Harburg seemed to hold me on a long iron chain of tradition. I could no longer distinguish between the past and the present. Panic filled me as I recalled the day I decided it no longer mattered if my parents forced me to steal. I felt like a big tree where everybody carved their personal initials. Every imprint I received as a child became a wound. Every house I passed as an adult with Maus and Alex, came alive with memories.
My father blamed my mother for living in a family without honor. He, however, the lazy academic that he was, never contributed to the honor that my grandfather established through true hard work. Instead, he believed that the working class people, the uneducated proletarian, were beneath his level. He wouldn’t associate with them.
Every corner I turned showed me who and what I was. Every step I took seemed to dump a load of shame and guilt on my shoulders. I kept telling myself I wasn’t responsible for my parent’s action, but that didn’t help. I had been only a child and not guilty because I was forced to steal.