It is the day before Valentine's Day and you might now think that I will start to moan about red roses, heart shaped boxes filled up with chocolates, champagne bottles with red bows and cheesy Hallmark cards but no worries... Nope, I today decided that I do wish to point out something that I do care tremendously about. There are all those times that I already have pointed out that I feel very grateful for what I have and that I feel blessed. It sounds very cheesy and it said by so many. Over the years I have been reminded by many and oh boy, did I sometimes think they kind of used this tagline to make me stop procasteninating. The grass will always be greener at the other side and there will always be people around you who will be able to rain on your parade or make you think that life is unfair. Nowdays many try to jump on my merry go round and take my brain hostage and plant seeds in there that can so much turn my happy mood arond. Fear and pessemism are all around and those I do get offered for free and in abundance.
A few years ago my mother had told me that she still had some war correspondance of my grandparents. I was very eager to read those letters but like many people that have experienced the war up, close and personal my grandmother had not been sharing many of her stories with us. She would rather spoonfeed us with stories and it was rather hard to put the puzzle together. It did not seem to matter to her and to my mothers family. Likewise on my father's side but we knew that the war had been raging through their lives and had created scars. Deep ones. It did seem rather that my family prefered not make the war stand out in their past and surely in ther present. Hey, you only live once and you better make the best of it most of my family members were communicating by their deeds and thaughts.
When the educational hotspot where I work started their remembrance celebrations I suddenly was also confrontated with the war stories of my family. Let us be honest that people around me were able to share those very intense and also painful memories with me by the exhibition of letters written in war time made me long for reading the correspondonce that my grandparents had exchanged during that time. So I called my mother and asked her politey if she would grand me the opportunity to read them. She then broke the news to me that she had no clue where these letters where. Oh yes, I was dissapointed because so far I only knew my grandfather from pictures and the few stories that my mother had shared with me. But hey, it was nothing vital and so I had to let go....
So when my mother yesterday placed a large brown paper bag in front of me I did hold my breath. 'While declutering I also came across these.' I sat there and suddenly I felt a bit out of place. Mother had written on that there :'war correspondance between mum and dad'. I let me hand sink in the bag and the first thing that I noticed was the amount of paper I felt. 'Jezus, this is not just a few letters. This is almost a book.', was my reaction. Taking out half of the amount of paper I randomly opened one. On the front of the envelop there was that so well known stamp that told you that Big Brother had been reading along. This already made me wonder if they both ever had been able to express their real frustration, pain, sadness while being apart... but you I just could not wait to start reading.
What happened during the first lines I got to read I just can not find the exact words for. It was like I was opening a door that had remained closed for decades. The paper was ofcourse already colored yellow and my mother had warned that some letters might not be readable anymore. So every single word I was able to read and digest felt like gift. Ten lines further down the paper something became very clear, life fog suddenly vanished.
'Mum, you never told us that your dad was gone from home for over 4 years.' This meant that he had already been imprisoned by the beginning of the war. I got goosebumps when my grandmother in that same letter broke the news to my grandfather that his second daughter was born. She told him that they all were doing fine and that she had received helpt from her mother in law. Her tone was rather neurtral but if you did read between the lines she foremost tried to sound positive. Something inside of me got warm and cold at the same time. 'So auntie M was four years old when she for the very first time met her own dad?' That moment must have been so intense. There are now snapshots of that homecoming. My mother has got no recollection of that time because she was born after the war.
That my grandmother who had been living with us in the last years I still consider a blessing. I have mentioned in previous blog post what a strong woman I considered her. I am not going to go back into that. But after yesterday I so much more became aware that my family history is so much more than meets the eye. That my grandparents at both sides and most fo my aunts and uncles faced wartime does make them have different conception of happiness. They master(ed) the art of living that I do think is in a way a life surviving skill and can make the difference in anyone's life. No expectations and no conditions attached. Just free fall and the deepgoing trust in a very deep force that can prevail if we try hard and long enought and work very hard. Foremost never ever give up!
No, I don't think that I will ever fully grasp my family background and many stories will be left untold. These letters surely are a very nice extra to spice up my own life. Still, I know so much understand that many of the things I moan or complain about are for sure first world problems. Yes, the world has become a more complex spot to hang out at but the power of love and hope still prevails. It is surely something that has been passed on in my family on both sides.
I wish I could let you read along while I am going to dive into these letters but I am not. After all it is my family. Each has their own story to tell. There are now more than ever the moments that I would have known more then what I know now but that is what life is all about. Last night while driving back to our house A suddenly said:'I wished I would have known granddad!' Yeah that made me swallow and in a way my heart almost broke. When I asked why he told me that he thaught that granddad looked like someone very nice. I could not disagree but ofcourse he is not aware of the whole story. 'Oh I know..... but you know what I also have never known my grandfather and I also wished I had been able to. Still in many things I do still get to know him. Do you understand?' My son did not respond and in a way that was the best answer that a boy close to turning 12 can give his middle aged mother who for a second does not find the right words.
So on the day before Valentine's day I wish to express my gratitude and love for my family. People that I will never get to know fully and not always will understand. The only thing that I know for sure is that I am blessed and that their unconditional love comes in different shapes and forms. Love is all around and that I surely seem to forget that once in while. So have yourself a lovely Valentine's Day in what ever shape or form you are going to come across it. It might be already standing next to you or just being one phonecall away or it might already have passed on but have left something behind for you that is much more than a box filled up with chocolates. But then there was a certain movie character that once said:'My mama always said, life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.' So enjoy your box of chocolates and hold it close to your heart to cherish. One day it might turn out to be your life line.
PS: I did pick out a very cheesy song to go along with this one but I have two very good reasons. This a cover by Dana Winner who in my honest opinion her voice is a real gem and thanks to program called 'Liefe voor muziek' has kind of made a comeback. The original in German I can also sing along and the message is timesless. And the second one is surely an even more cheesy one but on my way home this was on the radio and I do wonder what my grandmother and grandfather must have felt like at the time...