Saturday, November 10, 2007

So much to remember


Me again.

Hi, how are you? Still no snow
over here and that's fine with me.

I wanted to share a bit about the old woman,
Helena Nickel, from the rundown village once
called Federofka.

Helena Nickel is a couple of years younger
than my own mother who was born in 1919.
Like my mom, she too, has a worn out body,
crippled by arthritis. But while my mom has
painkillers, there is very limited health care in
the now defunkt USSR. And it's the old
who suffer the most. Helena eagerly accepted the
medicines I'd brought from home.

Sadly, her biggest concern was for the future.
How could she find the thirty dollars to
buy a coffin? I helped her out and then we
could focus on the past.

Helena's eyesight is clouded by cataracts.
My mom got surgery to brighten up her world
a few years ago and I remember her amazement
when she saw her sweater was in fact
red and not brown.

It's sad to think that the red poppies which bloom
- even in this forsaken place - look
brown to Helena. On the other hand, maybe not,
because she has memory to color her world.

I've come to see not what Helena now sees,
but what she once saw. Her inner sight is keen,
her memory sharp. With arthritic hands covered
in open sores, eyes clouded with cataracts, she points
to my own mother's past. We explore the Federofka
landscape.

The farm was in one direction. (I'm disappointed not
to be able to find the old well where my mom's
doll was once thrown.) The school was off another
way. It's now just another empty field. I ponder which
hill my mom went sledding down one Christmas - back
when Christmas was forbidden.

We head to the woods where Helena says the
old graveyard was. Only a few perennials suggest the
lives once lived - my grandfather's first wife (who died in childbirth)
and some of my mother's siblings (who died as infants)
would have been buried here.

Then I ask about the windmill - my granddad's pride
and joy. I'll tell you about that real soon, but first
I want to meander on about graveyards.

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. There is much
to remember. So much.

Talk to you soon.
-gabe

Word of the day: remember
"to bring to mind or think of again"
(from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)

2 comments:

Barrie said...

I'm trying to imagine how poignant a trip like this would be. To have the chance to explore your mother's past. My mother, too, is from another country.

savimo said...

I like the line "she has memory to color her world".