By Sidney S. Fink
It was a beautiful day. The sky was a clear blue without even a puff of a cloud to spoil it. The temperature was in the high seventies and he was in Scottsdale, Arizona--- to forget. His daughter Esther, an only child had prevailed upon him to come stay with her family-- to see if he might finally wish to move there to be closer to her and his two grandchildren Jason and Carole. Paul loved them dearly. Now that Esther's mother Dottie, his wife, had passed on, she felt the move would be good for him. Perhaps it might even lighten his seemingly constant sadness. He had little at this time to keep him in New York.
Paul had come to New York after the war. In New York he found amongst the other holocaust survivors then living there the woman Dottie, who like himself had also lost her spouse and children. With the encouragement of their mutual American relations who had brought each of them to America, they had married. In time they had their daughter, Esther.
Paul had been a furrier in the old country. He successfully started over in New York after some years of working for other fur shop owners. Recently he had sold his business and was looking forward to retiring in Florida, perhaps Boca, when his wife suddenly became ill and passed on. In Florida they knew other survivors and people they had befriended and were comfortable with. They did not want to be a burden to their daughter. Semiannual visits to Scottsdale they thought would suffice. Now, he there at the soccer fields adjacent to his grandchildren's middle school to watch his young grandson play in a soccer match. The fields were crowded with many teams competing at the same time in adjoining fields.
Every team was being cheered on and encouraged by the host of assorted family members, who had come to support their young heroes.
As he sat there watching, his gaze wandered across the field to the opposing side. He noticed an older woman who was watching her own grandchild on the opposing team. Something about her and her mannerisms as she got into the game's spirit caused him to wander in his mind back to his younger days in the old country.
He was a handsome young man then. He was blessed with a full head of curly brown hair, and he had been married to an exciting and warm woman, full of life. They had a son and daughter and he adored them all. His fur business was successful and they frequently traveled to Italy and even to England on both business and pleasure. They looked forward to theatre and opera and took the children with them feeling that it was good to do so. And then
then the war came to France.
When the Germans made their way through France the family fled to the south. They sought refuge in the Vichy sector and tried to find a way to get out, but couldn't. Finally fate caught up with them as they attempted to reach Spain. Caught by Vichy police they were deported and separated, he alone, and she with the children. He never saw any of them again.
The woman across the field noticed the balding white haired man across the field staring at her. It unnerved her somewhat. She didn't like being stared at. She, another lone survivor, had after the war settled in Canada. There she met in Toronto her future Canadian husband. They had two children, a son and a daughter now grown up with children of their own. They had spent several winters in Arizona along with friends from Toronto. When an opportunity arose to move to Scottsdale for business purposes they jumped at the offer and went. They never regretted the move. Their children grew up and married and stayed in Arizona. Recently, her husband, who loved sports cars and fast driving on the open roads of the region, was killed in a car accident. She had eventually under protest moved in with her daughter's family.
That man was still staring at her. "Why doesn't he stop?" She kept asking herself.
The soccer game finally came to an end. Paul's grandson came over to him and hugged him. His team had won the contest. They got up and were now crossing over the field and were passing close to the seated woman he had been staring at.
"Hi Jason" the woman's grandson hailed his apparent friend as they approached..
"Hi Rick" Jason responded.
Suddenly, something, a feeling within Paul made him walk over toward the woman. She looked at him wondering what he was up to. As he approached she had noticed his face and eyes
and his manner of walking. "What is it?" She asked herself as her mind rummaged for a meaning.
For a quiet moment they just looked at each other. Then aroused she suddenly stood up, facing him. "Mein Got" she barely whispered.
"Rochel?" he asked hesitatingly in Yiddish. "Bist du? Rochel....du bist lebedik? Du bist nisht toyt? Is it you? You live. You are not dead?"
"Paul? Bist du? Du lebedik oykh? It's you. You are also alive?" she answered as her hand went to her mouth. "Oy, mein Got!
Her grandson Rick looked up at her. "Do you know him grandma?" he asked.
"Do you know her Pop,
Pop?" Jason, Paul's grandson asked.
The two adults looked at them and then each other.
"We survived, Ikh hat nisht gevisn as du lebt. I did not know that you lived." Paul said.
"We survived!" She repeated. "Ikh hat nisht gevisn oichet. I did not know either."
"Der kinder? The children?" Paul asked.
She shook her head. "Farloyrn
ober mir bist do, mir blaybn. Got in der himel! Lost
but we are here, we remain. God in heaven"
They stared at each other, the pain showing in their eyes. For some moments they could not speak and they searched within themselves to collect their thoughts
Then they spoke again almost simultaneously in English.
"I was alone, lonely, I thought I had lost everything." Paul said.
"I was alone too, and I thought I'd lost everyone." Rochel replied.
"I had a need! A leben! A life."
"I too, had a need. A leben! A life"
Then they looked down at their respective grandsons who were staring at them puzzled. After a momentary pause with another look at each other
they each took a hand of their respectively staring grandson and without speaking again, they each went on their way.
What else was there to say? It was now another world
from the March 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine