Friday, October 28, 2011

Bubbie Ruth

When I was fourteen years old, my maternal grandmother passed away. I wrote this poem and read it at her funeral as a eulogy...I'm now sharing it with the rest of the world.

Bubbie Ruth 

After a Holocaust
towards her and her religion,
my grandmother suffered
a holocaust
towards her health.

She survived a tragedy
that most cannot fathom;
she survived falling victim
to genocide.

But after those years–
after those horrible years–
to me laced with mystery,
a part of her died.

Whatever hell
she had to live through
stripped her of her childhood.
She was not allowed
to be human
near an age in which
I am now learning
who I am.

“We all are put here by God,”
she told my brother and I once,
“we all have our purpose,
I suppose.
Mine is to tell you
my history.”

And she told us
how her parents were sent on trains
to Auswitz.
How she and her sister
were the only two from her family
that survived the Holocaust.

How she met my grandfather,
who had lost his entire family,
and how the two of them,
orphans with no money,
started a new life
and created a family.

Frail as she was,
through her tired eyes
and shaky hands,
she told us,
“Never forget.
Never forget who you are;
you are Jews.”

She would always tell
my brothers and I
how big we were all getting.
Her face would light up
when she saw us,
when she kissed us
and told us we were good boys.

I never fully understood
why we brought so much light
to her life,
but now,
as she leaves this world,
it’s clear.
It’s more clear than it’s ever been:
she made sure
that we grew up.
She made sure
that we had the childhoods
she was never given.

Through the thunderstorms
and incendiary memories that
burned inside of her
nearly her entire life,
through a world that took
and took and took
seemingly more than it gave her,
she fought and lived.

And she gave back to this world.

She gave way to seven lives,
and filled those lives
with her love.

In these times when no words
can fill the holes
that death leaves behind,
I look to good memories.
I look to the pictures
of smiling faces;
the picture of a grandmother
proudly holding her grandson
in her arms.

And on this day
when I have nothing
but memories and burning questions,
I will remember a life
that wasn’t glamorous,
a life that could have happened
a million other ways,
but most importantly,
a grandmother who loved me
and a soul who is finally free.

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