“The plane blazes toward the breaking horizon, though my mother still isn’t convinced she wants to go on this trip. Sitting next to me in the window seat, she keeps shifting uncomfortably, fidgeting with the pages of a paperback romance novel and sliding her pearl ring back and forth over the knuckles of her right ring finger. She gazes out the window at her reflection superimposed upon Magritte-like clouds, and I know she wonders whether she wants to unlock the memories of her childhood, to unleash a beast that has haunted her for half a century. She fears it may control her again, just when she was beginning to feel she controlled it. But another part of her wants to confront the past, to revisit the Motherland, hoping that going home will free her at last….
“…Trying to understand my mother is like picking up a book and starting in the middle, with very few pictures for cues. All children have a narrow angle on who their parents are; after all, they come to us with a life half lived…Even as a young child, I sensed that what had come before was as off-limits as a busy intersection. I couldn’t bring myself to ask the questions that hammered at my consciousness and occasionally threatened to slip through my lips: Where did you come from? What happened to you? When was the last time you saw your parents? What was it like to say goodbye forever? How do you live each day without them? In time, like any child of a Holocaust survivor or escapee, I learned not even to think of asking…
“…She peers through the plane’s window at the farmland below. I search her face, somehow expecting her to recognize her homeland from this bird’s eye view of five thousand feet. She knows what I am thinking. “We could be anywhere,” she says, raising both eyebrows.
“It’s partly cloudy and a chilly forty degrees in Frankfurt,” the flight attendant’s voice blares over the intercom. “Please fasten your seat belts and prepare for landing…”
Image Credit: Pixabay, “holding-1176548_1280,” CC Free