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Saturday, May 7, 2011


Mothers are the keepers of secrets. They pass down our legacies of love and hope through their storytelling. Mothers remember everything. Wishful thinking.

 Mommie died of breast cancer when I was four years old.  I don't remember her.  She didn't live long enough to tell the stories.

I have letters.  Thousands of  letters.
My mother wrote my grandmother twice a week for five years.  She wrote letters  twice a week while pregnant with me and for four years afterward  until she passed away.

I have all of those letters.  They're  wrapped in fragile tattered  ribbon. I  devour them like a hungry child.  Mommie had many miscarriages before I was born.  I lived. She wanted more babies. I was it.

Her letters are filled with love for me.  My learning to walk and talk.  My first birthday.  My kindergarten graduation. My...

Tommy spent 4 weeks in ICU wrapped in plastic.  Nobody could touch him.  He was very sick.
When he was finally released, all he wanted was to lay in my arms, forever.


She was 29 years old when she died.

My father wrote my grandmother once a week for 40 years.  I have those letters, also. All of them.  I read them today for the first time.  Today.

Sept. 26, 1963.  11 days after my mother pased away.
The kids are fine, Tommy sleeps with me and Mickey needs a little extra attention, but is ok.
Mother, Tommy seems to understand that Mommie died and went to Heaven because there
weren't enough angels up there and God needed her.

I needed her, too. 

God won.

Running from hope and despair, we moved back to Europe.  Dad was career Army. He had a job to do. No prisoners. Frau Olga (my second mother)  was our nanny in Vienna , Austria. I loved her with all my heart. As an escaped Czechoslovakain hotel chef, she took refuge in our home, cared for us, and cooked a lot.   She cooked my first soft boiled egg perched in an egg cup with the top cut away, exposing deep golden runny yolks. To this day, I still adore soft boiled eggs. Everything she prepared was perfect. Consomme. Stroganoff. Schnitzel. Demitasse glass of wine? Yes.

Frau Olga always grasped my tiny hand while we shopped the Naschmarkt, leading me, teaching me, and feeding my soul.
I worshiped her.

October 16, 1964.  Vienna, Austria.
Frau Olga should be back from Germany before Xmas. 
She has to live there for three months under the conditions that she is applying for citizenship. 
There have been 5 million Germans that have reclaimed
their citizenship under these conditions.  We have a young Swedish teacher/student
living with us now.
She has never cooked much, but is trying. The kids don't like her as much as Olga. 
She doesn't mother
Tommy like Frau Olga did.

Shockingly, I have no memory of the Swedish teacher who lived with us.  She certainly wasn't Frau Olga.
When Frau Olga returned, my father became very ill.  I have cold memories of the old brick hospital that I wasn't allowed to enter. Too young.  Excuses.  Always.

March 9, 1965. Vienna, Austria.

Frau Olga took very good care of the kids. and there was no problem with my being
gone at all.  I talked to them on the phone and they made out real well. Frau Olga still doesn't speak any English, but Tommy is speaking pretty good German now, much better
than mine, so they are just fine.  She was very pleased with her Xmas present and asked
me to thank you.
 After three years in Austria, we left Frau Olga. Because my dad worked with army security (aka spy), we weren't allowed to communicate with anyone from our previous locations. Ever. Period. Stealth.  We simply left.

Without warning, we disapeared in the middle of the night. Frau Olga was gone. I didn't understand. I missed her and she missed us. Frau Olga wrote letters to my grandmother for several years. I wasn't allowed to know of her letters. Security. Secrecy. Stealth. Dammit. I found her letters today. They were sweetly and neatly bundled together with the others. Her last name was Blaho.  I never knew that until today.  Today. 

September 9, 1966. Prussia.
My thoughts are with the boys and I am sorry that they are not with me.  I am happy
the boys fimmished sckoll fine and soult go up the next grade. Please give my best
wishese to ther Birthday to them because I do not hove there adress. I want to wish I
would hear more from the boys and from Mr. Yates too. Please write me again.

We left her, forever. Forever. I still miss her because there was someone to miss. She was part of my life. I don't/can't miss my mother. I miss the lost forgotten stories and what could have been. That's enough to miss.

I have her letters, though.  Dad's letters.  Olga's letters.

I have some memories and letters.  I've had many mothers and have loved them all. Sometimes, I don't think I realize how much they are a part of me.  Like breathing.

We are all who we are because of our mothers. Hold them close.
Happy Mothers Day.

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