Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Remember

I remember that my maternal Great-Grandmother took my Grandmother and Great Uncles to England just before WWI and got stuck there for a good part of the war.

I remember that my paternal Grandfather, who was Polish, was on "the wrong side of the war" because he was forced by the Nazi invaders. He had 3 tanks blown out from under him by the Allies, but survived it all, then was captured and held as a POW in Scotland for the remainder of the war. I know all this from my Dad, since my Grandfather never did speak to us about it before he passed away. He was extremely grateful to be Canadian.

I remember that my paternal Grandmother was taken from her family in Poland when she was 14 years old. She was send to a work camp by the Nazis and her own father never saw her again, though she told me that her sisters wrote to tell her that when he was very ill later in life, he kept "Waiting for my daughter to come home to me". After the war she was offered passage to Canada and she took it. I do know a little about this time; about a decade ago, she shared some of her experiences with me.

I remember being in Europe and going to see concentration camps (I was 8-12 years old then and it was in the mid 1980s). Even in the summer, there is a chill. Legend has it that the birds changed their flight patterns around Dachau and Auschwitz. I believe it. There is a quiet around them that confirms there are still no birds there. I will always remember. You cannot see that kind of thing and forget.

I remember going to The Eagle's Nest. It was beautiful there, but all I can think about is the horror carried out by the people who created this retreat. Even at 11 years old, I knew that.

I remember that we were in Europe because my Dad was military, and knowing that at any time, my Dad could be called to fight and to die. I grew up with that knowledge in my heart. I will always remember that.

I remember speaking to our family friend, Henry, who could never tell us his real last name. His wife Cic did not even know it. He had been in the Polish underground and was injured a total of 7 times during WWII. He told me that each time, he would dream of his mother the night before and she would tell him what was going to happen. I always smile at the memory of his face telling me this and then saying that he would respond with, "Mama, Mama....not again!"

I remember that friends of my parents are in Afghanistan.

I remember. And I will teach my children to remember too.

1 comment:

Twin Mom Extraordinare said...

You are a a brilliant writer and your memories are amazing. Thank you for sharing this today.