy?

 

Or what about this guy?  He looks patient and kind…
as Mum sports some fashion forward drunken-goose-headware. .


Maybe if Mum had had her druthers,
she wouldn’t have gotten married at all…

But as things turned out,
it seemed other options
were wrested from her hands. . .


With her bff’s, always comfortable,
proudly representin’, still smilin’



On the River Aire,
Mum sits next to her cousin Teklya,
her favorite comic, and cherished best friend,
not necessarily in that order. . .

Both M and her cousin were torn from home,
and in a sweet twist of fate,
worked on neighboring farms in Germany.
Their shared experience during the war years
bonded them seriously as lifelong buds…


Teklya met and married a Polish immigrant in England.
However, he turned out to be quite the bastard.

After Mom immigrated to America,
he forbade Teklya to write Mom letters in Ukrainian!
Demanding she write them in Polish…

Who did he think he was, and
what century did he think it was?

And who anointed him ipso-facto Polish leader in Britain?

Schweini rheini…


The lovely “proper” hills of Bradford begin at the foothills of the Pennines, a spiny mid-mountain range referred to as “the backbone of England.”   The town’s former medieval country lanes had morphed into bustling city life.


Blackened with a century of coal-belching soot, Bradford’s buildings were crusted with character.  Corner grocers, shopkeepers, and charming English specialty shops peppered the tiny streets.  All day long, intoxicating smells permeated the air, the steamy pleasures of hot steak and kidney pies and fresh fish and chips that just left your ears wiggling (tm Dad).


If you mention Busby’s on Manningham Lane, one of two respectable department stores at the time, H’s face lights up…   She often went on outings there with Dad during her privileged first-born with highly-attentive parental upbringing.  And not just cause she was so dang cute and first-born, but because she kicked ass when it came to running, even when she ran into street poles and neglected to stop falls with her hands cause apparently her Dad appreciated speed over common sense….  But her sister’s not bitter, oh no…..


As rotating bridesmaid on the outbreak of marriages,
Mama met a dashing musician-about-town,
leading to an earth-shattering whoopsie moment,
as both succumbed to the raging hormone of the day
which might be viewed as a dark and fateful thing,
yet it led to the cosmically fabulous conception of “H”

A fateful thing indeed…

Mum looking petrified at her wedding to the chatty musician…
And with that dang black cat dangling off her bouquet, no less !!

As a kid, I was fascinated by this photo of pretty Mama
in her frothy white ensemble, as well as dapper looking Dad …

Years later, deep in the bowels of our basement,
shuffling through Mum and Dad’s shoebox of photos
I noticed something hinky between the month of their marriage
versus the birth month of their first-born …

Hmm, the discrepancy between those months
and the gestation time of a baby, well…

Even the non-mathematician in me
figured something was a wee bit amiss….

But girls in Mama’s position had few options,
and apparently Dad wanted to do “the right thing,”
and so . . .

Two people who passed like ships in the night
and should have kept sailing
but who had no foghorn to blast them a warning
and so chose a waterway, ocean, sea of endless regrets…

Yeah, my metaphors blow,
but then so did Mum and Dad’s options. . .

Of course, Dad could’ve been a shit
and skipped out to Lancashire,
another industry-heavy town…
but, to his credit, he didn’t….

Mixing up love with lust, or maybe
homesickness with perceived security and refuge
can make for spectacularly wrong decisions. . .

Dah said Mum appealed to him because she was quiet,
and didn’t fancy fussy female fripperies. . .


Asking Mum how she met Dad
or how their courtship went
was like pulling teeth –
that wouldn’t come out


My Godfather with Guitar, a bachelor
who lodged with my parents

One year into Mum and Dad’s marriage
they took in a bachelor boarder.
Dad taught him to play guitar
and he helped pay the rent.

When I rolled around,
Dad asked him to be my Godfather.

Godfather negotiated one meal per day into the deal,
but as it happened, Mum enjoyed cooking for him so much,
and he loved eating her cooking so much,
that the dinners became breakfasts and lunches too….

Mum became very fond of him, explaining,
“He always cleaned his plate and he never complained!”

He was a wonderful friend to Dad,
and a kind and gentle influence
when Mum and Dad needed it most…

A fuzzy-slippered Linda poses with a visiting H

His future Neapolitan-born wife, Linda,
was a good friend to Mum.
Many years later, after she passed,
Mama said Linda visited her one night
asking for a cappuccino !


The entrance to Bradford’s Lister Park,
Mum loved to stroll its tranquility.


As you pass the Park’s iron gates, Cartwright Hall greets you.

H must have been an engaging bebe because
Mum and Dad had lots of photos taken of her;
my brother and I, eh, not so much. . .  What?  Chopped liver??


At H’s first communion, Mum is surrounded by her butterball brood.
Safe to say England’s food rationing was ovah…


By the time me and my bro rolled into the picture,
Dad was not much for crying bebes,
preferring his infants to walk and talk,
communicate and rationalize,
like a savvy, cigarette-smoking 30 year old newshound
up on current affairs, history and politics…


On Friday’s Mama took her ducklings down for a rare treat,
the genuine, one and only pinnacle of English haute cuisine…


You know what I’m talkin’ about….


And by the way,
here’s the “propah” way
to wrap (and eat) fish n’ chips
— out of a greasy newspaper…
before it was banned !

*        *        *

By the time Mum and Dad got hitched,
Hitler was mouldering in the ground,
and Stalin was just about on his way out,
Dad’s Mom – Mama’s mutter-in-law – had survived the war,
and somehow this woman we called “Babusha”
smuggled her formidable self out of Communist-occupied Ukraine,
and singlehandedly battled her way into Britain
to supervise my Dad’s marriage to Mama.

Recently, we found out Dad wrote her and suggested
she make her way to Britain because she’d have her pick of
eligible gullible Ukrainians in England, I guess.

If he was trying to pawn her off on someone,
it was a very risky proposition any way you looked at it. . .

She was the kind of mother-in-law
who berated her son’s wife for being “wasteful”
for taking her kids out for a Friday fish n’ chips treat
and accused her of being “lazy”
while said wife cooked and cleaned
washed and ironed,
roasted and toasted,
polished and performed,
baked and dreamed.

She was the kind of mother-in-law
Stalin would have hastily transported back to the Allies
I’m talkin’ forthwith, full speed ahead, do not stop,
do not pass go, go directly to ….. jail hell…

She was the type of woman who would have
shaken things up in the Gulag…

Meanwhile, back in her shaky marriage,
Mama took Babusha’s knocks on the chin, repeatedly.

If only someone would have championed her,
someone like, maybe Dad,
if he hadn’t been so psychologically
damaged in his own serious PTSD issues
maybe he would have, and in the end, maybe he did…

But Mum stood up for herself in her own quiet way,
and on that very special day, when she did so,
Dad took care of that attitude by backhanding her
and breaking her nose and spirit in one fell swoop.

Nice going you bastard.

The effects of trauma can be passed down
through generations in different ways.


Thank Yahweh at least Dad had the sense,
kahunas, foresight, intelligence, wisdom
to leave his ball-busting Mama behind in Bradford
when he decided to move to America…

Most likely recognizing self-preservation in the whole issue


Just a month before Mah and Dah emigrated overseas,
some English lads did a recon mission to America for us first…

H was heavily into the Beatles
when Dad forcibly transplanted the family to America.

Mama always said Ringo was her favorite Beatle
because he had a big nose “like me!” she would announce,
self-deprecatingly, to the poignant extreme.

.   .   .


But before our journey to the original colonies,
while we still resided on English shores,
a little episode unfurled…


Artist’s rendering of Mama’s righteous rage*
upon finding her chocolate missing…

* Disclaimer:  Mum didn’t have a raging bone in her body…

An infamous story Mama had no trouble relating
involved the night of the chocolate and its mysterious
disappearance from her cute little English purse…

When Mum came up to ask me,
“What happened to the chocolate in my purse?”
she claimed I kept repeating,
“Black Magic,” “Black Magic!”
which was not only a crafty supernatural
excuse for my perfidy a/k/a klepto-ness
but also coincidentally happens to be the name
of a famous chocolatier in England…

The story is I broke into Mama’s purse
looking for something shiny and pretty
and found some “chocolate” instead…

Score!

Being the greedy little bastard I was,
I carefully unfoiled one square after another,
until all the little brown gift-wrapped pieces were going going gone
..

That night, after the perpetration of the crime,
I was writhing in agony with stomach cramps.
Opening my eyes, I saw Mum in the dimness,
rifling through her little purse, catching my eye,
and solemnly shaking her head at me.

Ooo, she’s upset I scarfed all her chocolate, I thought …

Well, who knew Mum was so crafty
keeping such a secret stash of chocolate!

Oh yes, she was a tad upset, as the Brits would say…


Seeing as how it was umpteen squares of
Chocolate Ex-Lax Tablets I gobbled, that is…

*       *       *

And now, an homage to Mum, and the English chocolatier
whom I blame for my unfettered chocolat habitue,
due to its siren song of chocolate advertising:

The one, the original…

The Chocolate Box

by Hay Machine

Black Magic
the red ribbon tied in a neat diagonal bow
the red Turkish tassel
the pony-tail for show

Years later
the box still oozing chocolate fumes
a few old photographs, a letter
the weave of other looms

You were Black Magic
that dark chocolate voice
your rich fruit centre
the most exotic choice


Almost back beyond memory
when porcelain women wore long
tapered dresses down to their shiny shoes
you were the shapes of a fairy
a spirit, a music, a muse


(PS:  To the makers of Black Magic:
Sorry for the unsavory mix-up with Ex- Lax)


And okay, I noticed those little squares tasted kind of funky,
but back then, I wasn’t fussy where my chocolate came from…

To her credit, Mum never lorded this story over me,
or rubbed any of that in my face,
either metaphorically, or otherwise…


As someone’s Mutter might have…


After our transatlantic journey to America….

Soon after this brush with chocolate trauma,
Dad packed Mum and us up, lock, stock and barrel,
and said “So long” to the Yorkshire moors…

And we said hello to eccentric Uncle Teddy
(look at him guffawing up there)

Uncle Teddy, known to us as curious “Voolyko Feydko”
had emigrated to America back in the 1930’s.

As an author and Professor of History at the U of M,
he was an erudite, intelligent, eccentric whirlwind,
and when he convinced Pop to come to America,
well, it was an offer Pop couldn’t refuse…

Uncle Teddy may have sponsored Mum and Dad…
but he kinda scared the crap outta us kids,
what with his scarily familiar, gregarious nature…
He so knew how to laugh, and take a bite out of life,
even when he became very ill, especially after he became ill
with his puckish, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor . . .

Being English, we found it all veddy veddy disconcerting, at first…

He and his supremely patient, kind and talented wife, Johanna,
along with their wild and wooly family, were our fabulous template
for all the crazy fascinating things that encompassed being an American.

Uncle Teddy seemed a cross between
Uncle Fester, Puck and the Artful Dodger…

I wanted to thank him for taking Mum and Dad
under his wing, and making them laugh…

Makes me wish I had known him as an adult…


In his letters to Dad, Uncle Teddy no doubt touted all the positives on living in America…

.

Mom and Auntie Johanna flank the family
as Uncle Teddy holds center court

I remember wishing we came from Uncle Teddy’s family.
They were such a welcome distraction,
such an amalgam of American generosity, energy and sensibility,
learned, bookish, cultured, festive social-animals.

Uncle Teddy specialized in handing out money to us kiddies,
that is, his wife’s money, always with a mischievous twinkle.

“Look!” he’d exclaim, pointing at us.  “Look how adorable those children are !”
“Give them some dollars, for God’s sake, Johanna !”

And Chocha Johanna would just imperceptibly grit her teeth,
as all of us adorable and chemnee children would file past
and accept the peeled dollars she offered from her
exceptionally gifted Ukrainian egg-making fingers…

Years later, Auntie Johanna and her daughter gently teased us on how
terribly British we all seemed after they picked us up at the airport,
mimicking our meek little English accents as we asked for,

“Corn flakes, please,” for breakfast.



Dad, so fabulous in social situations,
just not so much with la familigia.

Mum, sweet shy sensitive, surrounded by
drunken, and let’s face it, frightening looking men…


Mom surrounded in the backyard of our first house
in the heavily-Slavic “Nordeast” hood.

As Mum hosts California visitors Chocha Olya,
her hilariously goofy son Roman
and oh so pretty daughter Nusia.

Dad displays the newly delightful addition,
bebe Irene, whom we fondly dubbed, “Egg Head.”

H is still fuming Dad forced her to get her “hooker hair”
chopped off, as well as catastrophically permed,
said perm leading to a permanent grudge against the old man…

Mom had an ally in her husband’s cousin, our Chocha Olya.

One day, when Dad tried to whip my brother
for some young-boy-inspired infraction…
Chocha Olya intervened, crying,
What in hell are you doing?  He’s a young boy…

What does a beating teach him?


The last baby Mama squeezed out was the magical little Irene
who was conceived two years after we arrived in the U.S.

Mum and Dad are visiting their best friends in America,
my Ukrainian godfather and his sweet Italian wife,
who followed my parents to America a year after we’d arrived.

Ireney the baby gave the family something wonderful to dote on
What would we have done without that phenomenal little Egghead.

*       *       *

Years later, after my Godfather’s wife died,
Mama was talking about their Ukrainian-Italian marriage,
and commented, “Linda picked a good one…”

*       *       *

When H was about 4 or 5 in England,
Mama underwent a dangerous surgical procedure.

When Dad had to tell her Mama was in the hospital,
H claimed he cried.  When I looked skeptical,
H nodded soberly and repeated, “Oh yeah, he cried.”

*       *       *

Mom’s cooking always impressed Dad,
he’d say, “So and So wouldn’t have made all that
(labor-intensive) Ukrainian stuff…but your Mama did.

Mum always described her cooking skills as “not bad…”

Which might have been acceptable,
except she used that phrase for almost everything!
If you brought, say, a rare Grade A paper home from school,
she’d look at it, nod her head a la Vito Corleone,
do one of those little moue moues with the mouth,
and come up with an ego-inflating, “Not bad….” (!)

..


The painstakingly delicate work of pierogis

Somewhere during this less than idyllic domestic situation,
Dad’s Mom arrived on the shores of America
…for her Satanic Majesty’s visit.

Just as she had barreled her way from the Ukraine to England,
so had she muscled her formidable self to the U.S. from England…
But not before first asking Dad to give her “carte blanche”
if she were to deign to move into the her son’s household,
that is, allowing her to rule the roost as it were…


Thank God Dad said, Uhhhh, hold your Cossack-trained horses…

Even so, her arrival brought much unnecessary unpleasantness
much like the flying monkeys brought to Dorothy and her adopted misfits…


Mama went to work at a popular downtown restaurant in Minneapolis
to earn a little pocket change for herself and her kiddies


Mama worked her fingers to the bone for the family,
working at the reverse-racism Nankin Restaurant
for many years, sweating over that giant rice cooker,
burning herself multiple times on that industrial stove.

Yes, the place was such a Minneapolis institution…

The type that kept an employee’s hours under 40 hours a week,
just to make sure no benefits could be earned,
the type that “let an employee go” a year before their retirement,
so retirement benefits would not kick in…

Mum and Dad didn’t believe in making waves with the state,
in this case, the government and the EEOC,
the idea of perpetrating charges against a private employer…

Well, not with their experiences with government…

Coming home at midnight, tired, spent,
she shouldn’t have had to work so hard again in her life.
Dad didn’t like her working, but they could use the money.

When Mum proudly showed him the $10,000 she’d saved over many years,
Dad was suitably impressed, impressed she hadn’t taken off probably,
but he did mention that, hey, maybe they should
pool that sumbitch cash in the family kitty pool as it were…

Somehow through the ups and horrific downs,
Mom and Dad must have loved each other,
it was just such a terribly bumpy ride. . .

They just weren’t made for each other, H said sadly,
but through the rough patches, they persevered…

So maybe it wasn’t a match made in heaven,
or anywhere else these matches take place.

But it was what it was, to pulverize a common phrase.



At the Minnesota State Fair, Mama always enjoyed buying
this prickly pink tower of terror a/k/a State Fair cotton candy
as well as, of course, her beloved kolaches…


With two of her favorite gals, and Simon, the cool “kick the habit” rabbit

Mum told her son that her one big regret in life involved
her parents pulling her out of school to help with the farming,
that she would’ve liked to have accomplished something beyond being a boffo Mom,
that she would have liked to have had an inner life in reading books.

We always wondered what my Mom could have been,
would have done, had she had the opportunities.


Julia

During Gorbachev’s Glasnost period, Mama’s sister Julia made an emotional visit to the U.S., bringing the sisters together after 47 years.  Julia had been 3 when Mama was taken to Germany.  Back in Ukraine, Aunt Julia lived in a house with a dirt floor.  Seeing her sister’s comparative relative luxury, Julia was no doubt filled with mixed emotions.

In New York, Julia was detained for trying to smuggle 4 precious tangerines to her Sister, causing her to miss her connecting flight to Minnesota, and causing much consternation for the non-English speaking visitor.

But she so wanted to present the exotic citrus fruits to her sister.  Cut to when Dad brought Julia to Byerly’s, a grocery store with ridiculous chandeliers and rows upon rows of citrus and produce…    Aunt Julia just stared at the staggering stacks of colorful fruit. . .  Trying to process the decadent bounty, vacillating from shock to righteous pride at seeing such unabashed abundance not to mention the ration-free lines her sister and family enjoyed…

A resentment surfaced when Julia described her Papa’s death in her arms, and how alone she had felt, seemingly blaming Mama for abandoning the family, not understanding Mama would have been branded a traitor and either shot or sent to Siberia if she had returned, but it was nothing little Julia would have understood or been schooled on in Soviet-occupied Ukraine.

No doubt Mum felt profoundly grateful comparing her fate with the extraordinarily hard life her sister had suffered in occupied Ukraine.


Honestly, what made Mom laugh here??

Dad probably greased one of our private letters from the mail shortly before this pic was taken – where he would slice up the envelope with a knife, and go through your private mail, like one of Stalin’s minions but just without their steam-opening letter machines…

Just sayin’

More importantly, What made Mom laugh here?  This is a photo of Mom and Dad with Chocha Olya’s brother visiting from Ukraine.  They loved his stories from the homeland, but the tales of severe shortages and rationing of foods not so much.

The fact that Dad is actually holding Mom is . . . astonishing. . .
We simply never ever saw any affection or touching between them.

Their murmuring voices emanating
from the kitchen at night was a comforting memory,
Dad’s deep burr, and Mum’s occasional alto intercession.

Mum would sit and listen to Dad for hours,
maybe stories from work, stories of old Ukraine, ancient history,
stories of war, and comic stories about new immigrants…

To Mum and Dad, Stalin and his living henchmen
would always be after them… possibly even in the afterlife…


*        *        *

And now, in honor of Mama’s
insatiable appetite for professional skating mishaps,
a little “Schadenfreude” interlude…
sung to the tune of


“How Do you Solve a Little Problem Like Maria…”


The dichotomy of such a sweet, kind temperament
exhibiting such alarming relish
at skating snafus was somewhat disconcerting.

FloJo’s analysis seems spot-on: Not so surprising
a reaction from someone who saw just how imperfect
life was, whose contempt for the stupidity, futility,
ridiculous notion of any attempts
to attain perfection transcended, or should I say,
trampled, her core nature…

It was just Mama’s grim satisfaction that
all was correct and balanced in this lopsided universe…

Schadenfreude just covered it !


After Sari was born, everyone smiled a lot. . .

But especially Gramma. . .

Momma was from the old school of “sugaring the pippa”
that is, dunking a wet pacifier in sugar for the little bebe…

Horrors !  Me and H had to keep an eye on her. . .


Seeing Mom’s unvarnished joy
when Sari was attacking those packages
. . . priceless. . .


She didn’t like having her picture taken,
but if Sari was in it, she bent the rules!


Mama loved “The Godfather.”

And she appreciated good films,
but she always said it was Dad who “loved the cinema”
that he always went to the “kino” in England.
But in a way, it was typical how she wouldn’t acknowledge
how much she loved films too
cause it was Tato’s “thing,” you know?

And she would always defer herself
to everyone around her
and especially to Tato’s tastes…

It drove us kids crazy !


Something in The Godfather spoke to Mama –
every time it came on she watched it raptly


Mum must have appreciated La Familigia’s share of dysfunctions. . .


Thankfully, weaponry didn’t often come up in our family conversations…


I mean, stuff like, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.. . . .”


Doesn’t Mama look like, who is this man pretending to be my husband??


One summer, after Dad died, we took Mom to the
Stone Arch Bridge Arts Festival and sat down
along the river across from Pracna on Main.

Mama ordered the dark German beer
she vividly remembered from her days in Limbach
when Opa took her to town one day.
After a particularly hot day laboring in the fields,
he bought her what she remembered as
the most delicious, mouth-watering cold beer ever…

So she drank her Pracna brew along the Mississippi
near the historic Pillsbury mills,
thousands of miles from her last genuine dark beer. . .

Verdict?  Okay, but you know, not the real stuff
that grows hair on your chest. . . .

Easter Basket blessing – before her diagnosis…

You just always wanted to know what made her laugh.
cause the challenge gave us such pleasure !

If Mama didn’t like something,
she’d jokingly say, “I pro-test!” [emphasis on the test]

Skyping with Sari…


After Dad passed, Irene said Mama cried,
“Why didn’t you take me with you?”
proving her relationship with Dad had come full circle
in forgiveness, understanding, and friendship.


Once she found her footing, she survived sans Dad,
thank you very much, and enjoyed her few years of independence
before the stresses of her heart finally caught up to her. . .

The spark that is Sari and the special joy in Mama’s last years.

Shortly after Mama passed and
while listening to all the Mama stories,
Sari said half-wonderingly, half to herself,

“Grandma never felt sorry for herself.”

*       *       *

Towards the end, while she was being driven in
Ircha’s Go-Go Action Bronco to her hair or doctor appointments,
Mama would ask Ircha to “Play that song again…”
Her favorite song played softly before she took her last breath.


 

Tash knew how to wheedle her way into Mama’s heart…


“Some say joy is greater than sorrow,
and others say sorrow is the greater,
I say to you that they are inseparable. . .
the deeper sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.”

–  Kahlil Gibran


Behind the Gaze

Oh the things you’ve witnessed
Your heart has bore
the night of death


Your soul can hear
the rustle of love
Your love can heal
the scars of a wound

Your mind can now rise and rest
on a wing and a prayer


Mama often bravely took on walking the psychotically-warped Tobie…

*        *        *

Some of Mama’s little sayings were pretty famous in the familigia…

If she had trouble disciplining you,
or she’d want you back in the house,
she’d always say, “Back to Zender…”

Although we often asked her,
“Where the hell is Zender, Ma?”
we never really found out. . .

On the human condition, she noted:

“You learn your whole life and you’re still stupid.”


Mum in her go-go boots
pets the notoriously reclusive
“I Vant To Be Alone” Hexe…

Evidence she had won over the aloof furry one. . .
or was it the other way around?

Dear Mama:  The responsibility we all share
for the past is what binds us all.
I hope you’re okay I told your story
the best I remember, and mostly I hope
you’re not mad I uploaded your photos!

Your gypsy looks are now captive in cyber-space.

ttyl  xoxo

*       *       *

Sometimes embracing the truthiness
of death is what brings you back to life.

We are so quick to look outside ourselves for love and validation.
We look for love, for the ways to acquire it, conquer it, to make it ours.

*       *       *

Sixty-five years after Mama was deported from Germany
Oma and Opa’s Granddaughter, Lieselotte, responds to Mama.



One thought on “Mama – Love, Tenacity and the Toll of History – Part II

  1. Poignant, disturbing, hopeful, funny. You, dear sister, know how to memorialize a life. Mama is so proud of you for telling her story. So are we. Love you! — Egghead

    PS: Poem you wrote, behind the gaze, captures that old truism – love conquers all – most beautifully as it pertains to Mama.

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