A Hidden Child – Day 1

Dare to Tell – Day 1 – Benjy’s Story

My father used to tell me the most wonderful stories.

At night, before I went to sleep, he’d come into
my darkened room and sit on the edge of the bed. I
could barely make out his face.

He’d tell me the story of a young boy about my age
that lived in a forest. He had the most amazing
adventures. Sometimes he’d sneak into a barn to
sleep or steal food; sometimes he’d be chased by
strange people; and sometimes he meet amazing
people and their story would be part of my story
too.

My father didn’t tell me these stories every
night. But I wished he did.

I would wait to see if he would come in to my
room. The night’s that he did, he would talk for
hours. I’d lie there listening to these stories,
excited by the adventure and always a little
scared that the boy would get into trouble or
something bad would happen.

Sometimes he spoke for so long that despite my
attempts to fight sleep, I would not be able to
stay awake.

And then the next time I would beg him to tell me
what I had missed!
It was 30 years before my father told me that
these stories were not his imagination, he didn’t
create them for me.

I was back visiting home and we sat down to drink
tea. For some reason, those stories were on my
mind. I asked him about the little boy and his
adventures, about how he had come up with such
amazing, fantastical ideas to thrill me when I was
a young child.

Then my father told me that the little boy was
him.

It started when he was six years old, during the
Second World War. So many people in his family
and community had been taken away. People were
disappearing all the time and there were terrible
rumors about prison camps; they called them death
camps. His parents had told him to run away.

My father lived in the forests for over 2 years.
He survived mostly alone. Those adventures that I
loved so much were the stories of his life over
those years.

As he told me, tears ran down my
face and his. I had no words; there was nothing I
could say.

I realized that I felt a little
ashamed that I had never known that my hero
throughout my childhood was really my father as a
child, simply trying to survive.

Those stories were his stories. That hero was
him. Until this moment, in his kitchen, an old,
old man, he could never dare to tell these stories
as his own.

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6 comments on “A Hidden Child – Day 1

  1. This is so powerful and beautifully told.. I literally had chills as I read it. Since the work I do is focused on helping parents create healthy dynamics with their children, I was particularly struck by the trauma this father experienced as a child, and the way he chose to channel that experience for the benefit of his own son. Remarkable; thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks for your comment Natanya, it is a remarkable story that I really felt such gratitude to get to share!

  2. Lisa, thank you for sharing this deeply personal story. With this story you have many many of he novels and history books I have read about the second world war come even more alive. I am thinking I particular about Stones from the River, Gratitude And the Boy in the Striped Pajamas and the Book Thief. thank you!

    • Thanks for your comment Milisa, the interesting thing is that I’ve heard several versions of this story…fascinating and very moving. Best wishes, Lisa

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