Thursday, October 1, 2009


I dream a lot. I mean, I really dream a lot. Vivid dreams. Dreams that continue in sequence even if I wake up and then go back to sleep. Sometimes they’re so dramatic and action-packed I wake up tired in the morning.

My father was a dreamer. Often he didn’t make big decisions until after he slept on it, until after he dreamed.

My wife rarely dreams.

This morning I dreamt I was escaping the Holocaust. I hadn’t read a book or watched a movie about the Holocaust the day or night before to subliminally suggest the topic. It just took over my subconscious.

Just as I was making my escape, the phone rang. It was a distant cousin, Laura, calling from outside Paris. I had lost touch with her about 10 years ago after she changed her email address. Now she was back in the hunt for our shared family heritage in Galicia, among the towns of Ottynia, Kolomea, Delatyn and Dora, an area that shifted allegiances depending on which neighboring country was victorious in the last conflict. Today, the area is part of Ukraine. When my father was born in Ottynia in 1911, it was part of Austria-Hungary. Poland controlled the area after World War I.

Laura’s family came from Dora, a shtetl even smaller than Ottynia. She was stymied to find out more information about her ancestors, almost all of whom, like mine, perished in the Holocaust.

How strange to be awakened from my dream of the Holocaust by Laura.

How strange to be asked about Dora, for you see, Dora was the name of my father’s girlfriend in Danzig where he lived prior to coming to America in 1939. He wanted to marry her, but she emigrated to Australia with her parents. Dora and my father re-connected 50 years later when my parents traveled to Australia to visit other friends who had fled the Holocaust. But that’s a story for another day.

I’m still lying in bed, my head spinning with dreams and memories.