Kirshenblatt, Mayer (1916-2009)
Iłża, Father's Hometown: Father Bids His Parents Farewell before Leaving for Canada, March 1997
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 in.
"My father had to leave Poland secretly because his business failed. He used to go out of town often. So when he left town this time nobody knew it was for good. Had the loan shark the slightest suspicion, he would never have let my father leave in one piece. He would have killed him, or, at the very least, maimed him. Only my mother knew that he would never return to Apt. My father first went to Drildz, so he could say goodbye to his parents. His father was already very ill with what I later surmised was hardening of the arteries. My mother then sent me on my own to Drildz by horse and wagon without telling me why. I was happy to go. When I got to Drildz, my father was already there awaiting my arrival. That's when I found out that he would not return to Apt. Being the eldest, I was the only one to be informed of my fatherís departure. I was strictly warned not to tell anybody. I had to keep my father's departure a secret.
The next morning my father left for Canada . My grandfather lay on the chaise lounge in the kitchen where he used to rest all day. He rose with great difficulty, went to the front door, and, with tears running down his face, he walked up to my father and cried, 'Son, my son, my first-born, I will never see you again.' I ran after the wagon for a while, then stopped as my father and the wagon disappeared over the crest of a hill. I felt very sad. I used to write my father very nice letters. In the fall, I would collect colorful maple leaves and enclose them in my letters to him. I sent him drawings and wrote him all about what was happening in school. Grandfather died two years later, in 1936."