The Last Gift (repost with photos)

The anemones are gone soon after they appear and the desert returns to its normal self, sand, sand and more sand.  The hot temperatures are normal as well and the patients who still need much care.  As new patients arrive, the usual conversations ensue.  Have you seen so and so and do you know what ever happened to my, brother, husband, friend, or in my mother’s case, her father?

There was one patient, who suggested that my mother place an ad in the new Polish newspaper that was printed in Baghdad.   This patient was stationed in Baghdad and agreed to place the ad for her when he returned to his unit.

At least my mother was being proactive about finding out about her father, but now had to wait to hear if anyone would respond to the ad.  In the mean time she would remember the days back home in Kosow, growing up, and what a great relationship she had with her dad.   My mom always talked about her father when I was growing up. She said that he was the perfect dad, the one that would get the Father of the Year Award, if there was one. She could always confide in him, tell him all her worries; how safe she felt when he held her hand as a little girl. He had the best shoulder to cry on, she remembered.  And oh, he was so talented, a musician, a poet, and good at everything! She obviously worshiped him.  At the same time, she spoke differently about her mother. She was the strict one, the one that expected my mother, an only child, to be a young lady, even when she was just a little girl.  Mom was sent off to boarding school when she was 14 years old, and home for brief vacations. Her time with her dad was precious.  She could tell him anything.  Things she would never tell her mother. Many times my mother would say that when she closed her eyes, she could still feel her father’s warm, protective arms around her, feel safe, feel so good, just like when she was a little girl.

Time passed and still no word from the ad.  She had to find out about her father! There were rumors swirling around the hospital that they may be picking up and moving to Palestine.  But when nobody knew.  She needed to hear something before they left.

That time came for her, news from the ad.  She received word from her superior that she needed to report to a certain tent at the camp. There was someone there to see her. Her heart started to pound. She was getting light headed.  Who could it be?  Was it information about her father?

As she entered the tent, she almost passed out at the sight. That moment she said was indescribable.  Standing in front of her was a young handsome soldier from her past, someone she knew before the war.  O God, thank you!  It was her boyfriend from before the war, someone she deeply cared about.  They had not seen each other since before the war started.  She only knew that he was in the army and he knew from her mother she had been arrested and in a Russian prison.  After all that time, over three years, to see each other again was incredible. She asked, “how did you find me?”  The response was, “I read the ad.”


Mama’s Dad

handsome tatus

Mama’s handsome pre-war boyfriend who finds her.

From that moment, my mother recounts, “this was the last present my dad was able to give me.” The first man in her life was able to give to her the second man in her life.

mama nurse3

Mama in 1942 waiting to hear about he dad.




  1. You’ve painted a beautiful picture of these intense events in our parents’s lives that were only blurry sketches in my mind. I’ve heard the stories and repeated them before, but now I could actually picture scenes from the movie.

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