It’s Sunday night and I finally have a little bit of time and some energy left in me. Time and energy is a good combination – one that screams to be put to good use:
I decided to work on my mother’s personal history. When I visited her in Germany over the Summer I recorded her telling some stories. I had also asked her to jot down some memories. My first objective is to transform this ‘raw’ information into a story or chapter that my own children would want to read.
I’m not the best at writing. The closest I come to writing stories is writing in my journal – or this rare blog entry. But I want to do this for her and because it’s all in German I can hardly ask my co-worker Kurt (our writer/editor on staff) to write it for me :). So I am tackling this and feel confident that the end result will be worthwhile.
My mother was born in 1940. When WWII ended her family lived in what is now the Eastern part of Germany (back then it was the middle part), some 80 miles away from Berlin. She remembers that all the food was rationed. After the three children had gone to bed, her mother prepared the scarce breakfast for the next morning. Each child was to have one slice of bread. My mother, then 5 years old, was the first to wake up. She snuck into the kitchen and when she saw all that bread (5 slices, their aunt was also staying with them) she couldn’t resist and ate almost all of it. When her mother awoke she could all but cry. What should she give to the rest of her family?
Two years later her father returned from a Russian prison camp. He was one of the few who did. As he watched his three little children bathe that night he saw their emaciated bodies. My mother remembers bloated bellies. With tears in his eyes he vowed that he would do all in his power to provide for his family. And he did. Until he died of a heart attack two and half years later.
What does it do to me to ‘rememberize’ my mother’s personal history?
It fills me with an increased measure of love and appreciation for her. It also fills me with an increased commitment toward my own family.
Even though I feel I made very little progress toward completing this first story of my mother’s personal history, I am grateful that she shared her memories with me. It was two hours well spent and I look forward to next Sunday night when I hope to have time and energy again to continue. Christmas is not too far away and I really want to get this first chapter/story done so I can share it with my family.