The Old Beauty Case

 

Writing ‘Schicksal,’ I often came to dead ends. My three children inadvertently helped. I’m sure their intentions whilst pure were never intended to be so far reaching. Some months after my father’s death I packed up the unit that had been sold. The process incredibly painful for me left some things undone.

On NYE, I sat on the floor, determined not to bring unfinished business into a new beginning. The ‘too hard basket,’ as the white plastic laundry basket became known, contained items I had no idea what to do with. 

Among these random things were two old Benson and Hedges metal boxes containing photos.

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Miner Man

Growing up can be confusing. Our mothers the bulwarks of our beings guide and love us. Our fathers love us too but often the responsibility of work, family finances and survival of our family unit takes them away from the home.

Writing Schicksal, I found myself in a place of deep divide. From my mother I had only ever received one perspective of my maternal grandfather.

Unfortunately this perspective was harsh, fueled by the anger of desertion; a child hurt and trapped in a past where forgiveness eluded her.

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“An idea of the closeness underground.”

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Unscrambling Yugoslavia, Schicksal Research

Quite often whilst writing ‘Schicksal’, I regretted not having asked questions when my parents were still alive. This seems logical now but the trauma of war silenced them.  I grew up very aware of the fact that insensitive probing would open wounds deep and barely healing. So their silence silenced me also.

The skeleton of my novel stood like a marionette, loosely hinged, far from self supporting. To do the story justice my role included creating a credible stage upon which to  play each scene.

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Schicksal and the Purple Fig

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.

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