Long ago, in the open-ended process of selecting topics for our re-purposing project, I knew that I wanted to transform the narrative research paper I had written for my First Year Seminar, that was based on memoirs my grandfather had written about his immigration to America during World War II. Because it was a research paper in it’s original form, I had conducted and incorporated a reasonable amount of outside research on Germany’s invasion of Poland, and statistics relating to Polish soldiers and Polish immigrants. For Project II however, I wanted to approach the meat of the story in my grandfather’s memoir from a more creative perspective. After chatting with T, the seed was planted that turning my third person, research based account of a story of immigration, into a gripping, historical-fiction, first person short story would be the best way to go about this. Taking a look this weekend at how to write short stories for the first time years was certainly exciting, and instilled some passion for the project, but it was actually a recent external event that deepened the meaning of my decision to move forward with this topic.
“A reader of war stories probably expects tales of dangerous adventures, of heroic deeds. There are no heroes in my story only frightened, confused and helpless people trying to survive against heavy odds in the midst of a cataclysmic storm. There is no happy ending either, even for those who survived, since there never was a return to peaceful normality, never a celebration of happy reunion. That war was a great tragedy for everybody it touched, and no one escaped uninjured on body or soul”- George Mahr (my grandfather), 1992
Only a couple weeks after his 93rd birthday, my grandfather became a great-grandfather this weekend as the first child of the next generation of our family was born on February 21st, 2014. My cousin (one of my grandfather’s 3 grandchildren) gave birth to Lincoln Chase Nasser, an event I had no idea would be so meaningful to this project. It had been a very long time since I had seen (or held, for that matter) a newborn baby. It really shatters the illusion of what can seem like a static extended family, and puts the new, dynamic concept of “family” in an entirely fresh perspective. Upon further reflection, I realized exactly why I was so passionate about project. I want to play an active role in preserving my family’s history, a re-purposing for the next generation. My grandfather is a braver man than I’ll ever be, and my grandparents have endured more hardships than I’ll ever likely see, and for one reason or another keeping the story alive for the next generation is important to me. Family history, ancestry, and genealogy is something I have always been fascinated by, and also something I have easy access to. With four living grandparents, all whom were immigrants from either Poland or Ireland after the age of twenty, it has never been too difficult to quench my thirst for stories and information from our family’s past. Some of my relatives are, understandingly so, less comfortable with talking about details from an unpleasant time in the past. Yet, thankfully, my father’s father (the subject of my story) enjoys sharing his wisdom and stories of the past as much as I enjoy hearing them, and has already agreed to be a part of my interview/movie/documentary for Project III. Below are pictures of the newborn, and me with the newborn, the day after his birth.