Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Life is Hard

Life is hard.
You've noticed it, I'm sure. James Altucher, a favorite read of mine and a friend-yet-to-meet wrote about this in today's post on his web site.  If you don't read James, you should give him a try. He's absolutely honest; because of this many of his posts are controversial. I liked him so much I wrote an app to keep track of him, and it's still the only app I have that is on both Droid and iPhone. I haven't updated it in quite a while, but I've been busy finishing my book on the years we lived with Darling's mother.
All the stories for my book are finished, but I'm working on Frau's past, her years growing up in Poland and Frau's escape from Nazi Germany with her husband (Darling's father). It's harder than I thought it would be, not least of which because the few documents she kept are either in German or Polish. I can handle the German ones (with help from Google translate). The Polish documents will not go in the book, but might be worth future research. Her life was hard, and I see her smile fade across the years in the few photos we have of her.
Yet for all that, Darling reminded me, Frau loved to laugh. Thinking back on it, I have to agree. Many of my stories don't express that laughter, but some do. I guess when I was writing, the incidents that forced me to seek catharsis in the written page weren't really laughing ones.
I'll make some changes in the stories to reflect her laughter. It's one of the things the Lass (my Darling Daughter) remembers the best and I like how she wrote about it.
The Lass actually sent me a chapter for the book and I like it. She wants to do two more and we'll see how those turn out. Just the one is priceless, giving me an insight into Frau that I didn't always have.
Life is hard, but Frau managed to move forward. James states that you need a "push" and for Frau the "push" might have been her children. I think it might also have been a simple stubborn, iron will. It might also have been the time she spent on her knees talking to God, something she did even when she was very old and it took her a long time to get on her knees (and even longer to get back up). God watched out for her. He didn't always protect her from the Nazi soldiers. There are stories that I don't tell. But there are two other stories where God's angels intervened.
Both incidents are similar. I mention one in the book, a time when the Nazi soldiers searched for young Hertha with bad intentions. She hid under a willow tree in her yard. Though the soldiers walked within feet of her, they never saw her in the shadows. Another time, which I don't mention in the book, a similar incident occurred. She hid this time in the upper floor of her husband's mill, among the sacks of grain. Though the soldiers walked right past her they never noticed her.
There was another intervention, where the Nazi soldiers sought her husband, planning to kill him. Young Hertha made him put on layers of clothes and hid him in a hay pile in the barn. Just like in the movies, the soldiers took a pitchfork and stabbed repeatedly into the mound of hay. Never once did they touch Adolf. Frau told that story many times.
You know what? Next time maybe I will be brutally honest and talk about the dark day that I lost everything I valued. Maybe I'm not yet that brave.
Yes, James, life is hard. I remember when you talked about wanting to die so your children could get your life insurance. Be assured, James, many of us have felt that way, and we didn't lose millions to get there. Yet each of us lost what we had, what we valued most.
Some of us dropped to our knees in order to get back on our feet.
I don't know how else to do it.

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