A loving triumph over the ravages of war

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Book Chapter

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Patron, M-C. (2017). A loving triumph over the ravages of war. In M-C. Patron, R. Wildeboer, & A. Rokach (Eds.), Women and war: Opening Pandora's Box - Intimate relationships in the shadow of traumatic experiences (pp.139-155). New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

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©2017 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc


Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-53610-665-7, E-book ISBN: 978-1-53610-678-7


I have a powerful story to tell, of a mother's love and devotion to her family, taking us on the trajectory of her life that spanned 80 years from Tunisia to Marseille, France, prior to, during and post WWII. The death of Bernadette's mother in childbirth sets the scene for a journey defined by torment, guilt, loss, despair and illness, yet instilled with hope and extraordinary resilience. Bernadette is no longer with us to divulge the innermost secrets of her long and turbulent life. Her adult children have, on the other hand, entrusted me, the story teller, with the intricate details of a journey that has earned her and her daughters a place in our book, Women and War: Opening Pandora's Box. Deferring to the family's wishes to remain anonymous, pseudonyms have been used to protect their identity. Pouring over French documents, personal communication and recordings that I have translated, I have woven together a story that illustrates graphically the impacts of wars on families globally. Bernadette endured incredible hardships as a result of WWII and the Tunisian War of Independence, dogged by personal misfortunes that threatened to destroy her spirit. However, she was also endowed with an infinite capacity to love and to give, especially to her husband and her children. The women of this Sicilian-Tunisian-French family have reacted far more intensely to the intergenerational transmission of traumas of war than their male counterparts. Where appropriate, I have juxtaposed interesting insights on gender issues analyzed from the male perspective as opposed to the feminine insights into similar events. These reflections provide balance and contrast, shedding light on significant issues. The impacts of war continue to wield their inexorable force on the lives of descendants of war Veterans.

Une vie pas facile, je pense que Maman a payé très cher son passage sur Terre. Elle voulait mourir avec ma main dans la sienne, son ultime vœu a été exaucé. (A difficult life, I think that Mother paid dearly for her passage on Earth. She wanted to die holding my hand, and I fulfilled her dying wish). (Olivier, [Bernadette's seventh son], May 2016)

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