Tightening her fists into balls of rage, Veronica keeps her word and begins to scream. “God damn it, mother, shut up!” Elizabeth’s chin quivers as smoke from her cigarette crawls around her sweaty face and fills the air between her and Veronica. She begins coughing violently, and gets up and moves to sit at the old card table that serves as a place to eat and her holy altar. She shakes out the embroidered scarf—a gift from her favorite nun, Sister Veronica—and replaces it beneath the wood crucifix. Next, she snaps on her Lady of Fatima night-light and opens her Bible, a move she hopes will leave her daughter feeling guilty for her sharp tongue and lack of faith.
Archives for March 2013
“Afternoon, Elizabeth,” Lucy says, smiling. “Thought you might like these. We’ve got enough to go around.” As she sees the two over- ripe avocados and six figs that Lucy is offering her, tears of gratitude well up in Elizabeth’s eyes. She knows she doesn’t have to explain or feel embarrassed by her reaction. A lot of people are strapped; WWII drags on. Neighbors share anything they can spare with each other.
With the glass of chipped ice delivered to her daughter, Elizabeth crosses the room and turns on the old box radio. Between the hard, discordant sounds of static, she can barely make out the broadcaster’s words: “British troops,” and something about “DiMaggio.” Hunched over the old radio, Elizabeth repeats the news to Veronica: “They’re saying that U.S., British, and French troops have moved into Berlin.”
Despite the fact that Elizabeth only completed the third grade, her passion for current events has remained a lifelong interest. Veronica, though only able to complete the eighth grade herself, shares her mother’s love of world news. An eighth-grade dropout, she still reads Encyclopedia Britannica daily as if every word was a required morsel of food. But today, miserably heavy with child, she doesn’t care.
“I don’t think she ever gave a thought to what Howard might be hiding behind his coal-black eyes. No one thought about post-traumatic stress disorder in those days. A man just went to war, waded through his buddies’ blood and guts, killed the men who killed his friends, and then, without fanfare, came home and started a family. To the government and society, this was a simple sequence. No one considered the potential ramifications of witnessing the horrors of war”. Excerpt from Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe
Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA Executive Director, Harvesting Happiness says, “When PTSD transfers from the battlefield to the home, this disorder quickly becomes a family affair.
My mother—God bless her—couldn’t carry through on many things. She couldn’t hold her temper, a husband, or a job. Maybe it was failing to marry my real father that made her so determined to never fail again at landing a husband. She made a vow even before I was born, that she would find me a father and make me legitimate. My older half-brother, Ronnie, had been born with a proper heritage: two married parents. Unfortunately, he also never got to know his dad, who died in the war.