A courageous girl, Anne Frank, would’ve been 84 today.


Cover of "The Story of Anne Frank"

Cover of The Story of Anne Frank

Today I found out that it would’ve been Anne Frank’s 84th birthday. Being Jewish, I was always haunted by the story of Anne Frank.  You can read her story in “The Story of Anne Frank.”

Anne was a young, Jewish girl who was forced to hide away with her family in Amsterdam,Holland. It happened during the Holocaust during World War II. The family found a hiding place above a factory, and successfully hid there for several years. Tragically, someone turned them in, and were ultimately captured by the Nazis.

Anne’s father survived, and went back and found her diary. It was later published and has been read by thousands. Why am I giving out these details? I’m thinking less and fewer people know about this diary. They used to teach it in high schools, but I”m wondering how true that is today. Can the young people of today relate to the words written by a young girl in the 1940’s?

It’s more real to me because I am going to be 63 years old. When I was born in 1950, the War had only been over for five years. It seemed very real to me. When I found out about this tragedy, it upset me. To think people would kill others because of their religion. Since that time, I’ve read hundreds of books about it, and heard survivor’s talk about it. I’ve accepted it, but it still makes me very sad.

In the early 70’s, I took a trip to Amsterdam and got a chance to walk through the hiding place that is now a museum. The space was so small. I wondered how 3 families could have survived there for so long. I looked out the window at the very same tree Anne longingly looked at from her hiding place. I was touched by the pictures of American movie stars of the 40’s that she had taped on the wall.

In her diary Anne stated that “I still believe people are really good at heart.” One wonders if she still believed this by the time she died, and directly experienced such cruelty. How did she feel when she got off the train at the concentration camp and realized people were starving and broken? What did she think when she saw the stacks of the gas chambers that killed her peers, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Jews? (It wasn’t only Jews that died.) This all happened in a civilized society too. It’s very frightening.

How tragic it was that someone with such insight and talent died so young. She was never to know that millions would read her words. If it was a fictional story, she would have survived. Sadly, it was a real story; perhaps, she went to a better place. Who knows?

The real tragedy is that people’s cruelty to each other hasn’t ended. It continues. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Somehow, good does win over evil. It takes a while, but it seems to happen.

The best we can now do is think about Anne’s advice “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

How many have ever been to The Anne Frank House? How has her diary impacted you? Please share.

Advertisements

Where do you think ghosts and spirits hang out? I want your ghost stories!


Life is strange. The older you get, the more you are reminded that our time on earth is temporary. It doesn’t matter how important or unimportant you are.  Someday, you’re going to have to say goodbye.

The last uncle I have passed away. He went in the middle of a meal surrounded by friends and family. He was 97. The man was as healthy as a horse; unfortunately, his mind wasn’t exactly working right. He wasn’t aware of it and still enjoyed life. At least he happily died, surrounded by friends and family. I think that would be the perfect way to go.

I attended his funeral. It wasn’t too sad because 97 is stretching it. The trouble is I’m in my 60’s, so going to funerals makes me realize my time on earth is limited.  Most of my friends are still above ground with me, but I have lost a few.

After the funeral,  the family went all over the cemetery visiting dead relatives. I am not sure about this. I guess if you want to remember them, it’s a good thing to do.  I don’t know if there are spirits there or not. I’m pretty skeptical, but it wouldn’t surprise me all that much. I’m thinking if you’re a spirit you’d probably want to hang out at more interesting places. A cemetery is a little too quiet for me.

I like the idea of surviving in one way or the other after you physically die.  I mean who wants it all to come to an end? Unfortunately, none of my deceased relatives have visited me. I think the coolest thing would be get a light or sign. I’ve known people who said that really happened to them. People who are logical, intelligent and not the type to make things up.

My Great Aunt

When I was little, a Great-Aunt would visit from California,  and my dad would take her to a cemetery to visit her “friends.” I used  to tag along. My father would say, “she has more friends in the cemetery than she does in other places.” I liked looking at the headstones. There was a picture of a little boy on one of the headstones and he was holding a drum. I could count on paying a visit to the “Little Drummer Boy” when Auntie made her annual visit to Ohio.

So, when I go to the cemetery it doesn’t really bother me. What does bother me it that almost all the older relatives I used to visit in their homes are under the ground; it’s pretty surreal. It makes me realize I’m fast approaching the age my “old Auntie” was when we accompanied her on her yearly pilmigrage,

I just can’t get much satisfaction over looking at the headstone of a favorite relative. They just aren’t going to answer back when I talk to them.  I do it anyway because you never know. They just might be listening.

English: Old Jewish Headstone, Hull, East Ridi...

English: Old Jewish Headstone, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. These old Jewish headstones with Hebrew inscriptions are in the disused Hessle Road cemetery TA0828 : Hessle Road Jewish Cemetery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you think? Any good ghost stories?

The Mirror: A fictional story


Kelsie and her husband, John, were sleeping in her parent’s old bedroom. Her mother couldn’t bring herself to sleep in the bed she had shared with the love of her life for thirty-five years. It was too soon after the funeral. She decided to sleep in Kelsie’s old bedroom.

Suddenly, the sound of a deafening crash woke Kelsie up from a deep slumber. John didn’t stir.

She walked up to the big mirror that had been on the wall ever since she could remember. It had shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. It’s as broken as my heart, she thought.

When she was little, her daddy would pick her up and walk to the very same mirror. “Look at us,” he said. They would smile at each other.  He continued picking her up when she was old enough to stand on her own two feet. She sensed that her father didn’t want her to grow up too fast.

She liked the secure way she felt when he held her. She liked the smell of his aftershave, Old Spice, and she liked to rest her head on his shoulder. After a few minutes, he would place her on the floor and ask, “How much does Daddy love you?”

“This much, Daddy,” she would say while spreading her two little arms as far as they would stretch. Then they both laughed, and her daddy gave her a big hug.

Even when Kelsie was a young married woman, her father sometimes walked with her to the mirror. He gave her the same big hug, and they smiled as they looked at their reflection.

“You won’t ever forget your old father, will you?” he asked.

“Of course not,” she replied.

She wondered if he looked into the mirror right before he walked outside on the day he died.

He left his wallet, keys, and a note neatly stacked upon the dresser in front of the mirror. The carefully crafted note was in his distinctive handwriting. He wrote that it was the only thing he could do because he was afraid. Afraid that he would never get out of the hell he was already experiencing every day. He was afraid he would be fired from his job before he got a chance to retire. He didn’t want to be a burden to his wife or children.

His depression started when he knew he had to leave his job because he was going to turn the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five. His poverty-stricken childhood left a deep scar. The thought of losing everything opened it up again. He was afraid no one would hire him because he was getting too old. The fear enveloped him and wouldn’t let him go.

His family tried to think of ways to help him. How could their loving father and husband suddenly turn into a stranger? He no longer smiled. He mulled over every decision he had ever made. His wife took him to a doctor who couldn’t help him. Their only hope was that one day he would wake up and be the person they had always known.

A reprimand at work put him over the edge.

Kelsie remembered how it all ended on a hot summer day when a shot rang out behind the garage of her childhood home. A home where she always felt so safe.

She pondered her father’s fate. Was there a hell in which he was wandering for eternity, was he up in heaven, or was he just a part of the earth now?  Surely, God would forgive him. He’d done nothing but help other people all his life. He had never said one mean word to anyone. He was a giver, and a comforter. Everyone adored him.

Kelsie brought herself back into the present. She needed to pick up the tiny pieces of the mirror. She wondered why no one else heard it break.

A  white light appeared on the shattered mirror. Suddenly, the pieces of the mirror flew off the floor and came together in one piece again. It was like watching a movie running in reverse.

Kelsie smelled “Old Spice.”  She looked up in the mirror and saw the daddy of her childhood holding six-year old Kelsie. He had on his old white T-shirt, khaki pants, and brown loafers. Little Kelsie was wearing her favorite frilly pink dress, lacy socks,and  patent leather shoes. Her long brown ponytail was fastened with a shiny silk pink ribbon.

Big Kelsie tried to reach through the mirror, but the cold hard surface of the mirror stopped her.

Her father looked lovingly at little Kelsie. You are my precious girl, and that’s why you’ve been chosen to be my messenger. Tell everyone to forgive me. I made a terrible mistake, and now I’m sorry. I want you to tell Mommy and your brother and sister that I’ve  been granted a chance to see you all again one day. My punishment is seeing how much I hurt the people I love.

“Of course, I’ll tell them Daddy,” said both Kelsies at the same time.

The white light became brighter and suddenly she could barely see her father and little Kelsie.  Her father carefully let go of little Kelsie, and she disappeared.  He turned toward the light. Eventually, he became  a part of it.
Kelsie looked down, and saw a small piece of the mirror shaped like a heart sitting on the dresser. It was on top of the pink silk ribbon from little Kelsie’s ponytail. She found the heart space where the broken piece belonged. She picked it up, and pressed it against the mirror.

Two tears slid down Kelsie’s cheeks. “I promise I will never forget you Daddy. I forgive you,” she said.

The piece melded into the heart space.

She picked up the shiny pink ribbon and ran toward her old bedroom to deliver her father’s message.

Home for Wayward Birds: A Memoir


Once upon a time, my husband and I ran a boarding house for wayward birds.  It started with my son who was desperate for any kind of pet.  My allergies to dogs, cats and fur, made this impossible. Although I loved my son, I wasn’t prepared to go around with hives, a cough and a runny nose for the duration of his childhood.

When he was about 12, my pet-starved son, came home with a little finch in a bird-cage. “Alicia’s father can’t keep this bird. He’s going to have to stick a knife through its neck and kill it.” My son, who rarely cried, was sobbing. What could I do? I gave in. It was a pretty little bird. What harm was it going to do?  (I didn’t personally know Alicia’s father, but I doubted that he was capable of sticking a knife in the bird’s throat.)

We put the little cage in our family room,  and Pearl (later renamed Tweety) became our first guest at our birdie boarding house.

A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niaga...

A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The finch looked happy enough to me, but my husband thought she could use a boyfriend. So, he went out and bought another bird, (named Sylvester) to keep Tweety company. My son was quite happy with this whole arrangement.  It wasn’t a dog, but at least we cared enough about him to get him another living creature. My two daughters weren’t as thrilled as the rest of us about the birds. They were a little messy with their seeds. They could be noisy at times.

My husband would sometimes let the finches out of their cages, and they would fly around the house. We did this when the kids were at camp. Maybe we missed them. I knew it wasn’t the best idea, but I did think a cage might be a sad place to live. I’m all for freedom. (I didn’t even like keeping my toddlers in playpens).

The finches liked to sit on top of the family room vertical blinds and look down at us. I also noticed that they chirped when we played music.  The birds were pretty happy by themselves for a while. Although we didn’t have much of a relationship, they kept us company. It didn’t cost much to feed them.

The Parakeets Arrive

Parakeets and their young!

Parakeets and their young!

When my son entered middle school, he brought home a parakeet for the weekend. It seemed a lot more interesting than the finches. It was bigger and prettier.  I heard parakeets could talk, so I thought that might be fun.  (Little did I know that this creature, (Clark)  would never utter one word to me for the duration of his long life.)

Summer came, and the bird suddenly became homeless.  Nobody  in the class wanted it, except for my son. So, we adopted the parakeet. My husband became busy making it a large inventive cage that he cleverly built into our family room.  He made the bird  some really unique perches out of wood.  The parakeet  was quite happy hopping from perch to perch in the nice big spacious cage. He longingly looked at the finches, but they weren’t the least bit interested in him.

We thought the parakeet was a male. So, we got it another male to keep it company. Pretty soon we figured out that we had purchased Lois to go along with Clark.  We could tell this because of Clark’s behavior toward Lois. He ruffled her feathers.

Just for fun, we got them a wooden nesting box. Lois went in there to lay eggs. These birds were quite fertile and before we knew it, other little birds came into the cage.  It was interesting watching these birds build nests, sit on the eggs and watch the little birds hatch. The parents dutifully fed their young.  We supplied some materials to make the nests, and they all did a fine job. The father sometimes sat on the eggs, so the mother could get some seeds . It was a beautiful thing to watch, an equal partnership.

It was exciting to wait for the little birds to hatch. The little birds looked like worms when they were born. It was fun to watch them develop. Once in a while, we’d hold one. Life, on any level, is fun and exciting to watch.

It was funny how the baby birds held their mouths wide open while awaiting their food. The mother ate it first, then gave it to the baby birds.  Pretty soon, the baby bird’s feathers were as pretty as their parents. It was pretty funny to watch them learn to sit on the perches. It took a little doing. (kind of like a human learning to walk.)

After the little birds were big enough and could sit on those perches by themselves, the mother didn’t want another thing to do with them.  As a matter of fact, the parents forgot it was their baby. I thought that was a good lesson for human beings. When the kids grow up, stop coddling them. They are on their own!

We didn’t want the finches to feel left out, so we got them a nesting box too. We had a couple of extra finches come into our birdie boarding house.  Their nests were just as intricate and fancy. The tiny finches were adorable.

The birds believed in a definite routine. They ate in order, and went to sleep on the perches in order.  The best part was listening to them react to music. They all tweeted away. (The real kind of tweeting.)   It was sweet and nice.

My daughters were embarrassed about the whole thing. They just thought it was a little abnormal. I sometimes complained too. It got a little too much. There were a lot of birds (10-12) and they seemed to take over part of the family room. They made quite a racket when they talked to each other. Most of the time they just sat there, and looked at us.

I used to put my Kathy Smith workout on my DVD player on my TV,  and they’d sit and politely watch. They seemed to enjoy the whole thing. They tweeted to  Beethoven and Mozart music. The birds in our birdie boarding house had excellent taste in music.

Once they were grown-up, the birds didn’t fly on our shoulders, or want to be held. They definitely stuck to their own kind. Birds of a feather really do stick together. We tried putting the finches and parakeets together once or twice, but that wasn’t going to work. The parakeets wanted to kill the finches.

The birds lasted for around 10 or 11 years. Eventually, one bird after another would get inactive, and then pass away.  (We’d find them on the bottom of the cage). My husband would  say a prayer for each bird before he’d bury them in the backyard. They deserved a little dignity. After all, they’d been a member of our birdie boarding house.  I’d attend each funeral. One day we agreed to put the nesting box away.

When the last bird, a finch,  died my husband and I were both sad. By then, the kids had all left home.  We were finally alone. It was like we’d never had kids or a flock of birds living in our family room. He took down the cage, and the family room was no longer a bird sanctuary.

Sometimes I think we should just get one little bird to keep us company. Maybe we’d finally get one to talk, or fly onto our shoulders.  But, for some reason, it’s just like the kids. When they flew the coop, we just got used to the silence.

.

The Tragedy in Newtown: When are we going to start having an adult discussion? Hatred isn’t going to get us anywhere.


Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut

Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I went to a temple service. I am a regular participant, but today I was going to find some answers to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  I like the Rabbi, and I like the services.  Today, it was a small gathering.

During Jewish services a part of the morning is devoted  to discussing the Torah . While discussing the Torah, the conversation got around to those killings in Connecticut. This event was on everyone’s minds.

All of these recent shootings weigh heavily on me, as they do on everyone else.  Something has to be done. There has to be a defense against these sick sad people.  What can be done?  I don’t have the answer to this question. But I’m certain making the schools armed camps isn’t the answer. I spent a considerable amount of time working in the schools, elementary, middle and high-school. I had a chance to see what really goes on there. It is a complex place, and talented educators should be admired. It’s an important job.

People have to get real
This is going to get worse before it gets better.  It’s lovely to think we don’t need to protect the children. It’s great to think we can go shopping, to the movies, and to hear political leaders speak without some nut coming out and wiping most of the people away. Unfortunately, while we’re all getting angry at each other, another sad insane person is probably plotting the next catastrophe.

I hope we all find a way to come together and act like responsible adults.

Why?
I guess we’ll never really know the answer to that question.  Some people make simplistic guesses, but that’s not satisfying to me. I was impressed with what the Rabbi read to us just before the service ended.  He read the eulogies  Noah Pozner’s  mother and uncle made at his funeral. These were published shortly after his funeral.

By The Associated Press 12/17/12 09:57 PM ET EST
From mother, Veronique Pozner:
The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.
Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos.
You were a little boy whose life force had all the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are all of us elevated in our humanity by having known you. A little maverick, who didn’t always want to do his schoolwork or clean up his toys, when practicing his ninja moves or Super Mario on the Wii seemed far more important.
Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on Earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know. I will join you someday. Not today. I still have lots of mommy love to give to Danielle, Michael, Sophia and Arielle.
Until then, your melody will linger in our hearts forever. Momma loves you, little man.

from his uncle (this is only part of it….)

t is unspeakably tragic that none of us can bring Noah back. We would go to the ends of the Earth to do so, but none of us can.

What we can do is carry Noah within us, always. We can remember the joy he brought to us. We can hold his memory close to our hearts. We can treasure him forever. And all of us, including the family, the community, the country and the world, can honor Noah by loving each other and taking care of each other. That’s what Noah would have wanted.

Noah, we love you so much, we miss you dearly, and we will never, ever forget you.

I got some of what I was looking for when I walked in the temple today. But not close to what I need to understand this.

Your thoughts?

A BalletMet Production of “The Nutcracker” Doesn’t Disappoint but today it makes me a little sad


Vzevolozhsky's costume sketch for The Nutcracker.

Vzevolozhsky’s costume sketch for The Nutcracker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the day after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Yesterday, I watched all the news shows. I can’t watch them today. It’s too disturbing.  These shootings are just beyond comprehension. What could drive a person to shoot 20 children? Who was he? Why did his mother keep guns in her home?

Why do we always end up focusing on the murderer? I’m guessing it’s because the thought of someone human doing these things is so incomprehensible.

Today, I dragged myself out of the house to watch Columbus BalletMet’s version of The Nutcracker. The last time I’d seen a production was twenty-six years ago.

I usher for the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It’s one way to help the community and see different events for free. Columbus does have a lot to offer as far as culture goes: the symphony, Broadway on tour, guest artists, lectures  and my favorite, Columbus BalletMet. This dance company does a lot of contemporary dance as well as the classics. The dancers are young, energetic, beautiful, artistic and talented. i never walk away disappointed.

It took me by surprise
I had forgotten that little girls come with their mothers and fathers to these shows. The little girls were dressed up in frilly colorful holiday dresses.  I hardly saw anyone wearing jeans or T-shirts. It was sweet and so nostalgic.

I couldn’t help but think of the children who were murdered yesterday. They were about the ages of many of the little girls who were so thrilled to be seeing this famous ballet for the first time. I couldn’t stop thinking of the  grief -stricken parents who lost their precious children.

BalletMet didn’t disappoint

I  was enchanted with the production. It was beautifully staged, the music charmed me and the costumes were extraordinary. It was a memorable production and cheered me up a little.

But, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop remembering all those little girls who will never get to get dressed up and see
The Nutcracker with their parents.

It’s  really time to do something to stop the violence. Don’t you agree?

911: Should they stop reading all the names every year?


911 was very frightening to me.   I was teaching in a school, and the parents, teachers and kids were petrified. They let the kids watch what was going on all day, and I didn’t think that was necessary. I figured it would scare them even more.

People were rushing to the school to take their kids home. A lot of the people in the district were in the armed services, and this effected them even more.

I seriously was not sure about The World Trade Center. I did know that someone else had bombed it. I had no idea about how many people worked there. Two of my children had toured the place earlier in the year. What if they’d picked September 11?

After I heard the Pentagon got bombed, I really wondered if this was it. Was the world going to come to an end? Weren’t we all wondering that?

Every September 11 they read the big list of all the victims

Should they read every single name aloud at the ceremonies?
One of my friends on Facebook  ( Lisa)  brought up a good point.  Why should the families have to hear every single name? Doesn’t that make it even harder on them every year?

If I’d lost anyone, I’d think I’d want their name to be called every year. I think their families would find it comforting to listen to their names called on the anniversary. (Even if they have to wait to hear it.)

What do you think?

Thank you Lisa for the idea for this post.

English: World Trade Center, New York, aerial ...

English: World Trade Center, New York, aerial view March 2001. Français : Le World Trade Center à New York. Vue aérienne datant de mars 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where were you on 911? How did it impact you?