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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Auschwitz Hands" and the Importance of Reframing

Frame the sky
Photo by Maarten van Maanen via Flickr

My father's mother walked around like a ghost most of the time. Her hands shook terribly. She passed that on to my father, and he to my sister and me.

May she rest in peace.

I hope Bubbie knows that I think of her now. Not with embarrassment the way I used to. Instead with respect, compassion, sorrow.

She went dutifully through life and performed the role assigned to her. Even though inside she had been left nearly dead.

My hands shake when I try to hold things steady. I tell myself nobody can see it or I find ways to avoid being observed. Like I prefer heavy cameras to pocket-size versions. I don't hold papers out to someone for any length of time.

As a kid I saw my dad's hands shaking and it scared me. But as I think about it now it is a mark of a survivor and of doing one's duty no matter what.

She went through the camp and miraculously got out alive. He grew up in the psychological aftermath - kind of a survivor too. And when my grandmother was so elderly and sick that she could not bring a spoon to her lips, he drove to her alone.

Experiences have no meaning in and of themselves. And how we react is a choice. It is what we do in our heads that makes our lives make sense. As a story with highs, lows, victory, challenge, beginning, middle, end.

My hands aren't shaking right now. And it's not like I'm going to flaunt it. But the next time it happens I will think of it this way: I am a survivor, the child and the grandchild of fighters, and I bear the mark of those who know how to take the hit and carry on.

Survival and responsibility are family traits. Part of who I am today. The battle scars reflect strengths I take into life and business.

What are your marks of strength? In what battles did you earn them? Be proud of who you are and what you've overcome.

Have a good and meaningful day everyone - and good luck!