It Was The War

Mummy died in 2000, Pup in 2003. I had the tasks of property management and medical care management for my father utilizing the services of 8 employees between the time my mother and father died. I returned to Vermont from the Midwest more times during that first year of oversight than I had visited in the last 34 years. I would oversee the administration of two estates while attempting to manage my own business at home. All done while my siblings would attempt to sue me. I was soon to discover two WWII scrapbooks of my mothers. They were astounding. She served in London in the European Branch of the OWI. The Office of War Information was the Propaganda Wing of the US Government. I have no idea what she did. A while back I read something within these books that makes me believe that she was at one time behind enemy lines in Europe. She endured bombings of London. I do know that it radically changed and reshaped her forever. Today I fully understand her ghastly mothering.

screeching kingfisher
dives and skims the cool water
minnow for dinner

“The War was the most exciting time of my life” she said to me in 1998 on the phone. I could only think: “who finds war exciting?” War is grim, grotesque, horrific and evil. I lived through the fears of the Vietnam War Era. I did not relate to Mummy’s nostalgic trip back in time at all. In 2005 I had a spiritual experience that initiated me into my parent’s world. Willingly, I placed myself inside the mind of a Vietnam War Veteran, a stranger. This experience one of shattering pain and one of pure ecstasy lead me to (among other things) study war. The experience in its entirety taught me things that I otherwise would never have known, nor understood about life. It was a truly life altering experience.

firefly lightening
stretching across the meadow
like doodle bugs

Doodle Bug was the British name for the Flying V-1 Bomb(s) dropped on Great Britain By Germany during WWII.

I was the apple of my father’s eye when I was born in 1946. Tragically this love ended around 1951. The destructive results of WWII were catching up with both my parents. They each retreated within as two more children were born. The loss of my father’s love would shape my life to come and dominate it for many years in a most un-positive manner. Following my 2005 spiritual experience, I was to experienced my father’s love as it washed over me for the next couple of years replenishing and nourishing all that had been taken away.

little cicada
shedding its summer body
soon too it shall die

I am discovering that this desire to write my memoir through haibun, haiku, haiga and other forms of Japanese poetry will be very difficult. As all know there are many RULES to follow when writing Japanese forms of poetry. I wish to comply however, I must not only write poetry, I must tell an interesting story … or many interesting stories. And I have so many photos. I have removed from these scrapbooks 1/3 of the contents, leaving 2/3 left to with grave difficulty remove, clippings, postcards, letters, dance cards, dinner dates … all sorts of things. These scrapbooks are now 74 years old. Fragile. Each item must be removed with care and then I must have them scanned … by a commercial organization. All when I am not ill – hopefully. I wish to move forward, it is such a slow pace however. I will get there I keep telling myself. Thank you for reading, for your support and for following me.

Please comment critically. As relates to the paragraph just above, I have now written 5 haibun. A haibun is a paragraph of prose about a place, an object or person. My initial 2 haibun were longer – more about me. I wish to get the story across, each story in one short paragraph. I have shortened these 3 above, made theme more concise. Are they two short? Do they tell enough? Do they actually hold your interest and would they make you wish to read more and finish the book (that will be filled with photos? I don’t know. Please you let me know what you think and feel. You won’t insult me. I wish to create a thing of beauty. Remember this will largely be filled with WWII memorabilia. It will tell one how war effects those born into new generations far away from the war experienced by the generation before. It will be a book that I hope will be placed upon the coffee table.

Shared with Poets United for the Sunday Poetry Pantry.

27 thoughts on “It Was The War

  1. what a cool way to look at writing your memoir…really like the little haiku on doodle bugs and fireflies….interesting too seeing the perspective of another such as your mother…one a the time you could not relate to but later in life could appreciate when your lens was adjusted a bit…i wonder if that comes easier as we mature you know…the last one was so emotive too…between the fathers love and the shedding of the skin…

    have never written a haibun, so cant get too critical in that regard…

    • For many and I know this to be true of you, life is about becoming a better person as we grow older. A difficult task indeed, but one that makes sure that one keeps learning and “changing.” I am a much happier person today in relation to my parents than I was in 1996. I fully understand what motivated each, what ran their lives; depression, sadness, a desire for perfection – even my mother’s hoarding behavior that manifested in her 70s. During the War everything was rationed and there was little to be rationed. What remains with us emotionally are behaviors and emotions that manifest and are created during times in our lives that are most poignant and most life-changing. Such times would include emotional development in our teen years or say a war.

      Thank you for the visit and your always appreciated remarks.

  2. Liz, this is beautifully done. I’ve looked forward to this since you first mention it at our initial “meeting.” Congratulations.

    I like work that moves from one mode of expression to another – though I think I’ve only posted one such myself online. It creates a sense of movement and an internal rhythm that appeals to me. This work here is very graceful.

    I don’t know that one could write an entire story in Japanese poetic form. I think you would need to do it exactly as you have done it here. But that’s just my opinion. My favorite example of an autobiography written in poem would be Maxine Hong Kingston’s, if that would interest you.

    Myra Schneider wrote a long-poem (biograph) of Carolyn Norton, which I really rather like. It helped me to read it:

    I very much look forward to following your work on this, Liz. Good luck. Enjoy the process. Best wishes for better health days ahead. You are always in my heart and prayers.

    Long-distance hugs!

    • Jamie … I have learned so much from you and I just keep learning and you keep giving and teaching. Thank you so very much! I have ordered the MHK book. I believe that you are correct. doing my memoirs in Japanese Verse only will be difficult especially as I truly love free verse. Finally this feels right, it fells good and it is so comfortable. There are several determining factors for my desire to write in verse. 1) I do not wish to bog down and become maudlin regarding my own life, a sort of “just the facts mam” approach is what I wish here. 2) I want to highlight my mother’s war experience even if I do not actually discover what it was. 3) I wish to convey a bit about war and how it affects people of coming generations. Many thanks and sending you (((hugs))). Your encouragement truly means a lot!

  3. Liz, I will give this serious thought. I love what you are doing and you do write well. I just learned that you and my parents are close in age. I wish my mother had your vigor and passion. I miss the fire in her. Then you come into my world. The Universe is giving. Thank you.

  4. Liz, I do not wish to comment critically. I approach your words and savor them as they com. I am fascinated with World War II time, and I can see that this period and after really affected your life. What a wonderful thing for you to discover your mother’s scrapbooks which give you an insight into her world at the time. I am sorry that this time period affected your parents greatly and made the way for some poor parenting. I think you are well on your way to creating a ‘thing of beauty.’ I can’t remember which famous person said “Truth is beauty, beauty truth.”

    • Mary, thank you. WWII did affect my life. Terribly! And I had not yet been born. I have learned through spiritual experience and WORK that war affects many generations to come of children whose parents served.

      I cannot remember either about the saying “but how true it is.” Thank you my friend.

  5. This is a WAY COOL way to write a memoir and the content is not just interesting. It is FASCINATING. I am riveted and, yes, with photos it will make a fab coffee table book. You will be so proud and satisfied when it is done. We are only now beginning to understand how war changes a person and how it impacts the rest of their lives. No one I know who was in the war ever spoke of it, after, to any of us. They kept it inside. I am glad you had the experiences you did, to experience your father’s love again. Now that he is on the soul plane he finds it easier to express his pride in you. YES I want to read the whole book! Keep going, kiddo!

    I have been working with old photos this weekend and just came across one from the late 1800’s – what’s left of it. Wow.

  6. Enjoyed the stories and haibun style of narration ~ The prose version brings me back to those scenes in your life and they are full of emotions and conflicts, which you used in your haiku part.

    Now for the haiku, I suggest that you use punctuation to control the flow and cadence of words of the reader. If I may suggest:

    firefly lightning,
    stretching across the meadow-
    doodle bugs fall-

    little cicada,
    shedding its summer body-
    soon, all roses die-

    You have the material Liz, go for it, smiles ~

    • This is very interesting Heaven! Thank you! I am going to go back into some of my books on haiku and review this idea. I will also visit with NaHaiWriMo’s Dylan Welch over at Fb. He has taught me a lot. So far the only punctuation that I have used is a – (dash) when I DON’T do traditional 5-7-5 haiku. Thank you so much.

    • No, thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it. One of the reasons that I have chosen this method is to prevent me from being maudlin and going on and on. One cannot do that when expressing oneself through Japanese poetry.

  7. very interesting story liz and i think it’s a cool idea to write it down as well… and i too think that in the writing down, it reveals itself to you as well in a new way

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  9. I was very interested in your stories, Liz. They are powerful, and well told. My book Apples From Heaven is an anthology of folktales, with every story preceded or sometimes followed with an appropriate proverb to punctuate, accent, or simply help readers process the story. I wonder if you might tell chapters of your life, which is fascinating, and end each chapter with the beautiful pairing of a perfect poem.

  10. Thank you Naomi for your helpful and insightful response. I cannot quite tell why I am doing this. At the moment I am having a kitchen redo and this has rather stopped me writing. I have no plan. The one thing that I know is that I must take these crumbling scrapbooks apart and have everything photographed and catalogued. I started this process in Jan and then stopped. Why? Don’t know.

    It is not my life that I really wish to write about. It is these two scrapbooks that I want to do something with – although I know not what. I do truly like your idea. my best poems are my poems about war. They are a direct result of a second huge spiritual experience, shamanic in nature, that I had in 2005. It changed my life radically.

Your words of response are greatly appreciated.

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