Saturday, December 02, 2006

There's no place like home

We're back home! I received a call this afternoon from my FIL informing me that we had power. Unfortunately, the situation is reversed from this past summer. If you recall, everyone around us had power restored and our loose neutral kept our house in the dark. For eight days. Well, this time we got our power back with everyone else, but my in-laws are still in the dark. A wire snapped between the poles in our back yard. Our power line comes in before the snap, hence we have power. Theirs doesn't. It's always sumthin', ain't it?

A great big hug, a basket of kisses and tons of thanks go to Mom, Papa and Gran (GG) for hosting us Friday night and today. We're so thankful and know how lucky we are that we had a great place to stay. Just don't be surprised if we find new excuses to use that shower again...

The kitties are spending one more night at their new home away from home: Hotel Z in Ballwin. Apparently they've taken over the house and are now more at home there than the two kitties who actually live there full-time. With everything we have to worry about when our power goes out, we're so grateful that we don't have to worry that our kitties are well cared for. In fact, I'm starting to think they like it better at Dad and Judy's than at our house. There is no small humanoid creature who chases them, squealing in high-pitched tones and tackling them once they get within reach.

It is so incredibly nice to be back home. As comfortable as we were at Mama and Papa's, it's just not the same as rolling into your own bed at the end of the day.

Of all the items we packed (we have a toddler, so of course we looked like the Clampett's driving down there yesterday), my wisest choice was the book "Night," by Elie Wiesel. Mr. Wiesel was 15 when he and his family were taken to concentration camps in the Holocaust. He was separated from his mother and his sisters (never to see them again), and later watched his father die and then disappear, taken by the SS to the crematoria. He saw atrocities that I cannot even begin to imagine. The book is incredible, and just as powerful as when I first read it over 16 years ago. It helps to put all my "troubles" into perspective. I read it Friday night and finished it this morning, and then lent it to Gran to read. I hope she will value it as highly as I do.

Reading "Night" reminds me that we have an unbelievable resource right here in St. Louis through our Jewish Federation. It's the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center and it's in Creve Coeur. I had no idea it was there until the Red Cross, where I was working at the time, partnered with the Jewish Federation for a special program. I did not have a chance to really go through like I wanted to, and I haven't gotten back there since. However, I am up for a return visit, especially after having just read "Night" again, and if anyone would like to go with me you are more than welcome. I'll tell you right now that they've done a fantastic job of making it easy for all ages to learn. There are some horribly graphic images (because it was a horrible atrocity that can't be sugar-coated), but to see them you have to be over a certain height and able to look through peep-holes at the images.

At our Red Cross event, I had the honor to meet a gentleman named Leo Wolf. Mr. Wolf is a Holocaust survivor, and he showed me the tattoo on his arm, given to him by the Nazis for identification purposes. He also showed me a large image on the wall of the museum. The grainy black and white mural photograph shows Jewish prisoners on a Death March. Then he pointed to a young man in the photograph and told me that was him. I stood there and cried on the spot. Mr. Wolf is a co-founder of the HMLC, and you can see an image of him standing in front of the mural if you check out that web site I linked to above. Click on "Tour" and scroll down and you'll find it.

What bothers me now is that there are other holocausts happening around the world. Genocide didn't become extinct with the defeat of the Nazis. Bosnia happened from 1992 to 1995, and we stood by. Rwanda happened in 1994, and we stood by. There are millions of men, women and children living in refugee camps, and millions more who have already died. This is happening now. In Darfur, Sudan. In our world. And I still don't know how to help.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "We must become the change we want to see in the world." I adore that quote. I just don't know quite how, in my comfortable suburban home in midwest America, to become that change to help innocent people a half a world away from me. Is a donation to Amnesty International enough? Is writing a letter to my congressional representatives encouraging them to develop some sort of American response enough? What can I do to make a difference, and to become the change I want to see in my world?

I learned recently that when my cousin Paul wakes up in the morning, he asks himself, "How can I please God today?" or "What can I do?" That is some powerful stuff. That is what changes the world.


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