Take flight Past ninety, Mom can’t walk very far or very often. Nonetheless, she capably captains her sitters---and me. Often I wonder how she knows when something goes missing or is out of place. Frequently, I’m asked to locate those items.
“What did you do with my bird’s nest?”
“Bird’s nest?” I repeated. Although I knew she was referring to the robin’s nest that had snuggled in one of her eye level hen and chickens’ pots mounted on the outside of one of her back porch’s supports, I had no idea what had come of it. That was months ago; we’d watched the baby robins grow and leave.
To satisfy her curiosity, I’d presented Mom with the nest. Intrigued by it, she seemed as interested as she might have been by the next chapter in a book.
Or the chapter after that when, on the following day, I’d given her chocolates from Matthew’s Chocolates in Hillsborough, NC. Only I, it seems, had thought the nest had folded into history.
But there was another reason her question about it had caught me off guard. Thanks to a website from Israel that I check regularly, I’d seen a Pierre Rehov documentary, disturbing yet profoundly insightful, about Jewish refugees who had fled Arab countries around the time of the founding of Israel in the late 1940’s. Since the documentary was dated 2004, many who Rehov interviewed were in their seventies or eighties. [ http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com/2012/08/video-silent-exodus-jewish-nakbah.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LoveOfTheLand+%28Love+of+the+Land%29]
What seemed remarkable was that storytellers from different countries told the same story. They were forced to flee with little or nothing. Some told about murderous pogroms they had witnessed. One gruesome account that had to do with a Jewish mother caught breastfeeding her baby seemed too painful to recount, yet impossible to forget.
Sadly, when I heard about escaping from Persia where Jews had been for thousands of years, I thought of my brother-in-law’s tales about his family and their flight.
From 800,000 to 1,000,000 Jews survived that forced immigration from Muslim Arab lands. Most settled in Israel where they were never treated as refugees. Artifacts from generations past were lost forever. That’s made obvious from the interviews, yet evidence of it is apparent in other places, especially The Jewish Museum in Manhattan. [The Jewish Museum New York | Art and Jewish Culture
The Jewish Museum of New York offers acclaimed art exhibitions that explore art and culture from ancient to modern times. The Museum is located on New York's famed ...
On its website, when I noticed that it listed “2600 objects 4000 years”, I recalled my recent visit there. What impressed me was that there seemed precious few ‘objects’. As numbers went, I had seen many more articles on exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.
Of course, they were different kinds of collectibles. Too many brought tears; their value was measured in halting breaths that it took to walk past them. They were hardly the clutter the Nazis thought of as discards.
I tremble as I write this; it causes me to consider the numerous Imams who continue to see it as their Ramadan ending duty to preach the annihilation of all remaining Jews. But, as I would tell my mother, I don’t tremble with fear; it is outrage I feel.
As I step back into her mostly interior world, I consider her request for her bird’s nest. She’s seen a picture in a Southern Living magazine of a floral arrangement that made use of one. Motioning to me with her bent and arthritic fingers, she tells me she wants to make one too.
“I’ll get a nest for you.”
She seems surprised. “Where?” she asks.
But I don’t answer. Instead, I hurry outside to a dogwood I’d pruned a month ago. Long before that, another robin family had left their nest. Using my Dad’s rickety wooden ladder, I was able to retrieve it.
“Here, Mom,” I said, presenting it to her as if it were a relic I was thrilled to preserve.
B. Koplen 8/20/12
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