I grew up without grandparents, and I've devoted much of my life to a passion, bordering on obsession, to understand why. I do so by chronicling my parents' lives, and by accumulating documents and photographs that help to explain or provide context. I have written and spoken extensively about my parents, and now my journey enters a new realm with the discovery in 2015 of my mother's wartime writings.
On Aug. 28, 2015, while cleaning out my childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware, to prepare it for sale, I found what I had been looking for since my mother died in 1982: Inside a Xerox box packed haphazardly with miscellanea were four notebooks filled with the Polish poetry and prose my mother wrote while hiding from the Nazis in a sewer for 14 months, from June 1, 1943, until the city of Lviv was liberated at the end of July 1944. This photo by my wife, Ronda Goldfein, shows my exhilaration as I stood in the backyard holding the box in which I had just found the buried treasure.
These four notebooks were near the bottom of the box, in this envelope marked in pencil "Kanal" (Polish for sewer) along with this piece of fabric, apparently a man's handkerchief. At the very bottom of the box, I also found a white plastic bag with the small, handwritten word in English: "HOME." Inside was a manila folder containing the papers my mother scooped up from the floor of her childhood home in the town of Turka-nad-Stryjem one day when she went there after liberation. I also have the mezuza she took from the front door that day.