Profile of Esther

My mom’s and dad’s lives changed overnight, their world turned upside down. Life, as it was, would never be the same. With very little notice, the invasion of Poland was in full force. Survival became the new norm. Although I was not yet born, I can imagine the stories of my parents, being transported to an unknown land of ice and snow, Siberia was a name which made people shudder. My parents were herded from a cattle train where they were crowded in cramped quarters for days. Siberia would be their home for several years, settling into a drafty, unsealed log building. There wasn’t time to mourn the loss of their past lives; instead they had to focus on survival.

It was in Siberia that I was born. My memories are sparse. My mom talked of chest high snow and wind. She spoke of supplementing shelter by trading potatoes and sewing for the people who were guarding us. Food was scarce, bread was rationed. My dad had been killed but we were fortunate that my uncle was an architect and was able to improve our shelter. After several years, when the war had ended, we returned to the devastation of ruin and sadness. Decisions needed to be made.

Israel was going to be our new country, with this decision came sadness and trepidation because the Polish government would only allow one half of our family to immigrate. This strategy was put in place to keep us in line. Needless to say, my life became much better. In Israel I was able to attend school and complete my education. Upon completion, I did my compulsory time in the army and then met and married my best friend and life partner, Samuel.

Our lives were happy and busy in London, England where we lived for 30 years. We raised our two sons and daughter in London. Samuel’s business opened up our world on a global scale and provided us with happy memories and a contented life. Alas, there was a time for closure and another move, this time to Vancouver, Canada, where Samuel provided his expertise to the new technology, colour printing! Many new memories were created.

My world fell apart 19 years ago when Samuel died, I felt as if I was caught up in a riptide, these were my darkest days. Not only had I lost my dear husband but several weeks prior to his death, my mom passed away. Through many good friends, family and a very supportive network, I was able to get out of the riptide and find a calmer space. Life will never be the same but I learned to bounce back. I am blessed with many wonderful memories.

Today, I spend many hours doing volunteer work and caring for others. Being able to help someone else through a crisis also helps me. As a senior, I sense the loneliness and the invisibility people experience. Seniors continue to have value and wisdom. They should never be treated like an ‘old hat’ taken from a shelf and used when needed. We can do better!

I experience the reward of volunteering when I see a senior’s smile, and a mood lighten. Then I know when I have left them or hung up the phone that I have made a difference!

“Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.”
— Anne Frank