To the memory of my parents.
Upon completion of the writing of my book I have decided to dedicate it to my parents. Their stories were part of our lives since I can remember. I did not want it to just be a one-line dedication, therefore, I decided to use a part of a poem that I wrote a few years ago. I wrote this poem as a reflection of my life back in the old country of Poland and my new home, Canada.
The first part of the poem reflects very much the older generation of my parents growing up in a country that put a lot of emphasis on history, heroes of the past, remembering the dead and holding on to traditions.
Using this stanza as a dedication to my parents made the book “Shades of Betrayal” complete. I hope that you would agree with me once you have read the book.
Born deeply rooted, soaked in the memory of generations
Walked the streets painted with the patina of centuries
Touched the imperishable walls of old buildings
Dreamed in gardens under the majestic trees
Rested in the grass smelling of heroes’ blood
Walked cemeteries with forefathers’ souls in the tombs
Listened to whispers of strength, love, and death
Dreams of new land, new gardens, new life
Diverse, yet beautiful, young but strong
Buildings so high, reaching to the sky
Streets of windows and colours where all belong
New land inviting, waiting to explore
Home bright and thriving with lightness and love
Roots coiling deep from the saplings of old
My grandfather left Poland to work in France in 1927 and never returned. My father was six years old when he saw his father for the last time. The trauma of separation at such a young age resulted in my father becoming a very serious, responsible young man but filled with sadness and longing for his father.
My book “Shades of Betrayal” starts with a depiction of the final hours of the son and father’s interaction before Joseph’s departure to France.
Monday, August 15, 1927, was the Assumption of Mary holiday in
Poland, popularly known as the Feast of Our Lady of Herbs. The
holiday celebrations that started on Sunday, continued through Monday,
reaching the culmination point during the noon Mass in all churches
across the country.
Teddy Novak, together with his parents and two-year-old sister Ania,
took part in the festivities in the town square, but nothing could make him
happy on that day, not even the cotton candy his father bought for him
and Ania. He loved this treat, but the taste of it was bitter mixed with the
tears that he tried to conceal from his father.
It was his sixth birthday and he’d anticipated it to be an affirmation of
his maturity and moving from his child years into becoming a pupil at a
local primary school. Instead, his father was leaving him and the family
to go to France. Teddy decided that he would never celebrate the Day
of Assumption again; it would always be a reminder of the saddest day
At the end of the day, the family sat at the table to share supper
together. With a fork, Teddy pushed his food on the plate, unable to eat,
his headache growing with every word spoken by his father.
He looked at his mother pleadingly, desperately avoiding his father’s
eyes. “Can I go to bed?”
“Ania, it is time for you to go to bed too.” Mother hugged Ania and
Teddy disappeared behind a curtain separating the kitchen from the
He could not sleep and the quiet conversation between his parents was
like a heavy weight pressing on his head. All he could think about was
life after his father was gone. His thoughts were dark and the anger at his
father was growing in his heart.
“Why can’t he work in Poland? What will happen to us?” Teddy whispered,
but then he stopped before anyone could take notice.
The breakfast of eggs, bread, and coffee was more cheerful than the
supper; only Teddy sat at the table stone-faced, trying to hide his emotions.
Joseph hugged his wife and daughter but his most meaningful words
this morning were for his son. “Teddy, you’re the head of the family until
I come back. Take care of your mother and sister.” He put his arm around
“I’m not Teddy anymore. I’m Ted,” the boy said defiantly with his eyes
fixed on the ground.
The picture below is of my grandfather that was taken soon after he arrived in Thionville, France.
The picture of my father was taken when he was sixteen years old and played in a school band.
A few years ago, I retired from a professional career and moved from Toronto to a small town in Ontario. Immediately I involved myself with many activities such as joining various clubs, activities and writing a Blog.
One day I posted a blog “Wedding Dress” about my mother’s wedding dress made from a parachute that my father, an underground soldier, secretly saved during WWII.
The readers of my blog loved the story and an idea crossed my mind to write a book loosely based on the origins of the dress.
In the next few days, I registered at a local collage for a Creative Writing Course and started researching material for my book and sketching the plot. I did not want it to be another book about war atrocities, death and killing fields. In my mind the book would be about ordinary peoples’ lives, love, survival and resistance during WWII.
The story line would be loosely based on my parents’ lives enhanced by fictional characters.
In 2018 my mother was 91 years old and still had a great memory, especially about events from the past. Although I knew many facts about my parents’ and family lives prior to and during the war, I needed to delve deeper into the atmosphere, mood and feelings during the dark times of WWII. Sadly, my father has been deceased for number of years and I did not have his personal detailed recollection of his life when he was a young boy in Poland.
During my many visits to Poland, I spent hours with my mother and her older sister sharing the details of their and their friends’ young lives. I listened and recorded everything as they went over the same events many times. Time was running out for them and every memory shared with me was precious to all of us.
In 1946 the parachute saved by my father was used to make my mother’s wedding dress. It was a beautiful dress according to my mother, a dream not attainable to many in war-devasted Poland. After WWII there was a rush of weddings and many young brides wore my mother dress for their weddings. It was called the “Dress from Heaven”.
Here we are more then two years after the “Wedding Dress” blog first appear, and after much blood, sweat and tears – and a great deal of research – the book is completed! Yay!
“Shades of Betrayal” will be available at the beginning of 2022.
Below are photographs of my mother in her wedding dress, my father during the war and my mother and I during my last visit before she passed on peacefully in January 2020.