The Life of Gerda Garbatzky
This is the full story of Gerda Garbatzky as referred to on our episode "A Coronavirus Story that Became Very Real"
"Losing my Nana was always going to be extremely difficult under normal circumstances. But losing her in this way today as part of this global story compounds the pain.
Imagine not being allowed to be with your loved one in the hospital (she was in isolation) and not being able to even be with the rest of your family to grieve together and hug (we're in quarantine).
We are still in shock and processing what just happened so quickly over the last 72 hours. We don't have all the answers to the questions you are sure to have. It is hard to put it into words right now.
My Nana was a very strong woman, having been born in Vienna weeks after the 1929 stock market crash and losing her mother at the age of 6 to cancer. She lost the rest of her family at age 9 to the Holocaust but she was saved by one of the last Kinder Transport trains out of Austria to England. She was suddenly living with a couple she did not know, in a country she did not know, speaking a language she did not know. But she says she mastered English in "two weeks" (my Nana's typical exaggeration that, in all honesty, might have actually been closer to truth than exaggeration).
If you have a few minutes, you can listen to her describe her early life here: https://youtu.be/Suwkg__cUMI
She lucked out and managed to get a last-minute pass on a ship to New York when she was 17. She soon met David, got married, and they had two girls: my Aunt Ruth and my mother Michelle, and later on four grandchildren: Andrew, myself, Jaclyn and Ari.
She loved classical music, especially Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and Tchaikovsky. She loved the color purple. She loved butterflies. It was always a bonus when we could find gifts with purple butterflies. She loved playing games like bridge, mahjong and bingo. She loved my dad's cooking and almost equally loved telling us how bad nearly all the other food was.
And most of all she loved her loving family, including her two great granddaughters Anna and Madeline, who loved her very much.
Please love your family and do whatever it takes to keep them and yourself healthy. Please. Please. Please."
- Geoffrey Sorensen