As a young woman my mother had made her own Atlantic crossing to bring my sister and me from England to America. Our parents had met in the midst of World War II, when Dad was an American GI stationed in Britain and Mom was coordinating live entertainment for the Rosy the Riveters, working in the munition factories. Despite the chaos and carnage of war, they had managed to fall in love. But for our mother, marriage had meant leaving her own mother behind. As I grew up, she rarely mentioned this fateful decision and I learned not to ask. Instead, she’d adapted to her new life in the US with a grace and courage I had taken for granted. Now, as I gazed over the ship’s railing on my way to a year abroad in Israel, a wave of empathy engulfed me. I let my tears fall into the foam – as if the sea needed more salt.
Had my mother also had felt this poignant mix of elation and dread as she sailed toward an unknown future? My life just happened to me, she’d often say in a slightly wistful tone. So much of it had been beyond her control. Coming of age during the war years, the conflict had dashed her dreams of a career on the London stage, despite having trained at the prestigious London School of Speech and Drama. But I was determined my life would be different. Headstrong and idealistic, I would make my life happen!