Friday, August 17, 2007

Farewell Friend

Tonight I found out that a neighbor of Pop's back at the Virginian has died. A favorite of ours, Mrs. Goodman just loved Clay. And I suspect the feeling was mutual, and not just for the treats she always had for him. Mrs. G had a thick German accent, and fabulous, and horrifying stories to go with it. See, she was an Auschwitz survivor, and was the only one of her family to make it out alive. She and the rest of her camp mates were taken on a death march, and she said that at the end she collapsed, sure she was about to die, when an American soldier came up to her and asked, "Are you a boy or a girl? Are you 15 or 50?" She was 18 at the time.

She married an American, and moved to this country as a young woman. She never thought she could have children, because of her time in the concentration camps. But, she did eventually have a daughter. Mrs. G always had a smile and a laugh, but she was also quite savvy. Behind her eyes, you could tell that she had seen things that still gave her nightmares.

Although our lives could not be more different, we found out that the world was still small. On one of in-laws' visits with Pop, Mike's dad struck up a conversation with Mrs. G. They discovered that not only had they both lived in Stuttgart at the same time post WWII, but they rode the same streetcar. They probably shared more than one ride, but didn't meet officially until 60 years later in Fairfax, Virginia.

Trying to explain this all to Clay tonight, I thought he understood. He heard me on the phone with Pop and based on my tone of voice, he asked who died. At bedtime we remembered Mrs. G in our prayers, and Clay wanted to know why she died. I explained that she was sick and her body just wore out. He wanted to know when she was coming back. Was she in the "hospipal?" My explanations of "a better place" and being with her husband and family now just confused him. And, in a few months, he may forget. So, I wanted to type this up because years from now, I want him to know about this lovely lady who showered him with candy, and dreidels, and kisses, even though she had every reason in the world to be angry and sad and distrustful.

Shalom, Mrs. Goodman.

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