My Sarah, prior to meeting me some thirteen years ago, led a life filled with enough drama and pathos to fill approximately six and a half movies of the week. Born in Cluj, Romania in 1950 to a Rom (Gypsy) mother and a Russian Jew father (who met in one of Mr. Hitler's Holiday Camps) and given the name Anna Sarah Alexshevna Derashenko, the little girl who would one day be my wife was soon to learn that this is a cruel, cruel world.
She Spent her formative years in the post WWII Europe of Romania, Germany and England. One of the horrid highlights of her younger years occured in Frankfurt, where she was attacked in a dark alley and stabbed in the ribs by a sinister couple driven to such outrage by unknown motives. She escaped their grasp and their hungry blade ultimately, of course, but bears the signature of both in the form of a two inch scar down her right side.
Things did not get any better from there. Soon after the family (mother, father, Sarah, younger sister) moved to San Francisco in the early 60's, Sarah and her younger sister, Louise, were orphaned when their mother, long ill, died of leukemia and their father, Alexis, followed his wife out of this life shortly thereafter. Sarah, separated from Louise (who ultimately returned to the Old Country) was adopted by one of her mother's sisters and her wealthy American husband. Things might have improved for her a bit here if the aunt in question had not decided to play the evil stepmother role to the hilt. The troublesome relationship with her aunt/stepmom proved a major influence in Sarah's life, which from this point went on to include (among many other things, of course. I have no intention of writing Sarah's biography here. She would have to start her own blog or write the autobiography she has been considering for the real and complete story to emerge.) marriage and children well before the age of 18, many years of self medication, a short modeling career, and a number of husbands who got their hands and hearts burned by a woman stirred simultaneously by wild Gypsy blood and a sick heart.
When Fate brought the two of us together in 1989, Sarah had nothing from her past that was not carried in that injured heart or in her mind. The things many of us take for granted such as family photos, heirlooms and family itself had all been left behind in the constant comings and goings of her life before me. We were together many years before I even met her youngest daughter, Molly. The rest of Sarah's family, dead or living, has long been for me nothing but the stories I have heard of them. Without even photographs to accompany those stories, their faces were indistinct in my imagination.
Now, thanks to a cousin Sarah has only just contacted in an effort to reconcile her past, I have not only some faces to go with those stories but a photo of my beautiful wife celebrating her first birthday! There is no doubt that the three pictures below, offering me a glimpse into a part of my Sarah's life that I have not been privy to before, constitute one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. I can only hope that you, dear reader, enjoy them, too.
-Sarah's mother, Josephine. Probably taken in Romania circa 1920 something-
-Sarah's sister, Louise. Taken in the U.S. circa 1960 something-
-Sarah on her first birthday with her aunt (not the wicked one) Georgette. 1951-