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How I wish I could

How I Wish I Could…If It Weren’t Impossible

How I wish I could be hypnotized and sent back in time to revisit the first two years of my life. How I wish I could tear out of the deep recesses of my brain images, pictures of my grandparents who, I have been told, adored me. How I wish I could remember these very special people long gone.

I was their first and only grandchild, adored, fussed over, spoiled. According to my parents, their parents came by daily, as long as it was safe, in order to hold me, to play with me. I have been told that my paternal grandfather’s greatest joy was to be given the opportunity to take me for a walk, to have me all to himself. He did not expect any other grandchildren: One of his two sons had died in his teens; his daughter could not conceive; and his other son, my father, had married quite late in life. So – I was “IT ”– the eagerly expected and yearned for descendant, the one to carry on the family traditions if not the name. How I wish I could see him and maybe even talk to him for just a few minutes.

According to all accounts, the man was a tower of goodness, patience, tolerance and devotion to his children, his wife, his neighbors and his God. His son, my father, as well as his daughter-in-law, my mother, could not sing his praises enough. They praised his gentleness, his generosity, the way he conducted business, cared for his family and was able to soothe even the most heated argument. 

I have only one picture of him, one that had been salvaged by a cousin who had fled burning Germany and settled in the New World. Standing erect with his wife and daughter, holding his head high, he is the picture of a grand, old gentleman. He has a neatly trimmed, short, black beard. He is wearing a black coat over a black suit, a black hat and black tie, and he is holding a black umbrella. Yet, there is nothing sinister about him. Maybe I am just imagining it, but his face seems to radiate the gentleness of his soul.

How I wish I could hold him, hug him, see his soft smile. How I would love to feel his hand on my head, to look up into his eyes and describe his grandson who would be born after the war and who is named in his honor. I would tell him about his four wonderful great-grandchildren and his eight great-great grandchildren. How proud he would be of them, not only of their accomplishments but also of the wonderful people they have become. He would radiate with joy at the business sense they inherited from him, at their straight, decent character, their commitment to the traditions he cherished so.

But my grandfather was not even granted a normal death or a grave in which to rest in peace, a place where we could visit and find some solace. Instead, he was brutally shot while being loaded like cattle onto a German army truck, shot because his rheumatism did not allow him to move fast enough to please his captors. His crimes? He was a Jew, an “old” man of 60 who was of no use to the Nazi occupiers of Poland.

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Read more by Felicia Graber.

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