Kitty was born in Lithuania and lived a happy, playful life just like the other children in her neighborhood. Then the Russians came.
Everyone was forced out of their home and Kitty’s family was separated and some of them died. Kitty was abused as a prisoner of war for four years doing all she could to survive and to keep hope alive. She credits some of her survival success to dandelions. “Dandelions grow anywhere!” She would say, “Did you know that the meaning of Dandelion is Face of the Lion.” And it turns out that this young girl had the courage of a lion.
When the war was over, she immigrated to America. I met her many years later. I was much younger then and she became like a grandmother to me. It has always amazed me how grateful she was. I guess a four year experience of growing up in a prisoner of war camp can either make or break anyone. It made her. She is one of the most caring, interesting people I have ever met.
During the war, and when it was over, there was such great sadness as families assumed they would never see their loved ones again. Survivors knew that so many were killed in battle and villages, and others perished in camps. There were few records left and the chances of finding a loved one were slim. However, one day Kitty heard that her mother was, indeed, alive! With nothing but hope, and maybe a little fear, she knocked on a door.
Years of worry relieved
Reunited at last!
Kitty is now living in a nursing home. She is very old and has dementia. As I visited her one day, she looked outside and mentioned the four evergreen trees, she pointed out that they were growing with a slight tilt to the left, and said, “Look how beautiful they are!” Under those trees were a few dandelions! Kitty’s spirit has taught me to always have hope. Always look for beauty, and to live each day with an attitude of the dandelion, that is, with the face of a lion at all times.
The photos and stories in Brown Bag Letter are synchronized. To preserve personal history, my hope is that the anonymous photos I have found and a story from a different family will keep the stories of our past vibrant and not these folks to fade away.
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