The First Sentence Must Catch Your Reader (they say)

Did Mummy actually go behind enemy lines during WWII? And if so, why was she there and what did she do there? These are some of the questions that mull around in my head today.

I did not learn until sometime after Mummy’s death in 2000 that she had served in WWII in London during the Blitz. She served with the OWI … the Office of War Information, the US Government’s propaganda wing. The only reason that I learned about this service is that one day while taking care of my own Executrix duties at home I found my sister’s young child playing with some old scrapbooks of Mummy’s. At home, defines my family home in Vermont, not my own home in the Midwest. Seeing that they were works of obvious historic value at least to the family, I was more than surprised that this four year old had been given these as toys. I took them away and replaced them with something more appropriate. My initial question about Mummy going behind enemy lines was prompted by something that I saw within these scrapbooks filled with paper that was now disintegrating before my eyes. Whatever it is that prompted this thought was seen at least twelve years ago and accessing it might be very difficult.

Today, nearly thirteen years later I still have to sort these books out and place each scrapbook entry into an archival envelope. I will also need to have each entry photo copied and placed on DVD. Yes, this year.

I didn’t like my mother. She really was not a very nice mother. I can remember when the movie Mommie Dearest came out, I thought oh my, that was my mother. Most know that the book Mommie Dearest was a Hollywood “tell all” book of alleged horrific abuse and alcoholism on the part of Joan Crawford towards her daughter.

I am a person who seeks answers to any question that I have. A part of that need is accompanied by the knowing that there is always a reason. I have found a reason for everything that has happened to me throughout my lifetime, have I ever questioned it. I had a very difficult childhood actually it was dreadful. I came from a privileged background. So very privileged that I was sent away to camp at the age of four and sent away to school at the age of thirteen. I have come to realize that this was the British way of doing things. Everything that my family was engaged in was very “British,” the result of my mother’s time in Great Britain.

I am a person of some degree of courage. I am known for having “no fear.” This was not always true. I used to be afraid of my own shadow; today I know that my fearlessness comes from my mother. And interestingly it was also crushed by her when I was a child.

21 thoughts on “The First Sentence Must Catch Your Reader (they say)

  1. I met a very snarly woman who, in Denmark during war years, entertained German Officers while certain under cover tasks were being performed under their noses. I often wondered – did she become crusty after seeing and knowing too much or was her personality perfectly suited for that sort of role. I noted how her kids treated her like a respected matriarch rather than a mom. Did she drink lots? Oh yeah!

  2. Amazing how those childhood wounds become lifetime scars. Mine was pretty rough, too… I’ve learned that “love” doesn’t always have to mean “like” (my mother).

  3. This is heart felt share ~ I think knowing something more about our parents, in your case, your mom, can help us understand our journey and ourselves a little bit more. These scars can last a lifetime but you are stronger and more resilient because of your unique upbringing ~

    Wishing you a lovely week ~

  4. thanks for sharing this with us..sometimes we find the answer to those questions and sometimes we don’t…interesting on the discovery about the fearlessness…was good to getting to know you a bit better as well

  5. You are fearless indeed, brave enough to look at all of this. I am glad you are writing all of this. I need to be doing the same. Archiving and getting it all down. Way to go, kiddo. You inspire me.

  6. i like your curiousity to chase down any questions….and you know they say you dont get to pick your family…and if you are lucky you live through that…smiles…i am sorry for the rough childhood…i am intrigued though at family history as well….how neat to find that she served….

    • Thanks Brian. All has long ago been forgiven, forgiven and understood. Through a spiritual experience that I had in 2005 – I was dragged kicking and screaming through the fires, but came out the other end … whole. I learned an enormous amount about war. I learned why I never had the love of my parents (that they had for me). I learned that I am indeed a child of war and that the results of one mans war go on to touch many generations to come. I just wish somehow to get it out, because there are so many who suffer as a result of being children of war and have NO idea that this is the reason or etiology of their misery.

  7. Liz, I remember way back when we first started blogging and you talked about doing this work. So exciting to get behind the mystery and history. I know aspects of it are hard … some not good memories … but I hope on the whole is a rewarding effort and that maybe you get to know more of the why behind your mom and find some more reconciliation. In the end though, we can see you are a champ. I am so happy to “know” you. I look forward to your sharing more history here.

    • Jamie you have been a staunch supporter through thick and thin. I am really grateful. The hard aspects are exceptionally hard. But they are no longer painful memories. It is difficult to articulate. The pain is some sort of longing. I watch almost nothing but British TV and they have a few excellent shows portraying WWII women going behind enemy lines. Sometimes I cannot even get through them, I am in tears. This is also true with my father and his service memories that I pursued. Actually that is what brought it all on.

  8. Hi Raven,

    Your post only reiterates the long term implications of our socialisation process during childhood. As I muse some more regarding this, I come to the conclusion that it goes down to the “values” core that we have imbibed and internalised. Taking responsibilty for our actions is one such value…

    Loved the post.


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