Friday, July 3, 2009

Flora Arnswalder Caspari: in memoriam, May 3, 1883--July 12, 1954

I would like to say with certainty that my "Omma," my maternal grandmother, was born in Czarnikau, Poland, but I do not know. How easily the facts of life are lost, especially given the dispalcements caused by WWII. Perhaps my mother did tell me, but if she did , I have forgotten. Flora--a beautiful name-- was in her early twenties when she married. Her husband, Paul Caspari, was selected by her family as a suitable match. He was twenty years older than she and an established physician in Berlin. Only when she lay dying of cancer, did she tell her daughter that she had been in love with another man, a youth her own age. My grandmother's story is not unusual; how many young women then and now also follow family dictates. Their lives are arranged by others. Flora moved to Berlin and was charged with caring for her new household. Her first child died in childbirth; her second, my mother, Beate, survived and became a physician and author. My grandmother's life was eventful; she witnessed the rise of Hitler and fled Berlin late, in 1938, after Kristalnacht. Her husband had died about a year earlier, during an operation. She stayed as long as she could, but finally made her way to the United States, where her daughter, Beate and her husband George Rosen, MD, were living. She lived together with my parents until her cancers required hospitalization in a nursing home. Do I recall my grandmother? Yes. Though I was 13 when she died, and she had been hospitalized for about a year previously, I remember vignettes, so integral was she to our home. Omma cared for my brother Paul Peter Rosen, MD, and myself when we were children. She was remarkable in her steadfastness and her love for us. I will write more about her on another occasion. I have lit the jahrzeit candle. I have not forgotten. With love from your granddaughter Susan

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