To avoid grabbing something unhealthy I usually take a snack along with me as I run errands. A few months ago I grabbed the last of a loaf of homemade bread and put it into my coat pocket. Immediately I was reminded of our Auschwitz tour guide.
After giving tours at Auschwitz for something like 30 years she was well acquainted with many of the survivors. She told us that many of them will not leave the house without putting a chunk of bread into their pocket. They never want to be so hungry again. What was interesting to me was how she quoted them, “I never want to be without family or food again.”
“Family or food.” The two things to never be without… and family came first.
We’ve all read many books and heard many stories of the atrocities suffered in the concentration camps. Something I had not fully considered was that these people suffered without family support. At Birkenau men and women were immediately separated while children and elderly went directly to the gas chambers. All of that suffering amidst strangers. I think it is Victor Frankl that talks about the many groups he was first moved between. He was happy to find someone who was from the same country at least spoke his language.
While separated from family they were also left with the uncertainty of what their loved ones were suffering or if they were even alive. The suffering was multidimensional and beyond my comprehension.
“I never want to be without family or food again.”
I never want to be without family (or food). I love the very notion of family. A group of people living together, working together, helping one another, learning to get along, forgiving, and forming unique bonds that last a lifetime and beyond. It is a beautiful and divine concept.
How sad is it to live in a society in which the family is under attack? Some attacks are obvious but many are very subtle. I used the word, “sad” but devastating is more appropriate. Devastating and deplorable. I would not attempt to list the attacks that I observe, but if this is happening what is our response? If we are under attack we must strengthen our defenses and fight back as we are able. We must be strong.
What have I done today to strengthen myself and my relationship with those precious family members? Even one of them? What to do? What would I like them to do for me? It is never a wasted effort to reach out, to do something helpful, to say something kind… Small and simple acts can yield great results. It is worth the effort.
—I have had this typed for quite awhile… but at the back of my mind are the many instances of toxic family situations… So over the past weeks I have also thought of positive friendships which often need to take the place of family. If that is the case read “friends” where it says family. Even with a great family I also treasure my friendships and see the need to build those relationships as well. We all need everyone positive person we can get!
This reminds me of the movie, Windemere Children. Those children only wanted to find one family member had survived.