My husband has been trying for years to get me to go to Holland. His mother and father were born and raised there before they emigrated to Canada. I always loved to hear the stories they would tell. Often they would tell stories about what life was like during the war.
I finally relented and agreed to make the trip across the big bond last summer. It was the perfect time. Our oldest daughter spent the summer in Paris working for the State Department, so naturally she needed someone to pick her up, right? I mean, it was okay to put her on an airplane all by herself to France. It was okay that she stayed alone in an apartment all summer. It was okay that she took weekend trips to Ireland and England. However, when her internship was over and it was time for her to come home, she needed us to go and pick her up... :)
Since I finally agreed to take the plunge, we decided to get Europe over with all at once. We started off in London, headed to Normandy, and drove down to Paris. We picked up Adrienne and then headed to Amsterdam.
I insisted that our first stop in Amsterdam be Anne Frank's Secret Annexe. One reason why I don't like to travel is that I don't particularly care for touristy things. I like to enjoy things organically; I don't want to like something just because society tells me I should. For example, can we discuss the Mona Lisa? I just don't get it. What is all the hype about? To me, it was just a painting hanging on the wall. However, when we were in the Louvre and I turned the corner, I suddenly gasped. There in all its glory was the Venus de Milo. It took my breath away...organically. I was actually affected by it. Not because people told me it was beautiful and I needed to see it. It affected me all on its own.
I digress. I was so thrilled to tour Anne Frank's house. I love to see things where I can say "so and so was actually in this room, breathed this air, touched these walls, walked these floors." We arrived ten minutes after the doors opened, and the wait was already two hours. I did not mind one bit. Some lines are worth the wait.
There aren't words in the dictionary to describe the experience. I will save it for another blog post. Let me just say that if it weren't for the written word, so much of history would be missing. I am so grateful that Anne believed in writing down her thoughts and feelings.
Fast forward six months to last week. Did you know that Anne Frank has a stepsister? Who knew, right? Eva Schloss' mother married Otto Frank after the war. Eva has written several books about her own experiences in hiding during the war and her life after it was finished. She travels around and speaks about her experiences. I was so thrilled when I found out that she would be speaking nearby. It was such an honor to be in her presence.
Naturally, I had to buy one of her books. I bought a signed copy of "After Auschwitz: A story of Heartbreak and Survival by the Stepsister of Anne Frank." I was flipping through the pages while I was waiting for the presentation to begin. Look what it says inside, in Eva's own words:
Yes, you read it correctly! "I always made my own Christmas cards to send to friends."
I was so excited! After the fabulous presentation, I asked her if she still makes cards. I don't think she really understood what I was asking...I think my question was lost in translation. However, I found out that Eva will be speaking again in a nearby town in a couple of weeks. Of course I plan on going to hear her speak again. This time, however, I plan on bringing her a package of eWillow.com greeting cards. Cards always bring smiles to people's faces, and hopefully this time she will understand me. :) With a card, nothing is lost in translation.
book photo from Amazon.com
When JFK was assassinated in 1963, I wasn't born yet. I have always been fascinated by the Kennedy's and their triumphs and tragedies. Who hasn't been at one time or another, right? Jackie O had such great style, JFK was so handsome, and Caroline has had to carry the weight of her family's legacy while trying to remain low-key. I think she has done a pretty fabulous job.
A couple of weeks ago, I was glued to my laptop watching cbsnews.com as they replayed those terrible days from start to finish to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. Watching the news as it actually happened was like being transported back in time. It somehow provided a sense of closure for me as I watched Walter Cronkite come on the screen to say the President had been shot. I was able to participate in a moment of history just as if I had been alive at the time. It was surreal to watch it unfold because I knew what was coming next: I knew he would die, I knew they would capture Lee Harvey Oswald, and I knew Jack Rubinstein (did you know that was his real name?) would also participate in a violent act.
I was reminded of Jackie O's classiness while I watched a show by Tom Brokaw titled, "Where I Was the Day JFK Died." One of the interviewees was Marie Tippit, the widow of the police officer whom was also shot and killed by Oswald that fateful day. When Ms. Tippit shared the personal, hand-written note that she received from the First Lady, I got chills. If that act of kindness and thoughtfulness is not a testament to the importance of sending hand-written notes and cards, nothing is. May we all remember this special act by Jackie O, put down our phones and laptops, get out our pens and note cards, and write our thoughts down to those we love and who have affected our lives in some way. These precious gems will last far longer than a text or a tweet.
The entire note says:
What can I say to you -- my husband's death is responsible for you
losing your husband. Wasn't one life enough to take on that day?
I lit a flame for Jack at Arlington that will burn forever. I consider that it burns for your husband too and so will everyone who ever sees it.
With my inexpressible sympathy, Jacqueline Kennedy
Not many words, but they are beautiful, just like the author herself.
(top photo courtesy abcnews.com/bottom photo courtesy nbcnews.com)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Terrible that an entire month needs to be devoted to monsters, and I am not referring to Halloween.
As you can see on our sidebar, eWillow.com is proud to be the corporate sponsor of Cosmetics for a Cause, a non-profit organization that solicits, collects, and distributes cosmetics and beauty care items to women in need. We are so proud to have been able to help them with the shipping costs of a very generous donation of 1,000 pounds of lip gloss pallets. These will go a long way in helping women.
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