writing through grief and as tribute

The summer of 1971 between my junior and senior years of high school, I received an American Field Service scholarship that allowed me to live in Germany. I had been out of the country only to Canada and had never been on a 747 jumbo jet, which is what carried me over the Atlantic for the first time. I was sixteen, turning seventeen, and had studied French, Spanish, and a semester of Russian. I wanted to go to the Middle East; I wanted to be close to my grandmother’s place of birth in Haifa, Palestine. In the application, I remember that one could designate geographical areas one preferred or would simply not travel to. I did not designate anything, because I didn’t want to blow this chance to live in another culture.

So I ended up in Germany, in the middle of Germany, in a tiny town between Cologne and Dusseldorf, in the Rheinland. And I lived with a German family; a father, who worked for the only Jewish newspaper, although neither he nor anyone in his family were Jews; a mother, who was my main language teacher, since she spoke almost no English and I spoke almost no German, and I spent a lot of time during the day with her; and two boys, one older than I and one younger. I come from a family with four girls, so you can imagine this was a novel experience. I had always wanted brothers.

Exchange students in the American Field Service were encouraged to call the parents in our host families “mom” and “dad,” and I had no problem with that. This generous family invited me into their home and carted me around Europe that summer. Today, I found out that my German mom recently died of cancer. I didn’t know she was ill.

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One Response to writing through grief and as tribute

  1. Toni D. says:

    Your travels to Germany sounds very interesting. I bet it was neat experiencing a whole new culture. I am sorry to here that your friend passed away. I know first hand its hard to loose a loved one. My mom died of breast cancer at the age of 42 about 4 years ago. She did not even find out until 2 months prior to her death. So it took us all for an unexpected journey. I had to bury my mother a week before Christmas. And at the time my brother was 12 and my sister was 6. That whole time of my life was unreal.

    It does not feel like it was 4 years ago because I still feel the pain. I just try to use it as a reminder of life. Love like there is no tommorrow. Never get too busy in life that you forget what is really important. Without pain and hurt do you really know what joy and happiness is??? I am very grateful that I had her even for that brief time in my life. Nobody is promised a tommorrow. Take joy in today.

    I am sorry to hear of your loss. I am sure she was a kind woman. Inviting you into her home was a very kind thing to do. I think you should write more on your time with her and share it with her family. I am sure they would feel some comfort in knowing she touched your life in a special way.

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