Tag Archives: WWII

They Left Us Everything

they left us everything cover

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir

by Plum Johnson

First publication: Penguin Canada 2014

award

2015 RBC TAYLOR PRIZE
Excellence in the field of literary non-fiction.

G.P. Putnam’s Sons | July 26 2016
Hardback: 288 pages
ISBN: US edition 978-0399184093
Genre: Non-fiction/Memoir

★★★★☆

ARC: E-book from First-To Read in exchange for an unbiased review.

Garden gate porch

Photo courtesy of Plum Johnson

Point O’ View

Nineteen years, one month, and twenty-six days of eldercare have brought me to my knees.

This award winning Canadian memoir of the death of aging parents will be available in the US in July of 2016. If this topic scares you, don’t go away! Her family will amaze you with its rich history! If you or anyone in your family has become a caregiver, you will find that you are not alone in your feelings.  Johnson has handled this story with grace and dignity.

Plum Johnson’s Toronto message machine blasts her cantankerous 92 year-old Mum’s voice. “Promise you’ll drive out first thing tomorrow! Damn this machine call me!”

For “First Daughter” Plum Johnson the death of her 92 year old mother marks the end of a tumultuous and emotionally painful 20 years as caregiver that has left her painfully stranded between who she was before, who she has become and what she will be next. As she opens the garden gate and leads us inside the family home, she shares the emotional turmoil in the intimate corners of herself. The physical tour of the house and its belongings taken in step with the inventory of her feelings and self reflection will stir up sadness, joy, amazement, anger and love.

The wartime marriage of a British Naval officer and an American Red Cross Director endured and left a legacy of treasures measured in 5 children, memories and 23 rooms filled with mementos, artifacts and yes, junk. After their deaths, the children discover incredible personal mysteries hidden in the home and answers to questions they wish they knew to ask while they are alive.

Divorced, self-employed and an empty nester, Plum was the obvious choice to serve as caregiver to her parents.  For 13 long years she cared for her father as she watched his retreat from life into Alzheimer’s deep fog. Three years after his death, Plum is still in life limbo caring for her mother. But her mother’s ever growing cantankerous disposition and demanding nature have eroded any remaining compassion or patience. All encounters become jousting matches that leave no winners.

Friends of mine who lost their mother’s early kept telling me, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are… I’d  give anything to have my mother back for just one minute.’All I wanted was my freedom. I looked into the future and thought, will I ever get my life back?’

Grief has no expiration date.  It has no parameters. It can’t be exchanged or coerced.  This heartfelt story of one person’s experience expressed honestly and candidly.  In the end, she and her siblings learn one of life’s greatest lessons.  Parents are people with their own dreams, ambitions, faults, and tragedies. When we stop seeing Mom as mother and we stop seeing ourselves as a wronged child, it is possible to love Plum as Plum and Anne as Anne. And with that knowledge a person regains compassion, understanding and the freedom to move on….

Reviewers  note:

There are references to other non-fiction books about members of this family. I encourage others to read the gripping tale of her father’s escape from a Japanese POW camp. I was, at first, very angry at her father’s harsh disciplinary style but as I learned more about him personally I came to see that he was doing his best with what he knew from his own experience. It doesn’t excuse his actions but shows that he is at heart a deeply loving father.

Plum Johnson’s childhood is far from average and goes to show that you can not make assumptions about another’s life. As stated above, Grief knows no bounds and we are all more than one dimensional beings.

I want to thank the author for permission to use her personal photo in my review.  I also want to thank her for reminding me of things in my life that I discovered when we cleaned out the closets and basement of my family home.

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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II

 by Wil S. Hylton.
Interview with Dr. Patrick J. Scannon Palau Explorer & Founder of Bent Prop

Are their spirits waiting to be remembered, or at least not forgotten?” 

Vignette Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/vignette

B24-42-73453

        

At the end of World War II, 78,750 Americans were listed as Missing In Action (MIA) with roughly half in Pacific.

In 1993, Dr. Pat Scannon traveled to the Pacific and the Palau Islands as part of a search team looking into the first combat kill of tvanished with framehe young naval aviator, George H.W. Bush. Bush’s plane was on a photographic mission in the summer of the 1944 when he sank a 150-ft fishing trawler. Their search concluded when the wreck was located and weapons were found among the debris verifying the validity of the air strike and clearing controversy that innocents were killed.

Following the completion of the trawler mission, Pat and his wife hired a guide to explore the islands and other war wrecks.  As fate would have it, the guide took them to a beach to view a section of an aircraft wing.  The sudden realization that it was a downed American aircraft changed Pat’s life forever.   Pat’s detailed journal reports, ”I just came around that bend in the coral, and I was a different person.”

Hylton has crafted a remarkable narrative from Scannon’s dedicated research and personal journals.  As a fairly uninformed American, I was mesmerized and held captive reading about the little covered Pacific battles.; shocked by what now appear primitive, WWII aircraft and equipment used by our military.

Pop on Saipan

Dad ©itzeyblog

 

 

 

The story flows backward and forward through the lives of the lost servicemen still haunting these Pacific islands, their families still waiting for information 60 years after last contact and with Pat Scannon’s dedication to finding answers.  Scannon’s integrity, patriotism, tenacity and ingenious methods have led to the recovery of many lost war heros.   We follow Pat from his initial curiosity to the founding of the Bent Prop Project dedicated to locating and assisting with identifying American prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) from World War II and other conflicts around the world.

Pop with bananas

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This slim 272 page book will stir your emotions.

SGT Donald Delorm outside Saipan cave

SGT Donald Delorm outside Saipan cave ©itzeyblog

It has deeply stirred mine.  Unbeknownst to me, my family had a WWII link to this Pacific timeline.  My father, a WWII veteran, was very silent about his war experiences. Reading this book has given meaning and answers to some of my own questions.

Highly recommend reading.

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