Friday, December 14, 2018

A Single Candle

Thought for the day: You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake. (sigh)

[Morguefile]
 If you folks in the southeastern part of the United States happened to see a massive glow in the sky yesterday, fear not. It wasn't Armageddon, or anything. The blaze atop my birthday cake just got a teensy bit out of control is all. (I TOLD Smartacus not to use a blow torch to light all those darned candles.) Anyhow, the fire department must be getting real tired of coming by the house every year to extinguish the bonfire, so I think we'll skip covering the cake with candles from now on. The truth is, I'm creeping ever closer to that age where there'll once again be a single candle on my cake, and everybody will tell me what a good girl I am if  I can summon enough hot air to blow it out in a single try.

Know what? Maybe it'd be better to skip the cake altogether, and just have a glass of wine.

Hey! I'm OLD. I can do that if I wanta.

Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.  [Stanislaw Jerry Lec]
                      (Too bad my work of art is being painted by Picasso...)

You don't stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing.  [Maurice Chevalier]      

I'm happy to report that my inner child is still ageless.  [Jane Broughton]
                                     
You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.  [George Burns]



So maybe we can't do a thing about getting older, but do you think a single candle can make much of a difference? I do. (For one thing, there's no need to call the fire department...)

Okay, I'm gonna be serious for a minute, because I want to tell you about a very special woman whose single candle radiated enough light to hold the powers of darkness at bay. Her name was Irena Sendler, and she truly embodied the Chinese proverb: It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

[Wikipedia]
This is what she looked like in 1942, when the young Polish Catholic woman lived in German-occupied Warsaw. As a social worker and nurse, she was allowed to enter the Jewish ghetto. She saw their suffering first-hand, and knew that people of all ages were being  forcibly removed from their homes, never to return. And she also knew what the penalty was for trying to help them.















[Wikipedia]





She knew what the penalty was, because signs like this were posted all over Warsaw. 



These signs issued a clear warning that helping anyone leave the Jewish settlement without authorization was punishable by death.

And yet...
[credit: German Federal Archive]
And yet, the dark plight of the children tore at her heartstrings, and she had to DO something. As a member of the Zegota resistance movement, she smuggled 2500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto, provided them with false identities, and got them to a safe location... to private homes, to orphanages, to convents. She took the children out in ambulances, under the pretext that they were infected with typhus; she carried them out in tool boxes; she transported them in coffins. Whatever it took, she did it. One after another, desperate parents turned their beloved children over to her, a virtual stranger, in the hopes that their children would be spared from the horrors of living... and dying... in a concentration camp. Each child's name, Sendler recorded on paper, along with their new identities and locations. Then she tucked those papers into jars and buried them under an apple tree in her yard. Following the war, the information in those jars was used to reunite some of the families. Unfortunately, most of the parents were already gone, but thanks to Sendler and other members of the resistance, their children survived.

[Wikipedia]

In 1965, Israel recognized Sendler as Righteous Among the Nations, a designation honoring non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews. And risk her life, she did: Sendler was captured, tortured, and sentenced to death... and spared from execution by virtue of a bribe. The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations is part of the Yad Vashem complex on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.

[Wikipedia]

At the entrance to the Garden stands the Tree of Irena Sendler. I don't know what kind of tree is it, but an apple tree would be perfect, wouldn't it?


[credit: Mariesz Kubik]







This picture, taken in 2005, shows Sendler with the grown-up versions of some of the children she smuggled out of that Warsaw ghetto during the war.

[credit: Mariesz Kubik]




In 2007, Sendler was presented with the Order of the Smile, an international award given by children to adults distinguished in their love, care, and aid for children. A year later, she passed away.




In 2009, Poland issued a commemorative coin in honor of three women. One was Irena Sendler, a woman who proved that one person... one candle burning brightly in the darkness... can indeemake a difference.





In a world full of darkness, in a world full of pain,
All it takes is a sparkle, all it takes is a flame,
To make joy out of sadness, to bring hope to a life,
Like the promise of the dawn
On a long winter's night.
[from the song Light One Candle, by Ronnie Spector]


                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Let it shine! [Wikipedia]


For my birthday, a present for you guys. Sorta. Both e-versions of my books are on sale for 99 cents. Woo HOO. (I would've made them FREE, but those darned candles cost a lot of money, ya know...) Clicking on the book images in the sidebar will transport you to Amazon. U.S. Amazon, that is, but the book is also on sale in the U.K.




62 comments:

  1. Belated, but my birthday wishes for you are that each and every year is filled with love and laughter. Candles optional.
    I did know about Irena Sendler, and reading about her still moves me to tears.
    Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, dear lady. I wish the same for you.

      You're welcome. It helps to remind ourselves every once in a while that such caring selfless people have existed... and still do.

      Delete
  2. What an inspiring story! A brave and amazing woman.

    Happy birthday!

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    1. I'm glad to hear you were as inspired by Ms. Sendler's story as I am.

      Thank you!

      Delete
  3. An remarkable account of remarkable human being; a gift. Thank you. I have put off my my birthday 'til next week in your honor. Trust you had a happy one dear Susan.

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    1. Yes, she truly was a gift, and I think it's important that we remember people like her.

      How kind of you to put off your birthday, dude. :) I hope you have a wonderful one. Just like you.

      Delete
  4. Thank God for people like Irene Sendler, they make the world a better place. I hope you enjoyed your birthday in spite of incendiary hazards! It's my birthday next week, but there will be no candles - I have got to the stage where no cake would be big enough! Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

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    1. Agreed. The world could use a whole lot more people like Ms. Sendler.

      Yes, I had a lovely birthday, thank you. I hope your's is fabulous, too. And I'll tell you a secret. No candles used here at all. No cake, either. HA! (But my hubby did buy me some tiramisu... we just forgot to eat it!)

      Hugs back atcha.

      Delete
  5. Susan, it's a good thing our birthday cakes weren't anywhere near each other yesterday - - the blaze from all those candles would have been bigger than the recent California fire.

    I needed this post - it definitely brightened my day. All I have to add is that very special people were born in December. Especially on December 13th.

    (just a few songs on the piano yesterday - music from "Fiddler on the Roof". Not much, but it's a start...)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. HA! You've got that right. (But shhhh! I didn't really light any candles... or have a cake... :) )

      I'm glad you enjoyed the post, but reading that you played piano yesterday brought tears to my eyes. I'm absolutely thrilled. Keep going!

      Delete
  6. Hope a happy birthday was had at your pad. Hmmm maybe you want to have those candles make the firefighters come. You a secret firefighter groupie? lol

    She sure was a great woman indeed. Doing what had to be done no matter the risk.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks. It was, indeed, a happy birthday. But no candles, so alas, no firemen, either. :)

      Yes, she was. It's heartening to know that even in the midst of such a dark time, good people like her were still there to make a difference.

      Delete
  7. Happy birthday! I don't do candles on my cake anymore either.
    What an amazing woman. That's wonderful she got to live to see some of those children grow up.

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    1. Thanks!

      I know! Her entire story is amazing, but that she got to see some the adult versions of some of the children she'd saved is the most wonderful part to me.

      Delete
  8. Happy Birthday -I raise a glass of wine to you. It's been too cold to sit on the bench - let's aim for spring! Meanwhile - stories like these are the bright spots in the world. A single candle!
    Enjoy your weekend

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! And I raise my... um, bottle of water... to you!

      Not all that cold here, but it sure is WET. I'm beginning to wonder if an ark may be in order. But yes, spring sounds like a much better time for bench-sitting. :)

      Enjoy your weekend, too!

      Delete
  9. Happy, Happy Birthday, Susan. I recently read an article on a man who petitioned the court to have his age changed to twenty years younger. He said that if it was legal to change a name, he should be able to change his age. Needless to say, he lost his case, We all try to keep our youth in some form, but in the end, Father Time and Mother Nature have their say. I have come to an age where I embrace birthdays and hope they keep on coming. It is a gift to grow old.

    What a beautiful person Irene Sendler was. Her story brought tears to my eyes. Heroes are the light in the darkness.

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    1. Thank you, dear Arlene.

      HA! It sounds like that guy had a screw loose. I can tell people I'm twenty years younger, but I'll still look like an old broad. :) But I agree. Growing old is a gift. Too many of my friends never got the opportunity.

      Have a wonderful weekend, sweet lady.

      Delete
  10. Candles just get in the way of the cake's frosting. Hope you had a great day!

    Thank you for sharing the story of this amazing woman.

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    1. The best candles we ever got were the ones that keep re-igniting after being blown out. We put them on our older son's cake one year, and it was hilarious watching him blow... and blow... and blow. Oh so serious about it, too.

      You're welcome. Her story is one well worth sharing.

      Delete
  11. Happy Birthday! Here at my house, I started putting only 3 candles on our birthday cakes for the adults. They stand for the past, present and future as we celebrate another year. So true that one candle can do so much. I'd never heard of the order of the smile before, but It was indeed well deserved. One smile can light up a dark day just like a candle.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you! That's a wonderful idea. I may have to borrow it the next time one of our birthdays roll around.

      I have a feeling YOU would be a worthy recipient of the order of the smile, too.

      Delete
  12. Hope you have/had a wonderful day Susan.
    I will borrow heavily from this lovely post and use it in my Facebook group - You Don't Have to be Jewish, London. Thank you!
    www.facebook.com/groups/281083195760846/?ref=bookmarks
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s rubbish Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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    1. Thank you!

      I'm thrilled that you're gonna share parts of this story. It's a story that's meant to to be told.

      Delete
  13. My birthday is coming up soon. Must be careful not to burn down the house !
    Only one candle for me for many years and now just cake and frosting.
    I love when anyone especially Polish resistance are heard about !

    Let there be cake !
    cheers, parsnip and badger

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    1. Well, then, let me wish you an early happy birthday. :)

      Yes, let there be cake! (Or in my case... tiramisu...)

      Cheers back atcha.

      Delete
    2. yumm tiramisu and also The Lime Green Princess Cake,

      Delete
  14. First of all, happy birthday. And thank you for sharing this lovely story! I'd never heard of Irena Sendler--truly an inspiration.

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    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes. You're welcome for the post. It's a genuine honor to share her story.

      Delete
  15. Oh, wow. Not 3/4's of the way through and both eyes were leaking! I'd never heard of Irene, either. How I wish the so-called media would share more heart-worthy stories such as yours.
    (Happy Birthday again!)

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    1. You and me both. It'd be great if stories like this were shared in the media more often.

      (Thank you again!)

      Delete
  16. First you had me laughing and nodding; then you had me tearing up. What a remarkable woman and what a remarkable story. Who says one person can't make a difference in this troubled world. Thank you for your contribution to WEP. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    1. Cool! I'm glad you enjoyed the post, but it isn't for the WEP. :) Sorry. I'll post that on Monday.

      Delete
  17. Happy belated birthday!! Your post made me cry (happy tears)!!

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  18. Happy Birthday!
    I loved your beautiful tribute to Sendler. She truly was a light in the darkness. Thank you for sharing!

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  19. Hi Susan! Thank you for the tribute to this amazing woman! How brave! I'm so glad she avoided being executed for her crime of love.

    And happy birthday! Not being from the States, I missed seeing the bonfire LOL. But it sounded like a great celebration.

    It may sound like a silly question, but I'm not sure if this is your WEP contribution. If it is, would you put WEP in your title so people will know for sure. I haven't DLd your name on the list as not sure if this is it. I don't see any notification anywhere that you've posted.

    Merry Christmas!

    Many more happy birthdays!

    Denise

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    1. Hi-ya, Denise!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading about Ms. Sendler, but no ma'am, this isn't the WEP post. I'll put that up on Monday. :)

      Merry Christmas to you, too!

      Delete
    2. Thanks Susan. The candle got me!

      Delete
  20. I turned 67 this year, my daughter and gr-daughters were kind and put 6 + 7 candles.

    Irene Sendler defied the odds and saved so many. Thanks for this post.

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    1. That was a cool way for your family to do the candles. We didn't bother with candles at all. In fact, we forgot to eat the tiramisu until tonight. :)

      She was an amazing woman.

      Delete
  21. Irena Sendler is way braver than I am, for sure. What a remarkable woman.
    We gave up on candles long ago, we just have cake these days. Apparently one year, someone couldn't blow without also inadvertently spitting, so no one wanted cake unless the icing got scraped off. There hasn't been a candle since. You're 26 again this year? My mum was 26 for about 20 years.

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    1. Hmmm, maybe the spitter wanted all the icing for himself? HA

      If I'm 26, I've been 26 for a LOT of years! I might could pull off 60-something, or maybe even 50-something on a good day, but 26? I'd have to hide my 20-something granddaughters... :)

      Delete
  22. I first learned about Irena from her 2009 biopic movie, made for TV: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. Anna Paquin played the title role with such panache, as if she experienced all those horrors herself. And the directing was good too. Have you seen the movie?
    Thanks for your post about Anna! She deserved the recognition.

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    1. No, I didn't see that movie, but I wish I had.

      Thank you for stopping by to read it. :) She definitely deserves the recognition.

      Delete
  23. such an amazing and brave woman.
    a happy birthday

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  24. Thanks for this inspiring story, Susan. Happy birthday.

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  25. A lovely inspiration. Hope the stories of many such are told again & again.


    PS: You could try getting candles shaped as a number for your next birthday. Many wishes.

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    1. I agree. We must never forget these stories.

      P.S. Good idea!

      Delete
  26. Remember...the best part of waking up is NOT Folger's in your cup. It's waking up.
    Happy Birthday!

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    1. You've got that right! Any day we wake up on the topside of the dirt is a good one. :)

      Delete
  27. Many thanks for this post, it's such an inspiring story.
    Happy Birthday Wishes :)

    All the best Jan

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    1. You're welcome. I'm glad you found Ms. Sendler's story as inspiring as I do.

      Thank you! :)

      All the best back atcha.

      Delete
  28. A very happy birthday to you. I had heard about Irene Sendler before. What a wonderful brave person.

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  29. You are right, Irene Sendler's story deserves to be told. Someone should make a movie about her. They could call it "Sendler's List."

    And don't forget - birthday cake has no calories!

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    1. I think her story needs to be told, too. Olga (an earlier commenter) says a movie HAS been made of her life, but I missed it.

      Good darned thing! But, um, all this other food I've been eating...

      Delete
  30. I hope your birthday was wonderful! Amazing story about Irene Sendler.

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