There is a cemetery in Freehold, New Jersey (USA) that has one section set aside for the Sam Lopatin family. The headstones are small and simple. One, in particular, is unique. The name etched upon it is ROSA. Rosa is not interred beneath that headstone (no one is).


She died of double pneumonia and was buried in the Belarus city of Brest-Litovsk (Russia) in October 1919 at the age of sixteen years almost 100 year ago. She never managed to come to the home of her dreams, the United States. Who cares? I do! Why? Click here on A WRITER’S GHOSTS (IDA) and read about Rosa and you might just care a little too.


My imaginary Rosa



Rosa As If She Had Lived

(In My Imagination)


Her mother, Ida, said it all so often that even Rosa stopped being embarrassed long after their arrival in America.


“If it wasn’t for Rosa we might never have gotten to be here in Freehold.” Ida would say. “You think it was easy schlepping across Belarus with Sol and Gussie not to mention William and Jenny.


“Not again!” anybody and everybody would say under their collective breaths. But Ida being Ida no one ever complained except Rosa.

Freehold, New Jersey was a small town with an even smaller Jewish population. By the time Rosa reached her twenty-first birthday she had  written off  any of the local Jewish suitors and a few, clandestine, non-Jewish hopefuls.


He came to the anniversary party of his aunt and uncle held in their Freehold home. Rosa was there at the invitation of their daughter Minnie. It was that classic happening, love at first sight.

His family called him Moishe. Rosa called him Mickey. They were married one year later on Rosa’s twenty-second birthday. Their first child, a boy, arrived five months later. Ida told everyone the baby was premature. Rosa just smiled. Most people just smiled with Rosa and nodded in agreement. (What else?)


She was my favorite second cousin. Of course we never thought in terms of first or second or third cousins. We were all just cousins. There were so many cousins, aunts and uncles that at the annual cousins club the gatherings overflowed the various gathering places where they were held. Rosa was everybody’s favorite especially mine. She laughed at my dumb jokes when I was ten and she was the harried mother of five children.


I spoke with her on the telephone the day before she died at the age of 92. She knew she was dying and was ready. Like old times, I told her a silly joke and she laughed. No matter what the circumstances, she laughed at my bad jokes. I will always remember her laugh and her kindness.





 © robert 2014