‘Follow your dreams. Be someone who stands up for what’s right in life.’
As published in The Boston Globe
The archbishop of Boston sits serenely and wordlessly beneath the soaring arches of the grand and nearly empty puddingstone church in the South End.
His hands are folded quietly in his lap as Mona Golabek’s fingers fly across the black-and-white keyboard inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
It is late morning on a brisk and sunny springtime weekday in Boston.
But Golabek’s beautiful, haunting music is a time machine of sorts.
And she is taking him back to the late 1930s, to war-torn Europe during one of humanity’s darkest episodes, when the murderous Nazi regime was in its full and most awful furor. She is telling the cardinal the same story her mother told her when she was a little girl in Vienna.
About Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass.
“Families were desperate to get a spot on what was known as the Kindertransport — or the children’s rescue train,’’ she is telling Cardinal O’Malley between the piano notes. “My grandfather came home one night after a poker game and announced to his family that he had gotten one ticket. Three daughters. Who would they choose?’’
There was an argument, an argument Mona’s mother sought to avoid by sitting down and playing at the family’s piano.
Finally, and tearfully, Mona’s mother was told. She had been chosen.
“As she walked to the train with her mother hand in hand,” Golabek told the cardinal, “her mother took her face in her hands and said, ‘I want you to make me a promise. Promise me that you will hold onto your music. And never let go.
“ ‘And I will be with you every step of the way through the music. With every phrase, with every note, my darling, I will be with you. And I love you.’ ‘’