It was a hot August afternoon and I was miserable. When would the pumpkins arrive I thought? I loved everything about fall, including the crisp cool air and shorter days. One more month I told myself as if that was going to make a difference in this sweltering heat.
I was on the hunt for corbels. I didn’t even know what a corbel was until I watched an episode of Fixer-Upper and convinced myself I needed a pair. I became obsessed searching one antique store to another, however the hunt was futile.
Hot and ornerier by the minute I decided to make one last stop. This antique store was a time warp. I felt like I was stepping into my Grandmother Ada’s house. The smell of dusty antiques filled my nose as I took a quick look around. Surrounded by once treasured, but now forgotten trinkets was an elderly woman sitting at a table filled with books.
“My name is Doris” she said as she reached out her hand. “I wrote this book about the Holocaust, I am a surviver. I was 14 years old when they took me to Auschwitz” she continued. She had my full attention. Doris began telling her story and tears rolled down my face as I listen intently.
Doris paused and with penetrating eyes looked at my wet face. With a gentle voice she said, “I love you”. “I love you too” I replied immediately, and meant it. She hugged me tight for a moment and then continued her tale of sorrow.
We talked for awhile about life. I told her about my trip to Warsaw with my friend Ania and our visit to the Jewish Ghetto there. Ania had grown up in Poland and was painfully aware of its torrid history. Ania asked me if I wanted to visit Auschwitz but I declined. I couldn’t bare to experience the place where so many suffered and died.
Doris and I discovered that we both lived in Los Angeles and by coincidence she attended the Westside Jewish Community Center where I worked as the fitness director. My daughter went to the pre-school at the center as the only non-jew. Her teacher Ms. Lilly wore the numbers from her time in Auschwitz, thought she never spoke of it.
Doris signed a copy of her book “Kiss Every Step” and we hugged one more time. “People must remember” she said. “There can never be another Auschwitz”. “We must love each other and get along. Don’t forget us…never forget” were her last words to me. How could I?
I left the antique store without corbels but with a heart full of love and appreciation for the precious time I spent with Doris. It was obvious that this was no ordinary chance encounter, but divine synchronicity. I went into the store hot and grumpy and came out with a new attitude.
This experience was reality check and a beautiful lesson of how extremely blessed I am. As I walked to my car I thanked my Angels for the experience and guiding me to Doris. She was a gift and a blessing to me that day. Doris is an angel that I will always remember.
“We hope by telling our story we will help to assure that those millions of poor souls who suffered and died so horribly will not be forgotten, but will be remembered for what they were-not statistics, but real people who had a love of life and the right to live.”-Doris Martin
*Doris Martins book- Kiss Every Step: A Survivor’s Memoir from the Nazi Holocaust can be found on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Every-Step-Survivors-Holocaust/dp/1439256063