Voor Elise, Memories of the ‘Lo ISBN: 9781457552632, first offered by Dog Ear Publishing, a memoire in e-book by Denise Keustermans and Henry Sienkiewicz.
This is a story “about seven children left orphaned after their parents’ deaths” and their struggles “to find their own paths, paths that went across borders and oceans.” And “They each found their own route without losing sight of one another.” The storyteller’s grandfather was “the eldest of the seven; Elizabeth (Elise) was the fifth in line” and the person around whom most of this story centers. It begins in the very small Belgium town of Kessel-Lo (‘Lo) in the early 1900’s with the hard life of the poorer families, progresses through the brutal effects of WW I and proceeds to her meeting an American soldier. It then follows her marriage and move to a small Texas farm where life not only is brutally hard but increasingly difficult in the extreme because of a dominant mother-in-law and a husband who drinks heavily and is having an affair. Her subsequent activity is presented in some detail along with her constant attempts to maintain contact with other family members, especially with her often responding brother Michael. Vignettes of the grandfather are included as are pieces about the other members of the family. An Epilogue provides bits about the story teller’s husband as well as her children, their activities and that of the grandchildren.
The memoire ends: “Rather than diminishing over the years and across the miles, our connections have deepened. Elise’s children have remained in contact with their cousins. Our ties to the ‘Lo have only deepened, and the families across the oceans are as one. In the words of Elise’s pastor, we have let peace and happiness rule our hearts and we are glad that we could call this lovely woman our mother.” This is followed by Authors’ Notes which for some undefined reason regrettably stop in mid-sentence.
3* 4*Depressing but poignant for readers appreciating mitigating effect of familial ties on hardships.