Friday, July 2, 2010

A Sad Day

Well I haven't been so "peppy" these days and it seems like a lot is weighing on my mind.  I apologize to those of you who have missed the old Kipp.  She's on vacation.  I am apparently her older, more solemn version. 

Well, any-who.  This morning I woke up feeling ever so slightly optimistic again.  I thought I'd make some breakfast and I'd get right back to being happy-go-lucky since it was Friday and all. 

I went downstairs and grabbed the newspaper off of my front porch.  Front section.  A few pages in.  On the left.  I saw a picture that I recognized from a my childhood.  I picture I had a really fond memory of.  But instead of a picture and an amazing story, it was a picture and an obituary. 

George Brown's Article

So here I go, the water works start.  I'm leaking again.  Sometimes it just sucks to be a girl! 

I digress.  Sorry. 

Mr. Brown was a volunteer at the Museum of Tolerance, and he has been for over 15 years by my calculations.  You see when I was somewhere around 10 or 12, I went to the Museum of Tolerance for a field trip with my class.  I can't remember the grade.  I can't remember who was there.  But what I do remember was the shock it brought to me and the utter horror I felt.  Nothing like that could ever happen again, not as far as I was concerned.  I couldn't let it. 

At the end of our day, we had an appointment with an actual holocaust survivor.  Well I was too young or stupid to realize what this meant.  Holocaust victims were myths to me.  They lived in books like the Diary of Anne Frank, which Mr. McLaughlin had us read.  Perhaps they moved back to Europe where their original homes had been.  There was no way that a holocaust survivor lived in LA and was ever going to shake my hand. 

Well knock me over with a feather:  Mr. George Brown spoke to us that afternoon in haunting detail.  We weren't even teenagers, but I think he was very truthful and rather frank with us.  We were the future.  We were not allowed to forget.  He told us his entire story, from the separation from his mother and sisters all the way through his father's passing.  Then he told us how he came to Canada, then the East coast, and finally settling here: in Southern California.  He spoke lovingly of his wife.  He talked about his successes as an American.  He reminded us of his past.  Then he thanked us.  He shook our hands.  He answered our questions.  He treated us like human beings and not children.  That was the epitome of tolerance. 

I have a book that he wrote somewhere packed away in one of my moving boxes.  My mother bought it after she cried through his presentation, and Mr. Brown signed it for me.  I'll never forget it.  I have a book signed by the author.  I have a book signed by a great man, a tolerant man.  It was short book, and I picked it up about 3 or 4 times over the past 10 or so years to read it. 

So I cried today, but then I stopped rather suddenly.  It was almost as if I felt God telling me "Don't worry, I've got him.  He's with his family again."  And then I smiled. 

So thank you, Mr. Brown, for showing me tolerance in a pure form.  Thank you for telling your story so many times to so many children and adults such as myself.  Thank you for not being afraid.  Thank you for persevering.  You taught me so much in such a short time span, and I will forever be grateful. 


un(LEASH)ed said...

Wow, I started tearing up reading this. I was never part of that group that went to the Museum of Tolerance and I know that I really need to go. It's a sad day, but it's also amazing the lasting effect that stories and people can have on children. I'm glad his effect was a positive one on you and I'm sure many others.

Anonymous said...

I am George's daughter. I was very touched by your blog. He truly was an amazing man. To me he was dad, but to others he was an inspiration.

Thank you,
Debbie Belkin