Dear Our Parent’s Grandchildren
(to my sister Danna’s children, nieces Amy and Olivia, and my son Ari)
I am writing to you from Michigan where Judy and moved from L.A. in 1991 to create distance from Grandpa Bernie. Ari and Lucy are currently traveling somewhere in Southern California near you.
I was hoping Ari would contact his cousins, or you — Amy and Olivia — would contact him. I emailed all of you each other’s addresses, in as much as I have never been successful in obtaining your phone numbers. My hope is that we can all get re-connected. It’s been a long time, as you know, since we’ve heard the sound of each others voices or seen each other in person.
You get used to estrangement from family. We drifted away from each other after Grandma Sylvia passed at the end of 2002. Not that we were close before in any stretch of the imagination. But even those occasional contacts became fewer as the years passed. Then, the silence settled in and became normal.
Not that I haven’t thought about you. Thoughts can be powerful. But these were not. These were dreams.
My attempts to connect were, I admit, half-hearted — a holiday or birthday card here and there. I am not Grandpa Bernie’s son for nothing. But I tried to reach out in my way. When I didn’t get responses from you, I gave up, then tried again 5, 10 years later. But now I’m looking 72 (years) in the face. Time is getting short. I can’t live anymore letting our lives, our family, drift.
I don’t believe family is everything, but it is critical to remembering who we are.
I’m going to spend the rest of this letter sharing what I believe are the most important things about your grandparents, and their parents, including Great Grandmother Anna. More of the rest you can learn in the book I wrote that I mailed you in 2015 based on Grandpa Bernie’s letters to Grandma Sylvia during World War II, Am I A Soldier Yet?
We all know how abusive, hateful and divisive Grandpa Bernie was. The stories haunt our memories of him and cloud our own understanding of ourselves. But there was an earlier time before we were born when his demons had not metastisized, when he and Grandma Sylvia held hope for a happy life, of having children and grandchildren.
Before Great-Grandma Anna passed from lung cancer in 1942, she gave Sylvia $100,000. It helped your grandparents start their lives together. It was only two years after their marriage in 1940 when Bernie was a very young attorney in New York City and Sylvia sought work on the theatre stage. I believe the thirst I have for singing, which I’ve lately pursued as a tenor in our community chorus, is an energy imprinted on both your mother and I from Grandma Sylvia. Amy has that bent as well. As you know, Sylvia was a very good dancer, an energy that moved epi-gentically to Danna and I as well, and the source, no doubt in my mind, for Ari’s and Olivia’s athleticism.
One hundred thousand dollars was nearly $2 million in today’s money. Think about that. $2 million. That was unusual monetary wealth. I think of it not as cash, but currency connecting us through time; 80 years, four generations, and counting. We are only a link in a currency of wealth and spirit.
How well we hold in our tissues the trauma of our family through the generations. In it lies a history of bitterness, resentment, guilt and revenge. The single event vaulting this toxic mixture of human weakness into action was the Trust left by Grandpa Bernie that typified his pathological need for control and revenge. He believed the millions of dollars amassed was his creation, and that he could wield it as he wished.
And we all prospered by it. Even me, who received the least of everyone else. But we need to remember the original $100,000 from Great Grandma Anna, which, by the way was also from Great Grandpa Dave, who owned a furniture factory in Bronx, New York, before the Great Depression. Afterwards, he and Anna made out well with four large apartment buildings they purchased and drew rental income from.
Currency. Not just dollars. Effort. Energy. Love. Yes, indeed. There was loads of love, wrapped in hopes and dreams for their children, and future generations. Love even in Grandpa Bernie, proved in those letters he wrote in 1943 to his love, Sylvia, when they were young, albeit twisted later by the demons growing in him.
The idea of family currency came to me from Grandpa Bernie’s gift to me in the Trust, his coin collection. I believed from the start I was left the coin collection, and my sister Danna, and you grandchildren most of the Reich Family Estate for a reason. The reason for me was to appreciate the best of our family currency, which can also be described as epi-genetics: our energetic inheritance.
We are bound together in a way we cannot deny. The opportunity is right here for us to heal, and to create boundless joy from the shadows we still hide inside. We could do it without family. But that would take so many more years, if it can at all, with more grief and sorrow.
With Great Love and Respect,
David (Northville, MI, January 11, 2022)
If you are reading this section now unsealed upon my passing, it is hopefully years later when I wrote the original letter. You, the beneficiaries of the Reich Trust, have, or will soon learn, the benefaction of the family currency I am passing on as it was passed on to me. In my life, I made a modest income, spent modestly, and acquired few valuable possessions. However, I was fortunate to find expert financial counselors who helped me invest a pension and the original modest amount I received from Grandma Sylvia. (Thank you, Great Grandpa David and Great Grandma Anna, and your ancestors as well.)
In my life I certainly have experienced my share of pain and trauma. But as I reflect today on it, I am grateful for a life well-lived. It certainly was made easier by that original $100,000 currency to Grandma Sylvia and what she and Grandpa Bernie did to grow it. I thank all the generations before me that their lives allowed me to discover who I am and figure things out. The greatest thing I have discovered is there is a loving Source of all life, and from this Source, we have the power to love and find happiness, as long as we remember.
Remember those who came before us as you make decisions about spending and/or investing this family currency. Think about the hopes they held for their lives and their children, and future generations, as you make decisions for yourselves and the future.