My mom died, way too young, in 1985. Since then, whenever something dreadful happens in the world, I think, "I am glad she did not live to see this." I thought that when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, when AIDS hit, during the Rwandan genocide, and right after 9/11. I am thinking it right now as I watch Donald Trump take the reins of what was formerly known as the Republican Party.
My mom was born a few years before the Second World War. She found out she was Jewish when in her class all the Jewish children were asked to stand up, and she didn't, and was told by the teacher, "you too." Her father, my grandfather, worked with Raoul Wallenberg. My mom was one of the lucky ones: she spent the war in hiding.
The war shaped her. Wanting to protect her family, she read the newspaper every day looking for signs of trouble. Every time something went wrong in the world, she would become worried about the unraveling that could follow. She wanted to make sure that she wouldn't miss the signs of impending doom and that she would be ready for the worst if it came.
My mom's response to bad news was to add food to her war supply. This war supply lived in the basement and consisted of beans, rice, pasta and canned goods. After she passed away it took my stepfather about a year to work his way through it. Living in Canada in the 70s and 80s, we, her children, thought the war supply terribly funny. Of course we didn't have her memories of war and starvation, of the times when people cut meat from dead horses lying in the street to take home to feed their children.
I am glad she is not here now and that she did not see Donald Trump's acceptance speech yesterday at the Republican National Convention. I am glad that she is not here to read the anti-Semitic tweets of Trump's white supremacist supporters. I have zero doubt that what she would see in Donald Trump would be the rise of another Hitler. She would be aghast about his glib comments on NATO and his expressed admiration of Vladimir Putin. She would be, in the favourite phrase of a friend of mine, "beside herself" with worry and despair about the future of our world.
I am thinking of you, Mom. Remembering you with love. I am sorry I laughed at your war supply; I'll soon be starting one of my own.
Postscript July 26: But I bet she would have been jazzed watching the nomination of Hillary Clinton! I was!