Excerpted from the preface to A Boring Evening at Home ©2004, a wonderful book in which Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein discusses her adjustment to her new life in America:
The key to my survival in the dark years of slavery was the memory of what had been before: memories of my family and my childhood. There was always one picture, which I would pull up from the deepest recesses of my mind and heart. I would hold it and examine it as one would a precious jewel. It was the memory of an evening at home. The picture was that of my childhood living room. Lamplight would softly illuminate the room, and in its warm glow, my father would be smoking his pipe, reading the evening paper, while my mother worked on her needlepoint. I could see my brother sprawled on the green carpet, doing his homework while I played with my cats. An evening at home– something I had taken utterly for granted. Seeing it from the perspective of my hard bunk, looking out at the barbed wire of the concentration camps, it became the most beautiful sight in the world. I was struck by the enormity of the fact that I had taken those evenings totally for granted, even thought of them as no more than “boring evenings at home.”
That image became my lodestar, and I knew that I could endure anything to be part of one more evening at home with my family. It is a vision that has served me well throughout my life’s journey. Coming home from even the more enviable places has never disappointed me, and being at home has always restored me whenever my spirits were flagging.