In 2012 Joan got serious about writing the book about how she found out that her parents had had a child, a daughter that they had loved before her. You could call it a “dual” memoir. It was her mothers’ story and how it affected her. You could say that she was trying to understand her life, its twists and turns and their consequences.
She had written quite a bit and then, she Googled “Portugal 1940”.
The first entry that came up was about Aristides de Sousa Mendes who had been the Portuguese Consul General in Bordeaux since 1938. The Sousa Mendes Foundation was looking for refugees that had escaped Nazi Europe via Portugal. She contacted them immediately to see if her family appeared on the list of Sousa Mendes via recipients that they were using as a reference.
Her family was not on the list, but every one of their best friends - their inner circle from the time they had arrived in the USA to the day they or one of the others in the group died. Her mother had told her they were friends from war time in Portugal. So, Joan put two and two together (Joan is good at that). She became interested in the work of the foundation and found out that she could retrace her family's steps with people who really knew the history of their escape, what had really happened.
She and her husband joined the 2013 “Journey of the Road to Freedom”.
Joan met people just like her; children of refugees, who had escaped the horrors of the camps. People that owed their lives to one man.
Now, when she continued writing her “dual” memoir, it became clear that she had to insert information about the hero that gave her family a second chance. It was then that My Sister’s Eyes: A Family Chronicle of Rescue and Loss During World War II in the format that you see it in now started to take shape (to be continued).