Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Captain
(My very much loved Dad)

20th August 1926 - 11th April 2010

I am heartbroken and the pain feels unbearable.

 I was given the gift of a father who always showed me he loved me and he told me often that he loved me. I have loved him my entire life... and will continue to do so.  A true gentle man who put his family above all else and who taught me the value of love, patience, humour and forgiveness.  He was loved by all who met him, including those who only got to know him during his final few weeks.  I know that no one can live forever but my heart aches to the point of torture.  I have never known torment such as this. I cannot cry or grieve, his loss is to much. I am sincerely honoured to be his daughter.

I have never spoken about my parents, at some point in the future I would like to introduce you to them and also to who I am, because of them.  They were extraordinary people for their time, adventurers, intelligent, and living sadly in a time that placed restraints on them. They taught me to break those restraints and fly. I thank them both for their faith in me and for making me the person that I am xxxxx.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm sorry that I have not been around of late.  There are things in my life at present that have taken over and I have to give them priority.  I really, really do miss my friends here in the blogosphere and there will come a time when I will, (selfishly), need you more than ever.

I have not had the time to check in on your blogs of late and with this in mind I sincerely hope that you are all well and I do think of you all often, I know that some of you are facing your own problems and even though I cannot check in with you, I hope that you know that you are in my thoughts.

I suppose that life has it's own way of reminding us not to take anything for granted. It has my full and undiluted attention at present.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Under Pressure

Unfortunately I have been feeling the effects of not taking my blood pressure medication over the last few days. Although I am back on them it takes a little while for them to work, so I've had a pounding headache for the last three days and I'm feeling a bit under the weather. Well I've nobody but myself to blame and I'm sorry if I haven't been catching up with you all, but trying to blog with my head feeling like it is going to explode is not a good mix.

Hopefully it will be ok in the next couple of days so as Arnie would say, 'I'll be back.'

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The old hormones having been a bit 'iffy' over the past couple of weeks. I've been stuck in a revolving door of emotions, happy, sad, angry, ... I don't know how I feel. I've also been very forgetful. On Wednesday I was supposed to pick up my prescription, blood pressure medication, I forgot. On Thursday I was supposed to pick up my prescription, I forgot. Yesterday I was supposed to pick up my prescription, I forgot. It's the weekend my GP surgery is now closed until Monday, I've run out of my blood pressure medication. Not a good start to the weekend.  I wrote HUGE notes in my diary and then drove home and forgot to call in on my way.

Yesterday I had a morning meeting in my diary... the same diary I have been looking at all week and noting that I have a meeting on Friday morning. I arrived at work in plenty of time, an hour later I received a rather turse telephone call wanting to know what had held me up. Oops that would be my current appalling memory. My diary was sitting on the desk next to me. After racing off to the meeting I returned to my desk, one of my colleagues asked me how it had gone. My eyes glazed over and I realised that I had sat for over an hour listening but not taking anything in. Ah well I'll just have to wait for the minutes to be sent out.

So if anyone is available to take minutes on my daily doings over the next few days I'll be able to update you with what I've been up to next week or I could just ask for you to be copied into the minutes!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Auschwitz, Liberation..

This post is long... please don't sigh and turn away. It is long for a purpose. It is the story of a very couragous woman for whom I have immense respect and love. I only met her on one occasion but she had a huge impact on my life... today of all days her story should be heard.

A few years back whilst travelling with his Lordship on a business trip I found myself at a loose end in Paris.. as you do!  Not wanting to wander around aimlessly in the cold January air I headed for a place we knew and liked. It was a zinc bar but they served the most wonderful coffee and cakes. I took along a book and settled down for some chill out time.

As the morning wore on the place began to fill up until all of the tables were taken. Just as I was ordering another coffee and a round of the most delicious gateau they had, an elderly lady asked if I would mind if she joined me. I gave her a welcoming smile and answered in my appalling French that she was most welcome. Clearly she realised that my command of my neighbours language was not up to muster and addressed me in English.

"You are here for a holiday, yes?" She enquired.

"Something like that, I am visiting with my Husband, he is here on business." I replied, taking in her immaculate hair and make up. Parisian women are particular about their grooming. Although clearly in her late seventies or even eighties she was beautiful and she had the most amazing hazel eyes that met me with an interested gaze. She glanced at my book and then smiled,

"Please continue, I do not wish to stop you,"

"No I can read anytime." I said putting the book in my bag.

"Ah a heady pleasure not to be taken lightly, being allowed to read is having the opportunity to feed the soul, yes." She said as she raised her gloved hand to signal the waiter.

I have no idea why, well actually if I am honest I do, but I was drawn to this lady, her elegant appearance was enthralling, but for me it was something else, a chance encounter with this lady felt, well it is clumsy to say, but like fate.

Her order arrived and I noted that she was drinking chocolate with a small glass of cognac on the side. She laughed and I blushed, "your's will be here shortly, you finish your coffee and they will bring it,"

" I didn't order one,"

"No, I did, when in France," she raised her cognac and took a sip then dabbed at the corner of her mouth with the napkin and smiled.

We chatted about my time in Paris and as we both drank our chocolate and cognac we relaxed into each others company. She was not a native of France after all I discovered, she was originally from Germany she came to France after the war and married a Frenchman who had fought in the resistance, they never had children and they had settled in Paris.  I don't know why to this day, but it seemed natural at the time, I asked her what it was like in Germany during the war. She took a deep breath and then took off her left glove, I was shocked and to be truthful I felt as though I was about to cry, (it could have been the cognac), a faded blue line of crude numbers and a symbol, a star, were tattoed onto the inside of her arm. She must have seen my shock and once again my embarrassment, she took my hand and squeezed it. For the rest of the morning and into lunchtime she told me her story.

She had been born Rachel, (she never told me her surname), she had been in love with a young man who worked for her father. When the Germans began rounding up the Jews and putting them into the ghettos they tried to escape, a few hours prior to their attempt they consumated their relationship. Their escape attempt was thwarted by one of their neighbours who told the German soldiers. Her lover was shot and killed, his body was left in the street where he had fallen as a warning to everyone of the consequences.She was taken by the soldiers to the local headquarters and 'interogated' for two weeks. She was then taken back to the ghetto and lived there with her family for the next four months.  Rachel had to walk past her love's decaying body to and from the factory in which she worked producing ammunitions under forced labour. Whilst his body decayed her's carried new life.

One morning in the early hours she and her family were awoken to the screams and cries of the families in their block being rounded up and forcibly moved from their homes into trucks. The men were separated from the women and children, her younger brother Jacob was thirteen years old, he went with his father. Rachel and her mother were put into a truck. She never saw her father or brother again and she never found out what happended to them. Over the following months Rachel and her mother were moved to various holding camps. Eventually they were put onto a train and arrived at Auschwitz.

It had not been easy, but with the help of her mother and the other women with which they travelled, Rachel had managed to keep her pregnancy hidden.  You may be thinking why would her mother condone such a disgrace... I asked the question on your behalf. So many things are different in such times, why would she have given herself to the man she loved before marriage at risk of losing her soul. War has a way of bringing clarity to some situations. She gave birth to her son in Auschwitz, her mother clasping her hand tightly over Rachel's mouth to stifle her screams. They managed to conceal the baby for two days. On the second day as they worked in the sorting room, sorting the belongings of those who had been sent to the gas chambers, the baby was discovered by one of the supervisors. A man who was himself of the same faith but 'employed' by the guards to supervise his own kind. He made Rachel put the baby onto the floor and in front of her he stamped his foot down onto it's tiny body. It was gone. leaning into her he whispered softly, "you would both be going to the gas chamber now if it were not for me."

Rachel and her mother survived for several months, then during September of 1944 her mother collapsed on her way to the sorting rooms. That was the last time that Rachel saw her. On January 27th 1945 an eerie quiet befell the camp, the chimneys no longer belched their disgusting plumes and Russian soldiers marched through the gates to liberate the occupants of Aushwitz.

I have to say I was a mess by the time she had recounted her story. Then she put on her gloves and invited me to attend the service at Notre Dame. I remember I shook my head, "you are a Jew!"

"It is not the place, or the manner in which you pray, it is what is in your heart, will you come with me and see?" She asked.

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