Happy Birthday, Ami

Today, Ami, would be your birthday and I wish you would be here. Today is your birthday and I wish I could tell you, how I do miss you. In 1922 you were born in a Jewish family in Northern Germany. A family so German, only German Jews could be. You grew up in a house full of sisters and the few photos, which are left from your childhood, show you riding on the back of your father on a bright summer day. Your father looked so proud to have such a talented rider on his back, who as I imagine always wanted to run faster, jump wider and laugh brighter and your garden was big enough for a proper horse race. But the world around, outside of your garden and your house was neither open nor bright. Europe was full of ubiquitous hate against Jews. You were surrounded by the old-antisemite hate in Poland and the Ukraine, you grew up with the French anti-Semite stereotypes, the English and Irish speeches against the Jews and you were ten years old, when Hitler came to power in 1933. Your tenth birthday was the end of your childhood. And it was the last birthday you celebrated at all. You were the only survivor of a family of too many,of a family who was so German only German Jews could be, of a family who did not exist any longer after 1945. You celebrated the birthday of your father, but never the day you were born. You, Ami, my grandmother, you have been the greatest story-teller I ever knew, you knew every poem by heart, your German became my German, oh Ami you could be so harsh, I never knew someone who could be so angry as you. You always walked in the middle of the street, and I was so safe in your arms, smelling you at your neck and how wonderful you smelled to me Ami. You only lied once to me, when I asked you what the numbers on your arm would mean. You told me, it was just a telephone number, you were busy not to forget and I knew that was not true at all. You missed your father so heavily, it was you who taught me what „to miss“ could mean. You were the greatest baker I ever knew, you could not sing at all, but you sang louder as everyone else in the room, you were so beautiful in a very unfashioned way, I wish I could just sit and look at you for one more time. You could yell like a driver and cry  as a child of four. You were so unreligious as only German Jews could be, but no one taught me more about judaism as you did. Today, is your birthday Ami and I wish you were here. Mazal tov.

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