Never Underestimate. Never assume.

Always on the lookout for some activity that will "teach", I asked my oldest granddaughters to accompany me to a Holocaust Survivor banquet at a museum in our state. It was going to be a dressy affair, a banquet with Jewish appetizers, guests of great importance, some talks and remarks from Holocaust survivors. These survivors were now old, but during the Holocaust were in their early twenties, were teens and some were children.

I drove the ninety miles to pick them up. They were waiting and all dolled up and looked very grown up! (They were ten at the time.) We drove the additional thirty or so miles to the museum. It was decorated tastefully but the real beauty was the pictures of Holocaust survivors on the wall. Current pictures of them, accompanied by a short story of something the remembered from the Holocaust.

This was not like any other museum show I've gone to, where you slowly walk along the wall and look at the pictures. Every person there would stop. Look at the pictures. Read each story. Look at the picture again. There were tears. You could tell people were connecting the stories they'd heard in history class with real people.

Dear Dad

Oh, and there was really good food. Food I couldn't even pronounce and had no clue what it was. You could tell that some of the guests of honor were THRILLED with the menu, to be eating cultural tidbits that reminded them of who they were, of where they came from.

Front step chilling by Sol Lang
After a bit, the program began. The museum director said a few words and then invited a few of the survivors up to talk. Their stories were incredible. Engaging. Unbelievable. They shared the torture and fear they endured, but they also shared how those trials, those atrocities, made them better people. More tears.

This was a fundraiser for the museum as they were trying to raise enough money to KEEP the photo display they had borrowed for this event. The photos of the survivors. Their stories.

After the speakers (and of course, several standing ovations), the museum director once again took center stage to appeal to the audience for donations. On each table were donation slips. These were slipped into a paperback book that included each picture and story that was in the exhibit. I wasn't sure the girls were picking up on this part (asking for money) and worried that they might be bored and thinking... "Grandma was nuts if she thought we'd have fun at this event!" I noticed them looking at the books and reading the donation slips. The donation slips were premarked with dollar amounts $1000, $500, $250, $100 and "other". (Keep in mind this was a high-faluting group, waaay the other end of my socio-economic upbringing or status.)

One of the girls tapped my arm. "Grandma, do you think it would be okay if I gave them $25.00? I have that much in my bank at home." The other said, "I only have $17 but I want to give it to them, too."

"Do you know what they're going to do with this money?"

"Yeah. They're going to make sure other kids see these pictures and read these stories. Maybe things like this (the Holocaust) won't ever happen again if kids learn about it." "And if they see that these were little kids and ugly things were done to them maybe we won't have war," piped in the other twin.

I have never been more proud of them. And I'm not sure I ever can be.

We made a point to stay and talk to some of the survivors and I wanted them to meet the Museum Director. Not really because he was exceptional. More for his benefit. I wanted him to know the lesson I had learned that night.

The lesson that you should NEVER underestimate the power of love. The power of a story. The power of human connection. And you should NEVER assume who will act upon that love, that story, that connection. You see, never did it even occur to me that the girls would consider a donation. And I'm guessing he didn't either.

Never underestimate.
Never assume.