I received some excellent news today: a true story I wrote will be published in an upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul book! The title of the book will be Touched by an Angel and my story is called My Grandfather's Gift.
I don't want to give away the content of the story, but I'm sure you can guess from the book's title that the gift I refer to came after my grandfather passed. Although my grandfather was a very generous man, and showered his grandchildren with many material gifts, what I remember most about him is the love that shone from his eyes whenever he looked at me. Family relationships can often be challenging but not with my gramps. It was impossible to feel anything other than love when I was with him.
My grandmother, whom he adored more than any other being on the planet, looked down on her husband. He was uneducated, having emigrated from Russia with no money, no schooling, no training of any sort. Yet, he worked hard his entire life. He put my father, his only son, through college and dental school at Columbia by opening a laundry and tailoring shop in Brooklyn. My father delivered cleaned and pressed clothing on his bicycle at night, after his classes. They never owned a car. They never even had a television set! They lived in a one bedroom apartment in Flatbush, which was a step up from the boarding houses in lower Manhattan. My father slept in the livingroom on a straw mattress all the way through college.
I'm guessing most of the folks reading this blog have never experienced a lack of anything. I know I have never suffered from poverty. But I think it can be beneficial to remember where most of us came from. Perhaps our parents were comfortably middle class, but if you look back one or two more generations, you might find family members who went through some serious struggles to put you where you are today.
I'm grateful for all the gifts my ancestors gave me. If my great-grandmother hadn't had the strength to gather up her three children and escape from the newly formed USSR, I wouldn't be here today. How she managed to feed her children through World War I, then travel across Europe, eventually ending up in New York City, is a true miracle. The borders closed to Jewish immigrants very shortly after they arrived in 1921.
However, my story is not about any of these historical facts! My story focuses on my own life, and one incident in particular, when I came as close as I ever have to death. I hope you will look for Touched by an Angel: Chicken Soup Stories for the Soul when it is available in early October. Thanks, as always, for your support.