Three years before I was even a twinkle in my Father’s eye, my parents immigrated to Canada with twenty odd bucks in their pockets. Not only were they completely alone in a foreign country but they also had to contend with a language barrier. I love listening to their stories of what those days were like; how they saved $0.15 (bus fare) by walking to work. How their first apartment’s phone was left connected by previous tenants (they were able to call out but had no idea what their phone number was!). How they stood by a random car to be photographed, to reassure family back in Germany that they were doing alright. So many other stories, more than I can mention here!
Here’s a story my Mom recently shared with me. It’s Halloween, an event that was not celebrated in Germany at the time. My parents were sitting at the dinner table. The TV was on in the background. (Incidentally my parents learned English watching commercials on TV) They were talking about the day’s events while they ate supper.
The doorbell rings. My Mother gets up and answers the door. There are children at the door toting pillowcases and bags shouting Trick or Treat! My Mom says to my Dad, “What is this? What do they want? I don’t know what they want!” She looks into their bags and sees food. Maybe because both my parents were hungry most of the time during WWII she assumes they’re hungry. Off she goes to the kitchen and opens the freezer. She returns to the door with frozen pork chops and tosses them into the bags!
She laughs as she tells me this story now and wonders what the parents were thinking when their kids came home with meat.
Family stories fascinate me. I never tire of them. I wonder how my parents’ experiences led them to where they are today? I wonder how they have shaped my life? My brother’s life? My daughter’s life? What’s one of your favourite stories? When’s the last time you asked your parents or grandparents to tell you about their past?