A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 34

Hostages released

When I heard on the news just now about the first fifteen hostages that were released by Hamas, one of them a six year old girl, I could not help thinking about 1944, when I was six years old. Diphtheria, a contagious disease, was going around the camp. I was tested to be a a germ-carrier and had to go outside the camp in quarantine until I was negative again. I would be picked up by an ambulance and Mamma could not come with me. Thinking about the current situation in Gaza, and imagining the anxiety of the family members of the hostages, I found some excerpts from my mother’s journal in my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun.

Nobody was allowed outside the camp: “ “She is going alone.”
“ The doors of the big ambulance opened and my little girl got inside as bravely as if she were going to a party, all alone. One of the men jumped in with her, and the others hung onto the side or sat in the front.
“Look, Ron, there is the window, can you look out?”
If she stood on the seat she could barely reach it. “I’ll come visit you soon,” I said (a lie).
“Yes, Mam, please come soon. ‘Bye, Paula”.
Paula waved, and so did I. Then she was gone. Oh, it is so hard. This is the third time she is going to the hospital. This time we are prisoners and aren’t even allowed to go along. We will hear nothing until she comes home. These are days I will never forget. She is not ill, but a germ-carrier, so she has to be isolated until she is not contagious any more.
“February 18, 1944
Ronny’s Homecoming
While Ron was in the hospital, a lot of things happened. First we had an anxious day because of a house search by armed Japanese soldiers. Then there was a transport of women and children from a large section of the camp to an unknown destination. First they evacuated all the outer sections of the camp. Our district is in the middle. We expected to follow soon, so we sewed until late in the night to get at least the machine sewing done of any strong material we had. We could finish it all by hand later. We expected to be put in a large hangar, so decent nightwear was a first requirement. For that reason we cut up sheets.
From one of my large unused sheets, I made pajamas for the girls and myself. Trimmed with colored ribbons, they looked quite nice.
You can imagine my anxiety after the first group left, and the second one three days later. I anticipated we would be sent in a few days, but Ronny wasn’t home yet. The fear of leaving without her was unbearable, and I had some terrible days. “
“My thoughts are with Ronny constantly, especially during nights while I lie awake. It was like when Fokko left. At night, when everything is quiet and you can do nothing else, it hits you. I broke out in a cold sweat when I thought of what could happen if we got a bombardment.  What if she got some kind of disease, or what if she did not get enough to eat?”

“ Some people depressed me even more by saying that germ-carriers usually need six to seven weeks to get rid of germs. That was all I needed to hear. The next morning I went to several strangers, who also had children “outside,” to ask them how long they had stayed away. Some came home after fifteen days, so I felt a little more hopeful.

It was Ronny’s sixteenth day away, close to noon, when a girl from down the street came running in.
“Ronny is coming home!”
I ran outside: “Where is she?”
“In a dogcar.”
The dogcar appeared with two children, one of them Ronny. I ran toward them, and lifted her out of the dogcar, “Hello, Ron! Oh, Ron!” She said, “Hello, Mam,” put her arms around my neck as if she were never going to let go again, pushed her head against my shoulder and cried softly. After her many experiences, to be back in mother’s arms was too much for her, and for me. She looked pale and thin, her hair loose and straight, as she squeezed her two red ribbons and a bunch of flowers in her hand. “These flowers I picked for you, Mam.” She had picked them in the garden of the hospital just before she left, then the nurse put both children in the dogcar and sent them back to camp.
I said, “Oh, Ron! I’m so happy; I’m going to squeeze some oranges for you!”
She didn’t say much, but asked me if I would please cut the nails of her fingers and toes. A lot of neighbors gathered around, but this time I didn’t care. I was just happy, so happy. I made her bed and tucked her in. She still wasn’t her old self yet, and she talked strangely. That straight, set face without any expression in her eyes wasn’t our Ron yet. But I was so grateful that before we had to leave camp, I still had some time to feed her well. Paula kept saying, “Ronne, Ronne, Ronne, this is Ronne.” At dinner Ron was very hungry, and during the following days she seemed famished. She said she had been given only two meals a day, rice with vegetables and ground beef for lunch, and rice with a piece of egg at night. I took her to the doctor for a checkup. She gave Ron a bottle of cod-liver oil, free of charge. Isn’t that nice?”
Our 2023 reality 
You know, when you hear things on the news about wars, but they are happening so far away, you can’t really experience the reality of heartaches, pain, and anxieties of people in the middle of that war.
I thank God that MY war, World War Two in the Pacific, happened so long ago that my memories are few, and that I had my Mamma to protect me with her love and courage. I also thank God that Mamma had the strength to survive everything and lived to be 101 with joy.
My Thanksgiving is forever!
Stay safe until next time,

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