I began a journey nearly six years ago that would see me change so much that I barely recognised myself anymore. To write this memoir about my parents’ lives in Europe spanning forty years, ensured I delved firmly into the unknown. This tale came from mainly my father’s recitations forcing me to connect to the young child who viewed the world through trusting, big, brown eyes.
It was like biting into a ripe fig, full of anticipation but knowing the skin would prickle the tongue ever so slightly.
I knew my parents as they were a result of their war experiences. In my book I endeavor to explore the effect of one’s experiences on the way the psyche develops in a person. For me our daily lives together appeared normal. An avid reader of memoirs myself I came to understand that our lives form us. My job included going back to a time I had not experienced. Through photos and personal stories this part fell into place readily. The quandary remained, how to frame characters who were young, carefree and optimistic, put them through hell and bring their thoughts, emotions and actions to life on the page.
Listening to a radio interview of John Updike some years ago, I grasped a gem, “Make them believable.” In my role as a physiotherapist, I had ample opportunity to be part of the internal reconstruction a person under goes when massive life changes fall in their laps. My role included motivating, encouraging and supporting people as they came to grips with things physically, emotionally and mentally. To my many patients, thank you for showing me the way. As I sunk my teeth into the fig the white pith tasted of naught.
On the internet swam in the interwar years and WWII. I sought to relive the experiences to feel them deeply and to convey this to the future readers of my book. My teeth sunk into the flesh sweet yet seedy. On my tongue I felt the grit, the grit of life. At the crossroads, I had choice walk through or turn away. I chose to write it dark, raw and real.
My fig had a gentle space , a nothingness inside. That is where I stood, a place of quiet and resolution, the place where a ray of light penetrates the gloom and hope lives. As a person I understood clearly where I came from, appreciated what I had been given and found the courage to share their gift, their story as Schicksal.