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  • My parents were inseparable. When Papa was home, they were arm in arm. My father was a refugee from WWII. Poland. When they dropped the Iron Curtain, he had no place to go. The history of the Poles in WWII is not the focus here so I'll skip it. What is salient is that he and my Sicilian mother went to Argentina, where I was born, to await their turn to come to the States to live with my mother's sister and her family in Boston. The did the appropriate stuff, including signed character references, a job waiting for him, and money in the bank State-side to help for our support. In September 1954, we arrived. They were the Happy Couple.

    Less than 5 years later, on May 6, 1959, my father died. Lung cancer. Smoker. Gone in 5 months from diagnosis. Survivor of the gulags and the Battle of Monte Cassino but lost to a camel.

    After my father passed, we spent six months living with my aunt until a house across the street came up for sale. A 4-room farmhouse for a family of 4. We didn't have money for extras, but she made do. We always had good food and appliances that worked. She eventually went out to work, but not in the early days. My mother was pregnant when my father died so she had an infant to raise. During those early days, my mother took in alterations and ironing, which helped. Her dream was to add a room onto the house so she could sew and we could watch TV and play. Our family loved Queen for a Day so my older cousins and my aunt sent in my mother's story so she might be chosen as a contestant.

    She didn't get chosen. Apparently our plight was not plight-y enough or sad enough for the producers of Queen for a Day. Besides that, my mother spoke no English. Also, I figure my mother most likely would not cry on cue or look downcast for effect. She was proud and she showed it. Chin up. Eyes straight. Arms folded. Elbows tucked. She often said that when she was growing up, she was so rich she didn't even have to comb her own hair. She gave it all up for love and ended up in the States, sans the language or the resources except for a bossy older sister and 2 kids and a fetus with a husband in an oxygen tent. Nope. She was no Queen for a Day. She was just another war bride/widow living in a foreign land with 3 mouths to feed and a language to learn. Funny thing is that as soon as she reached a survival point for her language and was in a loving relationship with a man, she died too. Accident in the OR. Queen? Only if there is a kingdom for Bad Timing.
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