11 October 2019

Published October 9, 2019 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.



Frog Delightfully rendered by Keith Hillman.


Genre: Non-Fiction

Word Count: 100


זיכרונו לברכה

“I wish I’d known you better, Grandpa.”

My grandfather smiles at me from a black and white photo.

The few memories I have are shadowy and vague. The words ‘austere’ and ‘distant’ best describe him. My mother’s father—an enigma.

I regret never asking him about his life as a Jewish boy in Czarist Russia.

“Why did you flee to America?”

“Oy, don’t ask. You should never know such tzuris,” might he have answered? What horrors lurked behind those faded eyes?

 I smile back at his monochrome image. “I hope you’re proud of my writing, Grandpa. You are my inspiration.” 



86 comments on “11 October 2019

  • Neil’s so right. How many of us would love to talk to an elderly relative now, when we’re old enough ourselves to appreciate their lives. My Nan drove ambulances and was a ‘fire watcher’ during the war. She would have been younger than I am now. But I never did ask her a thing about it. Lovely, wistful writing and sentiments many of us share. Wonderful photographs too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Lynn,

      What amazing stories your Nan must’ve had. The truth is, my grandfather wasn’t the most approachable person. When I voiced my regret over not having asked the questions, a cousin interjected that he doubted Grandpa would’ve answered them. Such is life. Thank you for such a lovely comment. It’s wonderful to see you back in FF.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, yes, that was quite a stumbling block about my Nan too! Not the warmest lady :). Still, it’s a shame they couldn’t share these things with someone. All those experiences lost. Lovely to be here, Rochelle 🙂


  • Different era. I asked my grandmother about her life in the air force during WWII and her answers were vague, even with direct questions. I think that generation just got on with it. A shame because I love stories, but at the same time admire the attitude of the silent generation. Tough stock.

    Touching story Rochelle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Tanille,

      My grandfather came here in 1906, according to Ancestry.com…1903 according to my mother. I imagine there were events he just didn’t care to talk about. Still, I wish…;) Thank you for your kind words.



      Liked by 1 person

  • A lovely memoir, Rochelle. I’m sorry you didn’t know your maternal grandfather better. Thank goodness both my parents were photo collectors. I remember my brother, twenty years older than me, telling me about one maternal uncle after he died, “You knew him as an old man. He wasn’t like that when he was younger. He was quite a kidder, full of fun. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  • It’s too bad he didn’t open up to you. His stories would have been eye opening for sure. I never got to know either of my grandfathers but I regret not writing or recording the stories of my Uncle Wendell who had so many. We should all encourage our elderly folks to tell their stories. History in the flesh. Good job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear James,

      I never met my paternal grandfather although I’ve heard lots of stories making me wish I had. To tell the truth, I’m not sure I ever really met my maternal grandfather even though I was barely 20 when he passed. Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • May his memory be a blessing, indeed, especially on a day of Yiszkor (for those who do, at Shul) – I can relate to wishing I knew more about some of those in my family who’d passed on. I don’t know if people just did not talk about ‘the past’ or if it was to protect ‘the young people’ from events and realities one wished to leave behind, figuratively as well as literally.
    I am sure he’s proud of you, Rochelle.
    You do good stuff!
    PS Left my contribution with Froggitzky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Na’ama Y’karah,

      According to my mother, my grandfather ‘came to America in 1903 at the age of 19 with nothing but the shirt on his back and taught himself to be a tailor.” She said he didn’t actually know his birthdate due to the pogroms. Another cousin said he came to escape the Russian draft. Jewish boys were drafted and forced to serve for 40 years…so it’s a plausible story. We don’t even know what his real last name was as he took the surname Weiner because it didn’t sound so Jewish. There must have been quite a lot who thought that way since Weiner has become a very Jewish name.
      At any rate, Grandpa wasn’t a warm fuzzy person. The only time I remember true affection from him was when I took it upon myself to ask my SYO adviser to tutor me in Hebrew. That impressed him since he paid for my brother’s Hebrew school but since I was a girl…you know the drill.
      Nonetheless I think of him fondly these days. Thank you for your kind words. Froggitzky? I like it.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for saying more about your grandfather — there are so many such stories, and then, there were so many stories lost (I often think of all the stories we’d totally lost with those who the Nazis and their followers had murdered). At least we have some stories, or lore, or hints, or memories, with those who’d managed to survive, before or since.


  • Even I think of so many questions I wanted to ask them… Will never learn their answers.
    I believe our loved ones, who are no more, are our guardian angels.
    Your grandfather’s blessings are with you. Keep writing & smiling 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Methinks most of us have that one relative in particular (maybe more) that we wish we could have gotten closer to and listened to their stories – even write them down or record them. I know I am mad at my own self for not doing so.

    Lovely write, as per usual.

    Shalom and lotsa love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      True, I’m not the Lone Ranger. 😉 And Grandpa will forever be something of a mystery. At least through writing and research I feel like I know him a little better. The one thing I do know is that his father sang like Tevye. 😀 And as my cousin Jeff and I agreed…Grandpa might not have answered the questions if we’d thought to ask. Thank you re my story.

      Shalom and lotsa hugs,


      Liked by 1 person

  • This is so sweet, evocative, heart-touching, warm–you checked every box here, Rochelle. And I’m afraid our stories will be somewhat similar today. The one I have in mind isn’t completely “set” yet, but we come from the same age group, and black and white pictures often evoke memories of the same era.

    Beautifully done, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Eric,

      From the things my mom told me and what I know of the era, I can imagine the horrors my grandfather saw and or suffered. On top of that, during WWII he was trying to get some other relatives out of Eastern Europe when all communication ceased. Don’t really need anyone to tell us what happened to them. 😦 Thank you so much for your kind comments.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I am in the process of dealing with what my mother left… I have those pictures and many times not even knowing who they are. I doubt that there are such darkness in my ancestor’s memories… but if there were I will never know.

    I am very busy and will likely not write this week either. But I will be back when things are getting a little bit easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Björn,

      I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on my story. I think we all have those photos left by our parents with faces that will remain a mystery. Alas, I fear I’ll do the same to my kids. Hope you see you and your writing back next week.




  • I can relate to this one. My grandfather, not the funny one I mentioned last week, was a large, stern, imposing figure. We left the Bay Area when I was three, and I only saw him a couple of times per year. He died when I was 12. I never got to see passed that stern exterior. He never got to see me grow from a dorky kid to a dorky adultish kid. There’s so much more to a person than the pictures and stories they leave behind, which your dialogue with a photograph conveys exceedingly well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nobbin,

      My mom used to take us to visit Grandpa every Sunday. It wasn’t a visit I looked forward to. Particularly as I hit my early adolescent years. I always felt like I was under a microscope. He sounds a lot like your grandfather. Thank you for reading and sharing your story.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Mike,

      I’ve compared notes with my cousins. Grandpa was definitely not very open with his grandchildren. I had an aunt who referred to him as Smiling Sam because he rarely did. 😉 Thank you.




  • Dear Maddie Brady W(T)F,

    Nice photos and tribute to your Grandpa. Now, tell us what it was like when dinosaurs roamed and how you helped God select the proper shade of color for dirt.

    waiting for the Kodachrome version,
    Dr. Seussless

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dr. Suesless,

      How funny are you not? If memory serves, there aren’t that many years separating out birth years. Not to mention, one of us has many more white hairs and she isn’t me. 😉 Our son once asked Jan what it was like in the days when the Dead Sea was only sick.

      Don’t want to be negative though, although some of my thoughts might be a little filmy.

      35mm thank yous.


      Maddie Brady W(T)F


      • I’m a young 63. BTW–when are you going to cash those OWL checks? Surely, you could use that money to buy Jan some nice guitar accessories or something for his motorcycle, or maybe even a new set of crayons that don’t have the wrappers chewed off.

        And . . . a lot of people DO think I’m funny, just not in a Ha Ha way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • This was wonderful! Thank you for sharing your family heritage with us. In light of the recent developments including the marytrdom offered to the executed Romanovs, I find this story fascinating. I find the senseless killing of the entire family inexcusable. However, Czarist Russia was oppressive. And I also would have liked to know what life for your grandfather was like. I’m sure he would be so proud of you, Rochelle! And would want you to continue sharing their stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Fatima,

      In the trilogy of novels I wrote, I researched and explored what my grandfather’s life might have been like. My mother offered glimpses of what she knew of him which whetted my appetite to know more of his history. (Fiddler on the Roof is lovely but watered down). Czarist Russia was as gruesome as Hitler’s Holocaust and a history few people really know. I do agree that the murder of the entire Romanov family was a heinous as the persecution of the Jews. What did the children do to deserve such a fate?
      Thank you for your kind words…and as long as I’m breathing I will share these stories.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Querida Richelle,
    Buenas …. I feel like I should be singing a Frank Sinatra song “Regrets – I’ve had a few” etc.
    I think we all feel a ping of regret each time we wonder about our past history. You have quite a bit of stories to draw from. I’m sure you’re grateful for whatever there is in your treasure trove. Touching … and as always … drawing us into a world we don’t know. Gracias, mi amiga.
    Abrazos y Shalom,
    Isadora 😎


  • I feel sure that your grandfather would be proud of you Rochelle. As I get older its a source of sadness that I can’t talk to the older generation in my family, now that I’m ready to appreciate learning about the lives that they lived. Maybe our own imaginations are a way of
    connecting ?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Francine,

      In many ways, my writings, particularly my novels, have brought some closure re the enigma that was my grandfather. As I get older, I feel closer to him. Thank you for your affirming words.




  • Hi R – I am not quite yet back to doing any Friday fictioneers post (but might be back in early 2020- cos I sure miss everyone)
    and this week had a chance to read some fun entires for the photo prompt.
    and in yours today –
    the most poignant line was this:

    “Why did you flee to America?”

    really powerful fiction and that line alone says so much

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Valerie,

      I never knew my maternal grandmother, she passed away when my mother was 13. I never knew my grandfather’s second wife, but I know my mom adored her and named me after her. Sigh. Thank you for your sweet comment.




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