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I get it now dad. I get it. Thursday June 11, 2015

My dad's book collection consists almost entirely of all things wartime. Fiction, non-fiction, documentary-he devoured it all.

On the rare occasions my dad would find himself home alone for an evening, an Indian takeaway, a couple of beers and Schindler's List (the movie), accompanied by a few clean, cotton handkerchiefs, was not far from a perfectly spent night for him.

I never really understood. Why seek out such sad and tragic reading/viewing matter? Is life not stressful and sad enough without reading the diaries of someone who lived through a holocaust?

So, any fatherly invites to imbibe in a few beers and to join him in watching all the human despair and misery of say, The Killing Fields, was met with a gruff, "Huh, I don't think so dad!"

Almost 7 years on from his death, however, I think I understand now why he was drawn to all that suffering and sadness. He wasn't revelling in the melancholic. I see now that he found inspiration from the stories of those who had endured the unendurable; who had borne the unbearable, and yet survived to tell the tale with dignity and grace.

(I'd wager too that dad was drawn to humans who had suffered much because he knew that there was often an inner richness to souls touched by sadness.)

We can't pigeon-hole human distress or pain. Indeed, one of my (many) pet-peeves (and disbeliefs) surrounding depression or anxiety is that someone could actually say, 'There is always someone worse off.' Or, 'Look on the bright side!' when, in all likelihood, the depressed/anxious person would do (and probably has done) anything and everything in their power to just feel halfway normal. So yes, suffering is all relative, I know.

But working my way through (I have to pick my moments, mind) dad's collection of books on the World Wars, the Cambodian Holocaust and other dark times, I do begin to find the inspiration that my dad did. If people can survive such harrowing times then I can survive whatever life may throw at me - including the very real isolation and horror of depression and anxiety.

Maybe this is what he was trying to impress upon me.

I wish I could tell him. I wish I could say to him, "Ah, I get it now dad. I get it."

A Moodscope member.

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Hopeful One Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 7:14am

Hi Suzy- what a powerful message you have for us today! That ability to keep whistling even when everything looks so dark around one is incredibly valuable one as it represents hope in its widest sense. I think it was that one factor which gave me the courage to keep going. It is not an easy thing to do but ,if somehow one can get oneself to do it, the rewards are priceless as I found.

Rupert Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 8:33am

Suzy. Your blog struck a chord with me as I too read a lot of wartime accounts and books on the holocaust but I am not sure why I do. It is absoultely humbling to read the accounts of the dreadful things that people have been through and truly amazing to hear of their doggedness and determination to survive against all odds. I do wonder what I would be like in those circumstances and my initial thought is that I wouldnt survive for 5 minutes but who knows the inner strength that one really has until it is really put to the test. Rupert

Julia Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 8:35am

Our parents were what they were and didn't feel the need to explain why they behaved in certain ways. So it is left to their children to try to understand and put their actions and behaviours in some sort of context which is acceptable to us. By doing this we can move on with our lives. My parents died about 7 years ago too and with my mother, it's odd, but I look at her life from my viewpoint and see her as being a depressed person most of my childhood but she never once said the word depression and although my sister and I and my father knew she was unhappy from time to time, I guess we accepted it as just being her. Seven years on from their death, I have nothing but admiration for the way they raised us. I wonder if our children or those left behind if no children, will put our lives into context too. A very thought provoking blog Suzy.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 8:57am

Just lovely, this. Just lovely. Thank you. Often it is only when a loved parent dies that we start to understand them more. This brings back thoughts of my uncle. Much love to you. Mary

Anonymous Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 12:23pm

I really would like to know when you all were born who have so much sympathy for this interest in the horrors of the past. I was born in Germany in the middle of the war and I cannot bear these stories, pictures, movies. They scare me "to death" and I have to steer well clear of them. My partner, however, who is some years younger, cannot get enough of it. So, when again some wartime movie is on the telly, I usually leave the room. I do not run out screaming, No, not that, but I cannot bear it. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I am so glad I have moved away from this.

adrian Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 1:08pm

fantastic post-thank you

Anonymous Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 2:31pm

Hi John
I'm with you on this - though I did not live through the war.
I don't watch such things - beloved hubby does.
And I am grateful in a way that he does, so that those of us lucky enough to be born afterwards never forget what happened.
I do, however, make a point of watching Remembrance Day on TV,
and I will visit wartime cemeteries as a mark of respect and gratitude ...
Each to his/her own ...

Di Murphey Thu, Jun 11th 2015 @ 9:34pm

Dearest Suzy,
You just did.

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