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Contact: Stacey J. Miller
Email: sjmiller at bookpr.com
How One Daughter Discovered Her Parents’ Hidden, Heroic Lives
BOSTON, Massachusetts — April 9, 2014
Who was Beth H. Macy’s mother? Since her mother is no longer living, Macy had worked to put together the pieces based on what she remembers and the evidence that she has uncovered.
“My mother was a brilliant woman,” Macy recalls. “Her mind was always working. Even in her last year, she was designing houses in her head to keep alert. She was also an accomplished artist. Her watercolors were masterful. I grew up with watercolor paper soaking in the bathtub and sections of the Famous Artist Course scattered around the house. She made beautiful ceramic dolls…in later years, she turned to oil paints. But watercolor was her legacy to the world.”
Macy’s mother loved music, and she shared with her daughters a love for Aida and South Pacific because of her constant playing of it. She was an original Beatles fan and took her daughters to see them in New York. The family would sing together. “She hated to drive but loved her cars….Travel frightened her, yet she traveled halfway around the world with my father…After my own trip to India, I was amazed that she could have done such a trip especially at a time when the world was ‘bigger’ and ‘more foreign.’ She was the only white woman in many situations.”
A study in contradictions, Macy’s mother had a key role in shaping the personality of her daughters. But she also helped shape the world.
In her book, Many Years, Many Worlds, Beth H. Macy, reveals that her mother had an important place in history. “She was there at the start of Operation Magic Carpet,” Macy shares. “The primary goal of the State of Israel is to be the safe homeland of all Jews, and this was best portrayed in its secret national projects to bring distressed Jewish communities ‘home’ to Israel.” She points out that nearly 50,000 traditionally religious Yemeni Jews, who had never seen a plane, were airlifted to Israel in 1949 and in 1950 in Operation “Magic Carpet.” Macy recalls, “I remember her saying that they flew the Jews over Arab territory into the newly founded State of Israel. She mentioned their bringing goats aboard, and lighting fires on the cabin floor, and losing an engine over Arab territory, and nearly being shot down.” She wished she had asked more questions during her mother’s lifetime, but, “My mother and I struggled to understand each other our whole lives,” Macy says. “Although we were so alike in some ways, we had such fundamental differences in others….We butted heads from the day I could talk and tantrum.” And, anyway, Macy always thought there would be more time…until time ran out. “When my mother died, my sister lost her best friend. I lost the most complex relationship I will ever have. I’ve spent 30 years and thousands of dollars in therapy trying to understand myself, my mother’s world, and my place in relation to it….She didn’t talk a lot about her past. I wish I had learned more.”
So Macy set about trying to find pieces of her mother’s past. While cleaning out her mother’s shed the day before the funeral, she found treasures in the form of letters, postcards, and photographs. “This gave me a deeper insight into the world as it was in 1949. But, far more importantly, it taught me about my parents’ lives before I was born. It taught me about my mother’s heroism, and about what made her the person I came to know.”
Through these letters, Macy has developed an understanding of the resiliency of human nature. She has also come to appreciate the importance of gathering the oral history from parents and other loved ones, if at all possible, while they’re here to share it. “I was lucky,” she admits, “to find so many vital clues about my mother’s heroism and her life. I’d advise others to save everything — every letter, postcard, photograph, telegram, and email they can find — if they’ve lost their loved ones. But, better still, talk to your parents during their lifetimes. Find out who they are, and who they were. And hear it from them. Maybe your parents were heroes to the world, or maybe they were only your family’s heroes. But if you have the opportunity, find out about their lives directly from them. And save every scrap of paper you can find to document their stories!”
Many Years, Many Worlds
By Beth H. Macy
BHM Consulting Incorporated
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