Thursday, June 14, 2012

Survive and Thrive!

"Can You Spare a Little Help" generated appreciated responses. Thank you. My good friend Eric took me to lunch and shared his father Peter's life story. Peter is about to celebrate his 98th birthday.

Peter was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. When he was fourteen his parents divorced. When he was twenty one he was placed in solitary confinement for eighteen months for dating a non Jewish woman. After being released from solitary confinement he was considered a political prisoner and was ordered to build both Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.

In 1939 he was released from prison under the condition he'd leave Germany. He emigrated to the United States and arrived with $5 in his pocket. With his money he rented a room and purchased wholesale first aid kits he sold for a profit. He then supported himself by waiting tables and parking cars at resorts in the Adirondacks.

In 1942 he was drafted into the United States Army and became a USA citizen. During World War II he served in the military government in North Africa and Italy. Before returning to the United States, he visited his mother in Hamburg.

After returning to the United States, Peter worked for a cousin in shipping until 1961 when he started his own successful shipping company. He was 47.

After returning from the war he also married and divorced. He married again, yet his second wife committed suicide. He and his third wife, Eric's parents, were married for 59 years until she died a few years ago.

Peter lives, cooks, and drives on his own, tends to his community flower and vegetable gardens and mentors students at the Helen Keller School. He lives outside of New York City.

According to Eric, unfailing optimism appears to be Peter's critical resiliency factor. A resilient person's competency profile includes optimism, organization, pro-activity, flexibility, and focus.

Also, based on the above Oz principle, Peter seeks solutions and spends no time thinking like a victim.

Hearing about Peter's life was helpful to me. It proves triumph of the human spirit and I hope you find it uplifting as well.