Catalyst

For all of you writers out there, what is your catalyst for writing a book, an article, a blog post? Do you know what sparks your yearning to put thoughts on paper? Can you remember the first time you thought you were on the right path?

As mentioned in my last blog post, the catalyst which prompted me to pound furiously at my keyboard was the anger I felt toward my father and, to a lesser degree, my mother. When I walked into my father’s home after his death, I was faced with the enormous task of clearing the house of everything stored in it so that it could be put on the market. I had no option as, despite telling me in previous conversations, that he had left me the house in his will, my father had not. So, our family home had to be sold in order to break up his estate into the different percentages he had designated in his will. I also had limited time in which to complete my task. We had lived on opposite sides of the country, so I did not have the leisure of being able to clear bits and pieces after work or on the weekends. I took a month of leave from work, four weeks in which to sort out a lifetime of hoarding as well as decide what to do with it.

I am an only child. Without my three sons and the generosity of one of my parents’ neighbours, it would have been almost impossible to complete what I had to do in the given timeframe.

Four weeks is not a huge amount of time in which to sort through a lifetime of collecting, organise a funeral, interview real estate agents, oversee the sale of a house while dealing with grief and anger and regret. I’m certain I threw out, gave away or sold items which I should have kept. I know I didn’t spend enough time holding the things my parents found precious enough to keep. Of course, I regret this, but I can’t let myself constantly dwell on it.

I was still angry with my father, who had had nearly thirty years of retirement to sort out his mess, when I discovered letters which had been written to my father during WWII. They were in German so, each night in bed, just before dropping into an exhausted sleep, I used Google translate to interpret their meaning. They were love letters, written by a young girl in what would become the Eastern Zone, to my father, who was at the time a young Lieutenant in the German army. These letters would spur me to continue my writing long after my anger had dissipated. I would spend months and years having them professionally translated, while trying to find out what happened to the young girl. And I still wonder if she kept the letters my father wrote to her.

Later I discovered a notebook in which my father had jotted down a timeline of his life and that began a whole new tangent for my research.

 

Alex

Alex de Fircks is a writer of memoir and short fiction. She blogs about family, moments in time, memories and travel. Alex is passionate about history, genealogy and family stories.

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