I’m late again – I pictured myself sitting in a rocking chair, twiddling my thumbs at this age when I was younger, but here I am. What a week it has been. Nov. 15th – my birthday – even that is a sham since It really is not on the 15th by our calender. Since I was born in Russia when they used a different Calender – don’t know if they still do. At any rate, there is a two week difference. But again, for convenience sake I use the date by the American calender. Always changing course to make life easier – mostly for others.
Back to my birthday celebration. Marion, my husband is so thoughtful and pays attention to my wishes and desires. Something I’ve longed for all my life since that is what spells out true love for me and I never had – Hallelujah. Then an article appeared in the local news paper about “The Chocolate Bar” transporting me once again into minor celebrity status. The statement “What a cute little girl you were” was repeated by every one. It took me back again to my beginning when, not only was I considered retarded but also the ugly duckling in the family. I look at that adorable child in the photo and ask myself where that opinion about me came from – and of course, it goes back to my mother who claimed to love me more then life itself – yet, I was never good enough. And, in the unusual circumstances she lived in , when I put myself in her position I can almost understand her ambivalent feelings regarding my birth. Carrying this child for nine months, knowing that it would be most likely her death because of her previous Eclampsia producing a still birth she must have been living in total terror. She knew the choice she made to not abort would mean leaving her beloved three year old boy motherless if she died in childbirth which is what the doctor had predicted. Adding to that the fact that Germany was entering into war with Russia was a double threat to their safety since we were Germans living in the Ukraine who were already discriminated against as a result of Lenin’s revolution.
The time was fraught with chaos and uncertainty – now add to that another child, if , by a miracle mother and child would even survive and I can certainly understand how her feelings were at war about me. She desperately had not wanted to put another baby in that horrible situation. But if it must be she did want a little girl. When she went into labor it was a storm outside as only people who have survived Russian winters know. My father went to fetch my aunt to help with the birth but was unable to make much progress walking through the deep snow. He had left her not only in heavy labor but also with a high temperature battling another attack of malaria. He expected to find most likely a dead wife and child but when he arrived we were both alive and well – was it really a miracle ? Maybe not, considering all the years of horror that followed.
So here I am, living the good life in America and people are asking things like “How did you manage to save photos from your childhood when you were unable to have any possessions ( not even one suitcase) during all those refugee years.
Here is the answer – my mother was an amazing woman of inventions. Being a good seamstress she installed a quilted lining in her coat in which she secured some pictures as well as her children’s birth certificates. During all the years of being homeless she never took of that coat – Summer or Winter – and – that is survival.
Next time I will come to America – I promise.