It has been said that home is where the heart is. For many, it is the place where they were born and raised, but for St. Petersburg writer Brigitte D. Moore, it was the culmination of a journey that spanned 21 years, an ocean, and two continents. Born in Breslau, which was then part of Germany, Moore was forced to flee with her family during the final throes of WWII. She chronicles the story of her life as a refugee in her memoir, Finding Home – My Journey from Post-War Germany to America.
Moore immigrated to America in 1958. She settled in New York City where she first took a job at Columbia University. Later, she went to work for a German import/export company, rising through the ranks from clerk to Vice-President of Product Development. She also married and had two children. In 1989, after a series of personal tragedies, Moore decided to move to Florida. “I had experienced three deaths three years in a row,” Moore recalls. “I was suffering from burnout and needed a change.”
Moore started writing as a way to communicate with her two grandsons, Christopher and Thomas. “Life during the war was so strange in my mind,” she says. “I wanted to write about it so my grandchildren would know what it was like. I started writing little vignettes after they were born. I planned to make copies and give them to my grandsons. I never planned to write a book.”
Because of the upheaval of life as a refugee, Moore was not able to obtain a formal education. An avid reader, she learned English when she decided to immigrate to America. “I took a few college courses while I was working at Columbia, and I discovered I had a talent for writing,” she says. “In my importer/exporter job, I had to write letters, press releases, ads, brochures, but I didn’t know how to center on a story and find the right flow.”
Fortunately, Moore mentioned her writing to Sunny Fader, a friend who happened to be a writing coach. “When Sunny heard my story, she was impressed,” Moore explains. “She offered to coach me, so I began bringing her my pages. Sunny would make suggestions and I’d re-write. She was a wonderful mentor, and the book would never have happened without her.” According to Fader, “What drew me to help Brigitte, even before I saw her material, was her passion for the project. But it is the subject of her book that kept me enthusiastic. Her book opened a window into a part of World War II history I knew nothing about. Add to that the remarkable grit it took for the young woman to turn around her destroyed life, to make a new future for herself in the United States. It is not surprising that this book resonates with so many people."
Moore hopes Finding Home will help readers understand what the civilian population in Germany went through during those tumultuous war years. “It shows, in a positive way, my struggle to find a place I could call home. I felt I did not belong anywhere, but I had dreams. I wanted to be a teacher, to play the piano. I always wonder what might have been.”
Moore has been invited to speak about her book and her experiences at many libraries and civic clubs. Encouraged by the positive response to Finding Home, Moore has joined a critique group and is planning to continue her writing. “My spiritual journey began in Florida, and I want to write about that,” she says. “I want readers to see that no matter what life gives you, there is always a way to go on. There are helping hands that reach out to you if you’re open to receive them. Life is beautiful.”
For more information about Finding Home, visit Moore’s website at www.brigittedmoore.wordpress.com