Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Strange Kind of Club

It's All Saint's Sunday at church today. But I think this year I just don't have the energy to go to my Lutheran Church to light candles. Candles for all the people in my family who have died. The list keeps growing, parents, aunts and uncles, even young cousins. I would not want to leave anyone out. So we have decided to spend the day in the mountains instead. Maybe high up on the Rocky Mountains, I can be a little closer to all those loved ones we have lost.

A friend recommended a book to me recently. It's the novel Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. Looks like every book club in town has read it. I heard about it from many people. Kind of funny how people think that because you are German you need to read more about the Holocaust. I can tell you this much: All of my teenage school years' history lessons were dominated by this subject. We studied the topic inside out and outside in. We visited concentration camps, watched movies, and literally talked it to death. We were basically taught that the debt our people owe can never be repaid. But here I am reading another book about evil Germans. Oh wait, the book is also about the "good" Germans, but I don't want to give anything away, in case you have not read the book...

I am not sure why I get so angry when I find misspellings of German words and songtitles in books like that. It makes me wonder why couldn't the author at least have a German native do some editing and proofreading for her? I also could have pointed out to her that some of her notions of German food were stereotypical, and that we don't stick our hands in a mixing bowl while preparing Rouladen (German Beefrolls).

But I am still glad I chose to read the book. Besides the annoying stuff I found the story compelling and I am halfway through reading it.

As a teenager I would always have a little notebook while reading books. In it I would copy a passage that struck me as particular beautiful and that I wanted read over again later. Here is such a passage from the novel Those Who Safe Us. In this passage Max, one of the main character talks about death:

"The death of a parent, he says to it, is a profoundly life-altering experience, isn't it? When I was a child, I often had this feeling of God's In his Heaven: All's right with the world--that's Robert Browning. An English poet. But ever since my father died in the last war, I've awakened each morning knowing that I'll never again feel that absolute security. Nothing is ever quite right, is it, after a parent dies? No matter how well things go, something always feels slightly off..."

And a page later Anna decribes her feelings concerning her mother's death in the following way:

"It's like being in a sort of club, isn't it? A bereavement club. You don't choose to join it; it's thrust upon you. And the members whose lives have been altered."

I hope you folks reading this blogpost are not members of this strange club  I am part of yet. If you are a member, I hope you have some other members to share with and comfort each other on this day.


1 comment:

woolies said...

Hi Ulla,
Yes, I'm in that club. Lost my mother in 1982, and my father in 2002. I'm so sorry you feel that awful sadness - I have to say, that although losing my parents (especially my mother at a young age) changed me profoundly, I do not carry that encompassing sadness any longer. They are a part of me, I carry them in my heart. I wish you healing and strength.