FAMILY BONDS THAT CAN HURT OR HEAL
Family Bonds that can hurt or heal, our interview today with Mirinda Kossoff, and she’s an author and a writer of the Rope of life- A Memoir is a memoir is a daughter’s story told with love and compassion. Absolutely beautiful.
“In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the the commitment of time, caring and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.” Marge Kennedy
And we all need that right now in our lives with the pandemic. Absolutely. So if please like, share, and subscribe this channel with all of your friends and family. Your Backup Plan APP brings your life all in one place. So that in case of any unpredictable circumstance, what does that mean? What are those unpredictable circumstances? Well, that could be a car accident, a hurricane, a tornado, earthquake, a flood, losing your wallet or passport while you’re traveling? What’s in your wallet? What happens when you go into the hospital for surgery?
Or COVID? All of a sudden, and who’s gonna look after your cat? How do they know what cat food to pick? How do they know who your vet is? How do they get into your home? How do they pay your electricity bill so that when you come home, it’s still on an operating? How do they do all of these things so that you can actually recover and Get home safe and sound and not have any of those stresses or worries. And it doesn’t have to be on death. Of course we talk about death as well because there’s so many different things. Around the death part, that if you don’t have all your T’s crossed, and your eyes dotted, it can be very, very messy, very unsettling. Lots of family feuds, lots of family fights.
And it’s not just for the average person. It’s also for celebrities, because they’re in the news all the time as well, that they didn’t have their crap together as well. Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Johnson, and Johnson, all sorts of singers, actors, actresses, all sorts of people that did not have their plans in place. And that’s just not just the documents, it’s everything. What do you want it to look like? What do you want to have happen? All of those kinds of things we talked about, as well as the fun part of the treasure box in in module number 12.
So anyways, let’s get this party started here. And enough about the app and our discussion here. One thing you know, and and that’s why we get people to expect the unexpected, because you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. And I’d like to mention our wonderful United States listeners, thank you so very much. We love you. We send lots of love and light to you guys. You’re one of our biggest listeners, Canada’s next and we love you as well. And Germany is our next upcoming listener, community. And Ireland is next. And I did a really poor job of my Irish accent. So I’m definitely going to need some assistance with that. And the next one is Sweden that’s coming up in the ranks. And I’m also want to thank Ireland for listening. We love you and Sweden. We love you as well. Let’s get this party started because I’m going to have to have some assistance with the Swedish part as well. So thank you guys. Thank
you. Thank you. Thank you.
So let’s get our guest on here. Mirinda Kossoff. She is here for us. There she is.
Hi, Tina. I’m delighted to be here. Oh, thank you, Mirinda, thank you so much for coming. Mirinda is coming to us from North Carolina, beautiful North Carolina today. I wish I was there with you. She’s an author and a writer. She just finished the rope of life and then more of a daughter’s story told with love and compassion. I’m so excited to hear about how this all started for you. And your beautiful story that can help others because we all don’t have that perfect family. And I don’t know who does. But they all seem to appear on Instagram and Facebook. Like they are all perfect families. That we all know that that’s not really the truth. But we can have love and compassion anyways in our family. And yours is no different. Where would you like to start? Like, let’s start from the beginning. Mirinda, let’s start right from the beginning.
Well, there are several beginnings to start from, um, maybe I should mention since the role of life is primarily about my father in my relationship with him and how that influenced my choices as I got older, especially my choices and men that my father was a Jew who grew up in New York, and at 19. He enlisted in World War Two. He flew a b 17. He was a top turret gunner and Flight Engineer and flew 26 missions over Germany.
And the the death rate among the Army Air Corps was about 50% so he was lucky he got back alive. And to make this story I’m spooling out not too long. I’ll just say that he met and married my mother. When he was stationed in Greensboro before North Carolina before he shipped out. I’m sorry he didn’t marry her before he shipped out. He married her when he came back. And my mother was a Southern Baptist, a fundamentalist Southern Baptist. So the two couldn’t be further apart. She was also almost a decade older than he. But he came back this handsome, dashing war hero, and my mother at that time, he was 21. And she was 30. And she was bordering on at that time being an old maid, because all the available men had were at war during those years.
So the to married in December of 1945. And then I was born Three years later, my father converted to my mother’s religion. And he was all in he became a Baptist, a deacon in the Baptist church. He supported the missionaries, he was very fond of Baptist missionaries. And he tried generally to pass as a good old Southern boy, which was difficult in the town. I grew up in Danville, Virginia, which in history is best known as the last capital of the Confederacy. When Jefferson Davis fled from Richmond, he set up confederacy headquarters in the old Sutherland mansion in Danville, Virginia. And so Danville took pride in its place in history as the last capital of the Confederacy. Now, I think we would look at that and say, nothing to be proud of there.
But this gives you a sense of where he was trying to fit in was the Jim Crow South. The blacks in our area, were demonstrating for their civil rights, Martin Luther King visited three times in 1963. So there was a lot going on that was swept under the rug. My father, fairly typical of men of his era was not very emotionally available. I never saw him cry. My mother said the only time she saw him cry was when he took the dental board to practice in North Carolina because that’s where they wanted to settle to be near my mother’s twin sister. And he was flunked and my mother found out through some channels that he was flown on purpose because they didn’t want another Jew practicing in North Carolina. So that’s how we ended up in Danville, Virginia, there was an opening for a public health dentist, he passed the boards in Virginia, handily, and he settled there.
And he, he was a man of many, many talents. He he was a wonderful dentist, he his patients loved him, he would tell jokes, and he would make funny lyrics to songs that you you knew, like I Dream of Jeannie because I was called Jean. He was saying I Dream of Jeannie with the light brain skin, and, and other things like that. That was just typical of him. He used humor, to both connect to people and also to keep a distance. And he did that with me. And he did that with my three siblings. I’m the oldest of four. And to fast forward, he ran for city council and last and then he bought land in the county surrounding Danville, ran for county commissioner and lost. And my mother in a letter to me because I was in college at the time, said he, he said he was a failure.
And here was a man who had built the home of his dreams on 126 acres, built up a hangar had his own airplane, had his pilot like pilot’s license and a pool house with a pool so he could swim because he had a bad back. And he sort of devolved into a chronic pain patient who we could tell us also depressed. And my book opens with a flight I took with him when he was about 50. And I was I was about 29 or 30. And he he had lost his daring do because he was very nervous flying the plane which made me very nervous. Being in the passenger seat, it was a single engine Cessna. And I realized at that point that my father was not as old self, so can do, can do anything. Brilliant self, he was a man who was slowly falling apart. And it was a Gordian knot of reasons why this was happening. And partially, I think it was a subtle anti Semitism.
He experienced and, and, and I as his daughter did, even though we weren’t going to Baptist church regularly. So he committed suicide at age 55, he was on the psychiatric wing of University of Virginia hospital, under 24 hours suicide watch. But knowing my father, and knowing that my father could solve any problem could get around any obstacle. Um, I wasn’t surprised that he was able to do that, even though we thought he was safe. So it was, we were gutted. It was it was a shock, even though, you know, he had talked about suicide. And we knew how depressed he was. He blamed it on his chronic pain, but I think it was so much more than pain. There was a lot of psychological pain and pain that he could not share with anyone. So my book, the book has been in me for 20 years, and prior
was what puts him in the hospital. Miranda did some incident happen.
Well, he had been in four other hospitals. for back pain, he had two back surgeries, and neither did any good. And he felt only made his back problem worse. He’d been in the VA hospital in Durham. He’d been in hospital in Winston Salem, he’d been in the Danville Memorial Hospital.
And what’s wrong with his back? I mean, um, I have, they didn’t know as much as they know about, well,
he had herniated discs. And they did a laminectomy, which means, you know, they trim the disc material that’s bulging out, I have the same disease process in my back that he had. Oh, wow. And I can tell you, it’s very painful. But I can also tell you that people live with it. And that, I don’t think it was the pain alone, that made him want to leave us. Um, I think it was so much more. So throughout my life, I’ve always, my career was in communications.
I was at Duke University for 15 years. And I wrote a lot of essays and pieces about my father, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t set it aside, his suicide was such a seminal moment in my life, that I thought about it, I wrote about it in various ways. And then I finally decided to write a book about it. When my mother died in 2000. I thought, well, I know she wouldn’t be happy about me writing this. But now that she’s gone, I can start this and I wrote an essay that was published in a book of women’s essays. And one of my sisters got wind of it. And it didn’t like the fact that I had written about dad suicide. And I didn’t mention my siblings in this essay, it was about me and my father and my reaction to a suicide. But she, there was pushback that was such that I, I stopped writing I had done a few chapters 20 years later, you know, it’s, it’s now 20 2019, I would say or late 2018. I just had this insistent voice inside that that said, You have got to write this. You’ve got to write this book. You have to write you have to write and I kept trying to ignore it, because I know what’s going on. My family upset the remaining family, my three siblings. And I was with a friend. And, and I was I had tears in my eyes and I said, I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t write this book. And she said, write it.
And at that time, I realized that writing it for me would be a catharsis and it would lead me to understand better my father, his choice, my relationship with him, and how his his relationship to me pushed me to make the choices I made unconsciously in my first marriage, and I always joked that if you put me in a room with 30 men, I would gravitate to the one who was the most emotionally unavailable, or the most screwed up. And I would have this kind of radar, there’d be bows going off and be like, Oh, yes, I have to be with this person. And that was not a good model for for picking a spouse and, and so that relationship lasted seven years. And I had identical twin sons as a result of that relationship. But it was a mutual agreement to part ways. I had said before we were married, that I want a career, I’m not going to be a stay at home wife, and I don’t want children. The career is what I is really what I want. And I think that was the authentic me speaking. But he turned 30 and a friend and had a baby and waxed eloquent about watching the birth of his daughter, then my ex husband got the baby bug. And he pushed it and talked about it. And I was afraid if I didn’t get pregnant, that he would leave me and find somebody who would. So I did what was against my my nature, given that my parents were not I would not call them loving parents. They provided they guided, they were strict. They had rules. They brought us up with a sense of values, but I never felt loved. I was never told. I love you. Do you think common though during that era? Yeah. I think it probably was, though. I had friends whose whose fathers had pet names for them like kitten, Marquis, Sparky.
And yeah, cute things. And my my father called me Cruella after the bill in the 101 Dalmatians movie. Well, that was nice. Yeah, I it was a blow when he came out with that, and it’s sort of stuck. And he called me that. Um, and I still remember standing in the vestibule of the church getting ready to walk down the aisle for that first marriage. And my father was going to walk me down the aisle, I had a bouquet that had baby’s breath in it. And I was shaking, I was nervous. And the baby’s breath was quivering, trembling, and instead of saying what you would hope, like, I’m sad to give you away today, but I want this to be I want the best thing are some, he teased me about being nervous. He said, Look at those flowers, and he was laughing and I was just, it was like, he cut me off at the knees.
And my sisters who were my bridesmaid said when I was walking down the aisle that I looked like I was going to my execution and he did not set the tone very well. So that was my dad, a brilliant man but a man who didn’t know himself who didn’t wouldn’t know feeling if it slapped him upside the head. And do you think he struggled with PTSD from from the war? I think he probably did. He talked about it a lot. Instead of bedtime stories when I got you know six or older, he told me stories about the war about the plane being so shot up that he didn’t think they would make it back to base they had been in a dogfight with Mr. Smith’s. And he told me that that was when he converted, he prayed to God, that if he said I will become a Christian if you get me in the cruise safely back to base. So that’s what he did. And I knew the names of all of his crew members, boggy, Bev Fletcher and stoop names, but he talked about the war incessantly. And you know, there may have been some of that. And I think, as life went on, there would never be any feelings as intense as those that he had then both fear and being so alive because death is right there. And also the camaraderie with people you are relying on for your life and you support each other.
So I think that was that world war two was, was loomed large in his life for years and years and years. So yes, it may have been Benson PTSD. Did he lose some crew members from his group? No, they all survived. It’s not nice. 26 missions. Yeah, because they stayed together. But he told me, he would be very sad when he would come back to the Quonset hut, that was their bunk. They were stationed in England. And there will be empty bunks, men who didn’t make it back, and he said that every time he came home from a mission, there was another empty bunk and someone else had been killed. So So that’s another aspect of him.
As you can see, man, yeah, kind of gives you that eerie feeling. Because it’s it’s a fact. It’s, it’s an acknowledgement when he was in that situation. of the fact of of you may not make it.
Yes, yes. And he talks back, he never talked about. He never talked about fear, or any of his other emotions, or that might have been involved in being in that situation. He only mentioned fear. When he decided to become a Christian, you know, he was afraid they wouldn’t make it back. But weren’t me every time I got in that plane. I’d be terrified. Knowing that might be coming. Right.
Did you feel I mean, there’s a lot of there’s quite a few celebrities that got on pain medicine. Like he probably did for his back. Michael Jackson. had that issue.
Yeah, protocol is what he overdosed. So yeah, as a dentist, so he could prescribe he prescribed for himself. Yeah, that wasn’t good. No. But the pharmacist finally wised up and refuse to fill the prescriptions my father wrote for himself. So that was kind of the end of that.
What do you really think was the reason that he killed himself? Yeah. Do you think I mean, someone has to be really unhappy?
I think it was the split from his heritage, giving up everything he grew up with. He stayed in touch with his parents, my grandparents who were a big influence on me. Though I didn’t see them very often. I think it was that he failed to be accepted the way he wanted to be accepted in this southern town. He did not, he was not able to blend in and become a southerner and become accepted for the man that he was the man that he had become, rather than the man he or the person he was born as. Because he was referred to by some people as that Yankee Jew. When he was running for city council, someone told my mother who didn’t know that she was who she was married to, that I know one person I’m not voting for for city council and set Yankee Jew Kossoff.
And my mother push they were at the Five and Dime lunch counter and my mother pushed back and said, Well, I’m as you Kossoff and I, you know, I’ll be voting for him. And I’m sure the man mumbled something and then walked off. I hope you felt bad. It was that kind Have you know, like a death by 1000 cuts these these incidents? And people would say, oh, Kossoff. That’s an unusual name where y’all from. And I’m so I’m from here just like you. I was born in Greensboro and I grew up in Virginia, and born in Greensboro, North Carolina, I grew up in Virginia. And even in Sunday school, they would ask me to explain the Jewish holidays to the other students.
And I said, Well, I’m Baptist, just like you, I don’t know. So I think my father with some self hatred, and feelings of failure and not being able to confront or deal with his emotions, the psi head psychiatrist at UVA, I talked with him after my father’s death. And he said to me that your father was the most difficult patient I ever had, he said that I was not able to begin to get to the core of his deep despair. So in some ways, it will always be a bit of a mystery. But for me, in writing the book, I put together all of these pieces and it gave me a bigger picture of my father. A bigger picture of why I expected so little from the men in my life.
Because I, I got so little growing up my father, when I was a girl played with me, but then the other kids were born, and a son was born. And then when the sun came along, that was it, you know, and did your dad grow up died? I’m not sure if you had mentioned this.
Did he grow up in that area as well? Or did he he grew up in Manhattan, and then Mount Vernon, New York. My, his father, my grandfather, Hermann Kossoff, was a concert pianist. And he was immigrated from Russia as a child. And he spoke five languages fluently. He, he could talk like a professor, like a college professor, he was so erudite. And I love that about him. And, and he stoked my love of travel, and my love of language and of France, in particular, because he taught me my first French phrase sitting on his knee.
Mamsa whose specialty, Madam, you’re very kind, and I would use that, you know, whether appropriate or not, I would use that in different circumstances. But I was, I was very close to him. And my mother’s side of the family, we’re I’m not well educated, working class people who had a lot of racism. And I, I knew early on, that wasn’t right. And we’re
both from Russia. Sorry.
We’re both of them from Russia, or, or were my father’s parents. Yes. Though. My grandmother Satie was born in the US, but her her parents came from Russia as well. Because from them, they’re both Jewish. Yes. And my father was brought up Jewish, he was bought Bar Mitzvah, and I have a prayer book. And, and my grandfather’s prayer book.
Oh, cool. It sounds like they were almost like in Poland, because I know a lot of the Jews from Poland tried to, you know, go elsewhere as well. I’m not sure about the Russia part.
And I know the Berlin Wall was there. It was quite the, the big episode back at that time, I think. No, not then. We’re talking about under the rule of Tsar Nicholas the second. There were pogroms against the Jews in Russia, and Nicolas was incredibly anti Semitic. And the story I don’t know if it’s apocryphal, but the story of my family is that my great grandfather Isaac, was in the Czar’s army and Jews retreated terribly. But he wounded himself with his own saber in order to get out of the army and eventually made his way to the coast to get a boat to come to America. And okay, he brought my grandfather and his wife had some of the other children stay behind.
But they came a few years later. So many, many Russian Jews came over during the turn of the century, late a majority of them going to United States or did they go in other parts as well?
Well, so, so went to Canada, and I think my my grandparents came, my grandfather came through Canada when, when they came to the, quote, new world. So they were very assimilated, like my my grandparents, and they weren’t orthodox, and they were not particularly observant. They were more secular Jews, culturally, they were Jewish. And they observed the big holidays, like Yom Kippur War, and Passover. So I knew enough I knew about those from my my grandparents. But the other side of my family, my mother’s side were all they had own slaves. And they were wealthy at one time, but after they lost everything after the Civil War, and I don’t feel sorry for them for that. And, and they were native North Carolinians, that my lineage on my mother’s side is English and Irish with a little bit of Swedish, because her maiden name was Whitfield. So I was very much attracted to the Jewish side of my family.
Because they were the artists, the musicians, the the smart people. And my cousins on my mother’s side, use the N word. And I was afraid of them. I didn’t like being around them. But they were the ones that I saw the most unfortunately. Right. Did do you think that is deep stuff was from growing up? Do you think? When you’re thinking back now, do you think part of that was from earlier on? Growing up years?
It may have been, I’m not sure. What kind of a father My grandfather was, um, he was a terrific grandfather to me. But I do know that he went to Europe every summer. And he quite often would leave my grand mother and my dad back in New York. And he had lots of friends in Europe. He would, he spoke German, and Italian and French, and some Russian, and Spanish. And he had friends all over Europe. And I don’t, I think a child would just be in the way. And I knew that about him as I got older. But the contrast between the two sides of my family was so huge, in my mother’s eyes. My being close to my Jewish grandparents was a betrayal of her, because they did not want my father to marry her. And they tried to stop it. They want him to marry a Jewish woman. And, and perhaps someone secular, but for him to go off and marry someone. So polar opposite was something they had a hard time with. And so my mother resented that, and she often compared me to my grandfather, I would make a gesture and she’s she would say, You look just like grandpa Herman when you did that. And that was not a compliment in her mind, and it was her way. I think she marginalized me in the family because I’m the one who looks the most like the Jewish side of my family. I’m the one who was the most interested in my siblings, my siblings, excuse me, didn’t have any interest in Judaism or that side of the family. I was on who I would take a bus or train up to New York to visit my grandparents when I was in my teens, I would go by myself. So all of all of this came together in this book awesome.
It and helped me figure out a lot about myself about the like I said the choices I made in men and fortunately, myself second marriage has been really wonderful and I until recently didn’t understand why I did this. But when I met my current husband, we dated we went out for six months, never kissed, didn’t touch. And. And I think, in retrospect, I kept, he told me that he just felt I was kind of frosty. And he didn’t want to push it with me. And I think I was keeping it a distance because here was a real live man who could be emotionally available. Oh, my God. How do you do with that? Well, yeah, what do I do with that? I was scared. And finally, you know, I listened to my gut, which I didn’t listen to the first time around. And my gut was saying, yep, do it. This is a really good man. This is a stand up, man. This is a man who will be there for you. This is a man who won’t try to leave you. And so I’m very grateful for the lessons that I’ve learned. And the place I’ve wound up. I’m now a grandmother of two. I have my one of my twin sons is married and has these two wonderful grandchildren. Five and 10 years old. My other son has not married and, and my husband has two grandchildren. Through his his daughter, he has a son and a daughter, who are grown up and have extremely interesting professional lives once a physicist, the others have violinists with the Cincinnati orchestra. My husband was, was up as soon as with the North Carolina Symphony, but also has a PhD in physics. So his children got a flavor. And my two sons both have their own businesses, because they heard me kvetch about work and working for somebody else. long enough, they decided that they were going to work for themselves. So so we have a blended family. And we we visit each other’s grandchildren, my grandchildren live close by.
So I see a lot more than than we do my husband’s grandchildren, because they live in Cincinnati, Ohio. That’s quite a distance from you. It is and we actually had gotten them together. When there was only one. We got them together with my granddaughter, his granddaughter, and my, my granddaughter who is considerably older, but when they visited with her, we all got together, which was really nice. And I hope we can do that with she has my stepdaughter has a son now who’s 18 months, and my grandson is five, and her daughter’s five. So my daughter is 10. So, you know, looking to the future. I think that my husband and I will distributed distributed evenly our estate among our each grown children equal shares, and with the provision that in the instance that they have, that they’re no longer live, it would go to the grandchildren.
The next ones. What about your dad’s? Did he pass away in the hospital then a suicide? Or he did? And what? I guess it must be pretty hard to conjure up suicide when you’re in a hospital.
Yeah, well, he was a determined man. And he used the the tie to his bathroom to hang himself. He looked at over the hook on the bathroom door and look the other end around his neck. Now that hook my father was six feet tall. That hook was not taller than he was. So he had to actually slump on the floor against the rope. It wasn’t like stepping off a chair. And that’s it. You can’t go back. You’ve done it. He He was so determined that he leaned slumped against that tide and cinched it so tight, that he has succeeded himself. And that takes a will to that, to me is unfathomable. I can’t. Yeah, it’s so strong that you would think that He might, you know, clawed his throat and stand up to take the pressure off. Yeah, but you didn’t. And my brother saw the autopsy. Well, the photos of him in the hospital before they took his body away, I didn’t see them. But my brother said his eyes were open.
And I didn’t want to know any more about that. But we did see him. He had a Southern Baptist funeral. So there was an open casket for people to file by before the service, and then it was closed. And I write about that my book too. That’s onion hard. And then things came full circle. Um, I don’t know if we have time for being mentioned this, but the last chapter of my book is about ashes from the Holocaust. My, my cousin, on my mother’s side, the racist cousin, who also collected Nazi memorabilia, he had a swastika hanging on his bedroom wall, and often wondered what my father thought, when we visited of that, seeing that? Well, after both his parents were dead, and his older brother, who was a sexual predator, was dead. He contacted us and told us about these ashes his father had brought back from Dhaka, he had gone to Dachau to he was a courier to deliver something. And the camp had just been liberated a few days earlier. So a former prisoner took him around the prison camp and dock him and gave him a scoop of compacted ashes, and said, Take this, so you will never forget what happened here.
And my grandpa, my uncle, never talked about it. And when he was dying, he had heart failure. He told my cousin, the youngest of his two sons about the ashes, and the story of how he came to have them. And then my cousin kept them hidden in a drawer for 20 years. And this cousin is the only one left of the entire family. And he has had three heart attacks. So he decided he better tell us about the ashes, because if he died, and we cleaned out his place, we might throw it away, not knowing what it was, and I was so bad. And he had asked my sister who lives in Washington, and she couldn’t. And so she gave them to me. And I said, I’ll find because he wanted a burial for these ashes with with Jewish rights. And so I was able to do that through a local to local rabbis and a woman who found it was a co founder of the Holocaust, speaker’s bureau, here in the triangle region of North Carolina, where I live.
And so I was on the committee with the two rabbis and a couple of other people to play on this service. And it was attended by the mayor, all the news organizations, and one of my jobs on the committee was to put out a news release and let everybody know about the service. And some kind soul drove my cousin from his little trailer in the mountains where he lived to the service, so he could be there. But he was in a wheelchair, he’s very overweight. And so they gave me the honor of carrying the ashes in a wooden box, with a Star of David carved on top, to the grave site that that had been dug for these ashes. And as we filed by, there were Holocaust survivors at the service. And I heard them say, for my mother, for my father, for my sister, for my brother, and I picked up some dirt, and I put it inside, on top of the little casket and I said, for my father and for my grandfather.
And it was like, things that come full circle, the two sides of my family, the Jewish side and the Gentile side, in this last chapter, come together through these ashes. And it was very moving my husband who is not well, neither of us is are believers. We don’t have religion isn’t a part of our lives. But he said he was the only other than my cousin, the only non Jewish person sitting under the tent watching this. And the cameras pan that we saw, we saw the people under the tent on TV, and my husband was crying. He said I was the only because I was the only guy crying on camera and, and I was like, I wasn’t even belonging there. Right. But that tells you the kind of man he is people. When he’s moved, the tells you how inspiring and moving that whole thing was. It’s it was it. For me, you know, I’ve always felt like, Oh, well, I think of Adrienne Rich’s essay called split at the root. She had a Gentile mother and a Jewish father. And I always felt that that I had one foot in each camp, but belonged fully to neither. My siblings all feel their Southern Baptists, and they’re still very, very much practicing Southern Baptist. But in the ceremony, it pulled the two halves together, temporarily. And I felt a sense of wholeness within myself, even though I didn’t feel like I could really be a Jew. And I knew I couldn’t be a Southern Baptist, I left that behind a long time ago.
So because you were torn in between. I’m sorry. You were torn in between both worlds.
Yes, in the Jewish world was much more fascinating to me, just because my cousins, my second cousins on that side of the family were so accomplished. They were ballet dancers, they were they became one is an orchestra conductor. Another one worked for Broadway. And that they’re they’re all extremely interesting and accomplished. And I can’t say that about the other side of my family. My cousin is still alive. He still lives in the mountains in a trailer. And it’s amazing that he’s still alive. But we talk. We have completely different belief systems and political beliefs, and political views, which can create huge rifts. But because he’s alone, and he has no one else. We talk and he talks with my siblings, and I tell him, I love him. Because partially because he he brought those ashes to light. And he was a big enough man. Realize that what he thought and felt as a younger man was wrong.
I asked him once, why did you collect Nazi memorabilia? And he said, I don’t know. I just did. So he’s never, he was never able to tell me what was the fascination with that. But in today’s political climate, now you can see a fascination
with it. Right? Right. I I’ve been to a couple concentration camps in Germany. And it’s something you can never get out of your eyes. Right, those things once you see it, you cannot get it out. You can never unsee it.
That’s right. I went to Theresa and start. I took my sons to the Czech Republic, when they were 19, because I thought that might be the last time they’d be willing to travel with me. And I took them to. It’s also called terracing, which was the show camp, you know, the Nazis used it in propaganda, say, look how well these people are treated. And they actually gave them toothbrushes and gave them things that they normally didn’t have just for this film. But they were shipped off from terrorism to the death camps. And there are also a lot of people political prisoners shot there. And I was standing between a couple of the buildings, one that has the, the barracks where all the prisoners slept, you know, in tears have like, three or four bunk beds high and, and the yard and I thought as I was standing there, in this soil is the blood of people who were shot by the Nazis, for being Jewish, for being against what The Nazi Party believed in for acting on their beliefs. There’s blood under my feet in the soil. And that was so penetratingly deep and awareness for me that I’ve carried it with me and my sons are now 42.
So this was quite a long time ago. So I understand what you’re saying about. You can never forget when you see that, no, you know, that ceramic tile table that they would do surgeries on to test things. And the troughs that they had for the blood to drip down into buckets. Yes. And the showers that they had in the concentration camps that everyone thought they were lining up to go in for a shower, and it was a death your gas sentence. And it wasn’t just what you saw with your eyes. It’s it’s the environment. It’s the feeling it’s the energy is still there. The the, I don’t know, it’s like going to an old horror house like a haunted house kind of feeling. It’s an eerie, eerie feeling even in the nicest place in there. Yes. Still.
Beautiful day. And yeah. I think you’re right there is Ms. Smells
like there’s still the smell is still lingering there. And it’s very moving and very poignant to to even comprehend. What actually happened is unbelievable.
Yes, my son’s couldn’t take it. I mean, they. They wanted to leave. And I and I said, Well, if you if you don’t want to go through these carts, you can sit out you’re on a bench until I’m done. But they they couldn’t handle it. Yeah. No, it’s very moving.
Something you’ll never forget. That’s for sure. And the feeling is, um, I just don’t understand how anyone can can do. That movement was unbelievable. The strength of that group. Unbelievable. Thank goodness, it’s all behind us now. And we’ve learned so much, I guess is what we were supposed to do. I’m not really sure But well, father’s lots of maths. I mean, he was a dentist. He had a business. He was working. He had income. He had a plane he had property was when he committed suicide was a stuff in order, like did he have it planned?
I don’t think so. I think my mother had to do a lot of work on your state. We also had a cottage at Lake about an hour’s drive away. And he bought for lots because they dammed they dammed up a pass and he knew that that lake would be very popular recreational property. And right now, you nobody could afford a lot up there. And he bought for three as an investment and one to put our own family’s cottage on. But my mother, she didn’t consult with us. Because I would like to have maybe gone in with my siblings and kept that cottage but she sold the three lots and the cottage and had she held on to them just for maybe another decade, she would have quadrupled the investment for sure. He was a very smart man. He was he was brilliant that way. He was brilliant in so many ways. And he had so much to give and so much life left. And what hurt me the most was my grant, my son’s never got to know him as a grandfather. He saw them once when they were six weeks old.
And then yeah, that was it. And he treated them like little space aliens. He was just, you know, he wasn’t there. At that point. He was so far gone, that I put one of my son’s in his lap and he just sat there and didn’t say anything and I was afraid he’d let the baby slip off his lap so I quickly snatched up my son And it was heartbreaking because yeah, I said, Don’t you want to take a fishing? Like I’d love to hunt and fish? I said, you can teach another generation how to fish these, these boys will adore you. But yeah, nothing could keep them on this planet
now obviously had something else to do something bigger to to accomplish obviously. Sounds like he, he had it in him to leave it just not really sure what all that was about, but I don’t think we ever know. Even with the celebrities, do we ever No, no, no.
I mean, I think with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I think happening both in the same year that that raise the profile of suicide because these two people, they were at the peak of their careers. Yeah, they had everything to live for just like mine. And yet, and we’re smart and intelligent and successful and just doesn’t make sense. Really? Yeah.
Those of us left behind, or left to grapple with that. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, it’s not fair in so many ways, I guess, what kinds of things what, what kinds of things now that you have a blended family? You have to look at your life now, in a better viewpoint than what your dad didn’t do. He was so smart in so many ways, and then just didn’t put the pieces of the pie left together for everybody. And right now, um, what kinds of things? You know, are you concerned about? having it all in place for you guys, because blended families, and you’re older as well. So it’s not like, you know, you have little kids or anything?
Um, yeah, I bought a book. It has a funny title, but it’s actually very important. It’s called, now I’m dead. What you need to know. And in it, there’s space for you to put all of your bank account numbers, everything, everything to do with your state, who your attorney is. And both my sons have my Living Will my my health care? My husband is my health care power of attorney. But both my sons also have that. And so yeah, I think, and that book will stay in a very obvious place. Because your children don’t want to talk about it. Yeah, you know.
And we’re, I find our generation wants to talk about it more than our parents. Did. Our parents wanted to keep everything a secret for some reason. Exactly. Yeah. But it is getting better. But I think our kids don’t want to talk about it, because they don’t want to think that it might happen. Right? So it’s just not up for a discussion. But luckily, in our program, we have worksheets to have hold family conversations, either with your friend, family member, brother, sister, mom, dad, whoever, but it helps you with a worksheet to be able to go down the worksheet and actually make tic marks about, you know, if I did get sick, what do I want that to look like? Where do I want to live? Do I want to live in someone else’s a family member’s home? Do I want to go into a care facility of some sort? What do I want that picture to look like all of those kinds of things, not just death. But if I got sick if I couldn’t see if I couldn’t pay? Or if I if I couldn’t get around? What kinds of things do I want it to look like? And it’s so complicated in a blended family?
Because you want to be fair to both sides. Right? So yeah, it’s definitely something to think about for our listeners to to start thinking about, you know, you can have your Will you can have your power of attorney. But what if we’re immobile on eyes? If what if you weren’t both in your right frame of mind? You know, there’s so many different instances of something happen. You could be in a car accident tomorrow. Yeah. And be in a wheelchair or Not being able to move around for a year or two. What do you want that to look like? So yeah, I appreciate your story. Because after being in Europe and seeing that for myself, no wonder someone wants to commit suicide after. Because those, that world was definitely something very scary. Very scary. And I’m so glad it’s behind us that the Holocaust is but anti Semitism is on the rise and be around forever. But it’s it’s pretty scary right now. Yeah.
We just had a 20 year old on Sunday. And Ontario, drive up in a pickup truck that was definitely meant to happen. It wasn’t a mistake. They say it was it was a terrorism terrorist act. Hit a family going for a walk three generations, five people four died. And the nine year old son is living in the hospital so far
without a family.
So and they were all Muslim, religious background. And it’s just so sad to think that someone would want to do that. I, you know, it’s uncomprehending, especially in this time of the world. But like you said, there’s weird things going on. Yeah.
I mean, we see it in the rise of Asian hate crimes because of the Coronavirus. And, and I’m glad you brought up Muslims, because there’s certainly a lot of anti Muslim sentiment in the United States. And Jews, you know, minorities, but of course, blacks. Yeah.
Yeah, Black Lives Matter. Yeah. And now we’ve in Canada, we just had the residential school, find out one of our cities that there’s 215 bodies of children buried with no, no idea of how they died. And no, indigenous. Yeah. And that’s all from the Catholic religious schools. So crazy, crazy things happening all around the world. And it’s no different. It sounds like them, what your wonderful dad had to put up with and all of that struggle. It must have been beautiful for him to be up in that sky, though. Maybe he really liked to be flying in that sky to feel like he was up above everything.
Well, he did love flying, and he renewed his pilot’s license. And he would fly to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for fishing weekend. So he had an old car. But he kept at the Outer Banks.
So when he landed there, he parked his car at the little airstrip there. And he had his fishing weekend and then he fly back home. I mean, he had everything he ever dreamed of. Yeah, he made it happen. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Yes. Robin Williams. Well, Robin is more understandable. Because he had a brain disease. Oh, did he body Lewy body dementia. And he knew it. And it’s a terrible, a terrible brain disease. And I can understand his suicide because he didn’t want to burden anyone and become, you know, become a shell of himself and not have any of himself left and I have a good friend whose partner develop Lewy body dementia. And she kept him at home as long as she could. But eventually, she had to put him in a care home and I went with her as support to visit him and I didn’t even recognize him. It was really beautiful. And she felt that it would have been better had he died much sooner because he wasn’t living and such was in this constant state of grace. grief and wanting the best for him. And it was terrible. So I can imagine somebody wanting for themselves when they get the news that that’s going to be their future.
Yeah, that’s true. What about? What kind of final note do you have for our listeners?
Oh, well, um, as I think back about what I’ve written and the choices I’ve made, I say, always listen to that internal voice you have. I learned at my excuse me, I learned at my peril. All right, I ignored it at my peril. And when I learned to listen to that voice, then I usually was doing the right thing. So there’s a part of us that knows that is true and deep and real, and loving and kind. And if we can stay connected to that part of us, then life is so much better, regardless of how old you are, or what physical ailments you’re dealing with.
That’s really, really beautiful. Thank you. And we should and I think the younger we are, the more we don’t write. It’s not till we’re older that we realize that there’s these two. I call them little people on our shoulders. One that kind of says, oh, Tina, it’s fine. And the other guys other one says, No. So those are my inside. people that come out and talk to me. sounds really weird. Doesn’t that when I set it out? Well, I have my critic that sits on my shoulder when I’m writing like, that’s no good. You know, start over again. This paragraph sounds terrible. Yeah, and I, you know, I can go back and get I gotcha.
Yeah. Isn’t that the truth? No. Well, thank you so much. I really, really enjoyed your story. I think so many will, because it resonates with their lives, I’m sure. In some culture, some religious background or or if you’ve been in Europe, I mean, you can feel that I definitely feel it. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for writing the book.
Thank you. Thank you for speaking with me. I’ve enjoyed it.
Oh, thank you. Well, listeners, oh, my goodness, it’s that time again. And I just want to continue with our story. Miranda’s story is just so beautiful her information in the box down below. For anybody who wants to grab one of her books, or reach out to her I’m sure she’d be happy to do that. Thank you again, Miranda for coming out. Thank you for watching listeners. Till next time, stay safe. Thank you, everyone. You’re welcome. Be kind, lots of love bye
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