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Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Big Brothers
Courtesy free clip art
After receiving the invite over for dinner, I thought, "This is it, either yes or no.   
Either the family will accept me or reject me.”   The one thing for sure was I had faced life or death situations before, and this was not going to shake me whatever the outcome was.

I arrived at six o'clock with dinner expected at six thirty, which would give time to talk before dinner if they wanted to.   
I was ushered into the living room by Carme's younger brother, as he sat opposite me and also did her older brother while they decided to play the stare him down game, which I completely ignored.  I hadn’t come here to play some one up-man-ship game with them.

While sitting there my mind went back to the time when I first met Carme.

I had left out some of the details about our first meeting.  When I was first brought into the hospital she was going over my background records to make sure they were right, and I was the person they were dealing with.

I told her that I had never heard the name Carme before and she curtly answered, “There are probably a lot of things you have never known before.”  I replied, “Yes, I didn't know how sassy you were.  Are all Portuguese women as sassy as you?”  She answered and said, “Yes and a lot sassier.”   I said, “Ouch, I give up, you win!”

And about this time I felt weakness come over me and I was on the verge of collapsing. This was happening quite often and I was being treated for it.

Putting my head on the edge of her desk I tried to steady myself with my hands.  At first Carme thought I was faking, but then she realized I needed help, so she called for two orderlies and a wheel chair.

The next day I woke up in a ward with several other sailors who were wounded.   That afternoon she came to see me and asked how I was coming along.  I told her I was doing okay and would be back on my feet very soon. She asked, “What happened?”

I said, “Your beauty was more than I could handle and I passed out from just looking at you.”  Then I told her I wanted to marry her.  She blushed and said, “This is so sudden I will have to ask my boyfriend and see what he thinks about it.”  We both laughed and she left.
I returned from thinking about the past, and I was still waiting for the answer to the question, "Will you marry me."  

The father came from somewhere and said "Dinner is ready." The food was fine but my appetite had all but left me, and no one spoke except to say pass me this or that.  I was glad when it was over for I wanted to get down to the business at hand.  

It was back into the living room and the dad had joined us still with no conversation, just hard stares.  I thought this should be a joyous time and it seemed like a wake without any booze to liven things up. I would like to have taken those brothers outside and whipped them both but in the shape I was in I couldn't have handled one of them with their hands tied behind their back.

The women came in and we sat there for a few minutes without anyone saying anything. I had enough of this foolishness, and stood up and said, “Thank you for the meal but I must be going,” and started to leave when the father spoke up and said, “We must discuss something before you leave.” “And what would that be?” I answered.  
The Dad said, “You want to marry Carme?” I said “Yes!”

He then said. “You are a soldier and there is a war going on, yes?”  
I didn't bother to correct him and say I'm not a soldier but a sailor.  
I said, “There is a war going on but life goes on even though men are being killed on every hand.”  He said because you are a soldier and there is a war we believe it would be better not to marry until it is over and you are working at a regular job.

I could see I was trapped in an old culture where the parent's wishes trumped whatever the kids wanted to do.

Ring courtesy
I took from my pocket a ring I had bought for Carme, and gave it to her and said, “You think over what you want to do. I leave tomorrow and if you want to marry me, you put the ring on before I leave and if not then just throw it away like you will be throwing our life together away.”  
The brothers seemed riled about what I said but didn't touch me as I left.
They had been warned not to hurt me in any way because of my saving several men when our ship was sunk.  I was considered a mini hero and they would have had half of the Navy down on them.       
To be continued

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