Oil on Canvas 9x12
Original Image Taken: 1956
When my family immigrated to Canada in 1949 after the Holocaust, there were so many obstacles to overcome. Every success was monumental. What could be better than passing the high school matriculation exams and then getting a degree and attending law school after virtually missing a lifetime of education during the war years and the time spent in DP (Displaced Persons) camps? When my dad graduated from Sir George William University (now Concordia University) it wasn't just for him. There were so many people who were invested in this achievement, especially those who hid in the forest with him for 19 months during the war. But the person who really deserves a special mention was a teacher named Miss Mitchell.
Shortly after my dad immigrated to Canada and was learning to speak English he happened upon a a tutor who was helping a boy who lived in his flat. Miss Mitchell wasn't wanting to take on any more students but she saw something special in my dad and decided to help him get ready to take the grade 11 matriculation exams. Realizing that he was a refugee and funds were tight, she refused to take her full pay. Here is how my father honored Miss Mitchell in his memoir:
"In late summer 1953 I learned Miss Mitchell was not well and that she couldn't continue tutoring and guiding me anymore. I soon wrote some 7 or 8 exams and passed. I was admitted to Sir George William University and I personally wanted to tell Miss Mitchell. I found out that she was now at the Royal Victoria Hospital. When I came there, her brother told me she was dying of cancer and that the diagnosis was the reason for her relatively early retirement. I was allowed to see her. She was alert and I told her the good news. I gave her my hand and she squeezed it hard. She died a week later. Amazing how she did not let on over all those months that she tutored me! The vehicle of this lady's generosity carried me through the roughest terrain on my journey to where I wanted to go"