“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.
After a few minutes of chit-chat and thanks, Elizabeth waves goodbye to Lucy, stands for a moment, and looks out across the neighborhood. Young women left alone by the war occupy almost all the houses. Some wait nervously for their husbands to return, while others—left widowed and alone with young children to raise—try to accept their loved one’s death. The prevailing atmosphere of fear and bitterness can be felt everywhere.
Just last week, in their small neighborhood market, Elizabeth noticed two soldiers who had just returned home. They both seemed to look right through her, as if they were staring into a vat of black nothingness. Not able to understand how soldiers who were safe at home could look so lost, she prays for them. She wants to tell them all to trust in God—that He has everything under control. Nobody knows yet that in just barely a month Japan will finally concede defeat after being devastated by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Back indoors, Elizabeth finds Veronica slumped on the couch. Her torn and soiled muumuu is pulled up around her thighs as she tries to fend off the heat exhaustion that threatens to drive her insane. After all, she’s working on being ten months pregnant! As another pain pierces through her back, she cries out to her mother, “For the love of God, when will this pregnancy end?”
Returning from putting the produce in the kitchen, Elizabeth holds a cigarette in her left hand and her rosary beads in her right. She might not have been able to tell those two soldiers what she was sure God wanted everyone to hear, but she has a captive audience in her daughter. “Veronica, where is your trust? I mean, look, we’re almost out of food and here Lucy brought us some avocados and figs. I tell you, Veronica, God always knows of our needs. Remember where in the Bible Samuel says, “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.” For Elizabeth, a verse of scripture validates everything.
Flinching as another pain pushes through her now-aching back, Veronica’s face drips with misery. “Mother, if you don’t stop talking that Bible stuff, I’m tellin’ ya, I’m going start screamin’.”
As if Veronica hadn’t said a thing, Elizabeth plops herself down on the far end of the couch and goes right on: “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” (P.g. 9-10) To be continued….
Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe at www.Amazon.com