I visit my other every other day in the memory facility (nursing home) and our visits are usually business related (signatures, are needed, bills must be paid….supplemental medical care forms need to be filled out and despite the parts that are read and reread until she understands, our visits are relatively short. But this is a mutual decision. As daughter and mother, we know our emotional limitations, even with her dementia. She doesn’t particularly care to spend much time with me and my desire to cut visits short is probably good old Catholic guilt. She’s in a place she doesn’t want to be….and keeps insisting she’s going home tomorrow and she’ll repeat that tomorrow and then next Thursday and she’ll the same thing in two weeks, except she won’t be going to the home she knew before her fall. We don’t know exactly where she’ll be going.
For some reasons, I feel like it’s my fault she’s there. It’s absurd, I know. Yet…..
I have a lot of down time in between visits. I moving to a new home in July, but even that’s lost some of its luster, so I watch TV, read and drink a lot Ginger Ale (Seagrams has by far the best taste). While waiting in line at the grocery store, I saw a Life magazine special edition on Anne Frank. I’ve only read her diary in bits and pieces, but, some how I know her entire story.
As best I can tell, she was an quite ordinary for a brilliant girl. She was precocious, she felt things, saw things differently, she was aware of things and no doubt had she lived, she would have been a world renown writer well beyond what the publication of her diary allowed her to be.
And I think she and I could have been friends. Sure, she was Jewish and I’m Catholic, but that wouldn’t have mattered. Jewish people fascinate me. They have a duty and devotion I could never possess, plus their faith is so strong, as is their belief system. He’ll, I haven’t believed in anything with that much passion since Santa Claus.
And that was 51 years ago.
I mean, read this excerpt from her diary, written at just 13 or 14 years old…
““Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
When I was her age I was writing “L + M 4 ever” on my school book cover.
Then again, maybe we wouldn’t have been friends. Had Hitler never existed, maybe I would have bored her so death getting her to speak her brilliance and logic as opposed to wiring it all down. I would’ve been beneath her intellectual station.
But Hitler did exist and his “final solution” included Anne Frank. He didn’t know her. Had never heard of her, but he feared her. He feared her people, because I’m truly convinced God made a covenant with the Jews. He told then they’d endure hell on Earth but they’d be smarter and more creative and and more talented a result. They’d be consummate survivors,. Why he’ll on Earth? I don’t know, but they’ve had it tough and always rose up only to achieve and succeed again, And afterwards they required no hand outs, demanded no equity, no dependence on anyone but themselves, no sense of entitlement. They are just like the mighty Phoenix….literarily.
The Frank family was well to do, but and if you had money and believed that as Jews, your lives were in danger and many didn’t. Many Jews actually thought the Reich’s Juden problem was fakakfa, but those who felt sure danger was impending, got out early, but it wasn’t cheap. It’s was expensive, you could be tied up up with bureaucratic paperwork for months. And then by the time the SS started rounding up Jews it was next to impossible to escape.
The Franks, with the help of Gentile friends, moved into the attic (or the upper annex) of a business in Amsterdam where her father worked. This was May 1940. She and her family and several other people lived in concealed rooms, hidden behind a bookcase
They couldn’t move during business hours and could only talk minimally and use light at night. It’s was an impossible life but one they lived until they were arrested by the Gestapo in August 1944. They spent four abysmal years in tiny rooms in silence and imprisoned simply for being born Jewish.
Anne kept a diary she had received as a birthday present, and wrote in it regularly. Following their arrest, the Franks were transported to concentration camps. In the fall of 1944, Anne and her sister, Margot, were transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from Auschwitz, where they both died of typhus a few months later.
Frank’s father, Otto, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that her diary had been saved by one of Goyim co workers. It was first published in 1947 and translated from its original Dutch version and first published in English in 1952. Anne’s diary and has since been translated into over 60 languages, several movies and plays.
Anne Frank was remarkable. Mainly, in that she didn’t go completely insane hiding as long as she did. Maybe her brilliance kept her as sane as it helped keep her alive.
More of her quotes:
“Women should be respected as well! Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn’t women have their share? Soldiers and war heroes are honored and commemorated, explorers are granted immortal fame, martyrs are revered, but how many people look upon women too as soldiers?”
“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains,”
Perhaps this quote came from her one connection to the outside world From her only window, Anne could see the sky, birds and a majestic chestnut tree. The photo above was her view of the tree.
As long as this exists”, Anne wrote in her diary, “how can I be sad?” During the two years she spent in the Secret Annex, the solace Anne found in her chestnut tree provided a powerful contrast to the death and cruelty unfolding all around her secret hiding place. Her view of the tree became her strength. Her goal—-to eventually go outside without fear and feel it, see it In its full glory kept her going. A tree….a mere chestnut tree became a heroine’s hero. Despite the death that surrounded them, they were both alive.
Sadly, the chestnut got sick and collapsed from disease in 2010. However, in the years before the tree’s demise, the stewards at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam wisely created saplings that have since been distributed to numerous locations around the world. So, in some ways, the tree that helped Anne maintain hope in an absolutely hopeless situation, still lives and all over the world.
Theese saplings, young trees now, represent hope. And life and despite the pains and loss, they represent the future, free of the heartache….at least most of it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go now. I’m going to get dressed and go to a nursing home to visit my own chestnut tree.