Didi is my grandmother and she lives in a senior home in New York. I don’t get to see her very often because she is three hours away. But when I do see her, we listen to music, sing songs from her childhood, and go to a café down the road.
I love listening to Didi tell stories because she has had such an amazing life. She is French and grew up in Paris. I walked down her street last year when I lived there and it is beautiful. There is a fountain and a statue, and the apartment building is made of stone. I imagined Didi at 6, playing in the fountain with her friend Jacqueline.
But, what truly comes to mind when I think of my grandmother growing up in France aren’t the play dates and fun, but being there when the Nazis occupied Paris. She grew up in Paris during World War II. That is fascinating to me. Her father was part of the Resistance. One day the Nazis actually came to their home, looking for her father. They quickly dressed him up in his pajamas and put him to bed. My grandmother had to explain to the Nazis that her father was too sick with the flu to interrogate. They looked him over and then left. I can’t imagine the bravery. They had to be part of the Resistance and then actually lie to the Nazis. Didi describes the fear she had, the hardships they faced. When Paris was occupied by the Nazis, they couldn’t leave their home safely; they couldn’t buy sugar and milk.
Another story I love of hers is of her dog, Fritz. When the Nazis couldn’t interrogate her father, they took their dog instead. As they drove him away in the back of their pick-up truck, Fritz paid close attention to where he was going. Didi says he counted each church steeple all the way to Germany. When the timing was just right, he jumped off the truck and escaped. He found his way back this way. Didi loves this story.
This is my first day at the Senior Center. I would have liked to hear interesting tales from my colleagues around me but I have been asked to write about me. I am a fairly newcomer here in Philadelphia – and find it quite different from New York from where I came. It’s fairly quiet here and the buildings are old fashioned and fun to compare with each other. Having come from New York, to begin with, it seems very quiet, but as you go from area to area - you find many differences. This is my first day. I must do a little investigating before I can compare the pages and see the differences. I’m having fun – I look through the buildings and the many different areas that have been written about. These areas did not have air-conditioning, so the summers there were hot, but it was fun comparing the different areas. And, I made many friends in the various areas.