18 October 2010

boston sept '10
Originally uploaded by cookievf
" A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
- Arabian Proverb

17 October 2010

Heaven Has A Special Angel Today

Alsace Region (Mulhouse, Neuchatel, Strasbourg, Bonne) and Paris, FRANCE. Bone, TUNISIA. New York City, NY. These are the places that my husband's grandmother, Margot, lived before a long, arduos journey with her family to America where they finally settled in Connecticut.

She was 99.

Her involuntary (and frightening) exodus began when Nazi Germany invaded her hometown in France and she had to make her SOLO escape on foot... ☆ PREGNANT ☆ and caring for her very young daughter, my mother in law! In her words, "I had to leave our home, everything, with a baby in my arms, a baby in my belly and a RUCKSACK on my back for milk and diapers!" This AMAZING WOMAN had to travel alone before she could be reunited, with the help of the Red Cross, meeting up with her husband in the south of france! Soon afterwards, they continued their terrifying journey to make the crossing to Algeria, quite possibly on one of the last ships leaving the country for an African destination.

In Bonne, Algeria near the border of Tunisia, they moved in with cousins and though his grandfather took on horribly demeaning jobs to make ends meet (grave digger & more), they barely had barely enough to eat. Another troubling story I have been told was when Margot's mother Alice (a Le Cordon Blue graduate who was employed as a chef by the author, Edna Ferber in NYC) sent them a shipment of basic food and necessessities. When the authorities destroyed the packages upon inspection, the family was forced to separate the dried beans and peas from the powdered soap by hand! A story that has been told and retold over 6 decades to her descendants!

It feels good to write about it here; to be able to release some of the pain and who knows how many untold stories, out into the world... to set it free as she has been sent home to her Creator <3>
Less than 20 years after they arrived, her husband died of heart disease/high blood pressure at the age 58. Happily, my husband was 12 years old and can still treasure MANY wonderful memories of his loving grandfather. Margot was often known to repeat "he was the TRUE LOVE of my life!"

While writing tonight, I asked my husband to recall some of his childhood memories and he just said "I was very close to my grandfather who loved to take me places and I often spent the night with them. Family gatherings revolved around food & cooking! This was central to the 4 women: my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and my great-grandmother who were always in the kitchen... for hours, preparing fine French dishes. Of course, this was followed by hours spent around the dining room table EATING!" He said, "I remember that my grandmother loved showing me off when out to dinner for my birthday because the waiters were impressed by my menu selections." He was under the age of 10!

I have to close these stories of family memories, food and love, by saying that as I was typing, my husband was IN THE KITCHEN cooking an incredibly delicious shrimp scampi for dinner! It's in the genes ~ lucky me!

Many joys and a long, rich life followed. Tonight we are saying a prayer for this family's deep loss. Kiss someone you love tonight ~ we are all only here for a short while XO

13 October 2010

A Family's Pride for "Our" WWII Veteran

A little background history on naval aviation in the US:

By the end of WWI, Naval Aviation had firmly established itself as a premier fighting force for our country. At this time, approximately 100 pilots were being trained each month. As the nation entered into WWII, Naval Aviation and Pensacola was again called upon to produce the much needed flight crews to support the war effort. Naval Aviator production grew to over 1000 pilots a month and the Navy's aircraft inventory swelled to over 130,000 aircraft and during 1944, NAS Pensacola trained an all time high of 12,010 pilots that year. It is said that the War in the Pacific was largely won by the heroic actions of Naval Aviators aboard the carriers that wages war both at sea and during the island campaigns supporting the Marines and Army ground forces.

His story:

After college, my father joined the Navy and waited to be called. Upon graduation from Springfield College, with a degree in Phys.Ed., he returned to his hometown in New Jersey and taught the same while coaching Basketball. I recently learned that during this same time, in addition to teaching and coaching, he also travelled the short distance to Philadelphia and was a dance instructor (in his spare time) for Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

When dad was called up, he was selected for Naval Air Primary Flight Training Command, studying long and hard over the next 9 months, to become a pilot. He studied at some of the top universities on the east coast and was eternally grateful for what he called, "a million dollar education!"

Following several months deliberation, it was determined that dad's graduating class would not be needed for active duty, as our military successes increased and there was no longer a need to replace our downed pilots. My father would become a (fighter plane) Flight Instructor. Having gotten his wings, my parents could now go forward with their plans to be married. What a relief my mother must've experienced to learn her new husband would remain stateside and they could live off-base together!

... and they lived happily ever after, married for almost 60 years - xo