Patience — A Hard Learned Virtue

Every morning I listen to national as well as local news. And every morning I am thankful I do  not have to deal with traffic and all its frustrations. For years I drove almost an hour one way — first south to Illinois and then a few years later I drove north. Both commutes took a lot of patience.

When I was younger, I wanted everything “right now!” I found it difficult to wait for anything, and considering my birthday is in July, and Christmas is in December, waiting for gift getting seemed like an eternity. So, on the advice of my teachers, who were Catholic nuns, I began to pray for patience.

What a mistake that was! Ever since, it seems my creator has sent me a continuous stream of exercises to learn the virtue of patience. And then, I pick a profession that REQUIRES patience. Writing, rewriting, rewriting–well you get the picture if you’re a serious writer. I also dabble in painting. I want to improve, so I practice and practice and practice–another exercise in patience and persistence. And then, of course, as most of you have read if you are out there reading in the blogging world, I am a caretaker for my husband, and I must stand back and wait for Ken to attempt doing something first before I step in to help. Needless to say, I’ve learned to count beyond ten.

Moral to the story: Be careful of what you ask for–you most likely will get it.

Have a good day, everybody!



Chapter 26

Minneapolis, Minnesota – November—The biting wind and snow of Minneapolis came early in the fall of 1939. By now, Josie and Anna fell into a comfortable routine on campus. Learning something new everyday excited both of the new freshmen. Josie especially enjoyed biology because peering through a microscope seemed like entering an unexplored world. She tolerated Art History class, and found calculus challenging.

The pressure to do well on final exams caused Josie and Anna to be testy with one another. Their little jabs grew into a knock-down-drag-’em-out shouting match one day over socks. After the blow up, the two stubborn girls refused to talk to one another and simmered in their own stew.

Josie replayed the scene in her mind the next day and couldn’t believe they argued over something so inconsequential.  How can two intelligent girls fight over something as foolish as socks lying on the floor?

At noon Josie guessed Anna would be in the cafeteria sitting at the same table they chose everyday. She glanced around the cavernous room and spied her roommate sitting in the corner staring out the floor-to-ceiling window which overlooked the snowy campus. Josie placed her tray on the table next to Anna and said, “Is this seat taken?”

Anna looked up at her. “No, but are you sure you want to sit with me? I’m such a bitch.”

“No you aren’t; I am.” Josie sat. “Two are needed to argue.”


“But, nothing.” Josie said. “I’m sorry. I’m blaming my bad behavior on the pressure of my first college finals. I keep studying, but I still worry I’m not prepared.”

Anna looked at Josie and recognized a genuine apology on her face. “You too? Oh, Josie! I’m so sorry. The minute those hateful words left my mouth last night I wished I never said them. I need to get A’s or my scholarship won’t be renewed next semester.” Anna confessed.

“Why didn’t you tell me? We attend a lot of the same classes; we should study together. So what if we drew different professors?” Josie touched Anna’s hand. “I am confident you will do fine. You’re one of the most brilliant students on campus . . .  next to me, of course.” Josie cracked a smile.

“I don’t think I’m brilliant.” Anna pouted.

Josie scowled at her. “How dare you put yourself down! Stop it.” She paused and took a bite of her sandwich. “Here’s a thought.”


“You’re working too hard. You need a break.”

“I can’t take a break now with so much on the line.” Anna protested.

“Nonsense. If you cram too much into your brain, some knowledge will leak out of your ears. Then you’ll really have a problem!” Josie chuckled. “Then I would have to take you to a doctor and he would prescribe two aspirin and a good rest.”

Anna was drawn into Josie’s banter. “And if I refuse to listen to the doctor?”

Josie put on a serious expression. “I would have to drag you to the union.” Josie paused. “Then you’d probably bump into Tommy, and he’ll take over. He’ll dance with you till your feet get blisters and your ears ring from the loud music. By the end of the night you’ll wonder why you kept reading the same paragraph over and over.” Josie teased.

“You do that too?” Anna laughed. “I am so lucky you’re my roommate, Thanks for being such a good friend.”

Josie smiled. “No problem. Any time Doc Josie is needed, she races to the rescue. So we’re on tonight?”

“You bet!” Anna slammed the cover of her Chemistry book. “Enough of this stuff!”

The two girls finished their sandwiches and drank their hot chocolate. Anna smiled. “Back to the salt mines.”

“I’ll be back at the dorm around five.” Josie waved goodbye as she watched Anna leave the cafeteria. Relief set in. She chuckled when she thought their first fight ended without bloodshed.

Josie returned to the dorm and before she went upstairs, she picked up her mail. She was delighted to find Donna Jean’s loopy scrawl on a pale pink, scented envelope.  Donna’s letters always put her in a good mood.

November, 1939

Dear Josie,

Hope all is well at U of M. Things here are pretty much the same. I love my work, but I can’t say the same for my boss. I swear that man is another species of octopus. So far, my street smarts and quick reflexes have held him at bay, but I don’t know how long I can last.

The biggest change since we last corresponded is I’m dating Danny every weekend. We went to the movies last night. Took in “The Wizard of Oz.”  Danny thought the movie was a kids’ show. But I loved the picture. Dorothy reminded me of you. She got lost in this strange land called “Oz,” and all she wanted was to get home. She made friends along the way and together they searched for the Wizard who possessed the power to send her home and grant the others their wishes. When she landed in Oz, she pissed off the wicked witch because Dorothy put on the ruby slippers which belonged to the old bag’s sister. When old green face tried to take the shoes off of Dorothy, she got hit with a spark of electricity. She needed to kill Dorothy to get the shoes back. I wish you could be with me, Josie. Then we could rave about how wonderful it is to watch a movie in color!  I loved every minute!

 Before the movie, a newsreel presented a story of the New York World’s Fair taking place in Flushing Meadows. The name of the exposition is called “Building the World for Tomorrow.” I suggested to Danny we should go. He agreed the fair would be a gas, so we made tentative plans to take the train to New York. If we’re still together in June, we’re going to go. Won’t I be the talk of the office-a single girl going off with a boy without a chaperon? How scandalous! (Ha, ha.)

After the movie, we went to Pudgy’s for a beer. Danny and I played the jukebox and danced to “I’ll Never Smile Again.” I just love Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra is such a babe. Now why can’t I meet a guy like him? (Ha, ha.)

Rosalie’s been a stranger lately. I called her but she said she didn’t feel well enough to meet. I guess she and Angelo must be hunkered down in the bedroom.

Well, gotta go. Want to get this in the mail for pick up tonight. I miss you lots. Can’t wait to hug you at Christmas. Be sure and save me some time when you come home.

Your friend forever, Donna

Chapter 27

Paris, France – November, 1939—Emma and Marta found a small flat near Napolean’s Triumphal Arch at the end of the Champs-Elysees.  The apartment’s convenient location proved to be perfect. Emma could walk to city hall, and Marta could hop a trolley to get to the Louvre. Cinemas, theatres, and luxurious shops which displayed the latest fashions in lovely windows surrounded their new home. Beautiful gardens and fountains made the area enchanting in spring and summer, but now that winter settled in, the girls made a habit of meeting after their work day at their favorite cafe to sit in the warm glow of its fireplace while they discussed their day.

“Do you think we can get a Christmas tree?” Marta asked.

“Where will we put a tree in our little flat, Cherie?

“If we got a very small one, we might put it by the window.”

Emma witnessed Marta’s enthusiasm for the German tradition. “Don’t you think buying a tree now is a little early? The fir will drop its needles before Christmas.”

“I did not intend to buy one now, but I would really like to celebrate our first Christmas in Paris by decorating a Christmas tree together.” Marta sipped her espresso as her eyes grew moist.

Emma moved her chair closer Marta. “Oh, Cherie, what makes you cry?”

“I am a little homesick. I got a letter from Vater yesterday saying he never wants to lay eyes on me again.” Marta brushed away a tear rolling down her cheek. “I miss my mother’s Christmas cookies and all of the things we did together to get ready for the holiday. As much as I love Paris and being with you, I miss these things.”

Emma put her arm around Marta. She lifted the girl’s chin to search her eyes. “Homesickness is not a sin.  Please do not be sad.” Emma hugged her. “We can bake cookies and put up a tree. Anything you want to do to celebrate Christmas, we will do. Now we must make our own traditions, ja?”

“I hate being such a baby, but up until now we kept busy visiting all of the sights, fixing up our apartment, and just going on with life. I did not think about holiday traditions.  But with Christmas around the corner, I am remembering the good things about being with my parents.”

“Sweetheart, no matter what you chose to do after graduation, your life would never be the same. Everyone must learn how to live away from their parents at some stage. Do you want to go back to Berlin?” Emma said softly.

“No.” Marta said in an instant. “I love Paris; I love you. I want to stay.”

Emma interrupted her, “I love you too, and I want to make you happy. We will get a Christmas tree as big as a Sequoia if you want.”

Marta took another sip of her espresso. “No matter what happens in the future I want you to understand this time with you is the happiest period in my life.”

Emma placed a quick kiss on her cheek. “I feel the same,” she whispered.


A few days later, Emma picked up the afternoon paper and the front page headline shouted at her. “Nazis Smash, Loot, and Burn Jewish Shops and Temples.”

November 9-10, 1939 –The assassination of a German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, by German-born Polish Jew, Herschel Grynszpan, gave the Nazis an excuse to damage Jewish homes, shops, towns, and villages. As the violence escalated, German civilians joined in the destruction with sledgehammers, leaving the streets covered in pieces of smashed windows-the world is calling the event Kristallnacht or the “Night of Broken Glass.”

Ninety-one Jews died and the SS storm troopers deported 30,000 Jewish people. Approximately 1,668 synagogues across the country suffered damage and 267 burned to the ground.

Emma gasped and threw down the paper in utter disgust. “Marta. You must read this.” She pointed to the headline.

Marta read the article, and no longer questioned her decision to stay in Paris.  Neither of them wanted to return a society that beat defenseless and innocent people. “This is terrible.”

“Yes.” Emma didn’t say she thought Marta’s father probably gave the order to attack the Jews. He made it no secret he hated them and now the Nazi leadership acquired an excuse to persecute the race.

Since 1936, each large city in each Germany specified where Jews could live. If they strayed away from this area, they faced beatings, jailing, or they might be shot in the street. No Jew could attend movies, plays, concerts, or other public social gatherings. All of these new laws isolated the Jewish population from other German citizens. A propaganda campaign of posters and newsreels portrayed them as less than human.

The political changes led to two goals. Eliminate the Jews from Europe. And expand Germany’s borders with another world war.

2 thoughts on “Patience — A Hard Learned Virtue

  1. In some previous comments, I have eluded to having had some distant experience with care giving. The guest post currently atop my blog is from my brother, who was the primary caregiver for his wife. It’s a sad read but I wanted to let you know where my comments are coming from. I never wanted to presume to tell his story, but since he has (to a degree) I think I can point you in that direction.

    • Dan — Thanks for steering me to your brother’s story. He and his wife lived a joyous life. Sometimes knowing ahead of time makes for better planning. Unfortunately, Ken and I did not. This is a second marriage for both of us and all we knew when we said “I do” is that we had fun together. And we still do — it just isn’t as frequent as in the past. Traveling for us now is too taxing. A trip to Chicago to see his parents makes him weary and they’re only an hour and a half away. We satisfy our traveling with a Smithsonian program called “Aerial America.” We’ve seen almost all of the fifty states.

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