I woke from a dream, which I remember nothing about, but was left with thoughts about my maternal grandfather, who I recently worked out was fighting in the Air Force as part of WWII at the time when my mother was in her mother’s womb.I found his war medals and a little book with a list of dates of when he was sent away and when he returned.That means the embryo that created me was created within my mother’s ovaries, during her development in her mother’s womb, during the time my grandfather was absent, in another country fighting someone else’s war.
My son decided to video me creating an impromptu music video in the kitchen the other day. The first words that popped in to my song were “Where are all the men?”. So many women, including myself, are facing parenthood without a partner, (or no family at all) because of a lack of a suitable partner. I wonder how much war has affected this.
This year before Remembrance Day I did some research in to the history of the day.
I was shocked at just how many men were lost in the first World War.
Many miles away, someone else’s war was taking a nation’s men and killing them, and for those that returned, it maimed their bodies and traumatised their minds.
A whole nation of women had to take men’s roles, rise up to take care of children alone, or see a bleak future with no marriage or a marriage to someone perhaps not fitting for them.
A war about allies.
A war about not much that matters really.
And then 40 odd years later the next World War, of which both my parents were born on the heels of. That war, it has been conjectured, was conceived from the consciousness of forced reconciliation of Germany who signed the peace treaty with some reluctance. Did Hitler and the ease of his following come from the hurt pride of this country?
This year has been a year of grief for me. I didn’t want to live for a large part of it. I had a relationship break up which triggered this. The feeling I had when I began to realise that this man I had fallen in love with, (whose father actually was heavily involved in the army) wasn’t able to be there for me, was a sense of “I have to do it alone, on my own”. I remember as I was coming to this realisation, emotion pouring through me, I was endeavouring to build my own compost frame and finding new strength and courage to do what I had previously put aside as being a 'man’s role' and somehow too hard fo me. I still haven’t built that compost structure. My compost now sits in a pile without it. Unfurling on to the fence.
I wonder if that’s the feeling my maternal grandmother had when her husband was sent to war. Already with a young son, less than two years old to look after and my mother growing in her womb, she would have been contemplating the possibility of doing it all from here on her own. Perhaps there was some anger or even rage about this. I don’t know. Perhaps grief.
I also found out whilst in Turkey with my mum’s cousin, that my mother’s mother’s mother was left by her husband, who ran off with another woman. Perhaps she was also experiencing “I have to do this on my own” as a residual and passed down emotion. And so it goes. Perhaps imprints like this make it difficult to even see the support and love that might be available in a man in our lives. Or perhaps its just that the absence is more real than their presence.
I have been told by my mother that her father was awful. Strict. Uncaring. Unloving. I wonder how much the war influenced that character that she experienced as her father. I have read that a very strict style of parenting is less ideal than a more loving, caring and kind one. The army, from what I have observed from movies mainly, is akin to the more strict, “Do as you’re told” kind of way of being and so even if one wasn’t killed or maimed by a war, being trained to be in one, would perhaps be detrimental enough.
I wonder. If you are listening now, Pop, I forgive you. And I stretch my heart out to let you know its ok. That this is what we are all dealing with. Recuperating from. Loving in the aftermath of war.