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by Simona D
"Are you going?" she asked him.
"I am not moving from here, it's crazy to even think about it," he muttered.
"Then it is up to me. See you," she replied turning towards the door.
She went back to the small rental apartment, looked at the used furniture she had just bought, and she prepared for the trip. I imagine her standing on the deck of the ship anchored in New York Harbor, her hair tied in a bun as usual, waving goodbye to her relatives who came to see her off on her long journey. Henach was not there. Not that she minded, I think. I heard that when she had something in her mind, she was determined to accomplish it. That is why I think about her when I try to complete a task.
She was about to cross the Atlantic Ocean by herself, going back to Europe, where World War I was winding up. Her plan was risky and needed a lot of good luck. She had lied to the American Immigration about where she was going. She had told them that the reason she was going back to Europe was to settle an estate in Romania, but there was no estate in Romania. Her plan was to reach that country, and from there bribe her way into Ukraine where she had spent the first 28 years of her life. What made her leave was the fact that Henach was now living with Ms. F., and Golda could not stand that. Henach was, in fact, married to her sister. They had four children together, all under ten. But Henach was in America, and her sister was still in Ukraine, in the middle of a revolution. Henach was happy with Ms. F., while his wife and children were probably starving to death. Golda took this daring trip, and spent all of her family's savings, to go look for someone that maybe was no longer alive. She did not even know where to search. The last thing she had heard was that the revolutionaries had taken away the small shop her sister, Sarah, had in the town of Amur.
Golda had lived in Amur all her life, and left it a clear spring morning of 1916. She had decided that the time had arrived to go join her husband, Israel in New York City. She left with their six-year-old daughter, Leah, who, in preparation for the trip, had been carefully trained to read, write, and speak Russian. Leah was also encouraged to forget whatever Yiddish she had learned before her father had left them to go to America three years earlier. Knowing she couldn't travel through Europe and cross the Atlantic Ocean because of World War I, Golda decided to travel through Russia and China and arrive in the United States via the Pacific Ocean. It was a long trip and full of dangers. Her plan was to pretend to be the wife of a Russian officer. This way they could travel without disturbance. Under the influence of her husband, she had become sympathetic with Socialist ideas and took a loving to books, not just the prayer book, like most Jewish women back then. She was reading all she could put her eyes on. She was a modern, witty 28-years-old woman, clever, resourceful, determined to escape the pogrom-ridden Ukraine, and live free of fear with her husband and daughter in America. They left as for a short trip, taking nothing with them that would identify them as Jewish, or give away the purpose of their trip. Somehow she even managed to keep kosher the entire journey. They made it out of Russia on train. Once in Japan, they boarded a ship and eventually arrived in Seattle, Washington. Then they proceeded again by train to New York City. The trip had taken almost six months.
Now she was ready to do it all over again. She knew that her sister was not as resourceful as she had been. Sarah would never be able to get out of Ukraine with no money and four children, especially now with a revolution and WWI still going on. Golda successfully arrived into Ukraine, but Sarah and her children were not in Amur. After almost three months of searching, she finally found them in another town. They were pale, hungry, and shivering. They probably thought of her as an angel. She bought new clothes and food for everyone, and soon they were on their way out of Ukraine. She bribed her way back to Romania again. Somehow, probably with more bribes, they managed to arrive to Japan and enter the United States from Seattle. By the time they reached the East coast, Golda had once again been traveling for six months. She had gone around the world, and had saved five lives, but her generosity didn't stop there. In fact, she gave up her own apartment, leaving her sister everything, furniture and all. She simply moved her own family into another apartment and bought more used furniture. Then she knocked at Ms. F.'s door, and told Henach where his family was. Henach was a decent man, and decided that his place was with his family. Poor Ms. F. What amazes me is that Golda never said a word to her sister about Henach's girlfriend. Sarah thought it was Henach's money Golda had used for the trip.
Golda resumed her job at her husband's shop, and was pleased, between customers, to be lost again in books. Leah was happy to have her mother back and so was Israel. In fact, they were so happy finally being together again that they decided to add to the family. That's how my grandfather, Meyer, was born.