“When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet:
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, ,forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain ;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember/strong>
And haply may forget. “
– Song by Christina Rossetti
Not long after her death
her two older children , a bipolar
woman who roamed salvation army
counters and a stocky bald headed son resembling a Slavic peasant with a similar intelligence of practical medieval skills had walked into Miriam’s apartment and had taken everything they could, her precious painting collection , depicting sheep signed by the popular well known painter to her in a gesture of friendship one can only guess came as a result of hounding and pestering she was not ashamed to engage in to achieve the goal.
The jewelry she had received from her husband throughout the twenty five years of devoted yet dramatic devotion had also been taken and evaluated no doubt almost immediately.
The ways of the invading armies had been practiced all those years
the dusty kitchen cupboards loaded with food just in case starvation of the great war will return.
A large refrigerator hummed overflowing with food.just in case the Nazis shall return.
It was easier to identify with the vicious yet victorious and so the ways of the Nazis had been the ways of the family life; sadistic torture of obedience, without having to resort to physical punishment, harsh words, curses in a language that seemed foreign upon the lips of a beautiful woman with thick golden hair the color of bee’s honey yet with their sting.
Fits of rage would result in a shower of shoes thrown at the offender and it seemed though one by one the children left , it was not in a terrible hurry.
Encouraged to pair up quickly the children rebeled choosing poor unskilled partners with similar scars of unloving homes without the abundance of food.
Furniture had not been bought except one bizzare pink sofa that had replaced a cat’s clawed crime but food could be found everywhere.
Insects roamed the apartment as in a paradise without boundaries or interference.
The two older children had made a pact of striving to fill in the empty unloved gap.The oldest daughter had married twice damaged men , the second an heir to mental illness and deficiencies in functionality that had brought the heavyset pale blond woman holding the hand of a begger as the mother refilled her emotionally empty reservoir with an endless stream of money , a bigger house had been purchased every three years to serve as a home for the imbecile children she had bore the imbecile second husband rather than institution the children the oldest daughter had bought them computers to occupy their feeble frail brains im some sort of occupation.
The son married an ambitious daughter of a market haggler who later bought a stand in the market place where he sold simple food for the market people.
The son had the survival instincts of a small hunting animal that survived hunting mice and small birds.
The son too had refilled his empty space where humanity and compassion would grow in a better more refined being and had eventually bought a large house.
On the day they buried the mother the son’s wife had been busy ordering the workers about setting tiles.
The older children were simple practical people with simple practical skills and ambitions to live in large homes with as many rooms and comforts .No books.No musical instruments were ever seen within the walls of their homes or were they ever listening to birds singing. They were far too busy scavenging for a better morsel.
The mother had raised the children in the uncertainty mean sadistic ambiance of WW2 Austrian with a meanness of spirit where a kind gesture would not be remembered and always the time consumed on basic survival.
There was not much the mother could have done with her first two children
strong slavic peasant blood clearly flew in their veins.
The father was a victim .a bird kept in a cage and allowed to fly to work earning a decent living as his intelligence used up to fulfill the wife’s endless needs to fill the empty reservoir her own mother had left unloved she knew not how to love through a kind gesture .
The father survived somehow a quarter of a century of dutiful functionality attempting to please everyone till his health had failed him and he finally found peace in his grave.
The mother had continued her ambitious life of gathering possessions
and handing down a practical materialistic attitude to her first two children.
The third child had been born a small frail bird of two and a half kilograms
through her the mother had lived her poetic dreaming side, her Germanic Goethe and Heine Poetry , her love of the old European pre Nazi era.
She swore never to strike the child born to her after having lost a child.
The mother gave her child the only love she had posessed that of culture and beautiful words and art, a temporary respite from the material world.
The daughter was named after a flower and often kept in a small private garden but the poisonous upbringing of her siblings had found her bed of joy and she too grew unloved her resources limited struggling to maintain a balance between cruelty and grace , between faith and cynical skepticism.
When the mother had died the brother had given his youngest sister a book of fairy tales which she had often read dreaming her life imagining it was another life.One of love and bliss and joy.
The youngest daughter never visited the grave of her mother though she chose the words written on the headstone, she never went back to confirm the words had been engraved.
If she could she would have written words by Christina Rossetti but that would not describe the reality in which the mother lived and died, one of simple striving towards a material existence that at the end did not seem to matter at all…