This afternoon, to close out what has been another wonderous WordPress Wednesday, I’ve a special treat for you.
Not long ago, I heard that author Trish Hubschman had received an Honorable Mention in the magazine Magnets and Ladders. I don’t suppose I need to tell you that if I were a peacock my tailfeathers would be fanning out to the max with pride.
Well, needless to say, after I read the story she wrote which garnered such attention, I decided it must have a special place in my world as well.
So, it is with great pleasure I offer this special ‘Sips of Wine from the Grapevine’ for you.
If you enjoy this as much as I have done, I hope you give a like and share. I also hope you’ll leave a comment here to let Trish know.
Of Happiness and Sadness, fiction Honorable Mention
by Trish Hubschman
My name is Myra Cortez-Costa. I was born in Israel in 1951. My mother,
Selina was from Egypt. She grew up in a well-to-do family and had the
spoils her doting parents could give their four children. She went to an
all-girls private school, had dance lessons, wore pretty clothes. Mom made
her debut into society when she was sixteen. Sadly, there are no pictures
of any of this. Mom’s family was Jewish. In the mid-1940s, bad people came
into Egypt and stripped her family of everything. They were forced to live
My father, David came from a big family too. He didn’t grow up rich. He was
also Jewish and spoke up against anything he felt was wrong. Dad was
arrested in 1943 and held in a relocation camp for three years. I think
that’s when he met one of Mom’s brothers. They stayed friends after they
were released and my uncle introduced my mom and Dad.
Selina and David fell in love and were married in 1948.
They were happy. Two years later, they were preparing for the birth of
their first child. That’s when they were told they had to leave Egypt. All
Jews were being forced out. They had no idea where they were going to go.
Dad was about to be arrested again for talking against the government. Mom
was advised to divorce Dad and go to America where she’d be safe. Dad was
in favor of this plan. Mom refused. She was going to stay with the man she
loved and have their baby.
In January 1951, just six weeks before I was born, my parents migrated to
Israel, the Promised land for Jews.
I was a happy child. I know my parents loved me. As I saw it, growing up in
Israel was idyllic. I didn’t see any of the bad things going on around me.
When I was six, my brother, Edmund, was born. I was happy to share my
parents, my cousins and friends with my little brother. I had a best
friend. Her name was Judy Berkowitz. She lived on the next block from us.
She had a dog. We had so much fun playing together. Whenever I went to
Judy’s house Mom walked with me. We always walked fast and she was cautious
and looked around us. Judy told me her mom was the same way. We didn’t
understand this, so we just shrugged and giggled and went back to having
When I was eleven, Judy and her family disappeared. She wasn’t on the
school bus one morning. I thought that was odd. Judy had an almost perfect
school attendance record. I asked my teacher, Miss Katz, if Judy was out
sick. Miss Katz didn’t know, but she said she’d ask the principal. Later
that same day, she pulled me aside. Before Saying anything, she glanced
around to make sure nobody was listening. I was becoming nervous at seeing
so many people do that. No one was in ear shot.
“Myra, dear, Judy’s family is gone,” she said.
My head popped up. “Where did they go? Are they coming back?”
She shook her head. “I doubt it. They left last night. This is hush-hush,
so please, we must forget about Judy and her family.”
When I got off the school bus that afternoon, I raced home. Tears poured
down my face. I found Mom in the kitchen. I blurted the whole story out.
She responded calmly. That infuriated me.
“Yes, I know about their leaving. I spoke to Judy’s mother yesterday,”
“Is that going to happen to us?” I screamed.
Mom turned to face me. “At some point, probably. You must be strong,
Myra, always prepared and keep quiet about it,” she said. I didn’t answer
her. I just stalked off to my room.
Two weeks later, Mom, Dad, Edmund and I snuck out of our house in the dead
of night. A friend of dad’s drove us to a train depot far from our home. We
boarded and sat quietly for a long journey to a strange city. Then we took
a taxi to an airport. Before the four of us got on a plane, Edmund and I
got to go to the bathroom and have something to eat. Again, we didn’t say
much to one another. When we got off the plane, we went outside the
terminal to meet up with someone who’d been sent to pick us up. I was
excited to see that it was daylight. Twenty minutes later, the car pulled
up in front of a high wrought-iron gate. Behind it, was a big, beautiful
house. My nose was pressed against the car window. I was mesmerized. Was
that going to be our new home? Oh yes, oh yes! We got out of the car and
went inside. There were a lot of people. Mom hugged and kissed everyone.
“This is our family,” she squealed. “I’ve missed all of you.”
I didn’t understand.
Dad’s hand slid into mine. I glanced up at him and smiled. “Come on,
honey, I want you to meet your Uncle Ted,” He said, leading me off.
“This is his house. We’re going to stay here in Geneva until he can
relocate us permanently.”
The few weeks we were in Switzerland were the best ever. They went by so
fast. We were on an airplane headed to our new home before I knew it.
Brazil was a whole different world.
Our new house was ok. It had two levels. There were three bedrooms
upstairs. There was a kitchen and main room that had a color tv downstairs.
We had a big backyard and Dad said we could get a dog. I was excited about
“But under no circumstances are you to tell anyone we’re Jewish,” he
I didn’t understand, but I didn’t ask. It really wasn’t a problem with me.
I didn’t know anyone here and I didn’t want to.
It was May and too late to finish out the school year. In September, Mom
would enroll me starting in seventh grade. In the course of the next few
months, I had to learn a fair amount of Portuguese, the main language in
brazil. I always had my translation dictionary with me, even when I was
watching tv. I did pretty well. When I started school I was able to
communicate with my teachers. I didn’t talk to many other people. I didn’t
have any friends and I didn’t want any. I just went to school and returned
home and did my homework.
That changed when I was fourteen, I met a girl named Elaina. She was very
nice. We spent a lot of time together. She knew I wasn’t from around there
and kept asking where I was from.
I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I blurted out, “We came here from
Switzerland.” That wasn’t a lie.
Alaina’s eyes widened. “Oh, Switzerland is so beautiful. Why would you
leave such a gorgeous place like that?”
I shrugged. “My dad got a government job here, so we had to move.” It
When I was seventeen, I went to a party with Elaina at another one of her
friend’s houses. There were a lot of people. They were drinking, smoking
and doing other things that made me uncomfortable. I told Elaina we had to
leave. She said she was staying, but told me I could go home. I was annoyed
at her for brushing me off. I walked out of that party and ran back to my
My parents were in my bedroom early the next morning. I was sitting up in
bed. “What time did you get home last night?” Mom asked.
I had been super quiet when I came in. “About ten, I guess,” I replied
and told them about my leaving the party early.
“Did Elaina leave the party with you?” Mom asked.
“No, she said she was having fun and would go home when she was good and
ready,” I replied. “Why?”
Mom gave Dad a look. Dad said, “The girl is missing.”
I didn’t understand. Where was she?
A week later, Elaina’s body was fished out of the river. The theory was
that she left the party the night after drinking too much and fell into the
river. I didn’t believe that. I was certain something sinister happened,
but I kept my mouth shut.
I moped around after that. I went to school and came home. I didn’t talk to
Three weeks after Elaina’s funeral, I came home to find four suitcases
standing in the front hall. I knew what that meant. I climbed the stairs to
my bedroom and stuffed some small personal items into a duffel bag. Mom had
already packed most of my clothes. I had my language dictionaries and some
It was March 1968. The four of us were on a plane headed north to the
United States. Dad said it would take about ten hours to reach where we
were going, a place called Queens, New York. A cousin of Mom’s, who I
didn’t know, was sponsoring us. We would stay with her till we set up
Edmund sat in the seat beside me. He was eleven, the same age I was when we
had left Israel six years ago. My little bother looked glum. I could
understand that. I wasn’t depressed about leaving Brazil. I just felt
unrooted from having to relocate
I squeezed Ed’s hand. “What’s up, kid?” I asked, trying to keep my tone
“I don’t want to move,” he said. “I like Brazil. My friends are
there. And what if they don’t speak Portuguese in the United States?” He
asked, looking at me with daring eyes.
I smiled. “Well, if nobody does, at least we’ll still have each other to
Cousin Angele picked us up at the airport and our new lives began.
I met a cute boy at Queens College in September. His name’s Anthony Costa.
He’s Italian and his English needed as much work as mine. We learned it
together. We enjoyed learning together and fell in love.
In 1972, both of our families gained United States citizenship. The
following year, Anthony and I got married. My parents helped us buy a nice
house on Long Island. Anthony drove a taxi in Queens. I babysat the
neighbors children while they went to work. We were both making decent
money, though there was no medical insurance.
I gave birth to our son, Francis in 1978. Our daughter, Judith, came five
years later. Dad passed away from colon cancer in 1986, less than twenty
years after he moved his family here. In 1990, I began working for New York
State Civil Service. Finally, we had medical insurance. I worked my way up
the ladder and I enjoyed my job.
In 2001, when the World Trade Center was bombed, I felt my heart go cold.
So many horrible memories that I didn’t know were inside me flooded to the
surface. I fought desperately to push them away.
Mom passed on in 2009. She had a heart attack during the Super Bowl.
Now, it’s 2020, the year of the covid-19 pandemic. I’m working from home.
In November, I had my thirtieth anniversary with my job. I’ll be seventy in
a few months.
After all the early years of hardship, I think I can truly say at this
point in my life, that inside me again is that happy little girl who grew
up in Israel. I’m in a much better time and place now and I very much love
Bio: Trish is deafblind. She’s the creator of the Tracy Gayle Mystery book
series, *Tidalweave*, *Stiff Competition*, and *Ratings Game*. She earned
her Bachelor’s degree in English-Writing from Long Island university’s
Southampton Campus. She presently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband,
Kevin and dog, Henry.
To learn more about her books visit: https://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/
This story appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders found at: https://www.magnetsandladders.org
TrishMay 20, 2021
This is based on the life of a very good friend of mine. She was touched when I showed her the story. Thank you Patty for putting it in Sips of
PattyMay 20, 2021
Hi, you are very welcome. It was quite good. My pleasure to share it.