Please enjoy the notes from a conversation with my mom, while on a trip to Zandvoort, Holland, in 2011:
“You know, Dorit,” my mom said, “you are just following into the footsteps of your ancestors.” She reached over and her fingers lightly touched my arm.
Our heightened perspective from the hotel room’s balcony on the 13th floor allowed for a large view of the choppy North Sea. Waves rolled wild and untamed, then crashed onto the beach, leaving behind piles of silk colored foam, quickly disintegrating, blown apart by strong winds.
“You have no idea where in America they went to?” I asked. I had heard the story before, had asked the same question and always received the same answer.
“No, I was just a little girl then.” She said, shaking her head. Her short hair danced, now greyer than last time I saw her. “America was the promised land; the land of opportunity, the land where dreams come true.”
I let my gaze travel to the furthest end of the horizon, a sharp dark line, where sea and sky met.
“I remember, as a little girl,” my mom continued, “I saw a black and white photograph my dad’s cousin had sent. It showed horses in front of a modern grain-cutting machine. On the German country side technology wasn’t so far advanced. Farmers still harvested by hand with a scythe.” Her blue eyes gazed into the distance, she leaned back, relaxed in her chair.
“Uncle Bernhardt always said ‘One day I will go to America.’ But the War came and he never went.” Then she paused again, touched my arm a second time, as if to hold on, but then she let go. “Maybe his desire to go to America echoed through the generations and you picked up on the call.”
“Yes, maybe,” I nodded. “The mysterious ways of life. Who knows?” I shrugged my shoulders.
“Yes,” suddenly she sat up straight, recharged, all signs of leisure gone, “Can you believe such a coincidence? It’s Friday the 13th, 13 years since your dad died, 13 years since you moved to America and now we ended up on the 13th floor?”
“I am sure it means something,” I took my mom’s left hand, held it. It felt warm and strong. There was as weight to it, not light or fleeting, but present, telling me ‘I am here.’
I loved my mom’s hands, the firm grip of a farm woman. Her fingers, though, were long and the shapely fingernails had always looked elegant to me, even so they were cut short for practicality. We sat silently for a moment.
The sky constantly changed as large white clouds sailed towards us. The color of the North Sea shifted from dark Prussian blue to ultramarine, then to a mud colored green. The horizon softened, now a lighter grayish blue. The meeting point of sky and sea appeared to be less distant.
My mom began tapping her thumb against my hand. “Let’s go for a walk,” she said. “Let’s head to the Kennemer Dunes.”
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