One of the things that I decided to do on Rosh Hashana over the next few weeks was to detail my spiritual journey in a number of posts (with changed names of course, in some areas as I do not want to get sued and somethings is not about who or what but the lessons inherent). It may even take more than a few posts but I have decided to write out my journey on a lot of aspects from the time of my earliest memories which began when I was around two and a half years old and had a birth mark on my left eye burnt out by radiation.
What decided me was a meeting with an old friend who happened to meet with me while I was talking with a newer friend who was walking her two dogs over the chaggim. It was quite fascinating and freaky as this new friend is the daughter of two holocaust survivors and her mother is from Vienna, Austria. The three of us were standing smoozing on the corner of Kooyong and Balaclava Roads. It came out that all three of us had Austrian mothers. Now what is the chances of that happening? Three women of similar ages within say ten years of each other meet on a street corner at a given time and start to talk and in the course of the conversation we suddenly realise all three of us have Austrian mothers. The other two have Polish fathers. My father's linage is Australian of Irish and German Jewish extraction. Now I had always been told that Rachel Aaron who was my father's father's grandmother was Danish or Dutch. I researched and found that she was actually of German Jewish extraction and her grandparents and great grand parents were originally from Hamburg and Berlin. So it becomes more interesting. I still have not had time to go into the background of my mother's mother but it will be interesting to do so one day.
I have always wondered about my mother. You see I know almost nothing about her family except the little she told me and she kept hidden the fact for many years that she and her twin sister were illegitimate. I was twenty six years old before I knew those details about her birth and her parents. She was always mysterious and very vague about her parents. I knew that there was something quite funny but I really did not have the worldly knowledge or know how to inquire. In the days when she was born in a very Catholic country like Austria, children born out of wedlock had a raw deal to say the least. Their birth certificate testified to the fact of their illegitimacy and it was known to all who viewed it as the German word for illegitimacy was stamped in red block letters across the document, so there was a lot of shame attached to the fact. Hence it probably contributed to my mother's quite neurotic and anxious behaviour in dealing with us and in her parenting of myself and my brothers. During my childhood, I remember one of her favourite refrains was and I quote with her accent,'I never did swear till I had dese children. Dis is not me. Dey make me swear. Before I was a calm.' She also used to tell me later that she would take my youngest brother back to Austria with her and leave Christopher and I with Dad and his family. I was about seven when she first told me that and I think I started wetting the bed for a few months as I was quite nervous about who was going to look after us and what we would do if she went and why would she take one of us and leave the other two.
On one hand I wanted to be very good so she would not go and on the other hand anxiety would make me very nervous and wild. I think that sometimes I wanted to show her that we could not manage without her and that Dad and the three of us needed her too. She compensated by sending me to my grandmother's at the neighbouring property for a week or more at a time and my anxiety would lesson in my grandmother's house but was instead replaced by a feeling that I was the source of all the tzorus or sorrows and trouble in the family and that things were ok when I was not there but when I was, it was chaotic and that the family was better off without me.