I’ve now completed uploading all of My Mother’s Memoirs.
Re-reading them while preparing the texts for the blog format, I’ve again been deeply moved by so much of what my mother tells about her life before I was even thought about. And I feel I must say here that matters related to what I chose as a first “main focus” for my blog play a very minor role both in the experiences she writes about and in my response to them: her Jewishness, like her Polishness, seems like no more than a muted background color of an essentially human story, with its unique particularities of personality and character also reflecting the historical specifities of the time, the place, and the conditions in which it was lived and, inevitably, also, of those in which it was remembered and written the way it was. But because I focused so much on my “main focus” in my previous posts, I feel I need to say here that I’m publishing these memoirs as I’ve experienced them – not in relation to that or any other particular focus, but as a human story, one person’s story, a widowed mother’s story of her girlhood, young womanhood, marriage, motherhood, and refugeehood: indeed, by the time of the last of the writing, of the first four decades of her life.
And beside them, in this post, I’m publishing a first gallery of photos that Nitza has scanned and heightened for me from the few surviving photos that I have from those times. The first is the only photo I have of my mother from before she bore me — Henia (this is what everyone called her, though her official given name was Henryka), striking a pose in a swimsuit together with two girlfriends on some beach, an almost completely faded sepia photo; the others are of her & or my father &/or me still in Warsaw, before our “flight”, some probably taken at the vacation place she wrote that we went to for three months every summer of the first three years of my life. In some photos I appear with a friend, and there is one photo of another boy by himself, in a colder season: I know that he was my closest friend, and I remember hearing in Shanghai that he too escaped with his family & was living in Madison, Wisconsin — but I not longer remember his name. The last two photos are of my Uncle Leon, my father’s elder brother, and of his son Robuś (my mother wrote about them in the section My Father’s Family, and mentions Leon again in the section Refugeehood.