Thursday, January 21, 2016

Nightmare on Elm St. : Childhood Dreams of the Holocaust

The past haunts us everyday.  Life lessons learned and wasted simultaneously.  My life has been but that up until this point.  Until this day I still wake up with hold sweats from nightmares or a smile from a dream that brought me pleasure.  As a child most of dreams were never pleasant.  I remember dreams of when i was three years old, I would run for my life from monsters or just the most bizarre creature imaginable and I would always find myself at the edge of a cliff or a building, and each time i would always leap off to my death.  I could feel how real free-falling was until I woke up right before I hit the ground.  I recall in second grade,  I used to have dreams on several occasions where they would all diverge into this final scene, I would be by myself with the Taco Bell dog on my back deck at my second home in Vineland.  This was not any ordinary chihuahua, it spoke in Spanish and when it growled it looked like something out of Men In Black.  As the dreams commenced, the dog would always tell me in Spanish that he was going to eat me, and of course the door to the house was always locked.  Dreams like this make us giggle now, but how real did they feel back then?  I had a little boy tell me the other day, "Mr. Kennedy, I'm Scared! Monsters keep chasing me in my dreams and they won't go away."

As time moves forward, third grade would forever change my life.  In the third grade, I first learned about the holocaust.  We took a trip to the local synagogue, Beth Israel, to learn about it first hand.  I later took my own class from Landis Middle School to the same tour led by my friend Steven Schimmel.  As I sit here and think about my first experience in person about the holocaust, I think about the woman who had a tattoo on her arm and was an Auschwitz survivor. She told us her story which was much like the story of night by Elie Wiesel which my Mom read to my sister and I when I was in kindergarten.  That day will forever be engrained in my mind not because of that moment, but what came after.  

What triggered this blog and these memories started last week.  I was taking an online Spanish Class and my tutor and my her Mom, who works with my Mom as a Hospice Nurse, came to my house.  On completion of the test, I walked into the kitchen and I hear my Mom telling Teena, her co-worker, about my childhood dreams.  The first one she told her about was me getting chased by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi's for years in my dreams.  She also went on to tell her about my altercations with the Taco Bell dog and she instantly started laughing.  

I used to wake up after getting shot by trucks of soldiers chasing me down streets, dirt roads, as well as battle fields.  I would gasp for air like I got the life sucked out of me.  Other nights I was with groups of people crawling through sewer pipes, or hiding in houses and buildings.  I read last winter in a scientific journal that suggested that memories can be passed down through DNA.  My maternal grandmother lived in Germany before the war, but little is known about her other than what a random gentlemen who reached out to my Father in regards to her, or my Aunt Margaret who is my grandfather's sister.  These dreams haunted me for years even through middle school.  Some nights I would wake up three or four times in a night with the same dream that would just pick up where it left off.  Now that I look back on it, the theme of the dream was: Run For Your Life.