In With the New

After looking at my new computer for almost a month, I got brave yesterday and plugged the cord into the electrical outlet. Completing the set-up was pretty easy, as the machine walked the user through simple commands. But that was all that was easy.

What I never anticipated a smaller keyboard would drive me nuts. The new computer doesn’t have a 10-key layout so my hands automatically went to the wrong keys. I never expected this fact when I purchased the machine.

I did expect the Office Suite of programs would be challenging, and boy, where they! I haven’t upgraded those programs since version 2003, which means I’ve been working on the old version for over ten years. I hoped I’d pick up the ins and outs of the updated programs like I have programs in the past. (So far, I’ve taught myself all the programs I’ve ever used.) The new programs proved I’m not so smart. EVERYTHING changed. To give you an idea–it took me several minutes of searching to open a new document!  Between the smaller keyboard and the changes in the program, I was spent about ten minutes to write a new paragraph. I understood going any further would require a pile of patience.

I think a person gets old when he/she doesn’t want to learn about new technology. So far, I’ve been pretty good at staying young. But this upgrade might be my undoing. And yes, I’m posting to my blog on my old, comfortable laptop that has been used so much “n” and “c” are completely worn off.  After yesterday, I’m not ready to retire her any time soon.

After my baptism, I promised myself I will boot up the new beauty once a day and spend at least ten minutes of frustration while I absorb Windows 10 and Office 2013. Wish me luck. I bet you can’t wait until I upgrade my phone!



Chapter 1

Lacrosse, Wisconsin-January—Tony’s death plunged Angelo into a deep depression. He found happiness in nothing–even the funny antics of his precious toddler Gina didn’t bring smiles to his face. He stayed distant. He put himself in a place where the girls in his life couldn’t go.

Rosalie remained patient as Angelo went through his grieving. She made his favorite meals and provided anything else that might bring him a smile. Angelo appreciated her efforts, but he couldn’t shake the emptiness in his heart.

One day Sunday afternoon he said, “Rosie, sweetheart?”

“Yes Angelo.”

“You understand I love you, more than my own life, don’t you?”

“What a silly thing to say. Of course I know.”

“Since Tony’s death, I’m–

She filled in his sentence, “You’re lost.”

“Yeah. I can’t stop thinking about him and everyone else in my life. I need to do something to avenge his death.”

His words puzzled Rosalie. “And that is?”

“I’m going to join up. Most of the guys my age at the shop are enlisting.”

Rosalie couldn’t believe what he just said. She asked him to repeat himself.

“I’m going to join the marines.”

“But, sweetheart,” she said with a gentle voice, “Most guys your age are supporting a wife and a baby girl.”

“Rosie, I feel useless.”

“Useless! Whatever do you mean? You put a roof over our heads and food on the table. With Tony gone your parents will need you more too. Did you think about any of us? How can you enlist and leave us?” Rosalie’s voice rose higher.

Angelo said in a soft voice. “I talked to my Pa about how I feel.”

“And what did he say?”

“He said the final decision is mine, but he wants me to stay home.”

Rosalie’s stiffened. “Good. Your father is a smart man. You should listen.”

“Pa also said he understood why I want to fight the Japs for Tony.”

Rosalie didn’t believe him. “This makes no sense. I don’t believe your father would ever say such a thing.”

“I realize accepting this decision is hard, Rosie. But sooner or later they’ll draft me anyway, and I want to do this on my own terms.”

Rosalie folded her arms across her chest and stared at Angelo directly into his eyes. Her tone became stern. “Men with children are not being drafted.”

“This is a huge war, sweetheart. We’re not only fighting the Japs, in the South Pacific, but we’re fighting the Krauts in Europe, too. The military will eventually draft me. They need me.”

“I need you!” Rosalie screamed. “Doesn’t that count for anything?” She ran to the bedroom and threw herself on the bed.

Angelo followed her and took her in his arms. “I love you, Rosie. I don’t want leave, but don’t you understand? I need to do this. I can’t hide behind your skirt.”

“No! I don’t understand!” Angry tears covered her face.  “You’re being selfish and irrational.”

He said softly. “Please try to understand. I don’t want to go to war with you hating me, but I must to do my part.”

“Just because Tony died doesn’t mean you need to go off to war and die too. Angelo, think! I can’t live without you, and Gina needs her Daddy!”

He took her in his arms and she sobbed into his chest. “Don’t do this, please!”


A month later Angelo left. The whole Armani and Lombardo clans came to Rosalie’s house to send him off. Josie and Donna and a few friends from the Autolite plant came too. Rosalie’s friends imagined how hard Angelo’s departure must be for her. With so many people in the house, Gina kept putting her arms up for her Daddy to hold her; somehow she sensed her father leaving. Angelo held the toddler close while he tried to visit with everyone who came to wish him well.

The bus picked up Angelo up at one o’clock in the afternoon; Rosalie prayed they wouldn’t come, but the damn vehicle showed up right on time. She wished everyone would go away, so she could spend the last minutes with her husband alone.

The driver honked the horn summoning Angelo’s departure. He picked up his duffle bag and shouted goodbye to his family and friends. Rosalie walked him to the back door and kissed him long and hard. He held her so close he almost squeezed her breath away. Rosie’s tears flowed freely. How can I say goodbye? We’ve been together for so many years, but we’ve only been married for two. How will I tell Gina her Daddy is off to war and may never come home again?

Rosalie looked up at him. “I love you so much Angelo. I don’t agree with you, but I love you. Please take care of yourself.”

“I will sweetheart.” He kissed her again. “I’ll write everyday.”

The bus horn honked again. Angelo let go of Rosalie, opened the door, and ran to the bus. He took one last, long look back at the home and the people he loved. He waved to everyone with a tearful smile.

Rosalie turned around to find her Papa at the top of the stairs. He held his arms out to her. She ran to him and sobbed into his chest.

“Oh, Papa, this is so hard.”

“Oh bambina.” Eduardo’s heart broke as he witnessed his little girl suffer such a huge loss. “Oh honey, you will be okay. Papa is here.” He thought saying goodbye to his sons going off to war was easier than watching the heartbreak of his little girl. His sons volunteered.  Rosalie did not.

Rosalie collapsed in a kitchen chair. A systemic numbness ran through her body. Her world just collapsed. Josie and Donna sat with her in silence. Eduardo went into the living room and escorted all of the other guests out the front door.

After Josie and Donna hugged Rosalie and assured her they would stay close, a crushing stillness filled the room. Eduardo approached his daughter who still sat in the kitchen with dead eyes.


Rosalie let out a deep sigh. “Yes, Papa.”

“I want you to remember Mama and I are right down the street, and we will help you. All of the Armani’s are also with you.”

“Yes, Papa. I know.” She forced a smile.

Eduardo kissed the top of her head and left. He realized at that moment some hurts even a father couldn’t fix.

With everyone gone, Rosalie sobbed. Her body already ached for her husband.

Gina toddled to her mother’s side and pulled on Rosalie’s skirt. “Mama cry?

She picked up her daughter and held her close. “Yes, Mama is sad. But I’ll be okay.” Then she said whispered, “Somehow.”

Gina put her thumb in her mouth and rested her head on her mother’s shoulder. Rosalie walked to the nursery and placed Gina in the crib covering her with her favorite blanket. Rosalie stared at the child’s innocence and realized she now would do the job of two parents. Without Angelo, she needed to stay strong and provide for her daughter.

Rosalie slipped back into her bedroom and embraced Angelo’s pillow trying to memorize his scent before it would fade away into nothingness. She wondered how she would ever fall asleep without being in his arms.

Chapter 2

Paris, France–January 1942—Rations in Paris became critically low, and Marta often went to bed hungry. She walked through her life everyday in a daze. Pierre learned Emma whereabouts and shared the news with Marta.  In the French prison she couldn’t receive anything from the outside.–no letters, no visitors, and no packages. Marta couldn’t imagine how Emma would survive confinement in a small cell. She told herself Emma was strong but even her spirit would break with enough abuse.

One afternoon when she picked up the mail, Marta found a letter in her box written from her father.

Jan. 15, 1942

My dear Marta,

I regret I got angry with you for staying in Paris with Emma. A young girl should decide her own life and enjoy a chance to explore a little before settling down in the humdrum of adulthood. I am sorry, Marta.

In retrospect, you are probably safer in France than you would be in Germany. I fear our Fuhrer made a terrible decision by sending us into Russia and declaring war on the United States. Our ranks will be stretched to thin.

When all three million of us boldly marched into Stalingrad six months ago, we anticipated the campaign would be over in six months. We wanted to be victorious before winter, but our calculations did not come to pass. We are fighting an awesome beast, plus the weather is colder here than anywhere on earth. I fear I will never leave Russia alive. I wanted to fix what went wrong between us before I die.

I want you to understand I always loved you, Marta, as much as I love your mother. Please remember the good times.

Your loving Vater

After Marta read her father’s apology, her eyes filled with tears. The tender times of her childhood flashed through her mind. Her father always championed her desires, but he became unreachable ever since he joined the Nazi party. What really troubled her was knowing her father never would write such a letter unless he found himself sick or injured, even though he never mentioned such a situation in his letter.  His stoic behavior took over when unpleasant events came along in his life. Marta returned the letter to its envelope and said a silent prayer for her estranged father.


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