Renia: A Holocaust Memoir

Table of Contents

Eventually, the doctors and a social worker suggested we place Sam in a nursing home. He didn’t want that; I didn’t either. I promised him that he would not have to spend a day in a home. And he didn’t. A day and a half before he died, they took him to the hospital. Just a day and a half.

Sam's gravestone.

Sam's gravestone.

I’d like to quote from the eulogy Sam’s daughter Lily read at his funeral. She began by describing his early years: his apprenticeship as a tailor; his marriage to Bella; the difficult war years; the move to Canada. “Sam eventually settled into a happy, comfortable life in Canada,” Lily said. “He enjoyed a very good relationship with his brother and his family. He spent forty-two years working together with his wife to provide a loving environment for his children.É Saul became a loving sonÉand he had the nachos and love of many grandchildren — David and Elyssa; and Bernie, Janice, Michelle, Joel, David, and Brooke — and great-grandchildren, Alex and Jordie.

“Sam,” she went on to say, “was fortunate to meet and marry for the second time, his wife Renia. They were so very happy together, sharing laughter and wonderful love and companionship. Their devotion to each other was evident throughout their nine beautiful years together.... Renia’s devotion to Sam was further evident in the last eight and a half months of his life when she never left his side for a minute, nursing him through his painful illness — never complaining — not sleeping for months. Renia’s love kept my dad alive and comfortable in the last months of his life. If love could have saved his life, Renia’s love would certainly have done so.”

I can’t tell you how deeply touched I was by Lily’s words. All my adult life I have felt guilty; whatever I do, I feel I haven’t done enough. Maybe the guilt comes from the fact that I’m alive, that I’ve survived and so many others haven’t. But for once in my life I actually felt I did everything I could. I couldn’t have done any more for Sam. That’s a good feeling.

For a long time after he died, I was in mourning. I didn’t go to a movie; I didn’t do anything. Nothing gave me any pleasure. Only Sam’s and my children and grandchildren kept me going.

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