Margret Brave

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.59.26 AMEuropean Mother and Child 1962 Edna Hibel

 Two weeks ago my daughter had the flu. It was mild, but enough to keep her home and in bed for a week. I did everything I could for her. I brought her hot tea, fresh OJ and toast with jam. I set up the humidifier in her room and fluffed her pillows and made sure she had clean pajamas to change into. She’s feeling better, and now I’m the one with the flu.

This is one of the occupational hazards of parenthood. It’s a risk mothers take because making your child comfortable is more important than your own well-being.

While I am lying in bed, not able to do much, I have been trying to read part of the memoir I recently received. This is the memoir I mentioned in a recent post. It is long and written in German, and my German is very basic.

On Oct 28, 1943, when my mother and her family arrived in Westerbork, Gerty Hannemann wrote: “Robbi ist krank. Margaret tapfer.” Translation: Robbi is sick. Margaret brave.

I was worried about my daughter when she was sick. I gave her Tylenol and ibuprofen and took her to see the doctor to make sure she didn’t have strep throat or mono. I had every modern convenience available and still I worried – was she missing too much school? Would she be able to catch up? Was her illness more serious? Was she uncomfortable?

What did my grandmother have to help her 5 y.o. feel better – not much more than her love, her voice to sing a lullaby, and her hands to rub his back.

A few sentences later the memoir reads: “Margret krank.” Margret sick. In caring for her sick child, by holding him close and tending to him in a large barrack of 100 people with little food and terrible sanitation, my grandmother got sick too.

I won’t ever forget the short sentence in Hannemann’s memoir – “Margaret tapfer.”

Oh yes, Omi, you were brave!

Published by K Heidi Fishman


4 thoughts on “Margret Brave

  1. What a touching blog. Your body is resting at the moment – in bed with the flu – but does your mind ever turn off and rest?? Mom


  2. Nicely said. Now is Emily bringing you comfort food? Guess that’s not how it works in today’s world. Heidi tapfer!  Sent from my iPad


  3. Opi and Omi certainly were brave and dealing with sick child must have been the easy part, we are all brave in trying to best care for our families. There is risk involved that as parents we will always take to provide that care. It is amazing to see that obligation preserved and continued from generation to generation.


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