Nine Women Write Their Lives

 "Whether your child is five or twenty-five, mother love never changes. You might not take a bullet for your beloved, but you sure as hell would for your son."


Excerpts from Here’s the Story … Nine Women Write Their Lives, Part II: Adulthood and Part III: Our Mothers. Permission to reprint given by Bedazzled Ink Publishing LLC. 


Excerpt from Here’s the Story…Nine Women Write Their Lives

Part II: Adulthood 




by Kathleen M. Rodgers 


        By then, I was building my portfolio as a freelance writer. Instead of avoiding the subject of what it meant to live in constant fear of sudden loss, I harnessed this energy into emotionally charged essays and cover stories for publications like Military Times and later Family Circle, a national magazine where millions of readers read my work.  

        My goal all along was to elevate military service members and their families into the mainstream. I figured out how to introduce a military character or family member into an article or novel targeted at the civilian population.  

        Once my husband retired from the military and started flying for the airlines in 1991, I relaxed a bit. I didn’t worry as much whenever he left the house to fly passengers from point A to point B. My anxieties transferred to raising sons and all the responsibilities that come with being a parent. 

        Just when I thought I’d finally left behind our military days, our youngest son graduated from college and became an army officer. Shortly after his commission, he deployed to Afghanistan. All the fear from my husband’s military days came crashing back. 

        Two days after our son deployed, an editor from a top military online publication contacted me and asked me to write an essay about which was worse, sending a husband to war or a son? It took me less than five minutes to accept the assignment. I was tired of feeling paralyzed with my heart constantly jammed in my throat.  

        So, I did what I have learned to do over the decades: I wrote straight into the fear. 

        Here’s an excerpt from part of the essay that was originally published on June 29, 2014, under the popular column, “SpouseBuzz” on Used with permission: 


On a recent weekend, in a parking lot at Fort Hood, Texas, I stood with my family as we gathered to say farewell to my youngest son, J.P., a first lieutenant in the United States Army, as he prepared to deploy to an undisclosed location in the Middle East. 


Even though we were all smiling with pride, our hearts were already breaking. I held it together for the send-off, but I fell apart after we got back to the hotel. 


For me, sending a son to war is worse than sending a husband into harm’s way. No matter how much you love your husband, you didn’t wipe away his childhood tears or chase away the boogeyman hiding under the bed. You didn’t cheer him on through freezing rain, eye-stinging dust storms, or blazing heat in sporting events that never seemed to end. 


Whether your child is five or twenty-five, mother love never changes. You might not take a bullet for your beloved, but you sure as hell would for your son. 


So once again, I am living with the unholy terror of a military staff car pulling up to my home. This time it’s in a quiet civilian neighborhood where we raised our sons since my husband left the military. 

= = = = = = = 


Excerpt from Here’s the Story…Nine Women Write Their Lives

Part III: Our Mothers  


From my earliest memories, I was fascinated by my mother’s stories of her family’s flight from the Nazis. But it was not until I took a post-retirement workshop that the thought crystallized: I would now make it my life’s work to share their miraculous saga. This story is dedicated to her. 



by Linda Aronovsky Cox 


        “Don’t jump on my bed,” she reminded me as she left me upstairs to play. “You might break something.” With my older brother in kindergarten, the two younger ones napping, and me home from my half-day preschool, she knew how tempted I’d be. And she was right—the appeal was too great. I climbed up and started jumping. Bouncing higher and higher, I failed to notice that the doll carefully placed among the pillows was slowly moving to the edge, until I heard the shatter. I looked at the smashed porcelain face of my mother’s beloved childhood doll, brought all the way from Belgium, one of the few treasured keepsakes from her earliest years.  

        She must have heard it too, or maybe she heard me cry out, because suddenly she was there, weeping. “I told you this might happen,” she murmured.  

        I didn’t realize it then, but at that moment, at the age of four, I swallowed my mother’s unspeakable grief and trauma from the Holocaust. I didn’t yet know her full story, but sensed that it lived deep inside her. And now it lived deep inside me. 


        My mother is Manné Eckstein Aronovsky. This is her story. 


The World Was Changing  

        Born on April 8, 1933, in Antwerp, Belgium, Manné Eckstein was the second child of Baruch and Hedwig Eckstein. Her sister, Felicia (Lizy), was five years older and had been born in Romania before the family, along with her grandparents and aunt, immigrated to Belgium in 1929 to escape the escalating danger for Jews in Eastern Europe. They were not wealthy, but certainly comfortable. My grandfather, who was originally from Poland, had been the jeweler for the Crown Prince of Romania, and established a thriving business as a top-quality diamond setter in Antwerp.  

        By May 1940, the Nazi march across Europe reached Belgium. My mother saw her world changing. She could no longer attend the school she loved, play with some of her friends, or dress up and stroll with her mother and sister along the downtown streets of Brussels as they window-shopped. Only seven, she was too young to understand what was happening around her.  

        My grandfather recognized that the situation for Jews was becoming increasingly perilous, so in late May 1940, he led his extended family out of Brussels headed for Dunkirk on the northern coast of France. They walked the hundred miles, hoping to find their way to safety aboard a British ship that he heard would help Jews flee to England. As they carried their luggage amidst the many escaping refugees, German planes strafed the roads; and even though they jumped into the ditches for safety, many were killed.  

        My mother saw the dead bodies lying in the road, the fear on everyone’s faces, and the chaos. She only felt safe when she held her mother’s hand.  

        Her family survived. 

[Their timing was bad; the British army was in the midst of their mass retreat and could not take refugees. The family was so close to reaching safety in England, but now they had to return to Brussels.] 


Juden, Raus!  

        Too young to understand the danger, my mother’s travels through France felt like a grand adventure. She got to see Paris! But much to her disappointment, the Germans had closed La Tour Eiffel to visitors. 

        Since cars were worthless without petrol, the family traveled largely by foot across France, bringing only what they could carry. My mother was delighted to have the precious doll she had received for her seventh birthday. They either slept in the open under the stars, or if there was a farm nearby, my mother and grandmother would approach the farmhouse asking if they could sleep in the barn, and sometimes offered money for a hot meal. In larger cities, they bartered with diamonds to stay in hotel rooms.  

        When they arrived in northern France in late Summer of 1940, the Nazis already occupied it, so they had to make themselves invisible. They only spoke French, never Yiddish, and when they heard boots marching on the cobblestones in French towns, they pretended to window-shop, never making eye contact or showing fear, to blend in with the locals.  

        In southern France, they bought rail tickets, and, after boarding the train in Perpignan to cross the Pyrenees into Spain, they heard a commotion. A Nazi officer marched down the hallway, opening each compartment door, yelling “Juden, raus!” (Jews get out!). They looked out the window and saw many exiting the train. My grandmother said under her breath, “Nobody move. If they want us, they will have to drag us out.” The Nazis, so convinced that the Jews would obey their orders, never checked anyone’s papers, and the train started moving towards Spain and neutral Portugal with them still on it.  

        Once again, the family made it. 

= = = = = = = 

The official book launch will be held at BookWoman in Austin, TX on Sunday, April 7, 2024, from 2pm-4pm. Noted Texas author Ruth Pennebaker will serve as moderator.

Click to register for the hybrid event.




Here’s the Story…Nine Women Write Their Lives 

Edited by Andrea Simon; contributing authors: Amy Baruch, Stephanie Cowell, Linda Aronovsky Cox, Karen Finch, Jane Mylum Gardner, Rhonda Hunt-Del Bene, and Katherine Kirkpatrick, Kathleen Rodgers 

Bink Books

March 5, 2024 

ISBN 978-1-960373-26-7; 224 pages  

Texas based author Kathleen M. Rodgers is a 2021 WILLA Literary Award Finalist for Contemporary Fiction from Women Writing the West and a New Mexico Press Women 2022 ZIA Book Award First Runner-up. Her fifth novel, Llano County Mermaid Club, will be released from University of New Mexico Press and is represented by Tracy Crow Literary Agency. 


Linda Aronovsky Cox grew up in a military family, living all over the world, spending her teen years in Europe. After graduate school in Ohio, she relocated to Austin, where she raised her daughter and had a professional career in government communications. Since retiring, she has focused on writing stories of her myriad life challenges and documenting her mother’s story of survival during the Holocaust. Linda also operates a used and rare book business, Saddlebag Books.