A Marvel

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By Linda Nidiffer

My elder grandson is a marvel.  No, no I mean it.  I know all grandparents feel that all their grandchildren are marvelous but this young man is something else again. I am not kidding.  He has been a “pisher” from day one as my mother would say.  He was the most stubborn, willful, opinionated, brat of all time.  He could throw a hissy-fit that would last hours at full volume.  I wept for my daughter and that all happened before the age of three.  He is brilliant and has found a way to focus his stubborn, willfulness, opinions into research in the field of microbiology.  For fun he has been researching our family genealogy.

I thought he was on a fool’s errand as far as our genealogy was concerned.  My grandfather left Berlin, Germany as Hitler was gaining power and two more siblings were lucky to get out later.  I thought that those two siblings were the extent of the Linde family and whoever was left was lost to the gas chambers.  My grandson wanted to know more about everybody.  He was right there in Berlin and was walking and living where his family was born and bred.  It was his birthright to know…enter stubborn and willful.

My grandfather did not speak to us about his family in Berlin and now that we know what my grandson knows we conjecture that it was too painful for grandpa to remember his childhood and family.  I think he and his brother spoke of it but when they spoke together it was always in German so I never understood what they were talking about.

Now grandson is applying to the German bureaucracy to have bronze memorial plaques placed in front of the addresses of where the Linde family homes were located.  He has tracked down my grandpa’s four siblings who we knew nothing about.  He has done all of the massive research to prove that they lived there, that they were Jewish, and that they were his people.

There are bronze plaques in sidewalks all over Berlin to memorialize the lost Jews.  People walk all over them on a daily basis. They are out in the weather collecting dirt from traffic and rain and birds.  They are getting really filthy in some neighborhoods because there is not a “group” to maintain them.  Now there is a group of one.

My grandson has started to clean the plaques in his neighborhood.  People stop to thank him or ask what he is doing.  He gets a lot of questions.  This gives him the opportunity to tell people how easy and cheap it is to clean the plaques; he also tells them it makes no difference to him whether or not he knew these particular people.  He is honoring his past. He is honoring humanity.  He has a friend who is helping him. So now he is a group of two. I think Tom Sawyer is making his way to Berlin slowly but surely. And that is why I know that my grandson is a marvel.