February 1945. Planes roaring overhead; people dancing; men strutting drunkenly down the unpaved street, laughing, singing and shouting,”The Russians are here! The Russians are here!”
My uncle is one of these men—as usual, the center of any celebration. He is the one who found shelter on a farm in a small village southeast of Warsaw for himself, my mother and me after we were bombed.
I am five years old. Confused, I am not sure what it is all about. The roaring of the planes, the loud laughter of the drunken men stumbling down the road, the women crying and laughing. It is all bewildering.
Summer 1947. I have a completely new identity. We are political refugees in Belgium. I am told that I am not Catholic but Jewish. That “uncle” is really my biological father. The Polish soldier/father whose return I have been anticipating and for whom I have been yearning does not exist.
The following years bring additional instability—changing schools, learning new languages, moving to Germany, the country of the enemy. Nevertheless, the Americans are there, it is safe, and anybody can work. I long to get out, to breathe freely. I am still in captivity.
Winter 1959. I marry an American army chaplain, am embraced into the American military community, and come to the United States—a dream fulfilled.
A glorious day in 1969. I become an American citizen. Now I am truly liberated.