Once upon a time, after the divorce of her parents, a little girl of 5 years old was sent to her grand-parents to be raised.
She received all the love of her grandpa and grandma even tho she was very sad that she did not have a normal family with a daddy and a mommy at home every day.
Her grandpa was not a cuddly man. In the eyes of the little girl, he was strict but always fair. He raised the little only child with values such never leave the table before asking for it, always finish her meal because she was lucky to have one, never interrupt an adult at table, always respect the older people which was at her age pretty much everyone that was not her friends.
Because she was very young when her grand parents took her and because she did not have any other example, the little girl was completely happy to live and grew up with a strict education but never without love.
Once in a while, she could see her grandpa with his hands on his face and crying. She was sad and did not understand why her grandpa was crying and each time she tried to ask her grandpa why, he always said that he was fine because he always tried to disguise his tears from her.
The little girl grew up with a cuddly grandma and a grandpa who cared very much about the little girl but just could not show her physically how much and could never say the words. And it was okay because again this little girl knew nothing else and she was certainly not unhappy.
The years passed and the little girl became a teenager.
Then she learned the real story of her grandpa…
Her grandpa was born in 1903. He was too young to be a soldier of the first world war 1914-1918 but he was 37 at the world war II when he was arrested by the Nazi because of his political views and sent to a concentration camp, Sachsenhausen, in Germany…………… for 6 months right before the end of the war!! (ETA)
6 months of terror… 6 months of hunger… 6 months of becoming a skeleton… 6 months seeing all his friends dying… 6 months of seeing violence and rapes and tortures… 6 months of murders… 6 months of hate… forgetting being human… becoming the shadow of a shadow… 6 months of nightmares…
200,000 prisoners… 100,000 deaths… only 3000 survived…and the grandpa of this little girl was one of them…
And the nightmares never ever left. And this is why the little girl saw her grandpa crying, his hand on his face, shaking, trembling, slapping his hand on the table with so much frustration, so much hurt in his eyes, looking inside himself and remembering…
The grandpa of this girl was saved by a German man who was one of the cook for the nazi, never had the choice but be there and who could steal a tiny little piece of old bread and give it to him every couple of days. A good man because not all German people were Nazi and gestapo. That was all he had to eat. When the grandpa was liberated, he was a ghost, not even human. It was a matter of days before he saw his death coming. He was at the end of the end of any hope.
Yes. This man was MY grandpa. MY hero.
He taught me the importance to say please and thank you, to always respect people and to remain upright in all circumstances.
My grandpa was an hero and I loved him with all my heart but was way too immature to tell him and show him and when he had a severe stroke syndrome at 81, it was too late. He never recovered and left us at 97 years old in 2000.
So you see, thank you is not only some word for me. It is the way I was raised. This is the legacy of my grandpa that gave me a great education that today I can be proud of. My grandpa was the father figure that taught me the meaning of what is respect… because without thank you to this German soldier who save his life giving him pieces of bread the size of a finger nail, he would never have make it back to the land of the living. Years after the war was over, both my grandpa and this wonderful man could found each other. They never forgot each other, ever. I was there when they met again. They hug themselves and cried and the first word my grandpa said to him was: Danke… Merci… Thank you.
Thank you means the world to me. So when I am told that it is professional to not thank a person or whatever the excuse to not do it… I think about my beloved grandpa and the true meaning of what a thank you is about.
Thank you Pépère for your love.
Thank you Pépère for your integrity to believe what was just, to believe in freedom.
Thank you Pépère for teaching me the meaning of respect.
Thank you for your smiles when your heart wanted to just cry to feel guilty to be a survivor.
You could never say you loved your family but we knew. We knew!
I miss you. A lot.
RIP Robert F.
my beloved grandpa, my hero
with all my love
ETA: my grandpa whispered me yesterday night that it was between 6 months to 1 year, not 4 years or he would have died way sooner. No he did not really whispered in my ears, but I kept thinking all evening about it, again and again until I figured it out he wanted me to tell the truth. I am not a religious person, but I believe in paranormal and guardian angels. Merci, Pépère! J’ai bien compris ton message. 😉
ps: please do not leave any comment. Thank you.