How Goodness Prevailed
November 6th, 2015 marks what would have been my parents' 70th wedding anniversary. Ben left his shtetl of Krzepice in the late 1930's for the big city of Lodz, where he worked for Tola Grosman's father. Having survived the ghetto and Buchenwald and Bergen-Belson and Auschwitz and death marches, they were in separate DP camps in 1945--alone in a world which had not cared. All members of their families--parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins--all were murdered during the Holocaust. Alone. Ben heard that Tola had also survived and set out to find the demure boss's daughter, which he did; after a brief courtship, they were married on November 6, 1945.
Ben had no money but he did have plenty of cigarettes which soldiers had been giving him. Through shrewd bartering, he acquired his first gift for Tola--a mandolin, remembering she had played before the war--hoping it would provide her with some measure of solace.
They could have asked, "Where was God? Where was humanity?" and turn their backs on a world that had been silent; instead, with their indomitable spirit, they were sustained by faith in each other with hope for the future--creating life, fostering love, and working hard enough as proud Canadians and proud Jews to be able to enjoy life--life which evil tried to snuff out, but failed. Through breast cancer, Ben never left Tola's side. Through a life-threatening cardiac event, Tola never left Ben's side. Through stage 7 Alzeimer's, Ben kept Tola at home--caring for her day and night....until he passed away days before their 66th wedding anniversary.
My parents, Tola and Ben, were genuine life partners. They were a light unto their world and the world around them, inspiring so many with their quiet heroism. We can all learn...
[These are photos of Ben and Tola from 1946, 1966, and 2006, as well as some of the 65th anniversary congratulatory messages--from Queen Elizabeth II, the Prime Minister of Canada, and an especially poignant message from the Governor-General of Canada.]