Oh, how I wrestled with the memory.

I could see my aunt’s short, stout legs dangling on the plastic-covered couch, saying something about G‑d at the end of nearly every sentence. But I couldn’t remember exactly what she said.

She died several years ago. She had diabetes since her early 40s, and her weight worsened her symptoms. She took insulin shots.

Her husband had died the year before after a struggle with prostate cancer.

They were life partners.

She was Romanian. He was from Czechoslovakia.

They were both Holocaust survivors.

She had been in Auschwitz. He had been in Dachau.

They met in postwar Germany and fell in love. They were devoted to each other.

Dora became pregnant twice while they were in Germany. Both babies were stillborn. Both were girls.

No one ever explained why they were stillborn, but perhaps it was due to her stature (she was barely 5 feet) and bad obstetrics in the displaced persons camps.

My mother once said that she had seen one of the babies, and she was beautiful and had black hair.

They came to America in 1949 and settled a block or two from my parents.

Their son was born in 1950. He was another child with beautiful black hair. This time, with the help of American medicine, Dora had a Cesarean section and the child was born healthy.

Or so they thought.

Within a week, they were back in the hospital. He had been experiencing projectile vomiting since birth. He was diagnosed with a constriction of the pyloric sphincter. Food could not move from his stomach to his small intestine.

The doctors performed surgery and he survived.

After her husband died, Dora seemed to have lost her will to live.

One day, she became very sick. She went to the doctors. Tests were taken.

It was a Friday. The results were not given to her and my cousin who was monitoring her health until the following Monday or Tuesday.

Her blood sugar was out of control. She was admitted to the hospital. She had surgery to remove a necrotic kidney.

Within 10 days, she passed away.

But all I ever remember about her is her happy smile and constant expression of gratitude.


I called my cousin. She said my aunt had said, "Baruch Hashem (Bless G‑d)."

I knew that was not right. I say that. My aunt did not say that.

There were other phrases that I considered. "Gott Tsedank." It means "Thank G‑d" in Yiddish.

That wasn’t it, either.

Then the next day, while driving, it came to me.


She used to say, "Tenks Gott."

How sweet.


How Dora.