by DiVoran Lites
Ellie and Vera
Vera kept talking long after Ellie’s heart had slid into her stomach. Now she wanted the tale to go back to being a secret, but it was too late. Elegant Mr. Louis Norton had used her mother and discarded her. The result was that Ellie was illegitimate. She knew bad names existed for children whose parents weren’t married, but she never dreamed that they would apply to her. And to have had her mother hurt like that – to have such a wholly self-centered man for a father — well, she wanted to crawl under the bed and stay, never to be seen again.
“Mr. Norton had his chauffer drive me to the convent, and that’s how you came to be born there,” said Vera. “Now, maybe you understand why I never told you.”
When her mother reached for her arm, Ellie steeled herself against moving away. How could anyone be so foolish and naïve, she wondered? Then she recalled that her mother had been only sixteen-years-old when she was duped and manipulated by that evil man. She was pregnant and friendless in the big city.
“The nuns were good to me considering I got myself into all this trouble, but I still felt lonely, and I wanted to keep you. You were the only one born there that week. They planned to send you away to some rich people who wanted a baby. The guard nun, however, fell asleep, so I wrapped you in a blanket and escaped through the courtyard. We needed a place to sleep that night so, right away I looked for a job. I’ll always thank God for sending us to the Williams family who ran a pub on skid row. I reminded them of their daughter, who had recently died in childbirth so they gave me a waitressing job and room and board. They insisted I wait a week to begin work, then because you were a newborn, they let you sleep in a big box behind the bar. You were such a good baby. You were happy and you made everyone who saw you smile.
I wrote my folks and waited for an answer, but instead they came to Chicago to find me. We decided not to meet with Mr. Norton now that we know what a bad man he really was. Dad got a job in the stockyards and mother worked in a general store. By then we had a small apartment and I was able to stay at home and look after you during the day. At night your grandmother and grandad took care of you while I continued to work for the Williamses. The three of us eventually saved enough money to start a small neighborhood store of our own. Here again, the pub owners were a big help. When we began to get ahead and got into the department store business your granddad paid them back many times over for what they had done for us. I’m so ashamed and sorry.” Vera’s voice held tears.
“Dear Mother, I had no idea, A young girl who had never been away from home just wouldn’t know. Shouldn’t your parents have been more wary?” Ellie now patted the hand resting next to her on the bed.
“I’ve thought about it over the years, of course,” said Vera. “But I never have had much confidence in myself since that happened and I keep trying to think what I might have done different. But if I’m honest, I got to say, I’ve always been so glad to have a beautiful and good child like you that I could never regret having you and keeping you.”
“Now I understand why you always warned me about men, especially older men. You wanted me to avoid that kind of a situation. Sometimes I felt confused because it seemed as if Grandmother was trying to marry me off to a rich politician, and you seemed reluctant for me to go anywhere with a boy at all. I am sorry you never married, never had a life of your own. Thanks for loving me and looking after me all my life. You were always there quietly in the background.
Vera took hold of Ellie’s hand and Ellie’s heart was flooded with love and compassion. She gently squeezed the hard-working hand of her mother.
“I love you, Mom,” she whispered.
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art