He was a small man of pensionable age
smiling hesitantly, almost apologetic.
I was a young woman, my first time abroad on my own
and yet we connected
waiting in the queue to enter.
Would I show him around?
Would I explain what we were looking at?
Would I help?
I was honoured.
An old (to me, then) distinguished gentleman
entrusting his experience of this place
to me, but a girl, and not a native of Amsterdam.
Seriously, what could I offer him?
And yet, he insisted that the honour was all his.
And so, we inched forward,
sometimes in silence, sometimes not,
the silences becoming more meaningful
as he shared some of his history with me.
How he had lost his family in the horror that was
How he was the only survivor by chance,
every day was to be valued
every person he met was to be treated with kindness
deserved a good life.
Nobody was to be forgotten.
I was honoured
I was humbled
I was valued
I was not forgotten.
He gave my life more meaning on that day,
infused my experience of Anne Frank’s House
with so much more
than I had ever imagined.
Travel. It does that.
Today, over on dVerse Poetics, Lillian asks us to share our travel experiences in poetry form.
I have been to quite a few places in my adult life, I’ve been lucky to see many things, enjoy fine architecture, immerse myself in history, in culture, in other ‘worlds’, but this personal connection stands tall above them all. I am so pleased that I read Anne Frank’s diary over and over again from my pre-teen days so that I could colour this distinguished gentleman’s visit with some human colour, along with the facts. We met as strangers, and parted as friends who had shared part of our lives with each other. I am sure he has passed on now, but he will live on in my memory, for sure. To trust a young stranger with such an important visit (and he told me that he felt he had no choice but to visit Anne Frank’s House in his whirlwind trip to Europe) – well, I owe him a huge debt of honour.
Please do head on over to dVerse to discover more travel experiences and why not share your own?