A few years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, I was missing my mother (who'd died a few years before then) and the phone rang, a stranger at the other end saying, "This is your mother. Do you need any help?" Not a simple, "hi" or "how are you?" but, "this is your mother." She was calling her daughter and dialed wrong. Or did she. Was it my mother, coming through this kind stranger. Flash forward: what are the chances that my father, who's been gone for 16 years, would call just a few days later?!?!? One in a million, maybe. But it happened.
I rarely keep my cell phone on. I don't text and I only use my pay-as-you-go phone for when I'm on the road. It was still on from the night before, when I'd done a book signing, tucked inside my purse, when it rang. I flipped it open without putting on my glasses to see who it was. The man on the other end said, "You sound better today." My immediate response was, "Who is this?" to which the man replied, "This is your father. You sound better."
How could that be? Yet, there it was. Two strangers, days apart, identifying themselves as my parents. Makes you wonder. Makes you believe. Right after my father died, I wrote a short essay, published in the Op-Ed section of The Hartford Courant, the premier daily newspaper in Connecticut. I talked about my father's passing, about the fact that I just wanted to know where he was, how he was doing. Was he strolling along a place called Karmic Boulevard? I asked for a phone call in that piece, wanting him to call and let me know he was okay.
I guess he finally did. Thanks, Dad. - ps
I just finished reading Sara's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, a novel set during the Holocaust, a book that feels as real as the true story of Anne Frank. It depicts honestly a dark time in French history, showing us 1942 Paris in which thousands of Jewish families were rounded up, arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, and then transported to Auschwitz. You know the rest.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who had no idea of what occurred in Paris, so swept under the rug was this time of unspeakable acts. The author does a remarkable job of pulling us into the events of the time by giving us Sara, a young girl with a secret and a key, a young girl burdened by guilt and yet compelled by hope and responsibility to go on despite everything. And while I had some problems with the structure of this novel and the storytelling techniques, I find myself haunted by the experience of having read it.
What I want to know . . .what I need to know . . .how could it have happened? Is there unseen destiny at play? Do we have free will? Can we use the metaphor of Sara's key to unlock our own history, to open doors often locked by prejudice and misunderstanding and find ways to forgive and to embrace one another. I don't have the answer. But I do have hope. — ps
Welcome to Pat's Place
This is the kind of place I'm lucky enough to enjoy every day, a place to think and write and talk with friends. I hope you'll join me here often, posting on my posts, letting me know what you think, what you believe, what makes you laugh or smile or cry. What makes you angry. Let's share thoughts, rant at the world's randomness, explore issues like karma, destiny and past lives, and literary ones, like what we're reading and how in the world writers create conflict in fiction. It's all up for grabs. So, what's on your mind? Post comments.
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