Life is all about perspective.
Today has been a Monday. A very Monday Monday. Murphy’s kind of Monday, you know? I was over it by 9am.
This afternoon I had to go to the dentist and then the pharmacy to pick up meds for LB. While parking, I noticed a van across from me with a handicap plate, but there were no open handicap spots. As I prepared what I needed to go inside the pharmacy, I watched this older woman get out and struggle with the curb being right next to her. I got out and asked if she needed any help. She was very sweet and appreciative as she let me know what I could do to help her. Once she was ready, we started walking across the parking lot and started talking. She had a German accent and I asked where she was from.
“Isn’t it obvious?” she asked with a smile. “I am German!”
“Yes, ma’am, but where in Germany?”
She told me, asked where I had been over there. As we were talking I mentioned that my grandmother had been in Germany in the 50’s with her father, and that she had come to visit me while I was stationed overseas.
“I will never go back,” this lovely woman tells me. “I came here in 1958 and I will never go back.”
I gently ask her why and she says, “I am one of those Germans. A Jew. I was in their camps and lost my family, all that is left is me and my brother.”
Y’all, my heart broke. This incredible woman has survived more horror than I can even begin to fathom. She said that she is still angry, and people have told her to forget about it all and she can’t. She is not bitter, but she is angry. And she has every right to that anger.
I went to see Dachau Concentration Camp when I was overseas. Just entering the gates, I felt the terror, the horror, the absolute evil. Seeing the chambers, the barracks, the photographs was enough to bring me to my knees. This woman lived through it. She lived through it, and came out on the other side.
Before we parted, I told her that I am grateful she made it home. This is her home, and I am glad she is here. She smiled at me and said, “Lady, I’m 88 years old. I’m tough.” And then she walked away with a smile.
Meeting this incredible lady did not change the fact that a shelf fell on me this morning. It did not erase rolling my ankle and twisting my leg all the way to my hip. The encounter did not take away the challenges we face daily.
You know what it did? It gave me hope.
Hope for forgiveness, even when things aren’t forgotten
Hope for the present, that there are people like this woman who will appear in our lives just when we need them
Hope for the future, that we may overcome our struggles, no matter how insurmountable they appear
Hope that our children learn to look to others
Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone one has a lesson to impart. Even you! Are you listening?