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A Valentine for Mama

Dear Mama

I had no intention of ever writing a book about you, or me. 

When I was a child, you were my beautiful Mama. I adored you. But as I grew up, our relationship became strained. I was too independent for you to handle. You were always narcissistic, and as you aged you became cranky. And then dementia soured your last years.

When death came I think it brought relief to both of us: you had no joy in those last years, and I was drained from caring for you. I felt I had no more love to give you. 

I couldn’t wait to get rid of your stuff. 

I almost got rid of your letters. There were 55 of them, mostly in Russian, some in Polish. I couldn't read them, but something made me keep them.

Three years after you died, I had the letters translated. I was stunned. I found out you, along with 12 million other people, were abducted from your countries by the Nazis and forced to work as slaves in Germany during World War 2. 

You never talked about this. Neither did most of the others slaves. The story of the slave workers has been overshadowed by the other horror stories of WW2.

I knew I had to tell your story. What you went through impacted you for the rest of your life. And so it impacted me and all the other children born to the slave workers. We were the unwitting recipients of what we now call ‘intergenerational trauma.’

The more I wrote, the more I understood you, and the more I understood me. Your youth had been stolen from you. You did the best you could with what was left of your life after the war.

You didn’t know much about child-rearing. But you knew one thing. You didn’t want to spoil me as your parents had spoiled you, their 'golden daughter.' You wanted to equip me to survive anything. For this I’m grateful. 

You had no control or choice over much of your life. I have many choices in mine. And I choose loving you over clinging to anger over what we may have said or done to each other in the past.

Wherever your spirit is, I know you feel my love. Sometimes, when something happens that reminds me of you, I feel you with me. I feel your love.

You will always be my beautiful Mama. I will always hold you in my heart. I love you.


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