Saturday, July 18, 2009

From Minsk to America, 1914

a horse-drawn sleigh ride, a train,
then a ship from Hamburg, Germany
brought my father to America
leaving pogroms and the old life behind
his father and older sister already here
he was only seven, traveling with his mother,
brothers and sisters

other passengers heaving
not him, cast iron stomach
the first time he had enough to eat
they gave him their food
too seasick for it

and then, a childhood in poverty
his sisters quit school, taking factory jobs
so the brothers could finish high school
my father sold popcorn on the boardwalk
took college classes at night
and made it to the middle class
helping others whenever he could

yet he had so much anger inside
drinking let the sarcasm out
"battle-axe" "jerk" "stupid"
a rejecting kind of love
how little I knew of his inner struggle
until I fought my own demons inside
now I follow him while breaking the cycle
using words that heal
instead of words that hurt

copyright 2002 Linda H. Feinberg

My father was born in Minsk 7/15/1906, part of a set of twins "David" and "Solomon". I have been thinking about him this week since it would have been his birthday. At this point in my life, I have been able to make some peace in my mind about my issues with him. I think he had a very hard life and while I don't agree that someone should drink to ease the emotional pains they had, I do at least understand it a bit. He had many good qualities, too, and I've tried to focus more on them and learn from them, rather than the negative ones that caused me so much emotional pain as a child.

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