War memories

Yesterday, I went to see my grandmother and she started talking about the hard times she had during the second World War. Before and after Saint Lô’s bombing. She described how the food restrictions were so harsh during the war years that items like trousers and socks, when available, had to be traded against butter or meat. How the sole delivery of meat my grandparents could pretend to for a whole week was often set aside to be cooked within a piece of bread in the local bakery and was sent as a package to a brother who remained a war prisoner in Pomerania for the whole duration of the war. She even showed us the receipts of all those packages, kept within a jar, which were dutifully delivered by the German post at the time rather than by the Red Cross…. All those privations while another sister who lived in a farm with unlimited access to this restricted food never contributed to support this brother. The same sister who would not lift a finger to help when my grandparents found themselves homeless after Saint Lô’s bombing. A selfish behaviour my grandmother still resents today for they were close family. Much more than the thefts of neighbours right after the bombing, when my grandfather recovered the large knife I saw him using all his life from those neighbours’ table during their lunch. More also than the laundry soiled by German troops occupying the ruins of my grandparents’ house for a few days during the Saint Lô’s battle. The hardships of those years is so remote from our current life that it seems difficult to believe it only happened seventy years ago.

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