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 Category:  Family Fiction
  Posted: August 12, 2020      Views: 126
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Chapter 12 of the book Learning to Swim
Chapter 12
"Plying the Waves" by Raffaelina Lowcock

From childhood to adolescense and adulthood the experiences Anna collects are forming her livelihood as they become attached to her heart. No room for surfing, just swim or die.

I was barely floating from day to day; these were deep waters I had to paddle.  But life continued and I gave a pep talk to myself every morning.  Remember Anna, smile.  Be happy with your colleagues.   Don’t let them know you are sad.

Although I enjoyed my new job, it was a struggle each day because it required total concentration. I learned about the different countries' currencies and how the Raters (the men that analyzed the invoices and designated the tariff items) converted them into Canadian dollars to apply the Canadian duties, and sales tax. The typists (I was one of them) would then prepare the B1s, that would be taken to Customs to be approved so the commodities (the goods) would be cleared and delivered. I was eager for the end of each day when I could come up for air.

As well, I was planning our wedding which was set for August 18th, 1951. The actual ceremony would take place at St. John's Chapel in St. Michael's Cathedral. It was a smaller church within the very large downtown Cathedral, where couples of mixed religions were married.

Fittings were once a week. Angie was my 'Maid of Honor'. Les's best friend, from his days at Bruce Public School, was Ted Leach, a successful young man; five feet eleven inches with black hair, dark brown almond shaped eyes that were full of mirth and heavily lashed. His nose was straight, lightly freckled and with his smiley mouth, created a handsome face. He would be the 'Best Man."

He had gone to Eastern Commerce High School because of the Commercial Course and was at one time the President of The Student Council. From that he was easily considered for a place in Eaton's Administrative Office after his graduation. He was engaged to June Waring whom he had been dating from early days in High School.

There were two surprise Showers given. One was by my Girls' Club and the other, by my sisters. My aunts did not attend and of course I was stunned that they would be so revengeful.

I was also shopping for a new wardrobe and specifically a 'Going Away' outfit.

Les was looking after our honeymoon plans and we opted for a resort; Bangor Lodge for one week and since neither of us had ever flown he booked a flight to Buffalo, a twenty-minute flight from Toronto. It would take longer to drive to the Airport than to fly to Buffalo.

Les was not a Catholic so he would be instructed by Monsignor O'Connor at St. John's Church on Kingston Road. This had been a contention.   He said, "Why do I have to attend sessions with the Pastor, can't you just tell me?"

"Les, it's a requirement. Just let's get it done, please."

"Okay, but just know that it's only because you want me to."

Basically, it was to inform him of the tenets of the Church to help him understand what his responsibilities would be. In other words, our children would be baptized in the Catholic Church and some other rules pertaining to birth control.

After the sessions, Les said, "I understand much more, now, why they have the sessions. Father O'Connor really gave me a lot of information. He was very understanding and answered all my questions."

Les was a big help through this awful time. At one point he told me about a bad experience when he was younger. I knew he wanted me to know that bad things happened to others.

He said, "I was fourteen years old when I learned my father had joined the Army. This is back in 1944 during World War II. I was devastated! At that age I felt abandoned! I was so upset because I couldn't believe he would voluntarily leave his family, just like that. I felt like he didn't love me. So, I do know a bit of what you're feeling."

I said, "Sounds exactly how I feel now. I can't believe my mother would leave us either."

He continued, "It wasn't as if he was being patriotic. It was like a stupid whim. After work one night he and some buddies went for a beer and that evening they all agreed to join the Army. Now these men were not boys they were all in their thirties. Imagine!

"I wasn't supposed to hear but I did hear my mother crying and telling my dad that he was acting as though he were a younger man or as though he had no responsibilities when he had a wife and three children who depended on him. Nothing changed. He was in the Army and before we knew it, he was shipped off to England! But guess what? He arrived in England and ended up in hospital with pneumonia.

"The worst part of it was my mother couldn't manage financially and had to go to work. She asked me to quit school and get a job, to help. I couldn't say no. I had wanted to be an Archeologist, but that would never happen."

"Oh, Les, how sad."

I truly empathized with him and was pleased that he had told me about that part of his life.
It was a consolation of sorts.

Then two weeks before the wedding we received a letter from my mother! She informed us that they were in Vancouver and in a very garbled way said she missed us.

Although it was a relief to finally hear from her and know where she was, it didn't stop the hurt. I replied without holding back on how their, actions were so awful. I said, "It is so obvious that you were not thinking of us in any way when you made your plans. How upsetting it would be for your children and most of all what a monstrous thing to do to your husband. Is this the way a brother repays the generous heart of the brother who helped him come to Canada? What of his wife and his family, had he left them for good when he came here?

"Your daughter Mary got married. While the wedding was without you, we managed it well enough. Now it's my turn, I am engaged. All my life I have looked forward to the time when I would marry and in my thoughts you were there. I cannot tell you how empty I feel without you. I cannot believe that you could leave us knowing how much you are loved and how much this would hurt us."

I added much more letting her know how sad and devastated we all were, and what a hole she had left.

She then sent a letter saying "I would gladly be at your wedding, but Anna, I cannot afford the train ticket. If you will buy a ticket for me to come to Toronto and return to Vancouver, I will be there."

It was such an outrageous request, of course, we said "No". Even though we said no I still held the view that she would eventually come back to my father. That was my hope and now that we knew where she was, I was sure my father would try to woo her back. That would never happen.

At times it seemed our wedding was an eternity away. We could not get enough of each other. We were the proverbial lovebirds. Yet, when I was alone or with my family, I felt like I was in water over my head.

These were surely choppy waters, but gradually I was coming back, and was now (on the surface) dealing with the day to day events as they arrived.

I did notice that Les seemed to be preoccupied at times and I wondered if he was worried about something. One night I said, "Les you seem troubled. What is bothering you?"

"There's nothing bothering me, just can't wait until we're married."

It seemed a reasonable answer.

Then the week before the wedding he fainted at work. Now I knew something was wrong.

He said, "They called in a doctor and he told me it was the stress of the upcoming wedding. Also, I had to admit I haven't been sleeping well. And Anna, he found I had a hernia, which I'm to look after as soon as possible, after the wedding."

"Les, a hernia! What does that mean?"

"I'm not sure Anna. But we'll make sure we find out."

We agreed we should forget about the wedding night because we would both be exhausted and look forward to our honeymoon at the resort. But even that was questionable.

The other very deep problem was Les's parents. He said, "They have never stopped talking about the difference in our nationality and religion."

I asked, "Have you shared any of the talks you've had with Monsignor O'Connor with them?

"No, of course not."

"Les, we know we can deal with this. Don't worry about that, please. Promise?"

He said, "I promise."

But now I began to wonder if the instruction regarding birth control was having an effect on Les, deep down in his subconscious where he was not in control.

To be continued...



The book continues with The Dawning. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Anna is learning to cope with the reality of her life.

Immdiate Family
Roseanna Emilia -Anna - Mumma
Anthony Emilia -Nino - Puppa
Michael Emilia -Mike
Angelina Emilia -Angie
Maria Emilia -Mary
Roseanna Emilia -Anna
Luciano Emilia -Nino's brother

Joseph Delmonico - Papa (Grandfather)
Mary Delmonico - Mama (Grandmother)
Aunt Betty
Aunt Mary
Uncle Davey
Uncle Ned
Uncle Johnny

Uncle Gus Simone (married Aunt Betty)
Uncle Frank Farrow (married Aunt Mary)

Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by Susan F. M. T. at

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