Now I’m going to do something a wee bit different tonight. I’m posting a super personal post.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to put this into words.
This being my mysterious family history…
On the left hand are… all these things we missed out on. Traditions. Foods. Community. Rites. All these things that we should have celebrated as a family and rejoiced in and instead, we hid and buried like a shameful secret. So ingrained was this secrecy that my one remaining relative still won’t talk about it even now, 69 years after the end of WWII. My great grandmother is nearly forgotten in an unknown Jewish cemetery somewhere in Maryland.My grandmother even gave up her name, changing it to a more French variation just so my grandfather’s parents would be more accepting of her.
What about all the things we would have passed down through the generations? Yes, they’re just things but what happened to them? Where did they go? Are they packed away and forgotten somewhere? Or are they still in the Czech Republic with any remaining family members still being used and treasured? (My grandmother was Polish, but thanks to floating boundaries, where my family is from is now in the Czech Republic, as far as my cousin can tell)
And on the right hand, this same secret shaped who my family is today. We’ve forged new traditions and celebrations.
We watch The Waltons most evenings because it’s better than the new shit that’s on. On an episode shown a week or so ago, a Jewish family had moved in at the start of WWII. They were afraid of people finding out they were Jewish. Of what Hitler was doing in Europe following them to the States. Even though they came just before WWI, was this how my great grandparents felt?
Both my great grandmother and her mother were only children. Do we have any extended family? Were they all murdered in the war? My cousin thinks that she found a cousin, but will there be any answers? Can there be?
I have a Pandora bracelet. It has charms for my family and loved ones – an Autism puzzle piece for my nephew. Birthstone charms for Marvin and Lee. An RN charm for my mom.
And for my great grandparents and other relatives that we will never know – a Star of David.