In my finished manuscript entitled Witness: A Contemporary American Memoir, I write about how living on the periphery of my parents’ potent and chilling history affected me long into adulthood, a history that almost broke me.
I was born, not in America, but in England to European parents. My Ukrainian father lost his home, his family, and his country to war. My English mother sacrificed hers when she married my father. And I came of age straddled across an ocean and a history.
In the memoir, I navigate my way through the murky waters of the aftershocks of my father’s war. His harrowing emotional explosions. Devastating silences. Terrors arriving in the dead of night or on days when the sun glowed like a new penny.
I also recount how my mother’s stubborn refusal to adapt to life in America coupled with her decision to relinquish her country for good after my father’s unexpected death prevented me from claiming either nation as my own leaving me to try to understand a country that was by turns my birthright, the foundation of my selfhood, and a puzzle to me.
Finally, I dissect the ways I learned to live with the precious burden of my own survival and how this history, this legacy shaped me. Learn more about the book…