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Freckles Only Visit Special People

“When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandma every second weekend. She had a small yet inviting countryside home, surrounded by orchards and green fields. It was my favorite place in the world. I remember eagerly counting the days, and then the hours, before I could walk along the citruses with grandma and hear her stories from when she was a little girl, like me. It was hard for me to imagine her so young. When you’re little, all of the adults seem like they had been born this way, right?

“My grandpa needed his post-lunch Schlafstunde—the Jewish version of ‘siesta’— and so did my parents. But the Mediterranean heat had never bothered grandma and me. We would walk along the shaded paths between the orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees and listen to the afternoon stillness, to the buzzing of the bees. On those afternoons, Grandma would tell me about her life in Europe, before the war. How wonderful it was back then. I could almost see it through her beautiful pale-blue eyes. Whenever she talked about her childhood in Germany, about her summer vacations in Austria, she would talk and talk, and suddenly, she would grow quiet, a look of longing for something long gone in her eyes. I remember wishing I could also have such stories of bravery to tell. For the eleven-year-old that I was, imagining a girl of fourteen, my grandma, running away from Europe, all alone, on a big boat which had taken her to unfamiliar grounds, sounded so romantic. I hadn’t even thought about what she went through, about what really happened to her family.” I paused and smiled to myself, placing a single sunflower—her favorite—on her twenty-year-old grave, and looked at all of the guests which came to grandma’s memorial.

“I never told this to anyone,” I continued, “but when I was little, I hated my freckles. The other kids always made fun of me. Grandma was the one who had taught me to accept myself.” I chuckled, thinking about that conversation, years ago. “She said freckles only visit special people. It means the sun trusts these people, and only them, to keep her rays of sunlight safe inside of them.” I knelt and touched the headstone. “I’ll never forget you, grandma,” I whispered. “I’ll always welcome the freckles which visit me, on your behalf.”

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