Monday, January 20, 2014

Inspiration from Hella Doman

I had the privilege Sunday of attending the funeral of the mother of a friend - Hella Doman.

I had met her but only briefly and did not know her story.

At the funeral, her story was told by her 2 sons who both were excellent speakers (especially in the circumstances).

She was born in 1925 in Holland.  Her parents separated when she was young (I think 6) so she returned with her mother to her mother's home in Germany.   Then Hitler happened and Hella was Jewish.  Hella was sent alone when she was 14 to Holland on the last train out of Germany.

Her father who had remarried and had a family did not want her so she was placed in an orphanage (despite having 2 living parents).  An uncle visited her there and found the conditions so bad, he insisted that his brother take her out of there so she was apprenticed as a hat maker.

Germany invaded Holland.  Hella,who was 17 by then, was moved to Northern Holland by the Dutch underground.  She was moved from farm to farm.  For a year, she was harbored in the basement of a barn under a cows' pen.

A few years later, liberation happened.

Hella returned home.  The orphanage was destroyed and there were no survivors.  Hella's father and family had died.  She did find her mother.  At age 21, she immigrated alone to NY.

In NY, she became an Xray technician and soon married a Polish doctor who started a modest practice in their basement.  She was the office manager and Xray technician.

She had 2 sons.

Her husband died at age 49 (he was older than her so she was likely not yet 40).  She was left close to penniless and went back to work as an Xray technician.  She followed and invested well in the stock market.  She was highly frugal.

One of her high values was education so when her sons went to university, she sold her house to put one through medical school and the other through law school.

I was moved by the realization of how easy my life has been and how resilient people can be.   And any problems I have seem so tiny.


At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Scottn said...

What a great story, I love hearing inspiring stories like this.
Thank you JIm !


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