“This Mother’s Day I will be thinking of a white Christmas”

Wars divide families sometimes for decades. In this moving story, Helen Krutz writes of three sisters torn apart by war, but whose children are finally reuniting 70 years later.


Early this year, 2014, my sister Anita called with the news that our cousin Jeannie from Australia would be visiting Niagara Falls. Before this, the most recent contact we had had between our continents was the sharing of sad news. Our mothers had passed away.

Jeannie had asked a very Aussie question. “Is Niagara Falls anywhere close to you?” I, living in Montreal, replied to Anita in Gatineau, Quebec, that this could be a very interesting road trip indeed. We joked around with our eldest sister in Quebec City. After the joking was done we investigated the question of how long Jeannie would be here. In fact her whole trip would start in New York City for 3 days and then a one day stop in Niagara Falls, followed by a cruise out of Vancouver!

I have 5 siblings and by now word had spread to the youngest sister in Montreal and our brother in Edmonton. My brother remarked that we would never be able to afford a trip to Australia to finally all meet together. Everyone thought that a weekend trip to New York to meet a cousin only known to us in Christmas cards and family lore was very alluring. Following along in the buzzing emails and Facebook shout-outs was another cousin, Monica, from British Columbia. Monica is the only daughter of the other of my Mom’s sisters, Meta, who also is “no longer with us”.

Our Mothers were Lithuanian. During WW2 they were evacuated to Germany where they lived in refugee camps. In payment for being “rescued from the Russians” and barely fed and poorly housed in camps, they were obliged into forced labour. Following the end of the war, each of these former Lithuanians were presented with a passport declaring them stateless. My mother made it to Canada. Successful efforts were made to bring Meta over. Lidia the last sister ended up in Australia. People apparently lined up at the Red Cross to find family and see if immigration quotas were filled to Canada or the US. Australia was always available.

I have a clear memory of my Mother crying after she opened her sister Lidia’s card from Australia. Her hand written note sent love and expressed how she missed a white Christmas. As young children, my brother and I ran outside to make snowballs and asked Mom if we could send them to our Auntie.

In May, we, the children of three sisters torn apart by war, will meet. If we round off the time frame, it will be 70 years. We didn’t realize at first that this gathering will be on Mother’s Day weekend. That brings chills of emotion!

Helen Krutz, Daughter of Emma Olga Prelip
Diagnostic Imaging Laboratory Technologist, Dawson College


6 Responses to “This Mother’s Day I will be thinking of a white Christmas”

  1. Dan W March 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    It is an impressive story. War makes family members live far away, but their hearts are still live together. Family relations can never be replaced by physical distance.

  2. Sarah B.-R May 13, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    What a touching story! Wars can have horrible impacts on a family, it is amazing that through all this, you have tried to stay together.

  3. Megan Winnard December 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    It’s interesting and saddening to read this. War is seen on such and emotional level, that it ties us all to each other in some form or another. But that despite all that living so far apart, you are still so close and still continue to meet up. I have cousins that live almost right next to me that I barely ever see.

  4. Lorane Nercessian December 9, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    I can relate to this story in different ways. War has separated families and made it almost impossible for them to reunite. I’m Armenian, my great-grandparents have lived through the Armenian Genocide. Families had to get separate so that they can be safe. Part of my family went to Lebanon, another part went to Syria. As i live here in Canada, I have family in Syria that I’ve never even met. It makes me really sad that i have cousins and uncles that i know nothing about. This story gives me hope, it’s never too late, maybe one day ill meet them for the first time.

  5. Lili D December 9, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    War hasn’t had a direct effect on my family so it’s interesting to see how it plays out in families that have been affected. I never thought about how lasting the impact of war can be on families. This family was separated but it’s great that they will get a chance to meet!

  6. Alex F December 7, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    I found this story extremely touching and got a really weird shiver down my back by the end of it. It is touching in an odd way how these kids are meeting. I find this relatable to my grandfather, who met up with his brother in Italy after 35 years. Due to hardships in Italy, my grandfather left to try and find a better life here, in Canada. Seeing the pictures of them reuniting was truly incredible.

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