Yesterday was about as perfect as it gets. For some people the simple events of taking a drive, doing a little shopping, having lunch with a good friend, and driving home would be taken for granted as an ordinary day. But when you face the daily rigors of care taking having a relaxing day with a friend becomes a terrific day. It’s all about perspective and living a thankful life.
So much is said about living a “thankful” life. Some therapists even suggest keeping a thankful diary. Why? It is a way to recognize how wonderful life can be. When you’re thankful, you don’t think about missing out on something.
Many people sleepwalk through their lives and slug their way through the day. They put unnecessary drama in their lives and whirl around to get attention. Little do they realize they are only wasting their energy on nonsense. I hate living in a world like that, so I work every day to avoid it.
I’ve shared some of the bad days Ken has experienced, and I admit his deteriorating condition does affect me. The bad days are hard, and that’s because I love him. And sometimes I love it. But most of the time we work through the stress together and go on. Through the twenty years we’ve been together we’ve become part of each other. Every day I search for ways to make his life easier and happier. Other people look at us staying at home almost every day and they wonder why we aren’t nuts. After all, this 24/7 togetherness even for healthy people can be enough to make you go crazy.
We’ve had to accept our retirement dreams are dashed, but our story is much more prevalent than people realize. Our friends are examples of couples who face this challenge every day. Cathy nurses Jim who has a rare blood disease. Linda watched Patrick lie in a hospital bed for a few months as he succumbed to the ravages of diabetes. Kay who has experienced seeing her husband Marc collapse with heart disease. We all muddle through the tough days and give thanks for days when our partner feels well. The only other choice is to run away, but that isn’t a true option. None of us could live with ourselves if we gave into that impulse.
Being thankful for the good things — like a day when we can get out just for a car ride — keeps the awful days in perspective. Discovering the peace that exists in all of us helps take the disappoints in strides. We live in a sea of patience and dismiss the small stuff. Before you realize it, everything is the small stuff.
Have a wonderful, thankful day everyone!
APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 6 (CONTINUED)
Naples, Italy-October 1944—Ten months went by since Josie and Mario found each other at the Naples hospital. In the fall, Josie returned to the operating room, and once again, she experienced the satisfaction this work gave her. Mario remained in the army and found contentment in his new assignment as a hospital orderly, assisting medical personnel, cleaning bedpans, and removing other disgusting messes from the sick and injured. Mario rationalized his duty as payback because others performed such chores for him.
With Mario rejected for further combat, Josie relaxed around him and allowed a deeper relationship take hold. Every afternoon they met and strolled through the compound hand in hand. Mario showed her how laughter worked to ease a tension-filled day. Every night when they still possessed enough energy, the couple went to the USO club to dance. Mario glided around the dance floor holding Josie in his tight frame. As they floated to the music, the world drifted away for a few minutes.
When the music stopped, Mario led Josie to a small table at the periphery of the dance floor. He became uncharacteristically solemn. “Josie, I need to say something.”
Josie breathed deep as she recovered from the exuberance of the dance. “OK, soldier; tell me what’s on your mind.”
Mario too a deep breath. “I gave up the chance to go home several months ago, did you realize that?”
She put on a mischievous grin because she knew the answer. “So, why didn’t you go home?”
“Because what I want is right here.” He moved closer to her.
“Oh.” She thought her heart skipped a beat.
“I recognize I’m a clown a lot of the time, but I need you to take me seriously right now.”
His eyes in the candlelight told her something very important was about to happen. “Sure, Mario. Just tell me.”
“I love you, Josie. That’s why I stayed.”
She gazed into his big brown eyes and whispered. “I know.”
He leaned back on his chair. “Then why did you bust my balls to tell you in so many words?”
“Every girl needs her guy to tell her he loves her, silly.” A grin crossed her face. “And besides, I get a kick out of seeing a big guy like you squirm.”
“You devil!” Mario pulled her to his chest and held her like a bear. He kissed her with passion leaving her breathless.
“Oh, Mario!” She melted. “I love you, too!” She returned his kiss.
His huge dark eyes brightened. “Let’s get married.”
“Is that a proposal?”
“It’s the best I got.”
“All righty then.” She smiled up at him.
“Is that a YES?” he said.
“It’s the best I got.”
The music started again. This time it was a waltz. Mario pulled Josie onto the dance floor. She cuddled into his body. She felt secure and happy in his arms. For the rest of the evening they never missed a beat dancing.
Switzerland-October—Heidi missed Danny so much she found smiling difficult. She wanted to cry but she only allowed herself to shed any tears when the children went to sleep because they also suffered yet another loss in their young lives. They got too upset whenever Heidi showed her sadness.
When Heidi picked up the mail every day, she prayed she would receive a letter from Danny. To her delight, today she found an envelope addressed in his familiar handwriting and another letter with a Budapest return address. Why would Dominik write to her?
I am back at home and things are crazy with the Nazis in power. They restricted the Jews from interacting with other citizens. Worst yet, they deport train loads of people every day.
I talked until I got hoarse to persuade the Rabbi to take his family away from here, but he refused to leave. As you know, he felt it was his God-directed responsibility to protect the Jews. I am sad to tell you he and his family got captured in August and placed on a train. I learned through the grapevine the train was bound for Auschwitz in Poland. I guess there’s a work camp there, but nobody knows for sure what is going on there.
I cried as I witness the Germans separating the men from the women and children before they got on the train. Gavrelia screamed when she was pulled away from the Rabbi. A Nazi hit her in the face with the butt of his gun as he pushed the Rabbi toward the men’s line.
A rumor circles around town the Rabbi escaped the train by sawing open the lock on the train carriage. Supposedly he hid an emery wire in a loaf of bread, and jumped from the train. As you might imagine I am not privy to his true fate or if Gavrelia and the children are safe. All we can do is pray.
When I learn more, I will write. I hope you and the children are still out of harm’s way.
Your friend, Dominik
Heidi cried as she read about the Rabbi who protected her and the children for two years being sent away from his home. Her mind raced with tragic scenarios. If he did jump from the train, where is he? And to think any Nazi bully would harm a gentle person like Gavrelia was hard to swallow. Gavrelia and the children must be terrified to be separated from the Rabbi.
Heidi knew the Nazis hated every Jew—even the children she adopted. Her heart raced when she thought they might be taken away. Why did her countrymen have to be so cruel? She brushed away her tears for the Weismann family and opened the second letter hoping Danny’s news was happier.
My sweet Heidi,
I am safe in England again. My original unit went home, but I will remain here doing desk duty for a few months.
I must tell you some bad news. The U. S. Army Air Corps claims our marriage is not legal, and I will not be able to bring you to the States unless we go through proper military channels. As you might guess, I got heartsick hearing such a thing. I am married to you in my heart and somehow I will bring you home.
Major Jamison informed me American servicemen need the permission of their commanding officers to marry any European woman while he is serving in the military.
The good news is, Major Jamison is making arrangements to bring you and the children to England. I am searching for a flat for all of us, and in a few short weeks we can marry again. You will be contacted by the Resistance, and they will bring you to me.
I am so sorry we must go through this military nonsense, but I will never be sorry to repeat my promise to love and cherish you forever. We’ll be together soon, my sweet darling.
I love you so much, Danny
P. S. This time I will give you a proper wedding ring.
Heidi fingered the homemade wedding ring Danny made for her out of an old car part off the Rolls Royce. The car provided safe passage for her and the children from Warsaw to Switzerland, so no matter how beautiful a “proper” ring might be, it would never be as dear to her as the one he made with his own hands.
Heidi drew a deep breath and ran her hand over Danny’s letter. She wondered how much time would pass before she would feel his embrace again.
Zurich, Switzerland – October—The librarian knocked on Heidi’s door a week after Danny’s letter arrived. She handed Heidi a small envelope and left without a word. The clandestine correspondence held the instructions Heidi would follow to get to the Americans in England. Because the Allied forces achieved a confident foothold throughout France as the army pushed the Germans back to Berlin, Heidi’s instructions differed from the path Danny had followed. Her journey traveled through the mountains to Lyon by car. They would be shuttled to a train depot to then board a train destined Paris. Afterward, a plane would carry them to London.
Heidi wanted to be with Danny as soon as possible, but she feared what another perilous journey would do to the children.
When she told the children the plan, David spoke up. “Mutter, don’t worry. We will be fine. I will hold Ruthie’s hand, and I am sure Jacob will sleep the whole trip. I am not afraid to go.”
Heidi hugged David. “Thank you my dear son. I can always count on you.”
When darkness enveloped the night, Heidi carried a sleepy Jacob to a car waiting for them in front of the house. As he promised, David held Ruthie’s hand and helped her get settled in the backseat. Heidi covered them with a blanket before the driver proceeded away from the residence which served them for almost a year.
“Mama, when will be with Papa Danny?” Ruthie asked.
“We must be patient, Ruthie. Our journey will be long, so you need to sleep. You do not want to be tired when we see Papa Danny, do you?”
Heidi shot the child a “mother look” which told the child she wanted no argument.” We must follow instructions. I expect you to do as you are told. Understand?”
David and Ruthie nodded and remained silent until they climbed onto a train bound for Paris. At the station in the city of lights, an American sergeant put them in a jeep and drove to the airfield where the family boarded a cargo plane destined for London.
As the plane’s engines revved, Heidi held her breath. She couldn’t show her fear because she didn’t want the children to be afraid. David’s eyes widened as the powerful engines propelled the plane to the runway. Ruthie squealed with delight as the plane took flight. “Weeee! Mama, we are flying like birds!”
Heidi forced a smile and gritted her teeth as a peaceful Jacob slept in her arms. “Yes dear. We are.”
The London flight passed quickly. A disappointed David whined, “Can’t we do go again, Mama?”
“No, not today David. Remember Danny is waiting for us.”
Heidi breathed a sigh of relief when the door opened, and she put her feet back on the ground again. Danny waited for them on the tarmac, and all of children ran toward his opened arms. He hugged and kissed everyone and then embraced Heidi. “I worried about you traveling all that way, darling.” He kissed Heidi tenderly. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“So am I.” Heidi melted into his embrace.
Me, too Papa Danny!” Ruthie hugged his leg. Danny patted her head.
Jacob put up his chubby arms. “Uppie Dada!”
He kissed the child.
David stood off to the side. Danny handed Jacob to Heidi and walked toward the boy. “Hey sport! Where’s my hug?”
David’s face lit up and he hugged Danny around the waist.
Danny heard the boy whimper. “What’s going on, son? Don’t be sad.”
“I thought you left us forever . . . like my real Mama and Papa.” David cried.
Danny hugged him. “I promise I will never leave you, and I keep my promises. You’re my boy, and I’m very proud of you. When we get home, we’re going to live in a nice house, and you can even get a puppy if you want one. But that will be our secret, okay? I need to clear adding a puppy to our family with your mother.”
David wiped his tears with the back of his hand. Danny put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and they both walked toward Heidi and the other two children. Heidi’s heart swelled as she witnessed Danny’s gentleness.
“How did you kids like the airplane ride?”
David spoke first. “I pretended you flew us here and you let me sit in the front. When we lifted up from the ground my tummy jumped. The only other time I felt like that was when Heidi drove the car fast up and down the hills!”
Danny laughed. “And what about you, Ruthie?”
“I shivered on the airplane, Papa. The train was funner.”
Danny laughed. Heidi wrote she taught the children some English, but he recognized they needed a lot more practice.”
“Let’s get going.” Danny hugged Heidi again, picked up their small duffle bag and couldn’t wait to begin their future.
Even though Heidi flew to a different country, she felt at home in Danny’s arms. Marrying him would never be a mistake, and the time they spent apart only intensified her love for him.
Danny led them to a jeep and drove his family to a small flat he rented. They climbed up three flights of stairs, and Danny opened the door which revealed a clean, safe apartment. With all the devastation in London, finding a place on the far west side of the city with a bomb shelter across the street took weeks to find.
Beside a small kitchen, two beds folded up into the walls during the day and served as a living space. Danny hoped Heidi wouldn’t be too disappointed with his choice.
“It is lovely, sweetheart.” She kissed his cheek.
“It’s the best I could do. Flats are scarce. I hope the place isn’t too small.”
Heidi didn’t care about the size of the apartment. For the first time since she left Germany, she felt at home. “We’ll make due.”