Many people come up to me and say, “How is your… um, Grandfather today?” I know just what they are going to say because there is just that small hesitation and the hint of a question over “grandfather”. Well, to set the record straight, Joseph Kempler is my father-in-law. He is my husband’s father. It may get somewhat confusing because Joe, as I call him, looks so much older, and I look, well, younger. Even my own family, (who attended our wedding!) get caught up in the question, “April, how is your Grandpa?” I guess this is a sticking point with me and I thought I’d share my frustration. It’s really a little thing, why should I be frustrated? He could, in all honesty, be my grandfather. He is eighty-four years old and I’m in my early forties. If my friend Katie, can be a grandmother the last four years and she is only one year younger than me, then Joe can certainly be my grandfather. But, that is not our relationship.
Basically, Joe was forty years old when my husband was born, he was sort of on the older end for a parent. Not so uncommon nowadays, I’m sure you can understand how it is. Perhaps, it bothers me because if Joe was my grandfather that would separate us by another generation. I like that we are one generation apart, there is no gap in our timeline, his story his closer to me. If he hadn’t survived the concentration camps during the Holocaust, I would never have met, fallen in love with, and married his son. Paul would not have been born at all, and that kind of blows my mind some days.
I don’t want Joe’s Holocaust story to be further from my reality, I need it close as a reminder, this didn’t happen years and years and year ago, it was only the last century. We need to remember this one! It can, and does, happen over and over again. Humankind does not seem to be learning a lesson. Look at the race riots between the Croatians and Serbians, or in Rwanda, between the Hutu and the Tutsi. History, unfortunately continues to repeat itself.
So, it matters to me that people know Joseph Kempler is my father-in-law, his story, or his history, affects my life directly, and currently. I live with the child of a Holocaust survivor and all the psychological damage related. I wonder, did I marry for the story? Or, did the story come to me because I married into it? Well, I know the truth of that question and I will most likely address it in another blog. This one is getting a little deep for me today!
Sample chapters from my book The Altered I, a Holocaust Memoir: Altered I Sample-April Kempler